The Thinger for the Clutter Contained

Having declared repeatedly in public that my home was “half a matchbook collection away from being an episode of Hoarders” (saying this I am exaggerating, but not by as much as I would prefer), I have been plunging this summer, over and over, into our accumulated everything.

This is not easy.

One becomes a pack rat through a combo pack of habits, issues, and inept strategies.

For me, nearly every bit of sorting, cleaning, pitching, packing, reorganizing, moving, shifting, recycling, re-gifting, tagging for yard sales, and donating involves a commensurate inner activity.

Ideally, the inner activity means reflecting on and evaluating all the habits and strategies mentioned previously, and also gently, gently nudging apart the layers of issues involved that led me to the place in the first place.

Sometimes the inner activity is limited to “Ack!” or “oh my god” or “sheesh.”

But I keep at it.

I can be very persistent.

Some of this is deeply satisfying, the emptying of a container of stuff I no longer want, thus making it available to contain other stuff I do want.

And fairly often when I say or even think the word “container,” I think of James Thurber, and “Here Lies Miss Groby” (the first paragraph of which is available even to non-subscribers of the New Yorker, which fortunately contains the quote I was remembering).

“He remembers staying awake nights saying over and over ‘The thinger for the thing contained’ or thinking of an example of the Thing Contained for the Container. If a woman were to grab a bottle of Grade A and say to her husband, ‘Get away from me, or I’ll hit you with the milk’, that would be a Thing Contained for the Container.”

This is a way of talking about metonymy. I wonder if the act of blogging about metonymy will help me remember its definition in contrast to synecdoche. Probably not. But I would like to stake a claim here: I began saying “Schenectady” in place of “synecdoche” years and years before Charlie Kaufman made a movie called Synecdoche, New York, which I still haven’t seen.

All this is a way of procrastinating, by the way.

One last bit of reverie, before I head once more unto the breach, my friends:

I called my blog “marniere” because I’m fascinated by sinkholes. Fascinated and horrified by the idea of a chasm opening up where there previously was none. A chasm with ample space.

If you pitched your clutter in a sinkhole, you wouldn’t be able to access any of it easily. But you would be able to pitch and keep pitching for the longest time.

(I need to write part 2 for this a reminiscence of my childhhood entitled, “The Ravine Where We Threw Trash.” But for now, it’s once more unto the breach I’ve made in the wall of accumulated everything.)

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