Friday, August 15, 2008

stuff

I am buried, inundated, covered up, drowning, suffocating, full up. It's stuff. Stuff in my home. Stuff in my drawers. Stuff in closets, under the bed, in the garage, the basement, the cupboards.

Stuff on chests, desks, in bookcases. Stuff on the kitchen counter, on shelves, in neat little storage containers, baskets and boxes.

It's very cool stuff, mostly, beyond the detritus that accumulates in any house over time. The stuff in my house is pretty and it adds tremendously to my eclectic and romantic style of decorating. After the housekeeper's been in on Wednesday, I come home and my house looks like it's ready for a magazine shoot.

But I'm sick of it, this stuff. I feel overwhelmed by it. In addition to the house, I have a warehouse full of stuff. Full. Now that is overwhelming, but it's business and it's away, so it's the house that's on my mind right now.

I want it gone, this stuff of mine. My husband won't release his, but I am certain I can work up to letting go my 1920s moon prints, the English potlids, three dozen opera glasses, some of the little boxes (all of them? eek!) and possibly the seashell purses (but not the 1890s seashell souvenirs, not right now).

There's old copper and 1000 pieces of Harlequin and Riviera dinnerware. There's the divine old Steubenville dinnerware I have never used, not once. Wooden hatforms and shoeforms to match. Pen and inks of Paris, old photos and stained glass. Watches and funky jewelry from the '80s and an old fur muff. A leopard collar (should I bury it) and tortoiseshell dresser set (I should bury it). Books and books and books and books. Lamps and trays and coffee grinders and things that caught my fancy one moment in time.

I don't know what I'm saving it for. It keeps me tied down, trapped by even the thought of moving out of this house. I want to live in Mexico and moving the contents of this house seems impossible and I don't even want to. I want simple, easy, and I don't want to devote another second of my life to the maintenance of things I don't need. It's almost shameful, really, that I have so much. So many people live on almost nothing and I am whimpering about my excess.

I've needed a project, especially with the garden going by for the winter, so I'm going to get rid of it, one piece at a time. eBay for fun and freedom. Will people buy it? The treasures, certainly, but all of the rest? No way to tell. Push comes to shove, Goodwill's getting a windfall. When I'm cleared out, I expect I'll feel light as a feather with skippy traveling feet that will take me around the world, unburdened, released from bondage, free.

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29 Comments:

Blogger Jeff said...

As you know, I did own estate sale after moving to smaller quarters in December- so liberating, and I haven't regretted it for a moment.

Free yourself!

August 15, 2008 8:32 PM  
Anonymous JMBC said...

I found, while downsizing, that I had too many books - yes it is possible. I didn't really want to sell them, so I donated most of them to a local charter school and gave them a good start on a library - what they couldn't use (some were not age appropriate for children) they sold to the local used book store, or traded for what they needed.

A very satisfying experience, to empty shelves and have some space. Of course, they've all been filled again!

I've sold some more valuable items and gave away others to friends I thought would enjoy them - its fun to go to a friend's house and see in a place of honor something I hadn't really looked at in years - double the joy.

I love to get rid of stuff I'm not using/looking at - I'm going to tackle the Christmas decorations closet this weekend - that's hard stuff to part with, but the time has come.

Good luck with your letting go, enjoy the feeling of freedom!

August 15, 2008 10:35 PM  
Blogger Greg said...

From my recent experience, I'd say you're coming at this backwards, wanting to downsize so you can move. Move and the downsizing will happen - you'll find it so much easier to let go of stuff once the move is underway and you've mentally let go of your current home. eBaying things one by one sounds like an unconscious delaying tactic. Anyway, it's not your stuff keeping you in one place really, is it? How's your Dad?

August 16, 2008 7:44 AM  
Anonymous TedBear said...

Ah, the curse of the collector. I have the same curse. I, TedBear, confess that I have almost 2000 Radko glittery Christmas ornaments. Yes, I am a Christmas Queen. No, I am not getting rid of any ornaments, so don't ask. I collect many other things too, but it is more under control.

Since I home office, I have been emptying closets while on conference calls. No, not the Christmas ornaments!

Nobody knew we had all this clutter because it was all in walk in closets. Yes, you could still walk into most of the closets. I read so much on business travel, I acquire paperback books by the bagfull. I collect wierd stuff that grabs my fancy. I don't know how many bags of books and home stuff we don't use have been donated to Goodwill or snatched up by friends (Dr. Big Missy Theologian, PoolBear, Miss Green, Heather, etc.).

My gosh, the bags of paper that have been recycled. I have one more closet, full of family pictures from the beginning of time, that will be quite a challenge. Do we keep this horrible picture of Aunt Pearl? What about Aunt Beulah? What about Grandma Nettie? Aunt Annie post Alzheimers. Oh dear, this isn't a good picture of MaryNell. Why did Uncle Wesley like to take pictures of relatives when they were dead in caskets? Good gosh. Those picture boxes will take ages.

I cleaned and painted the garages, too. Tools were in closets, drawers, tool chests. They were all over. My dad had a shop that restored old cars, and I know how to use tools. The reward for cleaning the garages was a huge new toolchest. All my tools are in one large toolchest! No more hunting through three toolchests. No more, "Where is that damn Sawzall/Router/Drill/wrench/...?" No more running to Home Depot to buy a tool we need, only to find it later in another damn tool box.

Getting rid of the stuff and consolidating stuff, only keeping the best, has been quite liberating. I can walk into the walk in closets. Amazing!

My Brenda moved to NYC a few years ago. She had a stunning 2500 sq. ft. home with many beautiful things. The NYC apartment was ~900 sq. feet. Brenda selected her very favorite things for NYC. The NYC apartment was a jewel box of perfection. Every single detail was spectacular.

Brenda selected baubles for the NYC apartment by the Rule of Fire. If your home was on fire and the people and pets were out and safe, what would you take if you could wave a magic wand and magically spirit anything out of your home, one piece at a time, while the home was still burning?

We use the Rule of Fire, and it works for us. If it is something we are not sure about discarding, then it goes on a shelf in the garage as a staging area with a dated expiration date one month in the future. If I find I miss the discard, then I bring it back. Brenda says it breaks the Rule of Fire. It works for me.

August 16, 2008 9:50 AM  
Anonymous Dusty said...

Wow...I salute you. The ball and chain will nevah give up his crap...two rooms-full btw..but I delight in donating it to anyone that seems to like something.

There are of course, things I will nevah evah part with.. ;p

August 16, 2008 11:46 AM  
Blogger Doralong said...

I tend to get rid of things when I perhaps ought not to- I can't tolerate clutter. If I don't love it or use it, out it goes.

Sadly I married one of the world's worst pack rats.. a dilemma to be sure. I'm just going to build him a damn pole barn, move it all out there and leave it at that. At least I won't have to look at it every day!

Let it go, you'll find it liberating- just hold on to the bits that truly mean the most and the rest will find it's way out once you truly decide that it's time.

Hope your Daddy is doing well!

August 16, 2008 5:54 PM  
Blogger Doralong said...

I've got it! eBay it all out and park the cash in a heading south fund! That ought to provide excellent motivation.

August 16, 2008 6:01 PM  
Blogger joe said...

Hello, my dear! Oh gosh, clutter and "stuff." At some point I think we realize that we need to liberate ourselves from this stuff because it's almost like chains. I don't think it's all "evil", and there's obviously some pleasure in it -- but 300 pairs of opera glasses? Oh, honey! I've been trying to learn lessons about "attachment" since I've been interested in the teachings of Buddhism for the past few years. It's interesting exploring that concept: "attachment." There are deep lessons there.

I too, need to look at my stuff, my clutter -- mostly cleaning it up is a matter of laziness. It wears me out to think of pulling out some of this stuff, organizing, giving away, selling. But I need to.

And you must tell me about this oceanfront property! Oceanfront!? What happened to Guanajuato! Write me, love!

August 16, 2008 11:01 PM  
Blogger joe said...

Sorry! Three DOZEN opera glasses is a little better than 300. Maybe I need to get my vision checked!

August 17, 2008 12:07 AM  
Blogger Greg said...

I'm sensing that "Wall-e" is behind a lot of this anxiety about clutter...

August 17, 2008 5:34 AM  
Blogger SubtleKnife said...

Oh... I so desperately need to let go of stuff. Not in the least because I'm moving too.

Some of the books could go on eBay, I suppose, but those are exactly the ones I do want to keep, somehow...

PS. Oceanfront?! When's the housewarming? ;-)

August 17, 2008 8:11 AM  
Anonymous ewe said...

If you don't want to sell it Lynette, then take one piece of something you no longer want but of course love and give it away to someone you know, to some stranger you meet, to anyone. Give it to someone the very day you take it out of your home. Think of an ocean wave when you feel the need to detach. It will all come back at least 10 fold in a different form and you will touch someone else and make their day with a gift that they will probably NEVER give away because of the simple reason how they acquired it; through your love and generosity.

August 17, 2008 10:23 PM  
Blogger Willym said...

Well we started looking at "stuff" is weekend as we prepare for our second move in a year. We're only going across town and its mostly the stuff we brough with us last August but some it is going... going... gone.

Now if only we could figure out what to do with the all the stuff in storage back in Canada. Maybe we should just have a great big cyper garage sale!

August 18, 2008 9:58 AM  
Blogger David said...

My mom is a pack rat, so I have always been averse to hanging onto things. I had a phase in high school when I collected things, but I left that all at my folks house and recently my dad had me either take it or trash it, so I trashed it all.

Now it's just Playbills and ticket stubs. And postcards that people send to me. All easily storeable.

I think eBay will do just fine, and I also like the suggestion of giving these things away as gifts. Think of the money you'll save on birthday and holiday presents.

August 18, 2008 4:01 PM  
Blogger citizen of the world said...

Here via Doralong. I moved twelve years ago to a much smaller house and got rid of tons of stuff. ut somehow, it re-accumulates. It feels like a constant process of weeding out.

August 18, 2008 4:24 PM  
Blogger David said...

I had 4 yard sales before we moved out of the big house and into the condo, I found it very freeing. I have space at an antique mall and do a little bit on ebay, so in my head nothing is ever really permanent anymore. If it's weighing you down, sell it or give it away. If you need stuff later, there's always plenty out there to be had.

August 18, 2008 4:57 PM  
Blogger TankMontreal said...

Andy Warhol said something like "The only really cool thing is to own nothing at all."
Who's cooler than you Lynette?

August 19, 2008 2:20 PM  
Blogger Jackie said...

I have a one year rule. If I haven't used it in a year, it's gone. I get in throw-away moods and have to be careful not to get carried away and toss everything.
My mom used to say, what are you saving it for. Use your stuff. Keep one set of dishes. Use it or lose it. It's hard, I know.

August 20, 2008 5:32 AM  
Blogger Father Tony of the Farmboyz said...

Oi. You me and Tedbear need a Collectors'-Therapist. (I do like his Rule of Fire.)We are downsizing from three homes into two. I have to get rid of a giant cast iron school house bell with mounts and wheel, several porcelain glove molds. a Berkey and Gay dining room set from the '30s, a deco bedroom set, thousands of pieces of green FireKing, clear Miss America and enough cobalt blue glassware to serve Texas. Shirts from the '70s, vintage tools that were my father's, plus five circular saws. Espresso cups and saucers from round the world, And that is just the tip of the iceberg. The problem with ebay is that it will become a full time job to manage that many transactions. I think I will call an auction house.

August 20, 2008 9:41 AM  
Blogger Blog O. Food said...

Your "stuff" is my "treasure", Lynette. I'll take just about anything you listed off your hands right here and now. Especially if it's copper and goes in the kitchen!

August 20, 2008 10:20 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

August 21, 2008 12:09 PM  
Blogger Torrance Stephens - All-Mi-T said...

lmbao
hope u don’t mind the drive by, do chk me out one day

rawdawgbuffalo and if u like what u read, maybe u will come back, even Blog Roll Me

August 22, 2008 10:51 PM  
Blogger The Milkman said...

Clearly, this will be the Most Awesome Yard Sale In All Christendom.

I will do my best to ensure that I'm visiting my folks in Stillwater when it happens. And that there's room in my trunk for a buttload of opera glasses.

August 25, 2008 4:22 PM  
Blogger SubtleKnife said...

I've added you to my Blogger Reading List and, with luck, I will be able to access them at work through Google Reader, so I'll be ready to book a flight as soon as you set a date... ;-)

The Rule of Fire makes a lot of sense. I know I would cheat at it. Terribly.

August 28, 2008 1:50 PM  
Blogger T.R. said...

Take me to Mexico with you! When I moved back here from Santa Fe last August - I arrived with nearly nothing. It was all given away before I left. It felt incredible and as freeing as you might think. I have not missed a thing. I think you should have a blogsale so we can all have a little piece of the Belle.

August 29, 2008 3:52 AM  
Blogger Alan Gay and Straight said...

I just had to say,

love the name of this blog...tooooo funnie

September 18, 2008 7:22 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

C'mon people - she wrote about an "old fur muff" and nobody said a word, then ted used queen and fire in the same post and nobody said anything.

Good luck with the ebay thing - that my junk your treasure thing turns into my junk is crap. Truly Best Wishes cause your junk sounds elegantly collectible.

October 03, 2008 7:25 PM  
Blogger Chris said...

Moving always works for purging...so does retirement! My neighbor made $1100 in two days with a garage sale, and has more left over!!!! I think I'm next...have put those things on hold until after the election...Obama and No on 8 have taken away from organization!!!

November 02, 2008 10:33 AM  
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March 16, 2009 2:23 AM  

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