Independence Day

While most folks were having or hosting parties or picnicking at a water front somewhere waiting for pyrotechnics to light up the sky, Jess and I celebrated Independence Day by liberating ourselves from more of our stuff. A month or so ago, a fellow tech nerd mentioned how much nicer her home office was after hiring Jess of Sunshine Assistants to come in and help deal with her clutter. I passed this information on to my wife Jess who is always fighting a losing battle with the ever growing pile of papers associated with adulthood. (To deal with the double Jess problem, I will henceforth refer to Jess as ‘Sunshine Jess’ and my wife as Jess). To my surprise and delight, I was working from home one day and Jess informed me that she had called Sunshine Jess and she would be arriving in a few hours. I ventured out of the office to meet her and then went back to work on my own projects.

In their first four hour session together, they turned our downstairs bookshelf from a dumping ground for mail / newspapers & recipe graveyard, to an organized and accessorized storage area that actually added beauty to the dining room space.

Book shelf, formerly a dumping ground, now beautified and organized.
Some purging and a trip to Storables makes a world of difference in a few hours.

The next session they began tackling the office, which Jess never works in because she couldn’t stand the utter chaos (I’m much better at ignoring the mess). Progress wasn’t as visibly dramatic, but the bags of recycling and shredding spoke of significant progress.

Then Jess asked if I’d be willing to spend four hours on a holiday helping to make the office a place that was actually pleasant to work in. Despite feeling stressed out and overstretched for the past month and this being one of my first potential days off from responsibility in a long time, I agreed. I too like organization, I’ve just been too overwhelmed with one turd after another hitting the proverbial fan to instigate a project of this magnitude.  It helped that I got the opportunity to take the rest of the week off so I knew I would have time to recharge and do things like push another 5 milligrams of epi into this blog. Sunshine Jess had no qualms about spending part of her holiday with us and called it ‘radically unAmerican.”

She arrived promptly at 10am and we got to work. (In person I referred to them as ‘Jess’ and ‘Honey’ to differentiate). In no time, the cats were scattered, the carnage had spilled into the hallway, and I was buried under a stack of books. Sunshine Jess spent most of her time helping Jess. Though it’s frustrating for Jess trying to get me to commit to a house project, the fact is, once I’m in it, I work fast and I’m a much more ruthless purger than she is. But even I was amazed when the bookshelf was completely transformed and my piles shrinking rapidly and we hadn’t even been working for two hours. Sunshine Jess was a joy to work with, fun to have around and full of good suggestions for what to do with the few things I wanted to keep but didn’t really have a place for. By the time she left, the closet had gone from looking like the site of a crime scene search to this:

Left side office closet, now with organization!
Yeah, we forgot to take the 'before' pic but trust me, it's dramatic.
Left side closet with empty shelf to work on and printer.
Next step, wireless printer. But until then, this works nicely.










Here’s the rest of the office:

my desk, now with visible surface!
My desk, now with visible surface area!
Jessica's desk
Look ma, no paper piles!
Office bookshelf
The bookshelf, as it was meant to be.

Perhaps the most valuable part of the service Sunshine Jess provides is that she takes the mountain of crap that inevitably results from this process and makes it disappear. David Copperfield has never pulled off such a magnificently useful trick. Sunshine Jess is on pretty familiar terms with places like the recycling center, Scrap and Free Geek, so your stuff even goes to a good home, whenever possible.

Now instead of adding even more things to our to-do list, we got to bask in the glory of available surfaces and lovingly gaze at the label maker, sitting in it’s proper place on the closet shelf, in front of the box of labeling supplies (which of course was marked, ‘Labeler’).

We did add one extra task to our day, which was to take a box and three bags of books down to Powells to sell, where we got thoroughly ripped off as usual walked away with cold hard cash in our pockets and most of the books we arrived with. The rest went to Title Wave the next day.

There is still work to be done, but with this kind of progress, there may even be hope for the garage someday.


  1. My Sunshine Jess sometimes comes out in the form of “Manic Caroline,” and I lose pounds of crap each time it happens. The stuff gets hauled to one of those Goodwill drop-offs, and I take great pleasure in using my shredder as well. What I’m wondering is, how do you mean Powell’s ripped you off? All I can think about is the time a woman brought books to them only to find out she had an extremely rare and valuable book they paid her beaucoup cash for. Otherwise, I think they depreciate just like anything else and Powell’s needs a profit margin. I feel better giving my books as gifts anyway: if they were good enough to buy and I enjoyed reading them, I feel like they usually make meaningful gifts or gestures. But I’m still curious what happened at Powell’s! 😀


  2. @Caroline:

    Textbooks. I took my last batch in from school and I couldn’t help but cringe when I think what I paid for some of them. My fault for being the kind of AR student who always buys the text book. I don’t have that feeling when I take my regular well enjoyed books-I-chose-to-buy back to Powells.


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