Chapel Hill: Opinion

Julie Moore: My mess and welcome to it

A friend of mine explains her deeply honest blog with this quote by C.S. Lewis:

“Friendship is born at that moment when one person says to another: ‘What! You too? I thought I was the only one.”

And it is with that in mind, that I offer the following:

I am stumped by a lot of things – plagued with questions, overwhelmed by life – Some of the questions are truly hard, like how to live a faithful life despite my lack of faith ... or how to raise my child. Some are just idle speculation like, “What really happened to the Lost Colony?” or “Where are my keys?”

And one ever-present quandary I face is how to conquer that mess that is our house.

Every nook and cranny of it is a mess, but for the sake of argument, I’ll begin by addressing just one of the (many) problems we have – particularly right after Christmas:


My son is a Brick addict, and to be honest, I love them too! I love putting together those complex kits – you should see our ginormous Hogwarts castle! But – the dang things are everywhere. They have taken over the living room, spilled into the adjacent home office, and can be found scattered throughout the house, on bookshelves, tucked into houseplants, invading the soap dish ...

The problem with these little freaks is that you can put them away all you like, but they will inevitably jump right back out, forming items that look like nothing to you, but the enraged 9-year-old that lives with you will loudly protest that it is “very special!” A robot, maybe? Or a building of some kind? Who knows? Not me.

I have actually attempted to impose order on the Legos, but it’s a lost cause, I fear. The little Rubbermaid drawer thing I bought to contain them stands perpetually open and spilling over.

But it’s not just the Legos. Our home overflows with toys and books and music and papers and clothes and … nothing terribly valuable ... just ... crap. I keep thinking of New York’s famous Collyer brothers, a duo of hoarders that lived in a Harlem brownstone in the first part of the 1900s. One of the brothers was actually crushed to death under their collection of over 140 tons of stuff they had amassed. The other brother, blind and paralyzed, starved to death because he had been waiting for the crushed one to bring him food.

It’s a fascinating, albeit sordid, story, but it doesn’t scare me. Because I would not say that we are hoarders. I mean, I would GLADLY part with much of what is here. What’s mine, anyway. Much of it belongs to the house’s other occupants.

It’s just that the task of sorting through it all will require the kind of time that I just don’t have, what with all the graphic designing, and mom-ing and wife-ing and cooking and all. ... Also, just thinking about it makes me want to climb in the bed for a long winter’s nap!

I used to have a trade situation with a professional organizer (yes, that’s a thing!) In exchange for graphic design services, she would help me make piles, rearrange ... reduce, reuse, recycle, as it were. It was fantastic, but 1) there’s not enough graphic design in the world that can purchase the amount of organizing services I need, and 2) about an hour after she would leave, our resident 9-year-old would inevitably have things in chaos once again.

I grew up in a home where neatness was highly prized. Some of my brothers and sisters have inherited the neat gene and some have not. I’m sure that there is some deep psychological root to my messes. ... But I would also like to assert the following: I have very little time. I’m old. I’m tired. The ratio of my fatigue to the amount that a messy house bothers me is just too great. Yes, I think it can be as simple as that.

So that’s all I wanted to say, really. I’ve got no spiritual insights or profound things to say about it. Just ... I’m a mess. I guess admitting you have a problem is the first step to overcoming it?

“Hi, my name is Julie, and I’m a mess. I am powerless over my mess – my life has become unmanageable. But I do believe that a Power greater than myself can restore me to sanity.”

Julie Moore lives in Chapel Hill. She can be reached at