Monday, December 29, 2008

Extreme Makeover: Basement Edition

My basement looked like a second hand shop and a Toys R Us had not one love child, but septuplet love children, all of whom got a nasty stomach virus and threw up.

The floor was covered with old toys and an eclectic variety of shoe sizes and styles, many of them singletons. The couches sported armrests four shades darker than the cushions. Dirty socks stood up in the corners and crawled down into the crotch of the loveseat. Legos and plastic Polly Pocket accessories decorated every surface. Tangled cords from an assortment of electronic game systems snaked around the legs of hand-me-down office furniture.

People had been known to venture into the basement and disappear for three days. Some would manage to claw their way out of the clutter like jungle adventurers just barely escaping from a pit of quicksand.

It was really becoming a liability issue.

My friend Dr. Paradigm Shift, a therapist who frequently shifts my paradigms, is also a card-carrying Neatie. She has such high-level organizing and de-cluttering skills that she could turn a Bolivian rain-forest into a PGA golf course in two days flat.

This dedicated warrior against the Evil Powers of Clutter selflessly volunteered to sacrifice an entire free day to attack the federal disaster zone known as my basement and turn it into a functional, habitable zone of leisure. When we walked downstairs, I could feel the basement laughing at me.

"Bwah-hah-hah," it was saying. "You will NEVER NEVER overcome my Powers of Messifying! I am the EMPEROR of CHAOS and DISARRAY!"

"Dr. Shift," I said. "Look at it. We're never going to get this done. Let's just go out for breakfast instead."

"It's not that bad," Dr. PS said seriously. "We can probably get this done before lunch." I just looked at her, because I had never known her to be so out of touch with reality. She's a therapist, for crying out loud.

"Dr. PS," I said gently, "I don't think you're really looking at it. There are about 12,000 different toys, games, puzzles and articles of clothing covering every available surface. You can't tell, but there's a ping-pong table over here"--I pointed to a four-foot high rectangle covered with cartons, board game boxes filled with everything but board game pieces, dress-up clothes and loose crayons and markers. "You're sweet and generous to want to help, but we're doomed! Let's just go shopping," I said.

"No, no, no," she insisted. "This isn't bad at all. Come on. Let's get the bins and get started." She grabbed a snow shovel and commenced filling a 60-gallon tub with Imaginext pirates. Meanwhile, I walked the perimeter, picking up one roller blade or elbow pad at a time and depositing it into the designated roller-blade-and-accessories-container. Dr. Shift and I had different styles of attacking the Wilderness of Massive Craploads of Crap. Apparently.

And then, before my very eyes, a miracle began to happen. Surfaces started to appear. Cleared spaces began materialize. It was like the basement was having an asthma attack, and then it sucked in on its inhaler, and started being able to breathe freely again.

In just under two hours, Dr. Paradigm Shift delivered an Extreme Makeover: Basement Edition. The ping-pong table appeared as the piles diminished; we folded it up and pushed it against the wall. The berber showed its woolly pile; the love seats invited us to enjoy their awning-striped comfort--free of puzzle-piece-pokeage and electronic-game-cord-trippage.

The toys and games were binned and shelved. The empty Sprite cans found the trash, while assorted crusty silverware and a two full loads of whites and lights were relocated to await their natural fate.

We had filled several bags with broken toys and junk, which we carried out to the garbage, and we had packed a dozen more boxes and bags with gently used toys and clothes. Dr. Shift went the extra mile for me, helping me pile everything into the minivan and drive it to the Salvation Army drop-off trailer.

Now, one month later, my extremely made-over basement remains cleared and habitable, a recreation mecca. It's a miracle on Moody Street.

Thanks, Dr. Shift. You are not only a shifter of paradigms, but you are a bringer of serenity through neatness.


Anonymous said...

That's just AWESOME! I am jealous!

JKChicago said...

I can attest that a month later it is still a showcase of organization. And, when I was there, the coffee table was covered with tasty, tasty snacks!! Thanks, E.!

E. Peevie said...

Thanks, JK. Did you notice that your bride got a nickname in my recent 24 post?