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Surprise paint! [Sep. 21st, 2010|08:01 pm]
Here is what Ferrett and I - mostly Ferrett - have managed to do in a matter of a day and a half. Stuff hauled from upstairs to downstairs (drums, chair, stuff behind chair, and entertainment center were already down there):

It's kind of astounding how much one can accomplish when one has a sudden deadline. The stuff extends further back along the right, to include the art off our walls and another bookcase.

Now, this is only a small portion of everything we own. There are still three more bookcases filled with books upstairs, all the furniture, kitchen and dining stuff, clothes, bedding, etc. And moments like this, when I have to face it all, I get more than a little horrified. Where did we get all this stuff?! How can we possibly justify owning this volume of junk?

Whereas Ferrett is happily content with the fact that we have loads of stuff and sees absolutely no problem with it. Oh, sure, the basement is a mess right now, and if that was how it usually looked and the rest of the house was full of stuff, then we'd be talking about a problem. But in general? I'm continually bemoaning the clutter and he is shaking his head at my silliness.

And in fact, I have been roundly--and probably deservingly - mocked in his journal for saying that our house is cluttered. Someone pronounced the house as looking ready for company. It's clearly not, but the point was made that it's not as bad as I make it out to be.

I think the difference comes from upbringing. Ferrett's family lived in the same house throughout his entire upbringing, until he was almost 40, in fact. His parents and grandparents were gleeful hoarders, and lots of stuff says "home" to him. Whereas my family moved so frequently that I can remember the first year we didn't have to decide where to put the Christmas tree because we'd been in the same house for two Christmases. I was in fifth grade.

We moved the next year.

The longest we ever lived in the same place was the place started when I began high school. My mom was in that place for 10 years, but I of course moved on to college and then to Alaska.

I was raised with a "travel light" mentality.

We have been in this house for 9 years now, and it is by far the longest I've ever lived in one place. Like, twice as long as I've ever been settled. And there is a part of me that looks at all that stuff and thinks, "we could never get all of this into even the biggest U-Haul."

This isn't to say that I'm not responsible for accumulating stuff. I admit to a tendency toward buying things that attract me, and over time it adds up. But I have an "urge to purge" that kicks in intermittently, and that gets set off by what I perceive as clutter.

I don't mind stuff, but I want all the stuff to have a place to be. And right now things are getting moved around, it doesn't feel like the stuff is under control.

My first reaction is to eliminate the stuff. But that's not the answer. So I will control my desire to turn what looks like a badly run jumble sale into a badly run jumble sale, and we'll work together to find a place for everything.

'Cause if we can't? Shit's got to go.

[User Picture]From: mycorethoughts
2010-09-22 12:33 am (UTC)
My parents were hoarders, to a degree, which I think is partly what led me to NOT hoarding. I feel your pain.

I don't really have much stuff, but I know I have things that I don't need/use/even remember that I own, mostly stuffed in boxes in the backs of walk-in closets. So over the next few weeks, I'll be getting rid of those things in preparation for the move to St. Louis. (Yeah, I know...I'm not going for a few years, but I'd rather go through it now than wait until the last minute.)

It's really no fun having to sort through things.
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2010-09-22 12:40 am (UTC)
It's a good thing to start early, garage sale what you can, and be able to make good decisions about what you keep and what you discard.
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[User Picture]From: channonyarrow
2010-09-22 12:55 am (UTC)
I have seven proper bookcases (and several other places that books are "put away" when they're in) and I never, ever feel the urge to move/purge my life of crap/tear my hair out so strongly as when I realise that suddenly I've got books stacked sideways in the bookcases, in front of other books. And I cannot possibly part with any of my books; I need them, I love them, reading them is like visiting old friends, reading them teaches me about wonderful new things. No, getting rid of the books is impossible.

So I know what you mean when you say that you don't feel like your life is full of junk when things are put away - it makes a huge, huge difference to my psychological well-being, at any rate, to know that there's a place for everything, even if everything is not in that place at the very second.
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2010-09-22 01:51 am (UTC)
We have gotten rid of a lot of books, but there are definitely some with which we will never part.
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[User Picture]From: blessed_oak
2010-09-22 01:18 am (UTC)
How I would love to just get a dumpster for most of it!

We are applying for a refinanced mortgage, and we had an assessor in as part of the process. That got my husband to get rid of a load of things to declutter! And now that he's made a good dent in it (by far most of our stuff is his hoardings), I feel like we're on a roll if I keep at it.

Good luck!
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2010-09-22 01:53 am (UTC)
I intend to bring things back upstairs with slow deliberation - and be very, very picky.
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2010-09-22 12:55 pm (UTC)
The problem is that once you acquire furniture, it becomes easier to resign yourself to the large truck.

And then it creeps up....
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[User Picture]From: polymorphism
2010-09-22 02:35 am (UTC)
Remind yourself it's temporary, and inform your inner nomad about the existence of moving cubes. They really up your moving flexibility.
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2010-09-22 12:57 pm (UTC)
Reminding myself that it's temporary, and that I get to clean everything before returning it to the upstairs - which means evaluating its place in our lives - is really helping.

As is staying out of the basement!
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[User Picture]From: xpioti
2010-09-22 04:00 am (UTC)
My father once referred to my mother as being part-Gypsy, because if left to her own devices she would move every 5-7 years. Just because. Instead of moving, they bought an RV and spend half the year (3-4 months at a time) wandering the country, and the other half of the year catching up with all of the housework and such. It seems to work for them. :)

I feel you on the clutter thing, though; I'm a packrat, hubby is not. I throw things away, he doesn't. (Well. I try to recycle everything; it's not that I must have stuff, it's that I can't stand tossing something useful into a smelly dirty heap that someone will cover with dirt and sod and call a mountain. Like Mount Trashmore.) It's all very surreal.
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2010-09-22 01:02 pm (UTC)
We have a wonderful tradition in our neighborhood of trash picking. Anything of value that you place out on the tree lawn will be gone within the hour. It's a very pleasant and pain-free freecycle system, and yesterday we got rid of a broken printer and some books that no one in our friends group wanted.
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[User Picture]From: fallconsmate
2010-09-22 05:06 am (UTC)
I moved every 2-4 years, thanks to my dad being military. Himself is the pack rat, I tossed a LOT of things when I moved here 2 years ago. My grandmother lived from age 12 to 94 in one location, the last 3 years in a new house built where the old one was. So mama is now having to get rid of things from two households so that their house can be staged and sold. And they're moving to Georgia. So yep, I hear ya on the gotta-get-rid-of-things feeling.
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2010-09-22 01:03 pm (UTC)
It's exhausting. Give my best to your mom.
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From: the_xtina
2010-09-22 05:14 am (UTC)
Hello!  We have things in common!  And these things must be auctioned off.

My Josh has all the stuff, and I have enough to fill a smallish closet.  Most of that was yarn.  (In his defense, I was renting a furnished room before, so.)  I find it very hard not to interrogate him at every turn.  "How can you even want to continue to have this, when you forgot you had it because it was buried under other stuff?!"

The best time of moving is getting rid of stuff!

[edit] I did in fact manage to tab-space and post this comment.  Stupid fingers!

My cost/benefit analysis skews towards not wanting the responsibility of stuff.  Having stuff means I have to move it (when I move), I have to keep it reasonably clean, I have to repair it if it breaks, I have to account for it if it needs accounting, it gets in the way of things I might genuinely be using, and so and so on... for a once-a-year use.  At best.  Man, fuck it.  I can barely hold onto yarn.

*all annoyed again*

Edited at 2010-09-22 05:17 am (UTC)
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2010-09-22 01:08 pm (UTC)
Moving is the best time for that. I think people who stay in the same place for more than five years should pack to move just as an exercise in getting rid of junk.

I stumbled across a couple things that had been lost like the Arc of the Covenant. And I pitched them - if I didn't know I had them before, and didn't miss them, what possible good was it to have them now?
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[User Picture]From: sestree
2010-09-22 10:28 am (UTC)
Whoa you were busy.

I look at my stuff and think downsize? HOW??????
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2010-09-22 01:09 pm (UTC)
Watch a couple episodes of Hoarders and see how you feel afterward.
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[User Picture]From: kisekinotenshi
2010-09-22 12:26 pm (UTC)
See, I had a similar growing up experience, but a totally different reaction. We moved every year or two when I was growing up, even after the divorce my parents both moved to different houses a few times. I have always felt emotional connections to objects (I think because I never had friends for long) and it tore me apart when my mother would insist on throwing away my things because we were moving again. I have memories of hundreds of toys and stuffed animals that I remember being thrown out (hell, most of the time I didn't play with them anymore, but I hated that I wasn't given the choice to get rid of them myself). I think about books, games, clothes and furniture that are in that storage unit (waiting for the bed bugs to die off) just about every day. Yeah, there's a percentage of them I'll probably throw out once I can get in there again, because I will not have missed or remembered them, but the great majority of them are things I couldn't part with (especially all the books).
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2010-09-22 01:24 pm (UTC)
I can see that being a valid reaction, just like some children of hoarders are now anti-stuff.
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[User Picture]From: koibito007
2010-09-22 05:27 pm (UTC)
My husband is a pack rat, and it took a long time for him to admit it. We have stuff we don't use and don't need, on the premise of "but someday we could."

So, for the past five years every few weeks I periodically purge (I have to, he STILL brings stuff we don't need home), going through this or that and asking him, "Do we really need this?" If he's can't give me a yes and a why when I ask then it goes. Many things I just toss or give to goodwill, because once it's been 'out of sight out of mind' long enough then nine times out of ten he never even knows it's gone.

One time I went through all his socks and underwear, and anything that had more than two holes and/or stains (or one hole and/or stain big enough to equal two), I tossed. Men must just be like this, I had to do the same thing with my father's stuff when he moved in. Socks and underwear are not so expensive that we couldn't just go buy more.
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2010-09-22 05:46 pm (UTC)
I remember my mom and dad arguing about an undershirt dad wanted to wear under his dress shirt for church. "the holes aren't THAT big," he said to my mom. She stuck her finger into one and ripped off the bottom half of the shirt. "Now it is," she replied. Dad was baffled that she ruined a "perfectly good" shirt.

Currently, Ferrett's selection of socks is rapidly diminishing as I toss out the holed ones. Eventually he will have to buy new socks.
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[User Picture]From: fitfool
2010-10-28 12:35 am (UTC)
I love the idea of traveling light but instead I just keep collecting stuff. I've been doing better with reining in such impulses and I go on periodic attempts to declutter. Even made some pretty good progress. But...there's still a long way to go!
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2010-10-28 02:55 am (UTC)
Our basement still looks pretty much like this picture because it's out of sight/out of mind. Must rectify that soon...
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