Why you should never hire a professional organizer
Awhile back, a friend told me how happy she was she sprung for an organizer to come to her house and tackle her kitchen/pantry. Finally, after years of promising myself I was going to really tackle our basement, I decided to take advantage of a good cash flow month and splurge on one myself.
The issues that were bugging me specifically were:
All the toys with pieces that “belonged” together but were scattered to the winds
All the little pieces of nothing plastic shit and actual garbage mixed in with the real toys
Littler-kid toys that we all had emotional connections to, but I know we would forget about the second they were out of sight, out of mind
4,000 finished Lego sets with no display shelving
A nice freestanding Ikea closet that came with the house that I had last organized when my kids were still in diapers that I couldn’t figure out how to make Lego-friendly.
We had good storage and space to work with, but I needed someone who had patience, time, and an eye for putting things away in a manner that makes sense and is sustainable for the long run (I really wish I was one of those people!) I needed someone who could help me streamline the stuff, find homes for toys that had no home and sort out what could be thrown away/donated.
I asked a real estate friend here in Chicagoland if she had any recommendations, so I reached out to this company. Bonus: Michelle, who came over, was a very witchy mom of two boys herself and didn’t seem to judge when I said I didn’t intend to give my kids any sort of approval over the process. She was patient when I dithered over whether to let her use a gigantic Costco box I had promised my son as a bribe if he put away his breakfast dishes and got his shoes and coat on earlier that morning (I held onto it; a promise is a promise.)
Michelle was over for nearly five hours, which was both embarrassing and validating; she did everything I needed and produced two bags of trash and one bag of donations. The basement looks much bigger and, I hope, will be easier to clean up in the future. She didn’t try to convince me to purchase any particular organizing materials, but when I asked, did suggest some shallow bins from Target (shallow boxes are easier to sort through without resorting to tipping over, she told me.)
When she was finished, Michelle walked me through what she had done and showed me a spot in the storage room where she’d stored some more Legos and tidied up a little.
We have a few framed drawings and posters in there she’d set aside, and among them was this charcoal drawing:
The only thing weird about this is that I have never seen this drawing or this person in my entire life.
“This isn’t yours, is it?” I asked Michelle.
“No,” she said cheerfully. “He’s kinda creepy.” She showed me a second piece of sketch paper that had been pressed against the drawing to keep it from smearing, I presume. It revealed a shadow of the portrait, Shroud of Turin style. “So here, I guess, must be his ghost,” she said.
I told her I had never seen it before.
“Oh! Well, he’s definitely haunting you.”
I wrote her a check and walked her to her car.
Later that night, I asked my husband and the boys if they recognized the drawing. “Oh, yeah, sometimes I put stuff on that piece of paper,” my younger one said, which is almost worse. The ghost is the child’s secret playmate. Great. But nobody otherwise recognized who the drawing was of or could think of who had done it. I have some semi-spicy charcoal sketches I did many years ago at a nude portrait drawing party, but those are rolled up and stored in my bedroom, and I haven’t tried my hand at sketching since then.
I thought I had a pretty ordinary answer to this mystery—that the sketch was something the prior owners had left that had gotten stuck behind a door or in a crevice. It happens now and then—even though we’ve been here since 2015, we might find an unfamiliar toy or children’s drawing underneath a radiator or some such.
I knew the prior occupants had a teenage son, so figured it was maybe him. The prior owners don’t live far, so I was all ready to bring it to their house. As I wrote this email, I thought about how nice I was that I was willing to bring this lad back to his parents. What a nice souvenir from an earlier era in their lives:
I put this mystery on Instagram and my friend Rebecca told me I should not under any circumstances recycle this drawing because this person (even if he is possibly Robert Pattinson or David Tennant) will absolutely come back to curse and haunt us. And I just really don’t need that right now, you know?
My only remaining theory is that the drawing somehow fell out of a babysitter’s backpack sometime over the years but frankly, the ghost thing makes more sense. Maybe it’s a Dorian Gray situation and somewhere, there is a horrible old man who died looking as wretched as his soul, while this portrait reflects his prior innocence. I respect the process and don’t want to mess any of it up.
It’s kind of ironic that this organizer came over and found one thing that I absolutely don’t have a place for. But I never ever want to look at or touch this sketch again. So I ultimately decided to hide it behind the refrigerator, a mystery for the future. I hope I’m long gone by the next time he emerges.
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The archives live here. Earlier this week we discussed our favorite children’s milestones and because we’re witches they mostly involved our kids learning to do things so we don’t have to. A few others people have seemed to like cover learning to speak preteen girl, what it really means to “take care of yourself” when things are bad, and forcing your children to tell you about their schoolday through mind games and trickery.