Stuffed with Stuff

Bookworm is talking this week about being oppressed with stuff. I have a few hoarding genes, nothing too extreme. Not like my poor aunt, who barely can stand to let me throw away a tissue when I visit the tiny, crowded hospital room where she still languishes, now quite close to the end, and who still obsesses over the possessions she had to leave behind when she moved into an assisted-living facility ten years ago. Certainly nothing like the sad souls who immure themselves into houses jammed to the ceiling in every room. I'm more a case of too much laziness to sort through and dispose of what I don't need or use. I do notice, though, that fatal internal message that says, "Don't throw this out, even though you haven't used it in five years. Someday you may want it," which is the siren song of the hoarder.

When I was young and unencumbered by possessions, I used to love it when relatives decided to shed their excess stuff. I had nothing but cheap, utilitarian, boring new stuff and coveted their funky old objects. When I could afford it, I would shop at antique stores for the same kind of thing. Every middle-aged or old person with too much stuff should have a niece like me, to accept and cherish their wonderful old things. My bedridden aunt doesn't so much miss possessing her old things as worry about them, as if they were puppies that need to be adopted into a loving and appreciative home. The problem is, these concerns extend not only to nice old furniture but to boxes of empty jelly jars. I can't even clear out her greeting cards unless I agree to take them to some church group that plans to cut them up and use them in crafts. Part of this is Depression-era thrift, of course, but the rest is just anxiety and alienation. She's about to cast off a lot more than her stuff. She's going through a door she can approach only empty-handed.

My taller half is considerably more orderly than I, and gradually has converted me to an appreciation of unclutter. Not that I achieve much unclutter, but now I do at least aspire to it and occasionally take lurching, partial steps in that direction. We managed to scrape off quite a few barnacles when we moved here six years ago. It's time for another wave. Anything that's still useful needs to go to the local thrift store, and the rest to a landfill.

Maybe I'll find my missing dulcimer.


Anonymous said...

We are attempting to clear our two story house so that painters, carpeters (2nd floor), plumbers, et all can get this beautiful but 15 year old place in condition to sell...which means that - usually the lady is the decision maker - it must "show well". Thus we've go to get rid of lots of "stuff". Old letters and cards for long ago. One of my "sins" is buying books. I just like having them. Of course, I've read them, but after the second or third reading...they just "live" on book shelves. This, is not good economic and they do weigh real terms and emotionally. Sigh.

Texan99 said...

One of the barnacle-scraping techniques we inadvertently employed when we moved here was to remove about two-thirds of the furniture from the house we sold in Houston, so it would show well. (Sold in 19 days.) Not only did it show well, it impressed us with how much nicer a home is when it's not so crowded.

After all that stuff had sat in storage for nearly a year while we built here, we realized we didn't ever want to see most of it again.

bthun said...

It must be in the air... We're planning a monumental hovel clearing when Walkin' Boss is freed from her school and equestrian coaching duties this summer. She rightly believes that she will need to supervise me. I can't be trusted to not give it all away. Save for everything in the freezer/fridge, kitchen cupboards, bookshelves, the gun safe, the garage and all the outdoor stuff... You know, the essential stuff.

The toughest part for me is rehearsing the block and tackle techniques that will be required to unload the bedrooms and the study upstairs. I can only hope the exoskeleton is up to the task.

All in all, I predict a fairly good Disabled American Vets donation or two, then a huge clearance sale to be held over the course of this summer. The remaining flotsam and jetsam accumulated spanning a period of 2+ decades raising two embryo's to adults, all in one spot, will be free to anyone who will haul it away.

Clutter free at last, clutter free at last...

Anonymous said...

When I lived closer to the core of Tornado Alley, I discovered that everything I rally needed to survive and start over fit into a backpack and a computer satchel (I needed my dissertation notes, thus the second bag). They were my "oh [censored]" bags.

And I hear you on the books. I'm in the process of weeding again. Ouch, whimper, but I like that one, I may need this one . . . Sigh.


james said...

I went to the UW library book sale last week. It felt odd to be walking past so many good books and leaving them behind. There's a double-shelved wall before me as evidence that this is a new phenomenon.

Grim said...

One of the benefits of motorcycle camping is that you learn that everything you need -- for a week or more! -- can be packed onto a motorcycle with room for a passenger and everything they require also. That's helpful to know.

raven said...

Looms, lathes, spinning wheels, milling machines, table saws, shapers, yeah, we got stuff- but most are tools to earn a living or the results of it-nice handmade furniture etc. Usually I only buy reference books, the kind of thing that is handy to have around, like
George Cameron Stone's "A Glossary of the Decoration and Use of Arms and Armor".
It's not the stuff that ties me down, it is the business- always having to answer the phone, plan the operations, meet with clients, and in this crap economic situation there is always the gut worry that this job might be the last one to come through the door for some time.

Grim said...

If you're looking to get rid of some of that stuff, Raven, I'll take the book. :)

raven said...

Do you want a copy? I won't part with mine, which is an original 1934 Southworth Press edition- but it has been reprinted sometime in the past 30 years or so- and I can keep my eyes open for one.
The newer edition has smaller page margins, but the actual print area is the same. Stone was mostly a collector of eastern arms and armor, and the book shows a amazing variety.
Western arms are covered also, up until about the 1860's. A Navy Colt is referenced, but not a Model 1911. Mostly the emphasis is
non -firearm.

Grim said...

That's OK -- I think you can buy newer copies on Amazon, even. I was just offering to help you de-clutter! :)