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The big plan - Peter Hentges

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November 19th, 2003


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02:16 am - The big plan
Due to some weird accounting thing, we are required to use all of our vacation at work before January 31, 2004. I have, according to my manager, 52.29 hours of saved vacation that will have to be taken between now and then. That translates to 6.5 eight-hour days, tack on a floating holiday and I've got seven days off coming to me.

So I was thinking as I came in to work today, what would I do with this time off? Sure, I could, and probably should, visit my friends the Tidballs in LA, my many friends in Seattle and favorite aunt and uncle in Olympia. That would take money, though, even if I did something crazy like drive out there and back. Since I'm in a saving mood of late (and driving during the winter would be foolish) I came up with another brilliant plan.

I'm going to take a each of those days off and turn them into "de-junk" days. I'll start with the garage and, each day off, take a chunk of the house and dispose of all the junk and clutter in it. I'll be taking three sets of Mondays and Tuesdays between now and January 31, 2004 to do this.

I'll have to go over the plan with Ericka, but I intend, at this stage, to be brutal with the disposal. If I can't identify it, it goes. If I haven't used it in a year, it goes. If it won't get used in the next year, it goes. What I can easily donate, I will, but I will not hang on to things because they could be donated later. If no donation opportunity presents itself, it's the trash for all of it.

Exceptions to the "use it or lose it" rule will be made for durable media of artistic value. CDs, DVDs and books are tops on that list. VHS tapes will get a strong review. The emphasis here is on "artistic value;" if I'd want to have my nieces see it (perhaps when they're old enough for some of it, like the Omaha comics), it'll stay.

I will take all my old miniatures up to the Source and see if they want them. If not, it's off to the dust bin. Any odd RPG campaign bits of paper that I haven't used in a year (which would be all of them as I haven't played an RPG in a year) will all go. Board games that I've never played will go. Those I've played will be vetted for fun; the ones that aren't fun will go. RPG books that I have for "reference" only will go. Old zines and apas will go. Books that I read to see how bad they were written will go.

My goal will be to give Ericka one month to go through each box of cloth in the basement. If it isn't made into some project, it'll have to go. Similarly, each sewing pattern will get the "use it or lose it" treatment. Cookbooks we haven't used in a year will go. Pots and pans we haven't used in a year will need review; some of them will be excused as useful for those once-in-a-while kinds of things that the perfect tool will make easy.

So that's the plan, it all starts on December 1, 2003.
Current Mood: determineddetermined

(12 comments | Leave a comment)

Comments:


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From:gerisullivan
Date:November 19th, 2003 05:29 am (UTC)
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What a strong plan! I wish you well with it.

As I once wrote and often say, I look at stuff in three ways -- there's the treasure of stuff, the comfort of stuff, and the burden of stuff.

Your plan is clearly focused on minimizing the burden. Have you thought about allocating some specific amount of space for holding onto at least some treasure and/or comfort items that appear at first review to fall into the "lose it" side of your de-junk-it equation?

Yes, it can be all too easy to identify way too much of our stuff as treasure or comfort. Color me guilty as charged, even if you can't use the crayons and markers that went into last summer's yard sale to do it with.

Two months ago, I removed so much stuff from the first floor of Toad Hall that I needed to turn down the TV volume *5 clicks*. That giant rubber fish and punk unicorn much have been absorbing a *lot* of sound, given just how much the acoustics changed. Well, the fish, the unicorn, and dozens upon dozens of boxes of stuff.
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From:jbru
Date:November 19th, 2003 10:53 am (UTC)
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Have you thought about allocating some specific amount of space for holding onto at least some treasure and/or comfort items that appear at first review to fall into the "lose it" side of your de-junk-it equation?

At this stage, I'm fed up enough to just chuck it all and start over. I hear you about comfort items, though, and that may be what I was talking about when I said "artistic value." I was trying to come up with a way to say something about how important these things were to me even though they might otherwise be in the "lose it" group. One of the factors I want to go into that, however, is the durability of the object. While I might love the cassette tape I made of various tunes back in college, I'm going to let it go because it probably won't keep the same quality over time; I'll hang on to those same tunes on CD, though, because they have comfort/artistic value as well as durability. (Tricky thing will be highly valued comfort items that are inherently non-durable; photographs, cloth objects, etc.)
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From:gerisullivan
Date:November 19th, 2003 01:08 pm (UTC)
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And, I hear you on the attraction of starting over. I'm lucky, in that I can and do take comfort in getting rid of stuff that is more burden than comfort or treasure. The process of deciding what stays and what goes includes remembering all of the treasure and comfort each item represents. I've parted with lots (and lots!) of things that were very special to me, that reminded me of good times and good people. The reality and the memories of those good times and good people don't go away with the thing; they get refreshed.

During the sorting process, I let my heart tell me when I can't bear to part with an item, when I can respectfully bid it farewell, and when I can gleefully add it to the appropriate gift/sale/donation/trash receptacle. It's fun, and very satisfying. Hope it plays out in similar ways for you!
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From:jbru
Date:November 19th, 2003 09:58 pm (UTC)
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The reality and the memories of those good times and good people don't go away with the thing; they get refreshed.

That's a good point and one I have difficulty in communicating to Ericka. These things are, after all, just things; they aren't the people, they memories, the experiences. They are just tokens one uses to remember those.

Given that Ericka's all into reprogramming her head, I might be able to stave off some of her approaching panic by suggesting she transfer the remembrance from the token to something more useful or internal.
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[User Picture]
From:jbru
Date:November 19th, 2003 10:55 am (UTC)
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My first response is, "No. I refuse to enable someone else's clutter!" My second response is, "It's a long time to the next garage sale and I want that space now!" Calming down I bit, I could see the value in the stuff going to such an enterprise if there is, indeed, someone willing to store it for that. (It just can't come back here when it's gone.)
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From:cakmpls
Date:November 19th, 2003 11:39 am (UTC)
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Valu Village (ARC of Hennepin County) has trucks that come around to pick stuff up. They do good work with the money, and recycling usable stuff is, IMHO, good in itself. They will not take large furniture or computers, but they take lamps, small tables, small appliances, linens, clothes, books, tapes, records, software, and every imaginable (and some unimaginable) kind of miscellaneous. All you have to do is put it in bags or boxes and call them to find out when their next pick-up run in your area is. Or you can drop it off at any of the Valu Village stores.

I think I see your point about enabling someone else's clutter, but is clutter such an evil in and of itself? I know that's the current trendy thinking, but I'm not convinced. (No, I would never accuse you of being "trendy"! But it is a trend, with books and seminars and consultants and all. Not to mention the stores that sell you stuff to organize your stuff.)

My take is this: Clutter that gets in the way of the life one wants to live is bad; clutter that is part of the life one wants to live is good.
[User Picture]
From:jbru
Date:November 19th, 2003 05:46 pm (UTC)
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Thanks for the tip on ARC, I'll give them a call. Since I'll be doing the de-junking on a regular basis for a couple of months, I'll probably be able to get things to them easily.

Is clutter and evil? I say yes, but part of that is in defining clutter. You go on to say that clutter that is part of the life one wants to live is good. If something is part of the life you want to live, it's not clutter. Clutter is the useless stuff that's sticking around for no good reason. It sits, gathering dust in the (in my!) basement, closets, attics, drawers, waiting for "someday." But someday never comes.

So, like Geri mentioned, there are treasures that bring one pleasure to have. Clutter elicits only guilt and other negative emotions.
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From:cakmpls
Date:November 19th, 2003 07:50 pm (UTC)
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Yes, I guess it is all in the definitions. But I'm pretty sure that many of the aforementioned (by me) books, seminars, consultants, etc., would consider things like my cactuses and recipe boxes to be clutter. There seems to be a minimalist movement afoot.
[User Picture]
From:jbru
Date:November 19th, 2003 09:54 pm (UTC)
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I think it isn't all in the definitions. Part of what's driving me to this momentus decision is that the junk and clutter is just an energy drain on me. I feel weighed down and run into numerous little annoyances just hanging around the house. When I've been at your place for MN-Stf meetings and such, your collections don't have the same feeling to me. While I'm something of a natural minimalist (or at least feel very comfortable in minimalist surroundings), I'm not truly trying to get rid of everything.

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