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Resolution: Think inside the box

Marketplace Staff Dec 29, 2006

BOB MOON: Have you made any New Year’s resolutions yet? Commentator Catherine Price has. She’s determined to get organized. So she took a trip to that temple of organization — the Container Store.

CATHERINE PRICE: My goal was to purge my desk, control my clothing and color-code my craft supplies.

“Contain Yourself,” the Container Store’s doormat said in tall, thin letters. I made no such promises. I knew what I needed.

But the thing is, I was a Container Store virgin. I didn’t know the place was capable of producing feelings of anxiety and guilt as soon as you walk inside. As the doors slid shut behind me, I grabbed a cart and immediately descended into a spiral of self-doubt upon discovering solutions for storage problems I didn’t know I had.

I work out, but I don’t have a stainless steel gym basket. Should I want an organizing station for my excess wrapping paper? Was I a worthwhile person without a storage bag for an artificial Christmas tree?

When I walked out of the store two hours later, I noticed that my bags, while large, were surprisingly light. The metaphorical significance of this hit me later that night when I sat in my room surrounded organizational jumble: hangers, photo albums, and a tiny, plastic, purple box that was completely useless but really, really cute.

I thought I’d gone to the Container Store to control my closet, but I’d actually been trying to control my life. And not only that, it was as if having the right storage units would make the missing parts of my life fill themselves in. Too bad the Container Store didn’t have any boxes labeled “Financial Security,””Perfect Job,” or “Ideal Boyfriend.”

By one that morning, I’d separated my underwear and socks and my workout clothes sat neatly folded in their new stainless steel gym basket. But something was still missing. Could it be my shower tote? I picked up my receipt and found the answer staring back at me. I’d just spent 200 bucks on empty boxes.

MOON: Catherine Price is a freelance writer in Berkeley, Calif.

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