July 19, 2008

Clutter: Considering It

We're going to put a second bathroom in the house, down in our semi-finished basement. Problem: I need to clear at least two large utility shelf units just to TALK about putting a bathroom in.

Well. This is a struggle for an apocalyptic-minded, nostalgic, can't-throw-away-stuffed-animals-because-it's-too-sad, fully-prepared-for-every-contingency type. And about HALF of what we have is handmedown kid clothes, and those are staying: that's MONEY we're storing in those boxes.

So, the other half. It's things like china we never use. Books from my childhood we never read and the kids aren't interested in. Dolls and doll clothes I bought during the time we had to wait longer than expected for a third pregnancy and apparently I went a little crazy. Video tapes, some still in their plastic wrap. Childhood journals and papers and school report cards. "Heirlooms" Paul's mother gave us (including a ratty, rotting hairbrush that was Paul's pinehole father's).

Some of it, I wish the entire world had a collective brain so that I could find the few people who are probably scouring antique stores and eBay right this second (well, or I guess a lot of shops are closed by now) looking for the stuff I have, and would love it and cherish it. But I can't do that, even with the power of the Internet, because 99% of my responses would be antiques dealers pretending not to be antiques dealers.

Paul thinks I'm a little silly to care if someone else profits from something I don't want and don't want to sell. I don't think it's silly. To use an extreme and unfairly emotional example, if I wanted to donate food to hungry people, I wouldn't want someone to intercept that food and SELL it to the hungry people. And in this case, I want to give my service-for-twelve (minus one teacup) to someone who would cherish the china---not to someone who will SELL it to the people who would cherish the china.

The clutter book I'm reading is just like "THROW IT OUT! Why let it take up valuable real estate?" And I see his point, but I don't want to THROW OUT something someone else is pining for. So there, clutter book!

Pay-it-forward updates:

Our House is showing the giftie she got, and starting a new contest.

and the duck said... is showing the giftie she got.


Megan said...

Ugh. I'm married to THROW IT OUT. He gets physically uncomfortable if he hasn't thrown away something recently. He's currently looking at my boxed up teaching supplies wondering if I'll ever actually go back to work. Whoa. Totally hijacked your post. But, I get it.

Melissa said...

Wait.. You only have ONE bathroom and 7 people living in the house?

Eva said...

Um. I'm with Melissa. I am still gaping at the computer. Aren't there like 55 people in your house? Does each get to bathe only 1X per week? I don't mean to be melodramatic, but even when it was just me and my husband, we would have killed each other with only 1 bathroom (okay, maybe a wee bit melodramatic).

Fay said...

My suggestion for the China, is Goodwill or the Salvation Army. That way, it will be sold, but to someone who's thrilled to death to have found it!

I dunno, maybe china would be too hard to do that with, but I've gotten great satisfaction from my Goodwill donations whenever I've had to de-clutter. I hate getting rid of things too, for some crazy reason.

Kelsey said...

Blogger ate my comment - boo!

But it went something like this:

I have a candle in the basement that I made at summer camp when I was 11. I am not the right person to be giving advice about getting rid of clutter, obv. Amen.

Rachel said...

My mother is the same as you. She has boxes filled with things she finds value in and saved from my childhood. When she lovingly offered them to me, I looked at her as though she were crazy. Why would I want papers from my kindergarten class? She has now caught on that when she passes away, most of her prized possessions will either be chucked in the dumpster or given to thrift stores. I'm not as heartless as I sound; even she admits that she goes a little overboard sometimes. The truth is, I do keep sentimental items, but I limit myself STRICTLY to one footlocker per person. So one for me, one for my husband and one for my son. A helpful suggestion? I don't know, but it might give you an idea of how to deal with your "clutter."

BRash said...

I have this grandmother that I love. She's so great and smart and funny and witty and she has Great
Style. I moved around a lot as a kid and her house (which she moved into when I was 10) has been a great, stable, central location for my family since then. And I'm very, very sentimental, so I'm trying to recreate her entire house as a grownup. I'm from one of those families that encourages people to let it be know which heirlooms they'd like to keep BEFORE people die so that those things could be included in the will (which some people think is weird and morbid). The thing is that I want EVERYTHING. Everything seems so special and important.
Seems like a long roundabout way to say I understand. Also, if you have milky-white bowls with tulips on the like my Grammys, I WILL TOTALLY TAKE THEM OFF YOUR HANDS.

Moderndayhermit said...

I am one of those people who throw things out. I can't stand having a lot of stuff around that I don't use. It isn't that I don't find it nice to keep things that are sentimental but in my mind I'm not paying tribute or value to that item if it's shoved in a box in the back of a closet or in the garage (we don't have basements here in Phoenix).

My husband, and his entire family, on the other hand are savers. They place sentimental value on EVERYTHING. I have to admit that it drives me a little nuts.

I used to be really attached to my cooking magazines but recently threw those out. My next adventure of purging will be my son's (almost 3 years old) clothes. I've not thrown out a SINGLE clothing item. Mostly because I keep hemming and hawing on having another child and then I want to make a memory quilt out of his infant clothes.

Anyhoo, I don't mean to write a book. But one thing my husband and I is to throw items out for one another. He knows that he won't let go of that shirt full of holes and I know that I can't just purge my cooking magazines.

Danell said...

Yeah, I'm still reeling at the one bathroom thing.

That, and "pinehole" STILL makes me laugh out loud every time you say it.

Michelle said...

You have a website that lots of people read. Put up a list of the stuff you have, people say "oooh, I've always wanted that!" and send you money to ship it? Too annoying?

I am the queen of decluttering (and my husband meanwhile is the king of holding on to things) so I feel your pain. He never wants things to "go to waste" so sometimes we freecycle or put out on the curb...theoretically someone who REALLY wanted it took it, right?

minnie said...

a friend of mine started this site:

and i thought it was a cute idea. And i have been thinking for the past week that i want to start a site like that for my stuff. i have so many things that i don't want but that are perfectly good thing! i'm all ready to start one. maybe if we all started one we could havea networl for them. heh.

There is also freecycle!

Firegirl said...

Ooh, I'm SO itching to come help! I hate that airfare is so expensive b/c I would come for Blogstle AND the decluttering project!

I think the idea of posting the items on the blog is WONDERFUL! One item a week, then it's not so overwhelming?

Keep the kid stuff, maybe the kids will want it for their kids someday...says the chick that still has childhood toys and no children.

samantha jo campen said...

If you DO somehow decide to post things you want to give away, and have your readers pay for shipping, um, I have a 'friend' who would use and love your china and never ever sell it EVER.

Farrell said...

I still have some of my ex-husbands stuff in my basement. Because there is too much of it and too heavy for me to get it out by myself. For some reason, in 4 yrs of marriage and one newborn, we aquired more stuff than a couple married for 10 yrs with 6 kids.
I really, really want to organize my basement but it's overwhelming to me and i just need someone to show up at my house with plastic crates and some shelves and do it and then I give them money because it would be TOTALLY worth paying someone to do that for me. seriously, i go into panic attacks just looking at ALL THE STUFF and HOWEVER WILL I GET THROUGH IT? which is why it sits there and sits and sits...

Astarte said...

TOSS IT. It doesn't sound like great stuff, and if you keep it around in the name of donating it 'at some point', you'll be 80 before it gets done. No, no - throw it out (well, recycle and toss).

How on EARTH have you lived with SEVEN PEOPLE and ONE BATHROOM?!?!?! Oh, oh, oh. Do the boys just pee outside (hell, Patrick used to all the time, to my horror)?

McMama said...

freecycle? If not, I agree with Astarte, toss it and don't look back. That "hungry person" isn't going to be nourished because you didn't have the heart to get the crap out of your basement!