Friday, November 9, 2012

I-800 WHAT Junk?


Deb: My husband and I called 1-800-Got-Junk yesterday and today they came and did as advertised—they carted our junk away. We started ripping our house apart a few weeks ago, room by room, step by step ... slowly I turn, sorry that’s something else.

At any rate, we cut through our house like a... (readers, please suggest great simile to be inserted here with your blog comment!). Anyway we did indeed cut through it like a (your suggestion here) and came out the other side with ten green garbage bags and five boxes full of stuff. The rest we donated or gave away! For example, our nephew is now the proud recipient of our drum set. I know, I know, but I did pull the drums into the living room this summer, and only played a few times. Plus for me, it’s the kind of instrument that I have to stay on top of constantly to make progress, and in order to make its space consumption worth it. The ukulele is now my joy and I find myself playing every day! Starting to learn Christmas carols now and I am sooooo happy! Hark the Herald Angels sounds so tropical ... and really really slow. Husband is thrilled!!!!!!!!

Aaaaaaand back to my point.

What occurred to me as the junk guys hauled away our junk was that I could already not remember what was in any of the bags. And that got me to thinking about the fact that six months ago this stuff was all precious must-keep stuff. And I say this honestly, given that my husband and I cut through our house twice a year more ruthlessly than a... (feel free to use your first simile or come up with a new one). Now the junk is gone, if you put a knife to my throat, I could not tell you one single thing that was so callously carried away. Clearly I have abandoned all ties with these items!

Isn’t that interesting? How is it, I thought, that something that meant the world to me months ago is now yesterday’s news. I thought of what a stuff vibe I get into. And the older I get, the more I hate it. Stuff, I mean. And you gotsta know that I loveeeeee me stuffs. But I am stuff maturing, I really really am! Barb is a great mentor for this as she tends to treat gorgeous stores like museums or art galleries, loving but not purchasing. My pattern has been to treat them like gallery gift shops!

As Christmas approaches I find myself wanting less and less stuff coming into the house. I asked for certain items, which I know I will love and need. I am working a wants and needs mashup. I want it to be lovable, usable or edible. And ultimately not disposable. I want what comes in the house to have a full life of adventure and I dare say “usary” and not be left wanting on the shelf like a stag prom-goer, torn dress and wilted corsage! Now many of you, possibly all of you are waaaaayyyyy ahead of me in the reducing stuff arena. But I am coming to it, yes I am.

So as I say a fond farewell to the (please insert an item from our junk), I say thanks to ... whatever the hell it was.

Barbara: Yes, yes, you know I hate gathering stuff. And yet stuff gathers anyway, like those ubiquitous dust bunnies under the bed.

I think I’m a pretty excellent purger, not nearly so nostalgic as many of my friends. I was ruthless as the kids grew through their various stages, purging old toys, books and clothing (yes, always donating!). But I still need to do the twice-yearly (insert the simile you’ve coined for Deb). Interestingly, one of the only bastions of piled up, gathering stuff that’s left now that the kids are moving on (bit by bit) is the kitchen pantry. Gone are the days—and they were legion—of eight, ten, twelve garbage bags full of uselessness. I still strive constantly to achieve less waste, less redundancy, less … stuff. Woo-hoo, Deb, it does feel great!  

38 comments:

  1. I love this post! Hmm, Deb, what's the missing simile? Knife through butter, scythe through wheat, shark through the ocean, Moses through the Red Sea...
    My rule on stuff is that for everything that comes in, something else must go out. So I got rid of my sweater, pants, hat, and long sleeve shirt, for the opportunity to buy wrap shorts, a sarong, and two other items. The problem is that I'm not a shopper. I have seen a dozen sarongs that I love but I'm sure the price will be lower somewhere else, so I can't make up my mind to buy one.
    As for nice shops, I'm content to know nice things exist, without owning them myself. That will probably change when I have a house.

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    1. Hannah I love all of them! Moses through the Red Sea made me laugh! What a great rule-something comes in, something goes out! Given how much we dumped, I can have one ton of Christmas presents! :-0

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    2. Oh, Deb! I hate to break it to you, but I think getting a tonne of Christmas presents defeats the purpose of the something-in-something-out rule! Maybe you could feel virtuous by knowing that you COULD buy a tonne of presents, but choose not to. But then, I'm not someone who likes shopping, so I'm not as tempted by all the little treasures and stocking stuffers calling out people's names. My sister and I have already agreed that we have no need to exchange presents or send any gifts home for Christmas. A good meal is celebration enough!

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  2. "like a hot knife through ice cream"

    Good for you Deb, that must feel wonderful. I have to do that again with my house. You are right, "things" mean so little....they are only "things". Interesting that you couldn't even remember what was in the bags and boxes. A further testament to things are only things, it is heart and spirit that we remember, and it is that which makes an indelible impression on us, and something worth remembering!

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    1. hot knife through ice cream! Love it! Yes Jo, something worth remembering is when value shows itself.

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  3. ...a pair of scissors?

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    1. That would do the job Margo, thanks!

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  4. I like to think of myself as a tasteful collector but............. As I travel around quite a bit I find treasures and then when I get home I give most of them as gifts to other people. I like to have things I love available to give away. I am a shopper of little things, not a clothes horse by any means but more a family home kind of collector. I am constantly changing it up in my home. As the need increases in me to downsize I am always purging as well. My grandkids love my stuff and ask if they can take stuff home to keep. I always say yes. Their parents aren't always so happy, however, With the cleaning and moving of my Mom from a big old house where she lived for 50 years to a smaller condo which she rents, I inherited treasures. When I moved her treasures in, I gave away more of my not as wonderful treasures to others. As for clothes, shoes and purses, I have one small closet and that is it. Only household treasures capture me.

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    1. Household treasures capture me too Madge and I am like you, I change the house up, do different table centres and side table displays. Love to mix it up! But I also when it's time comes, love to let it go. I think it's lovely that you give stuff to the grandkids. I adore giving something a new life. My brother called last night and my nephew is so excited about the drums that my brother is driving down today to get them. Lovely.

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    2. So happy about the drum set. When my mom was moving we had a family auction and either in person or by phone everyone took what they wanted before we called in the auction houses (my parents had real expensive treasures too). The grandkids were first and I was amazed at what they wanted. Things that had memories for my kids and my nieces (cookie jars and canisters that stored sugar etc, shoes and clothes) from my Mom's extensive collection and needlepoint my dad had made. Next came the great grandkids and they took a collection of Olympic Pins (my dad was a volunteer), his volunteer outfit and some other treasures like a wooden donkey from Mexico my dad had collected for what reason we are still not sure. The greatest story to come out of this was from my grandson Ryan. There was a huge needlepoint head of an Indian Chief and was quite elaborate that my dad had made. No one wanted it, yet, no one wanted to give it away and we weren't sure what to do with it, Ryan loved it and my sister asked if he would like it for his room (while is parents in the background were making panicked motions with their hands saying no to my sister) and Ryan jumped at the chance to have it hang in his room. He never met my Dad but they would have loved each other. My son schlepped this huge needlepoint to the car and as Ryan was leaving with his treasure he said, "I am the luckiest boy in the world" and we all teared up. The needlepoint was reframed and now proudly hangs in his room. As they say someones trash is another person's treasure.

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  5. Deb, I totally understand. I love me some stuff, but it can take over my house if I don't keep it in check! Since it is just me (and my dog) in my house, I have started this new thing where I have a certain box that I use for the stuff that I no longer need/want/remeber what it's for. I put stuff in the box all year, sometimes needing a new box. This way, I purge throughout the year instead of having to do it once or twice a year because, as we all know, time waits for no (wo)man. I just can't spend a full day, or even a few hours, going through the whole house. Also, if I waited to do it all at once I probably would not get rid of as much stuff. I keep some weird stuff that. to me, has memories. if I purge along the way, then the items I put in the box are forgotten (like your bags of stuff) and I don't worry about throwing out anything meaningful.
    Happy Friday, all!

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  6. Great way of doing it Steph! And it works for you. That's the best part.

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  7. Haha.....You're soo cute! I totally understand. LOVE ME STUFF!!! But yeah..it takes up most of the space. And we live in a teeny tiny apartment... And Half of it is filled with my stuff. 90% of which I dont use. What I do use is, My computer.........Yep thats about it! And my mom is good at reducing stuff.. LOL Its funny coz she gets SOOOOOO stressed because I NEED to get rid of stuff. And I keep forgetting it!!! IDK I just forget. But then we remember and start finding junk.. and Almost EVERYTIME when my mom asks "do you want this thing?"... my answer is "What is it?". I dont even remember BUYING some stuff! I like being thorough though. I'm like Monica Geller in this. All the bags are labeled and categorized. Because I like organized stuff..and because I forget what the stuff is...really soon. And funny thing is everytime we get rid of junk I'm all "Fhew..the drawers look soo clean" a month later..... JUNKADIJUNKADI...JUNK!!! AGAIN!!..ok that was bad..scratch that....

    But now we are in a different phase. Me and my best friend we are making a list of things we wanna buy when we get to Toronto. And I'm trying REALLY HARD ...NOT to get carried away. I mean that'll be our OWN apartment....Its exciting! But because we'll be buying buying buying..then. I'm trying to keep my eyes off pretty shops and pretty shoes and pretty...NO NOT GONNA THINK ABOUT THAT...NO!!! NOOO!!!

    So yeah...thanks STUFF I cant remember...wow if the junk we throw away could read and they read this....we would be SOO SCREWED right now... I can imagine myself running away from a bunch of protractors and drawing books. Yikes!

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  8. What a funny image! Running away from a bunch of protractors and drawing books!

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  9. I think when you get older, the "stuff" isn't as meaningful anymore. For me, it isn't at least. Nothing makes me happier at Christmas than being with my family, listening to Christmas music in the house, laughing, talking and drooling over the smell of the Christmas dinner.

    I guess I'm more thankful this year for my first home. In 2 weeks I'm going back home home for the first time in six months. That is the longest I've been away.

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    1. So true Kelly, so very true. So happy for you that you are going home! How wonderful. I know you will savour every second!

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  10. Similes on Demand:

    1. "snow plow blasting aside drifts of detritus"
    2. "raging giant tossing aside shrieking gnomes"
    3. "rusted avocado green tea kettle"

    p.s. Eddie is 14 today.

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    1. Happy birthday, Eddie!!! I hope you guys have an amazing day today! xoxo

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    2. LOVE THESE RIGEL! Thanks to everyone who is playing the game! raging giant tossing aside shrieking gnomes! Thanks for the laugh! Happy Birthday Eddie!!!!

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    3. Happy Happy Happy Birthday Eddie!! Hope it is a wonderful one!

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  11. Actually, we did our celebrating last night. We went over to Jonesboro for a dinner of his choosing (BBQ ribs) and him going shopping w/his cash and gift cards (Mr. 14YearOld Moneybags! lol). And, he had a few more little packages (e.g. a much needed new gym bag from me - practical and boring but necessary, and his traditional annual new Christmas ornament for his birthday from my mother's best friend) and his favorite breakfast this morning (homemade bacon egg and cheese biscuits). After school today, he goes to his dad's house to start partying round #2. (I'll be at work.)

    His fun, big birthday gifts from me this year were a subscription to Mental Floss magazine and the out of town expensive restaurant dinner last night. His dad is giving him a cell phone (his first) and also took him to the city for putt putt golf and a movie last weekend. Eddie also got money, gift cards, and books from other people. Crazy spoiled! lol :)

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    1. Oh, and funnily enough, by lovely coincidence (even though I don't believe in coincidence), it's Homecoming Week at his school. So, additional birthday treats for him: he got to miss 2 class periods yesterday because of the Seniors vs. Faculty volleyball game. And, today, he gets to miss 2 classes because of the homecoming pep ralley.

      And, not having any homework last night to get in the way of our jaunt to Jonesboro sure was a nice birthday treat! :)

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    2. Wow Eddie is rocking his birthday! Thanks to family and fate!

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  12. When I get in a cleaning mood I can clean stuff out of the house for hours and hours. I like to live with little clutter, plus I tend to lean towards the 'messy teenager' side of the spectrum so clutter would make my room unlivable. There are already clothers all over the floor so there is no way I would be able to deal with little trinkets and books all over too! I like donating my old books that I know I won't reread to the local library which always makes me feel nice too :)

    Our house has what was ment to be a 'fancy living room' room but my parents turned it into a playroom for me and my brother long ago. But just this summer we went through all the toys and cleaned house. I am in college and my brother in high school about to get his license. So needless to say we no longer needed the wooden tain set or the bajillion legos. It was probably more than a bajillion actually!
    I love seeing that room look more grown up now. Sure I hated to see all our kiddie toys go but I got over it suprisingly fast and it feels natural to now sit and play cards with the family in there instead of trying to avoid stepping on legos! Ouch!

    I love that you guys do this twice a year! So refreshing!

    PS language arts and english are my worst subjects so I will leave the similies to those who actually passed these classes : )

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    1. Kelly I know what you mean though. Some of those things like train sets etc. are hard to let go of. But you're right-the look of a grown up room is worth it!!!

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  13. I just came in from 5 hours of cutting wood in the forest, so I would say : like a chain saw through punky wood.

    I inherited my beautiful farm chockerblock full with the belongings of someone I loved deeply so even though I knew I needed to part with her lifes treasures (including all of her childhood art and school writings) it was bloody hard. I still have a lot. Every year, I open the boxes and go through them, choosing the pieces I can't part with and getting rid of the others. Usually the 'getting rid of entails lighting the fire, pouring a glass of wine, having one last gander and then burning them (did I mention that Sal's Mom kept all her school work and art for her and then presented it to her?

    I could go on but this is the only reaal point I need to make : your treasures are your treasures and you carry them around. To those around you, they could be just boxes of junk, unworthy of the space they take up. BUT once you die, they become so much more and parting with them will feel akin to a betrayal to those that are left with the job. Its hard.

    So do your self a favour and if that's not good enough, do those you love a favour. Toss that stuff. Leave those you leave behind with awesome memories, not piles of stuff (which might not of meant that much to you in the first place) and a huge job.

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    1. What an interesting point of view Fran, thanks for that. I know some of what pain you felt and how hard this particular purging must be and so I thank you for your openness. It is a great lesson to be learned for certain. I wish you peace with each purging step you take. That, and a nice glass of wine!

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    2. Oh and Fran, I loved "a chain saw through punky wood".

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  14. hahahahahaha....this post is so great!

    Now that I have my own place I am always like HEY WHAT ELSE CAN WE GET RID OF NOW?????????????? I love getting rid of stuff! Maybe it's because apartments really aren't as big as they're chalked up to be! lol

    BUT....Kelly and I did just buy two large Hobbit posters that are now taking up considerable wall space. Hmmm....

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    1. Hey Holly I can't see that those posters are taking up any real room, right??? I think that's great.

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  15. When it comes to holding onto things.i am bad about that. i love to hold on to things because to me everything has a story or certain memory attached to them. Now,thats not saying i keep everything just somethings.

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  16. Keeping things you love is good though Lyndsie and I loved every minute of my sentimental treasures. As I've gotten older, I just find my attachments are fickle. Too many new things to love. But at your age I was totally where you are. AND that's not to say that you ever ever need rid yourself. I just needed to, slowly and surely. Oh and believe me, there are still MANY things in my life that I will never ever part with!

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  17. I am not good with similes, but since I first read insert smiley here are my options: XD :O :))

    My version of this is to move and then go through the stuff I have. Also it is very good idea to move with a smaller car, so you really have to give stuff away as you see that not all your things are going to fit in.

    On a side note: Greetings from Minneapolis!
    and
    Warning!: If this comment contains unreadable text it is because my inner clock says it is almost 4 am and the clock that I see on that tv says it is almost 8 pm (twenty to in both cases). Still about two hours before my flight leaves from here. So far I have been on the road about 1,5 days.

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    1. Kasku it was all readable and understandable so don't worry! On the road, I know how that feels. Sleep, stay hydrated, have fun!

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  18. I love buying stuff! When going in a store, all I can think is: "oh this'll come in handy.../this is a great gift for.../this is so cute..."

    So now I have a system: If I see something I want (as opposed to 'need'), I don't buy it, wait a few days. If after a week I'm still thinking of buying it, I buy it. But usually I've forgotten all about it by that time :-)

    I need a system like that. When cleaning out my attic for the first time in years, we had to make 8 return trips to the recycling centre, getting rid of stuff I couldn't even remember.

    Since the 'purge' though, the house feels so much quieter, less chaotic and, because of that, *I* feel more peaceful in it, if that makes sense :-) So now I'm always trying to get rid of even more stuff.

    (speaking of 'getting rid of stuff' - Deb did you get my email?)

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  19. Margo I have used that system too and it is great. If you can't get it out of your head, buy it. Otherwise, let it go. It is actually a great system isn't it? Margo I did get your email and it has disappeared. Can you resend it? So sorry!

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  20. Nice post, very helpful for us.I will come back here again & again...:)
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