flexagon: (racing-turtle)
Today's Wondermark amuses me because I'm totally that guy in the last panel.



When something ends for me, I'm generally pretty quick to expunge mementos of it from my daily life. I get the idea that someday I'll want to look back on things; I keep digital photos (but not on my phone), and I've got a thick paper folder called "Memories" where things sometimes go that I can't stand to look at but will want to someday.

But shit does not stay around the house. I usually do that sort of removal as part of dealing with the change, while it's still fresh in my mind... so I don't see it as cold and unemotional. I'm just trying to give my future self a chance to live in her world instead of in mine.
flexagon: (racing-turtle)
Ah, travel and thing-acquisition. Two great things that are unfortunately difficult to separate; and so, damn it, it's confession time again. On this trip I bought:
  • Nike sneakers, because I needed new sneakers and had failed to buy any before the trip. These are okay, as I ditched the old sneakers in Oregon. Two in, two out.
  • A book, Wool, because it was at Powell's and looked awesome and I thought I could give it to my FIL when I was done. This failed, however, as I learned he doesn't like post-apocalyptic SF. Sorry, bookshelves.
  • Poi, because they are cool and might feel nice on my wrists. Anyway, it's good to support the vendors at Divine Play, right? This was maybe a dumb purchase though. I don't exactly need a new hobby to get all into.
  • A DVD about poi, because if I have them I might as well learn a little... famous last words, I know.
  • Two dense little foam wedges, about the size of Airex ones, which I intend to give to Esh; good for handstand exercises against the wall. They could possibly be improved first (and joined to each other) by gluing pieces of a thin yoga mat to them. I would have bought these in Boston, but Corvallis actually has a shop that sells only foam -- too perfect not to take immediate advantage of.


Next weekend in NYC is not likely to go any better, as I'm likely to hit up at least one specialty store where stuff is worth buying.

What can I get rid of?? Maybe it's time to pack my knitting stuff up a bit more compactly. I'll be coming back to that, but not in the very near future, I think.
flexagon: (Default)
I may have bought a pair of unnecessary earrings yesterday.

However, in the last week or so I've gotten rid of: a smartphone, two hardcover books, a graphic novel, a calendar, some unloved bras, a ficus tree (just today!) and all my cross-stitching stuff. Some twinge on that last one -- but it turns out I haven't done any cross-stitch for about eight years.

No more watering the tree, sweeping up its leaves, trying to get Hobbes to stop eating said leaves or cleaning up after he throws up a leaf. Hmmmm. I wonder how much time I just reclaimed?

This is how I keep myself honest about shirts. Every time I do laundry the clean shirts go in the closet on the left. Every morning I start scanning from the right until I encounter something I feel like wearing. Once a month I move a plastic ring into place.



If something doesn't get worn for 3 months, and it's not wildly out of season, it means I already chose not to wear it 90+ times. Time to say goodbye, perhaps.

(I wrote the above last night and then fell crash asleep on the couch at 8PM. What?)
flexagon: (Default)
It's unfortunate that I just wrote about minimalism yesterday, because I read some fun articles & posts today.

The fictional extreme-minimalist future: had you noticed that a lot of science fiction portrays totally antiseptic environments? Someone wrote about it, amusingly, in Table Space: the Final Frontier. Which was posted about on Unclutterer, and that in turn inspired a commenter to write his own more thoughtful essay on what emotional life might look like in a future that is not sentimental about material things.

A set of very interesting reads. Also, I've had THX 1138 sitting on my shelf for a while, and now I want to watch it this weekend.
flexagon: (Default)
Feeling tired and maybe getting-a-cold, so I thought I'd play hooky tonight... you know, skip yoga and curl up on the couch with hot chocolate and the laptop. It's always hard to know when I'm being lazy and when I'm legitimately taking care of myself, but in the context of the last week I'm okay with either. Anyway, of course one of the cats smeared poop across the floor. Cleaning it up wasn't as bad as those few minutes of looking for the poop, knowing it was somewhere and hoping I hadn't already stepped on it.

Anyway, now for a note on minimalism. One of my newer friends, I think [livejournal.com profile] jupiterjuniper, asked people what was the one most influential idea of 2010 for them. Of course I said minimalism. :-) This April that's practically all I posted about.

So where does it stand now? I got rid of around half my stuff in the spring. In the summer I read a shelf-ful of all the books I hadn't read but had always meant to get around to, a project it was easy to feel great about and helped reduced the mental load of looking at the bookshelf thinking "oh yeah, that". This fall I got a new computer and recycled the old, which was a sort of scary project for me since I'd been set up on my old computer for so long. It involved a spreadsheet of what software I had, and what files were backed up, and then finally the clean sweep. A lot of digital clutter went out with that change -- though I don't know exactly what, I do feel very clean and minimal about the new computer. It helps to actually have a list of what I have on it.

Reading that, I see I haven't stopped paring down, but only slowed after the initial phase. That makes me happy.

In contrast to some, I haven't found it harder to stay in the minimal mindset than to get there. A simple "one in / one out" policy is enough to maintain my current level, and it's not hard anymore since I'm only doing one or two things at a time now. (Case study: I got my copy of Adobe Photoshop Elements 9.0 in the mail last week. As it was installing I offered up my old Adobe Photoshop Elements 4.0 on freecycle; the next morning it was gone. Not so bad, right?)

I like having less of my caring and emotion so tied up with material possessions, but I like it just as much that the stuff I do have actually reflects me and my current life. For me it's all part of the same thing, a sort of integrity in terms of what I own... but that sounds so pompous I'd rather just say "minimalism". :-)

For my next trick, I think I'm moving to a much larger space where we'll wind up with some new furniture. Not a traditionally minimalist move. It will be nice to have... not more stuff... but more space. We'll see how the rest goes; I'm hoping not to get too identified with the new things. Sometimes a table is just a table.
flexagon: (Default)
Cross-posted from my public blog. I think that only two people subscribe to both.




I just finished reading Stuff: Compulsive Hoarding and the Meaning of Things, after reading a review on unclutterer.com and, ironically, just HAVING TO HAVE IT. :-) What can I say... the meaning of physical objects has been on my mind this spring.

There were more ironic moments during the reading of it. Where'd I put my book? That book about those poor people who can't find anything in their piles of stuff... But there were also many moments of true self-recognition. Yes, even for me. From page 49, My own daughter became attached to a blanket she named Mana. Though now in her twenties, she takes Mana with her whenever she travels. I'm 32 and married, and I still sleep with my equivalent blanket! It seems that, in general, what hoarders feel is not so different from how I feel about my blanket, which is not a clinical problem; unfortunately for the hoarders, some feel that way about nearly everything. Understandably, they can't get rid of things as quickly as things come into their houses.

Also, from page 151, Ownership seems to carry with it the responsibility for making sure things are used to their full potential and not wasted. Doesn't this have much in common with minimalists, who don't want to own things they won't use to their full potential? I've had thoughts about stewardship of and responsibility for objects for as long as I can remember. I've often avoided acquiring things, like vehicles, that would require me to own even more things in order to maintain the original thing.

As for my life when I'm not reading, I continue to go minimalist. I carried heavy loads to Goodwill on both Saturday and Sunday this weekend, most of the items being sentimental/decorative in nature. They reminded me of old business trips, old vacations, old boyfriends, old jobs. I still liked them... but I took pictures of them and then let them go. I replaced just one of the wall hangings with a new one, a totally abstract cluster of circles from Pier 1.

What I'm emptying my life for, and what will happen next, are things we're all going to find out. Stay tuned!




What I didn't mention publicly is that there's a hoarder on our street. At least, there is a car that fills up, and I mean all the way up, with garbage. It's been missing; today it's back and I noticed it has a visitor's parking permit on its dashboard. Hmm...
flexagon: (Default)
The single most interesting thing about minimalism, for me, is how QUICK people have been to assign me the label, even before I've decided whether I'm comfortable with it myself. When [livejournal.com profile] bluechromis was over last, she said "It's funny to watch a minimalist and a packrat fighting it out." When [livejournal.com profile] islenskr posted about not coveting possessions, she titled it "Hey, flexagon...". In a way, people's quickness to say "yes, you are this thing" makes me think there is something about it that suits me.

Today we each took a backpack-load of paint thinners, ammonia, non-latex paint and other evil stuff to the Department of Public Works, and then I took another load of my personal things to Goodwill, but those things aren't the point. The point is that with everything that leaves, the things that stay are thrown into sharper relief.

It's also a way of becoming more comfortable in my own house. I used to be afraid to go into the garage and now I'm not. I know exactly what's out there, and any spiderwebs will be easily visible. I know what is (well, was) in my junk drawers and my closet. There are still places where strange things might be hiding (some papers waiting their turn to be filed; those shoeboxes full of tights and socks; that one drawer in the bedroom) but those islands are shrinking.

Also, you know how stuff gets shabby sometimes? You think of upgrading it (fixing, oiling, sewing, replacing, painting, buying that new part), but oh god, if you did that then you should take similar care of the several other things in that category... and just throw out that one that's beyond saving... and while you're there then maybe you should reorganize that whole corner, which has been in need of paint for forever, and oh forget it.

Well, because my list of physical items no longer seems infinite, neither does that chore list, anymore. As an example, right now I have one pair of high heeled sandals, and they're in need of shoe glue because their foot lining is peeling up. I'm going to glue them, wear them and see if I still like them. It's not a big deal, and that'll be it for the whole category! Then the category will expand because my order from crocs.com will arrive. Yes, I like every minimalism post to contain an acquisitive, consumerist note, just for aesthetic contrast.

I love how renovations and new cabinets feel like exciting consumption but stay with the house. It's like some awesome wormhole in the usual curves of thing-ownership, by which you can spend thousands of dollars on new shiny things and still not own any more than you did when you started. :-)
flexagon: (Default)
I feel like I've now read every minimalist-living page on the internet, plus some. Here are my two latest favorites:

Your Clutter Hates You  -- You think you hate clutter? That’s nothing compared to the burning hatred your clutter has for you. Very funny, and not only for aspiring minimalists.

Can Your Stuff Pass the Red Velvet Rope Test? -- Thinking about your wardrobe... and your home and life... as an exclusive club that only the best of the best can get into. An interesting mental trick.

In related news, I've discovered the one thing that's slower and more difficult to pare down than papers -- old photographs. Remember when photographs always meant prints? I had a shoe-box full of those envelopes you used to get back from the photo place, and today I bought a 200-picture photo album and... oh man. I just threw out about a six-inch stack of 4x6 prints, almost entirely from between 1997 and 2003, and hope I'm getting down near 200 remaining but I haven't counted yet. This particular project may require another drink.
flexagon: (Default)
Coveting possessions is unhealthy. Here's how I look at it:

All of the computers on Ebay are mine. In fact, everything on Ebay is already mine. All of those things are just in long term storage that I pay nothing for. Storage is free.

When I want to take something out of storage, I just pay the for the storage costs for that particular thing up to that point, plus a nominal shipping fee, and my things are delivered to me so I can use them. When I am done with them, I return them to storage via Craigslist or Ebay, and I am given a fee as compensation for freeing up the storage facilities resources.

This is also the case with all of my stuff that Amazon and Walmart are holding for me. I have antiques, priceless art, cars, estates, and jewels beyond the dreams of avarice.

The world is my museum, displaying my collections on loan. The James Savages of the world are merely curators.

As I am the curator of their things, and thus together we all share the world.


The above was a comment by Pastabagel on metafilter, in response to a post about a guy with 150 computers. Wisdom shows up in the most unlikely places! Now, could I quibble with the above? Of course. Consider maintenance, for instance, which is not free even if storage is. And consider the things that one may not buy, because they are out of print or beyond one's net worth. Think what if everyone thought this way... would industry collapse? And then stop overanalyzing already, and read it again: the apparently carbo-loaded Pastabagel has made a rather wonderful point about access versus ownership, and which one really matters. Thanks to [livejournal.com profile] islenskr for the link to the link to the link. :-)
flexagon: (Default)
Those crazy minimalists have some things right. I'm not sure what's changed in my thinking, but I've been continuing to get rid of stuff and organize what remains, and it hasn't been lame. It's been continually interesting to see what I have (and where it's been hiding). Much more like a treasure hunt than a continuous chore. Everywhere I look, I find either great things I'd forgotten I had or else I find I can free up some space. :D Anyway, here is some lame-sounding but actually not lame stuff I'm observing.


  • One item sitting in a weird place can easily hide two or three other items that also don't belong there.

  • Organizers can make things worse and can even be clutter themselves. I got rid of the plastic drawer organizers in my bathroom drawer... not only does everything now fit (I mean in a single layer, with room left over) but I found a pair of really nice $20 tweezers that had fallen between the containers.

  • It's not just me. Even [livejournal.com profile] heisenbug was doing a little bit of going through old T-shirts and found some shockingly nice socks he didn't know he owned.

  • A box in the closet for things destined to go to Goodwill is an essential tool for incremental... what's a good word? I don't like "purging". Maybe I like "clarification". I also need a place to put the things I intend to give away as gifts one day, so that they'll be in one place next time I rummage for a gift.

  • If I buy expensive skirts from Athleta using my Old Navy card, I get gift cards that basically let me have tank tops for free.



Okay, that last item was more on the "greedy acquisition" side of things.

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