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Scheherazade in Blue Jeans
freelance alchemist
Why do I save everything? 
15th-Feb-2010 03:37 pm
City full of ghosts
When it means that, when I finally go on cleaning binges, I get to play the "how many of these people are still alive?" game with address books and old letters?

(Saved: the only letter I have from Layne. Reluctantly discarded: junkie poetry from Rae, letters from long-gone loony-bin friends.)

I have a tendency to carry my life on my back, like the junkyard Muppet from Labyrinth. I need to not. I need to not be drowning in pieces of who I was ten iterations ago.

I've got a very full trash bag right now, in addition to the one I filled from my office yesterday. My closet is up next, but not today.
15th-Feb-2010 08:47 pm (UTC)
I've been dealing with this over the past few years. I've made progress, but I know that I've still got a ways to go. I've long imagined trimming things down to the point where if I was moving overseas I could take everything important in one suitcase and one carry-on. I doubt I'll ever get there, but it provides me with a context for when I go on cleaning binges.
15th-Feb-2010 08:52 pm (UTC)
I used to be able to pack up my life in half an hour? Now? ...not so much.

Amusing thing I found: notes from the day I met my best friend in person for the first time!
15th-Feb-2010 09:01 pm (UTC)
It's amazing how stuff just piles up. When we first moved to Minneapolis 5 years ago (as of this coming May 31), the house was pretty much empty because of how little stuff we were able to bring with us. Now it's as full as we could desire (and perhaps more so in some parts of the basement) at remarkable little cost, thanks to some skillful navigation of the Great Material Continuum. (Huzzah for Freecycle and for friends who are moving and find that they have more furniture than they have space to move it to.)
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15th-Feb-2010 09:18 pm (UTC)
Three moves are as good as a fire.
15th-Feb-2010 09:48 pm (UTC)
I'm wondering if there is something in the cosmos stirring that is prompting so many people to downsize. I've been cleaning out drawers, and getting rid of everything to which I have been clinging over the last 20 - 50 years. Last week my baby dolls and stuffed animals from my childhood went (don't worry, kept my favorite Ted E. Bear; my kin are under strict instruction that when they cremate me, they cremate him, also!). On my desk, even as I type this, are the letters my then-and-still best friend wrote to me my freshman year of college.

Moving is a great way to downsize. We moved overseas. We brought about 4 pieces of furniture, 5 packing boxes, our suitcases, the dog, and the grand piano. (I defy anyone to say that moving is a nightmare until they have shipped a grand piano overseas.) And now? Yup. Cluttered as ever was and then some.

Why are we forever obtaining new ties to bind us to the Earth?
15th-Feb-2010 10:14 pm (UTC)
Sometimes it takes time to let things go. Clothes I haven't worn in three moves are easy. Letters? Not so easy. Yeah, it's a Hallmark greeting card with my grandmother's signature, but that's >all< it has, and I have a couple where she actually wrote something.

There >is< catharsis in getting rid of massive amounts of stuff, instead of "responsibly" doing it as it comes in.
15th-Feb-2010 10:19 pm (UTC)
I've been "cleaning the apartment" for a couple of weeks now. It's so much work to let things go.
15th-Feb-2010 11:07 pm (UTC)
I hate getting rid of things like letters, etc. I've ended up scanning them to an external drive, so that I'm not throwing them away exactly. I still have them, I just don't have them taking up all of that space!
15th-Feb-2010 11:44 pm (UTC)
I've developed that habit recently. As a kid, my dad changed jobs so frequently that we never stayed in the same house for more than two years. From the time I was six until I was twelve, we lived in a different house every year, and every summer, I was told that I was allowed to pack one box of toys and one box of clothes, and that was it.

Now that I am in charge of my own life and can have as many boxes as I damn well want when I move, I am loathe to part with anything at all. Being the junkyard muppet sucks, and I wish I knew how to stop :(
16th-Feb-2010 12:09 am (UTC)
As a being who is routinely experiencing multiple iterations of self-state and reality all at once, I can certainly appreciate how the debris of life can build up. It can become quite the anchor - though not always in the bad way. Certain objects can help to remember what course one is on now, what is important now, who I am now. They are fetishes in the ritual of self-maintenance. They are useful for as long as they are helpful and are encouraging of growth. Once they begin to take on a weight beyond their function, it is time to leave them behind.
Good luck in your cleansing.
16th-Feb-2010 03:46 am (UTC)
Totemic objects FTW. But sometimes, an old letter or photo becomes a stick to beat yourself with... those, I'm shedding like a skin.
16th-Feb-2010 01:51 am (UTC)
"I need to not be drowning in pieces of who I was ten iterations ago."

This is why I started reading you. Little gems like this one.
16th-Feb-2010 03:48 am (UTC)
I tend to have a bit of a fetish for memory... comes from being the sole survivor of a bunch of things. But I can remember without the physical detritus. I need to be writing about these people more. It's a better way to set things down, and that, I can walk away from.
16th-Feb-2010 02:23 am (UTC)
I've been terrible at organizing over the years. You don't have to get rid of anything, but you do need to get rid of anything that weighs you down. It could be physical items that you have like mismatched tupperware, it could be the objects' talismanic qualities: the uncomfortable part of the past, sadness, fears - items that are simply no longer who you are, as you mentioned in a form better than I could.

Only after my brother's death do I have two boxes relegated to The Past I Want To Keep Nearby.

Anything that doesn't make the cut, I don't want to keep mixed up with my regular day-to-day objects. That was a big mental killer for me in 2009. So those items now go out with no effort.
16th-Feb-2010 03:48 am (UTC)
*nods* I totally get that, with your brother. I don't think I'll ever discard anything that was Layne's...
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17th-Feb-2010 05:00 pm (UTC)
This describes my hoarding habits as well, although less with the "are they still alive?" part.
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