Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Stuff

       A house is just a place to keep your stuff 
while you go out and get more stuff
                                                                      ~George Carlin

Over at Goodlife Zen they have a guest post about Living with Less and the Art of a Zen Closet.  Boy, I wish I could get more Zen in the area of stuff, how much I have and how much I need.  We seem to just accumulate things, until, as George Carlin says, a house is just a pile of stuff with a cover over it.

Our house is pretty much full of stuff as it is, and I have two impending moves that will result in a lot more stuff -- moving out of my office when I retire next year, and moving the rest of my things out of my ex's house when he retires and moves too.  I'm thinking about the kinds of things I can live without, so that my life doesn't become an even higher mountain of junk:

1.  Clothes.  Of course.  I have the clothes I never wear, the clothes that have never quite fit but I bought them anyway, the underwear that's in tatters but it fits, the underwear that's new but it doesn't fit so I never wear it, the shoes that are too good to get rid of, the purses I'm sure I can sell at a garage sale that never happens . . . on and on.  The writer over at Goodlife Zen got herself down to 33 pieces of clothing . . . I wonder if I could do the same?

[Books make me happy -- linkup to What I love Wednesday and  52 weeks of happiness]

2.  Books.  We currently have six bookcases stuffed to the brim, and I have three more full cases at the ex's, and a couple hundred books at my office.  I know that there are books that I treasure and could never part with, but what about the books I've read and know I'll never read again?  The books I'll never read?  The books I'm sure I'll refer to someday, but never do?  The books I wish my kids would care about, but they don't?  I have a wonderful book that was my dad's when he was a kid, and that I read over and over as a child, but my son never had any interest in it, so what will it mean to him when I'm gone?  And do I really need all the books I read for my master's orals 30 years ago???

3.  Supplies.  Office supplies, school supplies, craft supplies (oh yes and all those unfinished crafts projects).  I seem to accumulate those things endlessly -- cute file folders, pencils that look like ballpoint pens, a new color or shape of Post-Its.  And now I add art supplies to the list.  For some reason, I won't use a pad of paper when it gets down to the last few pages, so I have the tag-ends of all those pads in a drawer.  Good grief.


4.  Family mementos.  My sister and I have a terrible problem.  Our mother was a master craftswoman, a professional sewer, a successful artist, our houses are full of stuff that she made, and we seem incapable of ever getting rid of one bit of it.  I have clothes she made when I was a teenager, a huge pile of Christmas decorations, crocheted items (from my grandmother, too), things she made for my son when he was a baby, on and on.  I have to figure out how to release my deathgrip on all these things.  (Something I'll never give up:  a little purse size of Shalimar, the perfume my mother wore.  It's empty, but still fragrant.  Every now and then I open it and just inhale.)

[Not my stuff, fortunately]

5.  Photography-related stuff.  I have boxes full of prints I've had made but am not going to use, calendars left over from two years ago, cards I made but never sold, a couple of lenses I never, ever use, macro rails I think I've used once, on and on.  This is stuff I'll never get rid of, and I can imagine the pile growing and growing.

Well, that's the start of a list, anyway.  I really have to think this over.  What kinds of stuff do you need to get rid of, and how do you get yourself to do it??

21 comments:

julochka said...

i think it's really hard. we got rid of lots when we moved, but not enough. i was just staring at the room full of boxes we haven't unpacked after a year here (it wasn't the plan to unpack some of it, to be fair, as the house needs loads of repairs - read: a bulldozer). but i wonder how much of it we really need? books, yes. i can't part with books. we inherited a lot of books from my father-in-law and i love every book that's in this house (well, except for that stupid swedish crime novel i read a couple of weeks ago, i could part with that). so books are out. but clothes, shoes, crap...all of it could go. and it would do us good. however, i can't part with those baby clothes from when sabin was little, b/c i'll definitely make a quilt of those...someday. when i can bear to cut them. i could go on, clearly, but i'll try to restrain....

i have something i'd like to ask you about poetry, but i'd best do that via email...i wish your comments weren't "no-reply blogger"

oh and my texture thing wasn't you...it was triggered by some photos i'd seen on explore on flickr. every once in awhile, i rail about flickr and have to vent. :-) it's very often not personal. :-)

julochka said...

p.s. clearly you CANNOT get rid of photography stuff!

Elise Ann Wormuth said...

Thanks for your comment! I don't know what you mean by "no reply" -- but I'll try to find out.

lisa said...

Elise, I swear I could have written the part about the clothes! Just this week, I put all of my winter clothes away, and got the spring ones out. it was ridiculous!! Between clothes and shoes, it took me the better part of 2 days to get it all done. I decided that something has to give, so I bagged up things that I do not think will wear this summer. They are now in the basement. if i truly do not wear them, they will be given to a thrift store when next summer rolls around. i figure a year is long enough to make a decision!! :-)

I would never part with ANY photographic equipment!! :-)

The "no-reply" blogger? That is standard format when you comment on someone's blog. It is there instead of your e-mail address.

I so enjoyed reading this pose Elise. Nice to know there is at leastone other person out there like me!! :-)

Elise Ann Wormuth said...

Thanks, Lisa -- Julie helped me figure it out, so it's fixed. I appreciate your comments -- do you really have to hold onto those summer clothes for a whole year if you haven't worn them all summer? ;p The stuff up at my ex's house, I haven't even *seen* for close to six years, so why do I need any of it??? I think I should just load a pickup truck and drive it straight to the dump.

Dutchbaby said...

I saw George Carlin perform that routine at the Circle Star Theater, before it was bulldozed down.
I love your brutally-honest look into the stuff you've accumulated. You've hit upon all my weaknesses: books, supplies, clothes, and now I see the creep of photo equipment (yikes). I have a carload of giveaways to bring to the shelter. Somehow it is so much easier to let go of stuff if you know there is someone to appreciate it.

Elise Ann Wormuth said...

Ah, the old Circle Star. The last time I went there was to see B.B. King. I try to just bite the bullet and give things to Goodwill and so on, but some things, it's so hard --

Dutchbaby said...

Even though it was getting long in the tooth, I thought the Circle Star was a cool place to see a show. The other two times I went there were to see Diana Ross, she was terrific, and Marlene Dietrich. Dietrich was in her mid-eighties and put on an impressive show. I was still in high school and our whole family went because my mother was a huge fan.

Nancy said...

Elise, I need to get you over to my place and see what we have -- you would feel so much better.

Suffice it to say my husband has been preparing for The End of Days since I met him 12 years ago. Fortunately, (or not), we have 80 acres to put some of the stuff.

We are going to have a big-ass auction some day and get rid of it all. Some day. :)

Marla said...

When I get stressed, I declutter and throw stuff away. But I do have several large boxes from my parents house that I haven't opened up since I went to college. I should probably clean those out some day.

Marla @ www.blueskiesphotoblog.com

Simone said...

I loved this post! I have said goodbye to clutter and now attempt to only bring into my home things of beauty or necessity, I am amazed at how liberating it is!! ( Of course I did retain some of your treasures, but I am certainly far more selective these days!) Good Luck with your decluttering!

Elise Ann Wormuth said...

Nancy, you made me laugh about your husband -- my ex saved EVERYTHING -- I would find newspapers from four or five years ago stuffed on a shelf and he wouldn't let me throw them away, because he hadn't gone through them yet!! And yet, he managed to lose the calendars I kept when my son was a baby (this breaks my heart) and the pots and pans from the factory where my grandfather was a machinist -- egad, that's a blog for another day . . .

Elise Ann Wormuth said...

Thanks, Marla and Simone too -- how great it would be to be the kind of person who declutters when stressed . . . or who can't eat when upset . . . hmmmm yet another topic for a post :)

Margaret said...

The guilt is THERE when it goes into the Good Will box, but the freedom you will feel afterwards is WONDERFUL! I really try to declutter every two years. I am not one for decorating much for holidays except a bit at Christmas... A decision that was hard. The crocheted blankets and stuff my mom and mother-in-law made I put in a plastic bag and suctioned the air out of it - you can find them in Walmart, etc. Really saved space! Under 40 pieces of clothing though... WOW. I wonder if that was for each season... ?

Elise Ann Wormuth said...

Thanks, Margaret -- I guess it would depend on where she lived. In California, we don't really have seasonal clothes, so you could get away with pretty much the same clothes all year round. Having grown up in Minnesota, I know that wouldn't work for everyone!

Flower Photography said...

I am a shocker! The house has piles everywhere and i am procrastinating....

Elise Ann Wormuth said...

Yup, I know those piles . . .

Gale Wall said...

Oh I feel someone knows my pain. I've been wanting / trying for a short while to de-clutter my home. I feel suffocated by stuff! Going room by room and dreading the basement. Good luck!

Elise Ann Wormuth said...

Oh those basements -- with my old house it was the garage . . . thanks, Gale.

Kenna said...

I live in a 500 square foot studio apartment. Yes, it's cozy but lots of closet space and there's a place for everything. I like to stack one thing on top of another...

Elise Ann Wormuth said...

I do admire people who can do that, Kenna -- have a place for everything. I think if I lived alone, I could come closer to that goal --