I thought seriously about uploading a “before” and “after” photo of my clutter cleanup. Then I thought better of it. Why revisit that humilitation again? Why not enjoy the clean, calmness of my desk, my freshly-made bed, my bathroom sink and vanity, now one smooth plane of pseudo-marble?

Well, although I adore the new look — have worked hard (for months) to make it so — I am finding that things look a little…dull. Lifeless even. Sterile and bland. And those are not words I use about myself. Ever.

Suddenly it feels a little creepy to be so clean and organized. Like it isn’t my house any longer. Perhaps someone has crept in during the night (or more accurately, the last four months) and silently, stealthily cleaned my house and put things away. Where I will NEVER find them. Oh dastardly organizer!

Actually, it’s true. I have been working with a professional organizer, much to my embarrassment. Why couldn’t I do this myself? I know how. I am a terrific organizer. I love to find little boxes just perfect for the cancelled checks or cunning little drawers that hold paper clips and thumb tacks (even though I rarely use thumb tacks).

What I am not so great at is the bigger stuff: when I sort through the pile and there is still a pile left. The stuff that doesn’t really have a home, but that I still want to keep. Clippings about online resources for writers that are pertinent to Macintosh users (always a rebel, eh?). A quilted wall hanging from a dear friend that hasn’t been displayed in the three years since I received it for Christmas. A clay pot my son made in third grade (let’s see, that was 17 years ago now) moved from its original shelf to make room for more books that needed to moved from off the floor. Stuff that I need to KEEP, right? Maybe, maybe not.

Erica the professional organizer has patiently and kindly helped me figure out what goes where. She struggled with my brain’s logic for a long time before we came to an agreement that I could file things in a weird way because it worked for me. For instance, names in my Rolodex are filed mostly by first names rather than last. It’s easier for me!

So now my files are sorted and (equally importantly) labeled and the desktop is clear, the kitchen island is bare and the vanity is empty. And I am feeling uneasy.

A horrible thought enters the back of my mind and drills its way to the front of my consciousness: what if I secretly LIKE my clutter? What if all these years I have been paying lip service to getting things organized…and I really wanted to hang onto it? Ouch.

A psychologist would have a field day with that insight. Sure would explain why I hung on so dearly, why I simply could not get it done all by myself. But this year, I have hired someone (it still galls me at some level that I am paying someone to help me do this–grrrr). I have met the enemy and moved the mountains…to mix several cliched metaphors.

What I notice is that my clean surfaces – which I am committed to keeping clear – show that my house could use a little interior design. I guess I was using my clutter as decoration! When the piles are gone, I can see what needs a little facelift, a plant, a nice painting.

I have a couple of options. I could allow the clutter to cave in me again. Oh boy, would that be easy to do. I am an expert at creating clutter–all I have to do is stand still, live my life and not put things away. It happens like magic. And I wouldn’t have to worry about decorating my house.

OR, I could keep up the calm, clean facade. And start watching “Divine Design” or “Design on a Dime” (easier on my budget) and fluff up my house without the clutter. Yeah. That sounds better. Decorating means NEW. I LIKE new. ADD is really lovely after all…