I chose “cluttered” rather than “clutter” because it feels as if the objects are physically doing the cluttering, not just being inert clutter. Clutter as a noun is inert, still, motionless, passive, benign (until stagnant). Cluttered is an action word. My objects have cluttered me. The room feels cluttered. The person’s life is cluttered with clutter that’s cluttering it up.
Have you ever noticed how the words “clutter” and “clatter” sound almost the same? In some accents, they’re almost indistinguishable from one another. I’m not an etymologist (someone who studies the origins of words; I’m also not an entymologist – they study bugs), so I don’t know whether the words ever began the same way. I tried to find out, and discovered that the verb, “clutter” came from the word “clot” (like blood clot) in the 1400s. And the noun “clutter” came from “litter” (like, trash) in the 1570s. I enclose a screen shot because the definitions sound so perfectly descriptive. We’ve become too desensitized to the word clutter, and accept it as part of our lives, but apparently we’ve been fighting it since the 1400s. It’s particularly interesting that the verb developed before the noun, because I feel like the clutter is active, it is not passive, it is loud and noisy and it clatters along cluttering up the tiny amount of quiet space in my brain. I feel verbally assaulted by clutter which is why I’m still on the journey towards a minimalist life.
My shower caught fire on Friday, it was the perfect end to a crap week, really. I was just lathering up my violet toner to keep my hair shiny white, and I started smelling burning hair; I checked the box with all the wires, and it had started smoking. It wasn’t a huge surprise since the shower unit melted in February, then when we gaffer taped it, it seemed to stabilize. Apparently not. To make matters worse, the DIY disaster idiots who put the thing in (before we bought the house) stupidly put the isolator switch directly behind the shower, on a wall in the bathroom, and since it wasn’t a pull switch, I was trying to get it to turn off with soapy wet hands for what seemed like ages before it finally went. I can now say in all seriousness, with no sense of hyperbole, that having white hair has saved my life. If I hadn’t had white hair, I would have just used normal shampoo, and I would have just splortched it onto my hair, back to the shower, and lathered it in, then stood under the water for several minutes while it came back out again.
An electrician friend of a friend came and made the unit safe. When he opened it up, I was horrified by how close I’d come to serious harm. The exposed electrical wires which had been on fire were less than a millimetre away from burning away the insulation that was touching the water outlet pipe that takes water out through the shower head. If you know your basic electronics, you’ll know that water always takes the shortest path back to the Earth, so it would have come straight out of the shower head and down through me. What’s more, the fuse was so high (45A, standard shower fuse) that it hadn’t shorted out throughout this ordeal. The whole thing (as I’d been saying since February) was an accident waiting to happen, but it was only last week that we actually got together a few hundred quid to get the bathroom sorted out, because we can’t be without a shower, because my OH doesn’t fit in the tub.
We were already in the process of trying to get someone to come and plumb our bathroom, since the shower had started melting in February, but the first quote we had was £1800 (for labour only, and it wasn’t itemized so I couldn’t see how they’d arrived at that figure, I think they didn’t want to do the job so thought if they put it high enough they’d either make a lot of money from something they didn’t want to do, or get out of doing it. That plumber seemed to lose interest when I said I was keeping our current bathroom suite) so, after I had finished laughing at the absurdity that anyone would pay £1800 to NOT get a new bathroom put in, I had phoned someone else to come and quote me, literally minutes before I went into the shower. He will be round on Thursday. So I had to clear the bathroom of all the functional bottles, sponges etc that we use.
That was how I found out how quiet our bathroom is when there’s no clattering clutter cluttering it up. When there is not one single bottle of shampoo on the side of the bath or in the floor of the shower cubicle, it is so serene that I was disappointed at the idea of changing the room. You see, we don’t want to waste money (to buy or to run) on a new electric shower when we have literally no water pressure issues in our bathroom and no hot water issues with our boiler, so the whole cubicle may as well come out, and have an over the bath shower. When we were first thinking about this back in February, we wanted a new bath, and to move the bath, toilet and sink around to make better use of the space.
We actually bought the house because I loved the bathroom so much. The idea of having to change it is heartbreaking. But my husband doesn’t actually fit in the bath because it’s designed for men who are my height and women who are shorter, and children. It’s not intended for six footers. I wrestled with the wastefulness of discarding the bath compared to keeping it. I watched him struggle in the bath last night and I finally understood that we weren’t being wasteful in getting rid of the bath, it sadly wasn’t fit for purpose.
We will have to get a new bath. But it won’t be the same serenity when the bathroom has been changed, because the suite we have now is one of those coloured ones from the 1970s (not avocado, ours is sunshine yellow), and the happy warm friendly yellow will have to be replaced by a stark, clinical white bathtub, in full size rather than extra small, which will be all the more obvious since we’re keeping the yellow sink (basin) and toilet. But at least my husband will finally fit into the tub.
For now, it is the one room that is completely without clutter. Just having that one room in the house that has been silenced feels like a big minimalist victory over the advancing agents of clutter. It has spurred me on to get rid of more things today, things that have been waiting for a week or two to be removed from the house, and I felt so much better when I came back from the tip and the charity shop (thrift store) with a lighter car. It’s the one room where I can hear my own thoughts.