Before we begin, a couple of notes. To my mother: Be sure you’re sitting in a chair with arms. I don’t want you to break a hip falling on the floor snort-laughing as you read this. Your “I hope you have children just like you” curse has come to fruition. To my children: Bookmark UfYH. You’re going to need it someday when Grandma and I aren’t around to do the unf**king for you.
I hate a mess. And clutter. And random crap piled up on flat surfaces for no other reason than it was the first handy place someone came to when they walked into a room.
When I was growing up I used to store my books in towering stacks all over my room. I had a collection of dolls that I loved, at least until I became filled with resentment because I had to dust them every single week. I was a messy little packrat. When I moved out on my (mostly) own, I had absolutely no idea how to take care of my habitat. I had a vague idea that sheets should be changed, counters wiped down, and toilets scrubbed, but no clue or inclination to do so on anything resembling a routine basis. And the laundry was a complete mystery: why aren’t there any clean clothes? Shouldn’t they just magically appear, clean and folded?
I’ve evolved into an unapologetic neat freak. A reformed mess-maker. An unclutterer and minimalist wannabe. (Except for the garage which remains a large three-dimensional scrapbook of sentimental stuff I can’t let go of. Favorite baby items? Check. The Brownie Handbook from my girlhood? Check. The umbilical cord stump from my first-born? Gross. And check.)
I’m also a voyeur with very specific tastes. I used to follow a website whose whole premise was posting pictures of the interiors of random peoples’ fridges. Swear to G-d. I also love seeing before and after pictures of other people’s organization projects. I don’t really take photos of my own organizing projects, but hoo-boy do I like to look at yours!*
And you’d better believe I did Apartment Therapy’s “January Cure.” Plenty of fun photos there. At some point in the recent past, I stumbled onto UfYH (Unf**k Your Habitat). There’s (clearly) a lot of swearing there and —even better— lots and lots of photos. The tone is no-nonsense snark with an amazing lack of criticism or judgment. It’s encouraging and pragmatic. There are no excuses and no marathon cleaning binges.
The UfYH team has an amazing sensitivity for the cycle that many people fall into of depression to messy environment back to depression, also seen philosophically as the outer reflecting the inner. If your outer world is chaotic, chances are your inner world is wrecked as well. Chicken and egg, but addressing both can break a destructive cycle.
The UfYH website has the basic tips and checklists (including a terrific guide on moving, which may be how I found UfYH in the first place), but the tumblr has all the action. If you do battle every morning trying to find your keys or are completely baffled as to how to maintain your home or are sick to death of paying your bills late because you can’t find the damn things, check out UfYH for some f-bomb filled encouragement.
Or, y’know, if you just love some good before and afters.
*I cannot watch an entire episode of any incarnation of “hoarding” show. They make my skin crawl and my heart break. I’m not convinced the people featured are actually being helped; it feels like a 19th century freak show to me.