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By Roz Rogoff

About this blog: In January 2002 I started writing my own online "newspaper" titled "The San Ramon Observer." I reported on City Council meetings and other happenings in San Ramon. I tried to be objective in my coverage of meetings and events, and...  (More)

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Getting organized

Uploaded: Jan 13, 2013
This week I'm writing about getting my house cleaned up and my files in order, or my disorder filed, and freeing up space so I can store more stuff or get rid of stuff I shouldn't be keeping. I do not consider myself a hoarder – maybe a I'm a semi-hoarder (It takes a semi to haul my stuff away – I couldn't resist that pun, but it's partly true too). I have had stuff hauled away several times but like mushrooms stuff keeps popping up.

A friend who is very organized offered to help me get better organized. Better of course is one of those relative terms, and almost anything is better than the way it is now. She came over on Saturday after shopping at the Farmer's Market. She brought be a big bouquet of flowers, which was unexpected and very nice.

We started out first with my small office. I have two desks, both full of stuff that I don't need, with more stuff in boxes next to the desks and two file cabinets that I bought to put all the stuff from the desks and boxes into in some orderly form.

My friend took all of the stuff off the floor and swept up the dust bunnies and cat hair. Wow I could actually breathe again. She says she's allergic to cat hair, but she didn't seem to react to cleaning it up.

We then took everything out of the drawers in my main desk. She separated what I wanted to keep from what I was willing to throw away, and added box for what needs to be shredded. Then she started going through all of the paperwork I wanted to keep. I discovered this morning we missed the one of my desk drawers, which is still full of unsorted papers.

I started going through the boxes next to the desk, which I originally got to throw stuff away, but I've been using them to keep from throwing stuff away. I found notes from old City Council meetings, a large unopened envelope, which when I opened had a calculator and pocket planner for 2010. Obviously I can't use the planner, but the calculator works, so I'll keep that.

I also started pulling out old telephones, eventually totaling four. I'm not sure why I stopped using these, but I'll donate them or give them away. I found a keyboard and several mice in the box.

Pulling all these objects out of this box reminded me of the show "Once upon a Mattress," which is a spoof of "The Princess and the Pea." At the end of the show they reveal why the wacky but lovable princess, played by Carol Burnett, couldn't sleep on 20 mattresses with only a pea underneath. The King removes all of the junk he put under the mattresses to make sure Burnett's character would be accepted as a true princess.

My friend started sorting through the piles of stuff and asked what I wanted to keep and what I wanted to throw away. She threw away about two thirds of the pile and then started to categorize the remaining items.

Around 1 pm she asked if I had any file folders. I thought I did, but since I can't find anything she told me to buy some. I went to CVS and wonder of wonders, all the file folders including boxes of Pendaflex hanging folders, were on sale for 50% off. So I bought two packages of manila folders and one box of Pendaflex folders.

She started labeling the file folders and putting the papers I wanted to save into appropriately labeled folders. I saved some holiday cards and birthday cards and a 1976 calendar from a friend's camera store in Los Angeles. I lived next door to him and his wife for about ten years and that reminded me of them. They have both since passed away.

My friend said she has no emotional attachment to my stuff, so it is easier for her to throw things away, but she made a "Mementos" folder to keep birthday cards, old photos, and the camera store calendar. She labeled all of the file folders and used up all 24 from the two packages and said I would need more, but she thought she had some at home and would bring them down the next time she came. She lives about 30 miles away.

It was 5 pm and we had cleaned up three of the four drawers in my main desk, and half of one box of papers. Not a lot, but at least it was a start. I asked my friend if she wanted to stay for dinner.

The Willow Tree Chinese Restaurant in Dublin was running a 35th Anniversary Lobster special and I had a coupon for $10 off $30, so I asked if she wanted to go over there for dinner, my treat. I really owed her more than dinner but she likes Chinese food.

My friend used to work in San Ramon and we met for lunch last week at Uncle Yu's, but she had never tried the Willow Tree. I belonged to a tech writer's group that meets there for lunch once a month. I don't go every month, but I catch up with some of my old friends from the group a few times a year. So I'm quite familiar with the place.

My friend drove because I don't like to drive after dark. We got there around 6:30 pm and the parking lot was full. I wasn't sure if the $10 off coupon could be combined with the lobster special, but the lobster dinner sounded like a good deal by itself. I miss eating lobster when I'm not in Maine.

We parked around the side near the Outback. It was cold walking in. By the time we walked over, about half of the cars were pulling out!

Most of the diners must have come at 6 pm, because the crowd was starting to thin. Still the place was busy. One way to tell a good Chinese restaurant is if a lot of Chinese people eat there, and a lot were. The wait staff was all Chinese. Our waiter barely spoke English.

We went round and round over whether we had to order the Lobster with Noodles to get the special $12.95 price or if we could order any lobster dish on the menu. I wanted the Lobster with ginger and scallions. My friend wanted salt and pepper lobster, but after we managed to get the waiter to take my order for ginger and scallions, so she ordered that too.

I'm not sure how the lobster with noodles was prepared or if the lobster meat was removed from the shells, but ours was all in the shells, and the shells were cut up into 1 to 2" pieces. The sauce made the shells sticky and we didn't have nutcrackers or small forks to get the meat out. In fact we didn't have forks at all at first. After bringing each of us forks, a waitress brought an extra plate to put the shells on, a wash cloth, and a nutcracker.

The dinner was very good and we got the $12.95 price for each lobster dinner. The bill came to $38.05 with an egg roll appetizer, so that qualified for the $10 discount too.

My friend plans to come back in a week to help me clean up more of my stuff and properly file it away. She's thinking about getting an Organizer's license. I told her if she can organize me, she can organize anyone!
What is it worth to you?


Posted by Roz Rogoff, the San Ramon Observer,
on Jan 14, 2013 at 9:56 pm

Roz Rogoff is a registered user.

BTW "Once upon a Mattress" will be presented this coming weekend at 7 pm on Friday, January 18th and Saturday, January 19th, at the San Ramon Performing Arts Center in Dougherty Valley.

Web Link

This show is great fun for the whole family. Tickets are only $10.

Posted by mloliver, a resident of San Ramon,
on Jan 16, 2013 at 10:10 am

Congratulations of taking step one toward organization. Your friend is truly a gem! It will make a big difference. Last year my husband attacked the garage with considerable fervor. We have had 36 years living in this house to collect stuff. We found one large box that had magic marker printing saying: " If not opened by 1973, give directly to Goodwill. " We actually had moved here since 1973. The massive clean out took three weeks. It's hard to get rid of old stuff, like three bankers' boxes of notes for his PhD Thesis, old sporting equipment, and all the stuff from San Ramon's Incorporation and my campaigns. We "Freecycled" a lot of things.

I tend to have three paper piles. Urgent, less urgent, and relatively unimportant. The urgent gets taken care of quickly, but if I'm not careful, the less urgent becomes urgent when I'm not paying attention. Or, better yet, the less urgent becomes unimportant. Most of the unimportant goes into the shredder or the trash .

Now, if I could just get my computer files organized.....


Posted by DBEAR, a resident of San Ramon,
on Jan 17, 2013 at 12:54 am

One Suggestion.....SHRED! SHRED! SHRED! Destroy papers containing information that could be used for identity theft or to otherwise embarrass you or others. Congrats on you organizational effort.

Posted by Roz Rogoff, the San Ramon Observer,
on Jan 17, 2013 at 1:46 am

Roz Rogoff is a registered user.


My friend is coming over on Friday to go through more stuff. This will take more than three weeks, maybe three months to go through it all. I haven't lived here as long as you have, but I have boxes in my garage that my father sent me when I moved to California in 1972!


I'd love to just throw stuff away, but Social Security #'s were put on everything years ago; so I will have to go through those boxes and shred, shred, shred. Thanks for the advice.


Posted by mloliver, a resident of San Ramon,
on Jan 17, 2013 at 10:56 am

DBEAR, I agree wholeheartedly about the shredding. Roz is right about the SSN being on an awful lot of stuff. My computer desk has a place for a large tower CPU which now holds a shredder within easy reach. I also appreciate that most magazines have peel off labels now, so I can feel comfortable donating them or tossing them in the recycle bin.


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