The War on Clutter

Apr. 19 - One of the sixty books we picked up in the states was some kind of Feng-Shui-for-beginners type paperback. The DMG had become interested in Feng Shui because of certain domestic hormones released by her pregnancy. She read the entire book on the flight back, skipping only those parts that seemed a little too cosmic or new agey for her tastes—an editorial decision that saved her several hundred pages.

She summarized her Feng Shui education in a single terse sentence: "We've got too much crap."

It was hardly a revelation. We've been fighting the War on Clutter for years, but our diligence has been inadequate in the face of this formidable enemy with its penchant for surprise attacks. In New York a few years ago, for example, we had no sooner vanquished all clutter from our apartment than we both lost our jobs—on the very same day!—and had to give up our expensive storage space. It was as though the Clutter had called in reinforcements. Gradually, over a period of months, we got the upper hand—but before we could fully declare victory we decided to move to Europe. The apartment quickly filled with boxes and packing materials. Clutter reigned triumphant.

We didn't bring much with us from the states. Everything we shipped to Denmark fit comfortably into the back of a small van. It would have been easy to keep Clutter at bay had we moved into an unfurnished apartment, or even an ordinarily-furnished apartment. Instead, we moved into the home of a Clutter partisan, a woman to whom every horizontal surface presented an irresistable opportunity to show off some knick-knack, some tchotchke, some baroque lamp or flowerpot. We moved into a home in which every drawer was filled, every closet crammed, every shelf packed.

We did what we could, but we knew there was no hope of victory. We would never free the apartment from Clutter's ravenous clutch. We would simply have to survive a year or two in occupied territory.

And so we'd been enduring the clutter of our Frederiksberg apartment with stoic resignation. Feng Shui told us there could be no excuses, no compromises. We had to either vanquish the Clutter, or be vanquished by it. We had to take action. And with a mere 18 weeks to parenthood, we had to take action soon.

It was an extraordinarily beautiful weekend in Copenhagen, but I can't tell you anything about it. I can only tell you what it takes to clean two-dozen half-pint spice jars, or how much dust can accumulate behind books on a shelf, or how many plastic daisies the average Danish trash bag will accommodate.

It was liberating to pick up one pointless tchotchke after another and ask aloud, "Are we really expected to live with this? Will our landlord really miss it if we get rid of it? Aren't we doing her a favor?" Liberating—and possibly grounds for litigation. So never mind all that. Forget I said anything.

Besides, the War on Clutter is nothing beside the interesting thing that happened over the weekend. We had another ultrasound and learned that our Bean is a girl.

Yes. We're going to have a girl. Already have one, I suppose—just have to let her bake another few months before she can come out of the oven.

I broke the news over on the blog Sunday morning, and refer you over there for details, insofar as there are any. (There aren't.)

I'm thrilled—and terrified.


I was so wrong about the Elephant Lullaby. What I shared with you on Friday was the Elephant Song. My bad. The Elephant Lullaby is a completely different thing. The DMG has asked me to clarify that. She has been humming the Elephant Lullaby, not the Elephant Song, which my sister informs me can be heard with painful regularity on "Barney." (High on my list of things I don't look forward to about parenthood.)

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An American reader sent me a link to a very curious site, observing that "it may be a simple moronic truth that there's a moron born every minute—or at least, that one surfaces from the slime that often." What I find most interesting about the site is this: if you were an historical revisionist, would you actually call yourself that? Wouldn't you just call yourself an historian and leave the application of the adjective to the snooty bastards who disapproved of your work because they were too intellectually myopic to appreciate your genius ?

I know I would. That's why I call myself "This Moron," for example, instead of "This Stupid Moron," "This Lying Moron," or "This Cantakerous Rat Bastard Moron."

* * *

Prince Rainier of Monaco and American actress Grace Kelly were married on this date in 1956—or so the secret architects of history would like you to believe!

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Dagens Ord

Today's word is, of course, pige, meaning "girl." It's also the word of the month and the word of the year. Vi skal ha' en pige literally means "we shall have a girl," but I'm afraid it may have less innocent idiomatic meanings, so you might not want to throw that one around too recklessly.

Birthdays & Holidays

It's Constitution Day in Venezuela.

Today is the birthday of Al Unser, Jr. (1962), Paloma Picasso (1949), Tim Curry (1946), Dudley Moore (1935), and Jayne Mansfield (1933).

Happy Monday!

2004, The Moron's Almanac™

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