Shreds in the glove box

If I hadn’t had low tire pressure, I would never have known.

My car had been veering left ever so slightly for a little while (read: a month), but it’d been too cold to get out of the car at the gas station to check my air pressure (because you can’t keep your mittens on for that) and add air. So when a nice day came along, I seized the opportunity and pulled into the BP next to the free air.

Side note: I love that the pressurized air is free. Just one of the many things to be grateful for in life. Free pressurized air.

When I opened my glove box, I found the shreds of a granola bar wrapper, a plastic bag with a giant hole, melted candles, flakes of a auto repair report.

The melted candles gave me a way out to think that possibly they’d melted in the summer to cause the damage, but in the back of my mind I could see tiny little claws ripping the contents of my glove box to shreds.

I made a Snapchat video showing the evidence, citing the melted candles as the likely culprits.

Some friends just won’t let you get away with being naive.

My friend Jenna sent me a Snap back with a skeptical face and the caption, “I think you have a mouse.”


Full stop.

Uh-uh. No mice here. My car is a rodent-free zone. Why would a mouse even want to be in my glove box? There’s not way it could’ve gotten in there (except like through the engine area, which is totally possible). Mice are dirty, and my car is well-kept and clean. Why would it come into my car?

After that, I couldn’t live in denial.

We were walking together, and I brought it up. “I think you were right about the mouse.”

“That really wasn’t the first thing to cross your mind?”

“Well…” It might have been. I have been known to believe the best in a situation only to find out that I’ve been blind. “I mean, I thought of it, but then I saw the melted candles…”

It sounded lame even to me as I said it.

A month after this realization, I finally got around to cleaning my car out. I couldn’t deny it any longer. There was a mouse in there at some point. I think it may have been quite some time ago, since there wasn’t much recent evidence, and I hadn’t heard it. Likely when my car was living under a pile of snow and I was at school some little mouse decided to take refuge in there.

Such is my story. Such is my shame.

But yesterday afforded the perfect opportunity to do a deep clean. Now that the issue was exposed (and I’d had a month to prepare myself), I re-opened the glove box and SCOURED that thing. All the shreds (and other things that I’d rather not talk about) went straight into a garbage bag, and I disinfected my registration and my tire gauge and anything else you could disinfect in there. I clean that glove box like it’d never been cleaned before.

And I didn’t stop there. The exposure of that nasty secret inspired me to get the vacuum and the steamer. I got my seats and car mats cleaner than they’ve been in probably ten years.

Today my car smells good, and my dad even noticed how nice the carpet looks. There is nothing nasty in the glove box, and I’ve got dryer sheets in there, per Jenna’s advice that mice don’t like those.

Sometimes it takes a friend who takes no nonsense to get us to really do a deep clean. Sometimes it takes a mouse to create a mess to remind us that the rest of the car wasn’t actually as clean as it could’ve been. Then we pull our resources and cleaning tools and clean house (or vehicle).

While I hope that no mouse ever ventures near my car again, it was a nice reality check.

I’m never leaving granola bars in my glove box again.

Light and carpet glue.

Someday, my room will stop smelling like carpet glue, but until then, I’ll just grin and bear it because the carpet that was replaced was the carpet that was in our house when my parents moved in before I was born.

Yes, it was kind of old. And the new stuff is plush and squishy. It makes me want to keep my floor clean so I can spend more time sitting on the floor.

So, I’ve been going through desks and drawers and boxes this week, discovering all sorts of treasures and junk.

I’m realizing as I grow up that I held on to so many pointless things as a kid. The other day, I found ALL of my baby teeth. Not one was missing. Not only is that weird, it’s also gross.

And it was in my desk drawer. Right. That makes sense, Ashley. How about instead of pens and pencils or markers and paper, you keep your baby teeth in there with all your spare buttons and some cassette tapes from when you used to tape your favorite songs off of Radio Disney.

I’m growing up, and it’s because I keep opening my desk drawers and letting the light expose the strange and gross things that are there.

It put a twist on the idea that God brings my darkness into light. I usually think about that like God taking whiteout or bleach and making my unholiness bright and clean. And while I think it sometimes is like that, I think God also opens our drawers and sees what we’ve stored away. He asks us to be a part of the cleaning process. He says, “Look there. Those aren’t who you are anymore. Let’s throw them away. Take the anger, bitterness, hate, jealousy, pride, and all the rest and throw them away. Look, I have shiny new supplies for you: grace, peace, love, gentleness, mercy, wisdom, patience. These are what have belonged in there all along. This is why you need me.”

He opens my drawers and shines light into darkness.

He deep cleans and shows me part of what he’s doing, maybe not right away, but light reveals. It doesn’t conceal.

No band-aids.

I’ve been trying to clean out a wound for a while now, but – like many of  my cleaning projects – it often sits untouched in between efforts to clean it.  It’s a deep wound, inflicted by ones who don’t see their actions as weapons and haven’t changed their behavior much.  But when I see what oozes out of that nasty thing, I can’t take it.

It’s ugly.  I think it bled at one point, but now it’s just infected.  Bitterness and anger is what usually comes out.  It needs holy hydrogen peroxide, and Jesus is faithful to provide that, even when I don’t ask.  He was the catalyst, the one who pointed out the wound and started the healing.

How do you heal something like that?  It’s not a quick fix.  And you really can’t bandage it, either.  That inhibits healing, though it hides the wound.  Band-aids have covered it up for long enough.  No, now it needs cleaning, consistent maintenance. I have a daily choice to forgive and let go.

Who was it who said that nothing worth doing is easy?  Probably someone I’d like to meet.  The only easy things that are worth doing that I can think of are recipes and smiles.

It’s worthwhile, even though I’m not the most adept at cleaning (particularly at cleaning wounds or anything involving blood or pus).  I have to remind myself of that sometimes, but it’s worth it.  Restoration always is.

Recovering pack rat musings.

You’d all be so proud of me.  I’m turning a corner in my life.  (I know you’re waiting with baited breath for which corner this could be.)

I recycled stacks of papers yesterday, filled a tall garbage bag, and assembled four big containers of things to take to Goodwill.  I can actually use my closet the way God meant for a closet to be used now.  There’s organization now.  I can actually find stuff.

It’s full of boxes of memories, really.  I haven’t completely laid dormant my sentimental side, so there were things that I couldn’t put in the trash.  Maybe someday, but not yet.  Corsages from formals all four years of high school, stuffed animal friends from childhood, pictures and pictures and more pictures, elementary school projects, meaningful notes.

I’m not sure exactly why I’m saving them, not sure who will care to look at them.  I mean, I will of course, every one or two years when I cull through my things again.  And I’ll smile and remember each event that those things stand for.  It might just be for me.  And maybe that’s enough.  Since it’s likely that I’ll forget those memories without some trigger to bring them back, perhaps it’s enough reason to store away those little things.

I’m a recovering pack rat. I no longer save everything.  I can easily part with many of the things that were once part of my life.  I sent my calculus binder to the recyclers with just a twinge of sadness.  I’m culling out the clutter to make room for new experiences and people. I’m opening up my life to see what God wants to fill it with.

I’ll hang on to my memories and a few little reminders, while still living in the present.  Let THE PURGE continue.

Purge number 2.

I thought I had purged through my belongings last summer before I left for school.  I thought I’d gotten rid of tons of things, that I was down to a reasonable amount of possessions.

Insert picture of my room, in words since I’m too ashamed to show you the real thing:

You cannot walk in there.  Not even one step.  Thankfully, I got everything to a point where I can now open the door almost fully, but it’s a squeeze.  There are boxes everywhere, and since I haven’t unpacked them but have needed things that are in them, they have a little halo of their contents around them, too.  There’s a set of drawers sitting on my floor as well as an easel, a printer, three shopping bags, and a pile of clothing.  I already had boxes of things that I didn’t know what to do with lining my room before I came home, so that just adds to the mess.  My bed hasn’t been made yet today, and my closet is full – but I still have belongings from college to put in there.

Then there are those four boxes in the entryway that have been sitting there since they arrived in Monday a la USPS since I had no where to put them.

This is one of those moments where I could panic and say I don’t know where to being, so why not just sit here and stress about it some more.

But instead, I shall listen to a podcast and start pulling things out of my closet.  I’ll increase the mess in order to decrease the amount fo stuff I have.  I will make multiple trips to Goodwill and will save my tax-deductable receipts.  I’m going to pare down my life because if college has taught me anything (which is has, many things other than this), it has taught me that I can live simply and in a small space.  I have a feeling that will come in handy later in life.

So, without further ado, I begin PURGE NUMBER 2.

Ripple effect.

One of my accomplishments from college I’m pretty proud of: I can now clean hair out of the shower drain without gagging.  This is big, folks.  It probably took a semester, but I can do it now, perhaps even while smiling.

I’m making a difference in my dorm, one shower at a time.

But, really, I think it does make the world a better place that I take the time to do that.  It’s so easy to forget that my actions have a ripple effect.  Will you just humor me and imagine a little scenario with me?

Y’all are so obliging.

Because I cleaned out the shower drain today, someone else will see the absence of hair later today.  It might just make them a little bit more prone to shower than they usually are.  Then, because they smell so good, they will make their roommate so happy that they will walk around with a smile on their face for the rest of the day.  Then they’ll smile at someone who has had a really rough day.  And it’ll be a real smile, enough to lift that person up just a bit.

I practically just made someone’s day.

That’s not all I’ve learned during this year at college, but it’s definitely a life skill that I treasure.


My handy dandy Tide-to-go pen was there for me again today.  I’m telling you, it’s a must-have in any purse, backpack, or bedside table.  I spilled just a few drops of coffee on Bunny this morning, which wouldn’t be too bad.  But he did JUST go through the washing machine.

Tide-to-go to the rescue.  (P&G should be paying me for this.)

Other things that require cleaning: ear piercings.

I think I neglected to mention this back in December, but I got another hole put in my ear back then.


This was taken just after the nice lady punched the earring in.  It stayed red for a bit and tingled, but I haven’t had any problems with it since.

And that’s just the problem.  It doesn’t hurt, so I forget it’s there.  And you’re supposed to clean that thing three times a day for 8-12 weeks!  It’s been six weeks today, so I’m halfway there.  But I certainly haven’t been faithful to clean it that often.

So maybe it’s not infected, and I’m pretty sure that I’m past the big danger-of-infection stage.  But there’s still this little voice in my mind that reminds me that it’s being faithful in the little things that’s important. It says that maybe they tell you to clean it for 8-12 weeks for a reason, and maybe I should listen.

And maybe I should be faithful.  It takes like 30 seconds.

Eventually it will turn into a habit, and it won’t seem like a chore.

Other little things that don’t take long, are good, and could become habit: sending nice cards, smiling, encouraging, and keeping my papers in folders.

Pep talks.

Having an excess of half and half isn’t really a bad thing at all.  It’s actually kind of nice, especially when blackberries go on sale for $.99 at Jewel, so you can eat fruit in half and half.  Then you mush up the fruit and drink the blackberry saturated creamy stuff.

Not a bad thing at all.

I’ve been trying to convince myself all day to work on my final paper for Bible.  It’s been a struggle.  So far, I’ve convinced myself to vacuum, empty the vacuum of all of its nasty stuff, do two loads on laundry, and write a letter.  I haven’t been able to make myself pick up this book that I need to finish or to write a paper based on its chapters.

I know I can do it.  I don’t doubt that.  Somehow, the drive to do it has been a little lacking today.  However, this is the absolute last thing that I need to do in my first semester of college, so I’m going to give myself a pep talk.

I’m sorry that you have to witness this.

Come on, Ashley.  It’s just a twelve page paper.  

I mean, if you divide it up based on topic, it’s pretty much just two six page papers.  And you’ve already written a whole paragraph!  You don’t have that much to do.  

Sure, that book is dry and repetitive, but it’s about the BIBLE.  You know it will come in handy later… like say, when you’re writing that paper!  

You don’t have any cleaning to do – you already did that.  

You don’t have any reason to spend any more time on Facebook or Twitter.  I’m pretty sure all of the people connected with you on there could recreate your entire life from the past few months, minus a few bad meals at ARA.  

You just need to sit your butt down in a chair somewhere, and finish the book.  Here, we’ll take it in steps.

Step 1: Finish the book.  Annotate it.  Mark it up, and get it done.

Step 2: Write the rest of the first half of your paper.  Just 5 and a half more pages.  You can do it.

Step 3: Research Ephesians 5:10-17.  Get some commentaries, a Bible dictionary, and a cup of coffee, and just do it.  You have no reason to shy away from this task.  HECK, the passage is about taking up the armor of God! Tackle that thing head on!

Thank you for being here.  On that note, I will obey my own pep talk.

THE PURGE. Part two.

The Purge is continuing, folks.  So far, my progress has included going through piles and removing unused hangers from my closet, and I have been faithful of document.

Today, I did something a little more monumental, that took far more courage than any of the other things I could have picked to do today.  Not only did it include a trip outside to my car, but it involved, nostalgia, decision-making about nostalgic things, and lots of recycling.

It is the ultimate job for the ultimate former packrat. (notice the word former there.  it’s as hard to get over being a packrat as it is to be one.)

The way this daunting task began was by walking out to my car.  (that’s step one.)

Step 2: Pop the trunk.

Step 3: See the bags of stuff that came out of my locker on May 18th.  See the bags.  Experience momentary guilt for leaving them in there so long, wonder if – like my mom asked – there is any food in them.  Then brush guilt aside with the realization that I’m finally doing something about it and should therefore feel justified about my actions.

Step 4: Pick up said bags, realize that one of them isn’t actually school supplies but rather full of other people’s things that need to stay in my car.  Find a pair of high heels that I didn’t even know my sister was missing (I’m guessing she didn’t know either.).  Take the two remaining bags inside and up the stairs to my lair where the garbage and recycling bags wait to be filled.

Step 5: Pair up full backpack with full bags and think about the long task ahead.

Step 6: Go through every binder, notebook, bag, and pencil case thoroughly, taking out unneeded papers (at least 5 pounds of paper) and random things that should be thrown away.  Place the remaining items on the bed so that I can’t go to sleep tonight without doing something with them.  Sit for a few minutes with my calculus binder, the notebook full of anxiety, confusion, small victories, larger victories, good grades, bad grades, and probably a lot of hair that fell out from stress.  Wonder if I should keep it.

Pro: So much learning is contained in here.

Con: 90% of the contents are things I’ll never use again.

Pro: There is a slight (like .5%) chance that I’ll change my major to include something that will use calculus and I’ll have wished I kept it.

Con: I’m a Communications major right now.  No need for calc.  No room for binder in my room… unless I keep cleaning.

And since I’m still not at any conclusions, Step 7 was to place the large pink binder on my bed with the other things I’m keeping.

It may not look like much of a downsize, but just applaud with me as I take my break so that I feel like I accomplished something.

Now, on to finding a home for all this displaced, transitional items.  And after I complete this task, I will reward myself with a smoothie (with chocolate in it, of course) and time to read Little Dorritt.  I know you’re not supposed to use food as a reward, since that builds an unhealthy relationship with food.  (Who says it’s unhealthy to put good food on a pedestal and use it to motivate yourself???)  But I’m going to do it anyways, because it keeps me motivated.

Hah, nutritionists. Hah.

The Purge.

This is the day, the one I’ve been dreading/anticipating happily/motivated/unmotivated for since I started thinking about college.


The Purge: (proper noun) the time in a young girl’s life where she feels the need to root out disorganization and unnecessary items from her humble abode (also known as her bedroom).  The Purge requires many days, weeks, and/or months to complete as it skips no drawer, leaves no shelf untouched, and aims to downsize possessions and clutter in an attempt to be ready to leave home at the end of August.

So, today I began The Purge.  It has humble beginnings, but I already have half a garbage bag of things that came from piles that have been sitting in various places in my room for a year at minimum.

Here I am, about to begin the purge.

I look happy, right? ready to start work?

Well, here’s how I really feel. are you kidding me? I’m selling my soul to this organizational project?

And here is what I will look like when it is all done.  it will take an enormous toll on me, I’m sure.

I’m a sentimental person.  I see that calculus test where I finally got a score to be proud of, and I want to keep it.  Previously, it was siting in one of the eight or so piles around my room. Now, it has a happy home in a folder, and lots of his paper buddies from the same pile are in this lovely white garbage bag.

You’re probably feeling pretty good about your cleanliness right about now.  I’m looking around at my room at all these absurd things I’ve saved, and I’m just too embarrassed to list any of them for you.  So, I’ll just sum it all up with the fact that The Purge is much needed.

Goals for The Purge:

1) Never forget to make the words The Purge bold while blogging about said task.

2) Have a room with organization that I will be proud to photograph and display online.

3) Get rid of at least three trash bags of things and consign at least 1/4 of my clothing. (I can safely make that goal because I have no idea how to calculate 1/4 of my clothing.  Some are smaller than others and some are staples so they should count for more….  it’s complicated.)

The Purge has begun, folks.

And it needs to be more than just my room.  I need to purge my life as well, as I’m sure we all do from time to time.  There’s the daily forgiveness purge, the renewal that has to happen each day in order to have a real relationship with God, but then there’s the deep cleaning.  It’s not just repenting of sin; it’s taking a good hard look at who I’ve become since I last looked in the mirror and asking myself if I like it.  If God likes it.  If it’s worth continuing down that path.

Most of the time when I do this, I realize I missed a turn a little bit ago, and I’m headed in a direction that isn’t most favorable.  Or maybe I’ve taken a wrong turn and need to get back to my original path.

Funny how I rarely find that I’m right on track.

I think that might be the nature of being human.  I might be “there” with personal hygiene (you have no idea how many times a day I wash my hands), but my neatness is lacking at times.

It’s like those sound balancing things. You know what I’m talking about?  how you can change the bass and the treble and balance it out so that it sounds right?  You just slide one lever up and slide another one down.

Balance.  Re-evaluation.  Purging.  Renewal.  These are my sumer themes, I believe.