Thursday, September 11, 2008

Obsessions, Posessions, and An Epiphany

Today tastes like that apocraphal morning after. Where you've been subsisitng on Ryecrisps, cucumbers, and green tea for a month because there's a big blowout coming up and you want to splurge, and then you do--cream puffs and champagne and red meat and Really Exquisite ChocolateTM and lots and lots and lots of each of these, and then some more. Wheeee!!!!

And then you wake up the next morning, and the Party Bus has left the station. Without you. You're standing in the terminal huffing diesel fumes with your luggage piled around your feet, and confetti drifting in the breeze like colored dandruff.

It finally hit me this afternoon. I hire someone to clean my house, but I told her (counts on fingers) three years ago that we'd handle the decluttering and putting stuff where it belonged.

The house sparkles. What you can see of it under the piles and mountains and heaps of stuff. Most of it stuff that entertains me--stuff to make stuff with, stuff to watch while I'm making stuff, stuff that honors a relationship. We don't really buy much new except for clothes (and even then, I'll buy socks and undies at the discount store, and outerwear at Goodwill if they have something just right).

And this afternoon, it hit me. I am a slave to my stuff.

When things go missing, it sends me into a tizzy. But there's no place to put it, or the place is so cram-jammed with other stuff that I can't find it even though it's right in front of me--there's just too many things!

So not only do I have a bunch of physical stuff, I have emotional stuff about my physical stuff. Stuff about my stuff, and stuff about being stuffed with stuff.

I have clothes I don't wear because they don't fit my body. (Too small in the waist, too big in the hips and thighs. In the same garment!!! What am I going to do--regain the inches I've peeled off in exactly those spots?) Clothes I don't wear because they don't fit the image I want to project. (Punk and goth are just not the same after twenty-five . . .) Shoes that hurt my feet after a few minutes, but that aren't anything special to look at. (If you wear nine-inch heels, you're expected to be sculpture. But if you have a pair of two-inch heeled pumps that are just as uncomfortable, there's no payoff. They're just pumps, for heaven's sake!)

A lot of my stuff is stuff to make stuff with, and a lot of that is stuff that gets sent out into the world. I knit for charity most of the time. I knit for myself and those close to me sometimes. I get that. I get that the hard part of getting rid of stuff I don't need will be getting rid of the stuff to do stuff with.

So I'm starting where it's easy. I spent an hour last night working on the casual side of my closet. I need seven T shirts (five to work out in, two to slack around in). Done. I got rid of the extra jeans (only need two pair -- Casual Friday and a spare). Cleared out old and cherished sweaters that I could fit THREE of me in--they were "oversized" when I bought them, and there was a LOT more of me then.

Tonight I'm going to hit the work side of the closet. Then maybe I can see what I really have to wear. I don't need more than three pairs of black pants, ten overall printed T's, and ten silk shirts. My black jacket needs replacing--but I have it's sucessor on hand. I just need to take it to the tailor to have a couple of buttons moved and the sleeves taken up to 3/4 length.

That gives me two week's worth of outfits (or two wardrobes--one fall/winter/spring in the T's, one for hot and muggy summer in the silk). Maybe I'll watch for 3/4 sleeve plain color T's to go with my broomstick skirts for summer, with flats. I love the look of those skirts, and how cool and floaty they are when the humidity's high. Maybe I'll put that on my want list and see if the urge cools down. (For a while, I really wanted a laptop. REALLY REALLY REALLY wanted a laptop. Would have sold my soul for one. Last week, DH Gareth found a great deal on a used one on eBay, and asked if I wanted one. A laptop? For what? I spend too much time online as it is . . .)

And then? Maybe the living room and kitchen, possibly the library. Yeah, the library makes more sense. Get rid of the books that are taking up space, that I've read enough times that I don't reach for them, that I can get at the public library if I have to have to have them. Then maybe I'll have room for the DVD's that I watch as I knit.

I don't expect I'll ever get really Zen and spartan, like those hypermodern rooms featured in magazines where everything is streamlined and stark--the colors are white, eggshell, and sand, with one lily in a black glass vase. I just don't want to wind up with banker's boxes of stuff piled in closets (Jeans, Stuffed Animals, LP's, 8 Tracks [flinch]) or stacked in rooms and screened with gaily-printed curtains. I don't want to live in a pile of decorative clutter any more.

I won't be a slave to my stuff.


srsr said...

Getting rid of books is my hard one. Gotta do it. Except craft and knitting books cuz I do use those. Okay then, I can just keep craft stuff. And stuff I really really love. Hmmmmm.
Just found your blog and like your way with words

Helen said...

I'm behind in everything...
but wanted to say "me too... me too"
My stuff runneth over.
I keep trying... I really need a good purge week, but find that I get all distracted sorting through my stuff..
and then, with the bag/box/mountain of stuff that needs to GO, I get all 'but it's worth $$$' and think I should sell it. I DO get clothes to the donation place, but other stuff??
Some is good enough to donate, some isn't, and then I get all bolluxed up in sorting -- good enough? not good enough? And feel guilty for dumping what might be pure crap on the goodwill people...
One day I'll decide that I'd rather have the landfill do the landfill job instead of my HOUSE doing the landfill job, and just get a freakin' dumpster to put it all in. But I'd have to pay to have it hauled away...and would feel guilty for cluttering up the landfill.