What's Under Your Bed?

When I was a SAHM to two toddlers I attended a FHPE Meeting where LDS author Louise Plummer was the guest speaker. She challenged each of us to write more often in our journals, and not just write the ‘typical’ types of entries, but to make interesting lists.

Louise suggested that we empty out our purses and record each and every thing we found inside. Or that we clean under our bed and do the same. Though she admitted that such lists can be embarrassing (who really wants to record the miscellany found under their bed for posterity?), she assured us that these lists would be of great value someday. More than anything, lists like these give a window into the past. For example, wouldn’t you be curious what your grandmother carried in her handbag? Or wouldn’t it be amusing to read a list of what your mother found in the back of her closet when she was your age?

So, true to Louise’s challenge, I went home and started making lists. My list of what I found under the couch on April 22, 1998 probably means very little to any of you, but when I read it this morning it brought back a flood of memories—much more more evocative of a particular time and place than my typically whiny journal entries. So today my challenge to you is: dive under a piece of furniture or dump out your purse and make a list. You can share it here or you can write it in your journal (or on your personal blog). And someday, ten years or more later, you’ll be glad that you did!

April 22, 1998: On my living room floor and under my couch…
2 pillows, 2 empty pillowcases, A folded thermal blanket, Half-full bucket of toys, “D.W.” doll, Yesterday’s junk mail, Yesterday’s newspaper, Primary Secretary notebook, Boy’s dirty sweatpants, Periscope, 2 empty old purses for dress-up, An empty plastic watering can, Haldor Laxness’ Paradise Reclaimed [Note: a MoLit classic!], Yellow cloth bag full of train toys, Library receipt, Daughter’s shoes, My shoes, Philoctetes toy (from Hercules movie), One inside-out sock, Son’s bike helmet, Pocahontas book, Plastic frog, Mickey Mouse umbrella, Blue gingham gift bag.


Jana is a university administrator and teaches History. Her soloblog is http://janaremy.com

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No Responses

  1. Mike says:

    Your list is much more interesting than my list. Many pairs of shoes and my mom’s copy of the latest Harry Potter book.

  2. John says:

    My equivalent of the under the bed is my corner of the living room, where I stack all of the books I’m rotating in and out. There’s plenty of other junk there, too. And unlike under the bed, it’s staring me in the face, saying “clean me! clean me!” Here’s the list:

    – 38 books in three stacks (my own and from three different libraries)
    – an extension cord
    – an iPod sync cable
    – a satchel of catnip (I don’t think I put it there)
    – knitting needles
    – a blue bandana, a baseball cap and a beanie
    – 2 pairs of running socks
    – two running shirts
    – software manuals
    – two laptop bags
    – a bottle of Lunesta sleeping pills
    – a sealed bag of “Trader Joe’s Chocolate flavored decaffeinated tea”
    – 2 paper notebooks
    – a pencil case
    – the empty box for C’s new mac mini.
    – there’s a few other loose items, but I’m going to stop here. I think the vast chasm between Mike’s neatness and John’s slobbishness is obvious now. 😛

  3. John says:

    I just re-read Mike’s comment–I don’t think that any of the stuff under his bed is even his! (I’m assuming that this is Caroline’s Mike–and Caroline’s shoes).

  4. Dora says:

    This post reminds of me Sei Shonagon’s _The Pillow Book._ Besides having a personal interest in all things Japanese, I also like that the female courtiers of the Heian period were educated and literary. And, she had all kinds of fascinating lists, such as I find on a good friend’s blog.

    I’m in SLC for GC, or else I’d make my own list, whether or not I decided to publish it here. As it is, I looked under the guest bedroom bed just to see what my sister had stored there. Typical … 5 neatly organized boxes of sheet music, craft stuff, and sundry light bulbs, etc.

    However, I really like the idea of recording everyday events for posterity. A book that I’ve enjoyed over the years is, _Will I Ever Forget This Day: Exerpts From the Diaries of Carol Lynn Pearson._ She was an incredible journal-er, and reading this book has reinvigorated me to journal (and blog) many times over the last few decades. I would love to read my mother’s and grandmother’s writings, but they are almost entirely written in Japanese. This will be a project for Mom to weigh in on after she retires, as written Japanese entirely (as opposed to spoken Japanese, which only oftentimes) baffles me.

    Anyway, I believe that the shared experiences of women greatly contributes to discussions on female and feminist issues. The ubiquitous, “Where did I come from, What and I doing, and Where am I going?” questions. This may seem like an obvious statement, but one that I need to occassionally remind myself of.

  5. Starfoxy says:

    MY under the bed is my kitchen counter. That place is like a black hole. I don’t know how I stand it. Anyhow here’s the list of things that would remain even if I cleaned the kitchen:
    -2 cookbooks (BH&G and a ward compilation)
    -Box of Kleenex
    -address book
    -eyeglass case
    -2 eyeglass cleaning kits
    -2 spray bottles
    -fun dip candy with sticks removed and eaten (powder remains untouched)
    -baby nail clippers
    -my wallet
    -a phillips head screwdriver
    -allen wrench
    -the Ensign
    -a nut (as in nuts and bolts)
    -a cough drop
    -2 safety pins
    -1 sudafed (still in pill packaging)
    -baby food (squash, peaches, dry oatmeal)
    -a scrubbing brush
    -my husband’s watch, wallet and flash drive
    -ceramic bowl with misc. junk in it
    -an empty candy dish with green flowers on the side.
    -a clock from ikea

  6. Caroline says:

    Hah! Actually, those shoes are Mike’s. My shoes are strewn around the house with no order to them whatsoever. His shoes are neatly lined up under the bed since he doesn’t have much room in his little closet.

    As for me…. I’ll do what is on top of my living room coffee table right now.

    -two old cereal bowls
    -1 old pasta bowl (lunch yesterday)
    -workout clothes (I.Will.Exercise.)
    -overheads from teaching
    -worksheet from teaching
    – junk mail
    -bag of tools
    -remote control
    -candle holder and candle

    (This table is much cleaner than it usually is, as our house got cleaned on Wednesday.)

  7. Bored Dominatrix says:

    What’s under my bed:

    –nothing whatsoever

    What’s on my living room floor:

    –a couch, a loveseat, a coffee table, etc
    –a few cat toys

    I loathe clutter.

    I keep very detailed to-do lists and when I’m particularly busy and the lists have interesting items on them, I’ll include those in my journal.

  8. jana says:


    Your fastidiousness and to-do lists amaze me. I used to be a much tidier person until I started living with one (and eventually three) untidy people. I refuse to always clean up after them (I’m just too cantankerous to do things for them that they can do themselves). So, the stuff builds up next to and under and on top of various pieces of furtniture.

    I’ve found it’s easier to live with messiness than to be a martyr (tho sometimes I just _explode_ at everyone when I’ve hit my messiness limit). And then everyone responds quickly, seems to tidy for awhile and eventually reverts back to a cozy slovenliness.

  9. Mike says:

    John, Caroline doesn’t read Harry Potter. As she says, it should have been Harriet Potter!

  10. John says:

    Ack! I guess under the bed is Mike’s space.

    Jana, I’m sorry that you have to be married to such a slob…:(

  11. Heather O. says:

    I just did this very thing–cleaned under my bed, and boy, was I horrified as to what I found. Makes me feel like a terrible slob. Or, maybe just a mom, seeing as 90% of what I found was child related (toys, sippy cups, etc.) I did find 2 Christmas ornaments–huh? I guess they meandered over from the box when I brought stuff up to put up Christmas lights outside of the windows in my bedroom. I’m hoping that’s the case, otherwise something seriously creepy has been going on!

    Fun post. Thanks

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