Wednesday, December 26, 2012

'twas the day after christmas

Has anyone written this yet?

I started my morning early, on the elliptical. I've been cross-training for the knee, taking the impact off the joint so any sad little ligaments or tendons get a fuller rest than fast walking or slooow jogging allows. I like the elliptical because I sweat and since chopping running from my day, I have missed sweating. It made me cranky not to sweat.

Then I had two cups of coffee before ten in the morning. I don't wake up with coffee. When I drink coffee, it's usually a mid morning or afternoon mocha. So two cups in a row - made a little strong, unmeasured in our French press - made me jittery enough to sail through what I started earlier this month:

Organize.

Or:

Throw away a bunch of stuff we don't use or need.

I spent Christmas Eve in the kitchen, baking and sorting cupboards, taking inventory of curry sauces I bought for easy meals and a bag of black beans I didn't remember having. A week before that, I went through the old science lab drawers and cupboards we have along one wall of our dining room. I took each drawer out and dumped its contents on the dining table. I was merciless. I didn't think about who might use paperless dusty crayon halves. I just threw them away. And not too long before that, I sorted the kids' clothes and put together a stack for donation.

So I have really enjoyed getting rid of junk.

And this morning, two cups of coffee and Christmas music a little too loud, and the kids wandering in pajamas or tutus, I plowed through the pile on my desk, in my desk drawer, my school bag, the kids' toy shelves, and our gigantic bookshelf. I made a teeny tiny bag of three things someone I know might use. Everything else, I pitched: tape-laden paper airplanes Claire has been making lately, old markers that are nearly dead, more sad little crayon pieces (I know there is a Sunday school teacher who would iron those between waxed paper to make stained glass windows, but I don't know who she is or when she'll come along to take all these crayon pieces); puzzle pieces with their nubs gnawed off, Happy Meal toys, old lists and receipts.

Everything doesn't have a place.

I found things I didn't want to pitch, but couldn't think of how to place. I solved that dilemma by stuffing travel brochures in with my writing files and putting all "school stuff" in one giant Ikea box on our shelf. It looks tidy. Another giant box has stacks of dvds and cds hiding inside and a third box I call "Stuff Justin Has to Figure Out What to Do With." A fourth box is empty.

I've been working from one end of the apartment to the other. So tomorrow, I tackle the bedroom. I'd like to know what it really looks like to tackle a bedroom. In the past, it's looked like my closet throwing up. But that is what my room already looks like - partly because I knew tomorrow would come and I didn't feel like putting away what I would soon take out to decide: keep or not.

This morning while sifting through Memory game cards and puzzle pieces and Legos, I thought about what we let in. This Christmas season, I had a chance to talk with Claire about stuff and gifts and wanting and needing. Short conversations while out shopping or playing or after Christmas parties. I tried not to be didactic. Everything I said to her, I need to hear too. Which is why, as Justin and I planned Christmas gifts for the kids, I kept thinking about what we have and what we use and what just takes up space. Which is why I began opening cupboards and dumping drawers. And that has led to me asking how I can be more careful about material things I let in our space.

What is your relationship with stuff?

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

my relationship with stuff is complicated by my relationships with people who have stuff, including myself. i have this overwhelming desire to throw things out only so i won't appear to have so much stuff... but, truth be told, i do have stuff and i use stuff or know someone who might use stuff and if i threw out some stuff i'd probably replace it... i am becoming more open-handed with stuff... knowing that, really, if that stuff becomes a doll-dress instead of a baby quilt, it's okay. i'm also actually using stuff myself by starting a project now, instead of when the time is perfect, or when i find stuff i like more. i've never thought of myself as a hoarder, but i understand those women who end up buried in the fancy slip they always saved for a specialer occasion... or who always used the ugly dishes because the nice ones were... special. i try to live special. and sometimes that means i do toss out stuff. this isn't very helpful, is it?
mom

Kate said...

This made me giggle quite a few times. Because of the stuff. The stuff, everywhere, the stuff we might use! It's enough to drive you crazy, the stuff. Because, we might use it. Some day. Soon? But, I've actually been trying to quietly pitch some of the stuff each week. And you know what? Nobody has missed it yet.

Steve said...

We spent a couple months in the Fall throwing stuff out every week. We got rid of a ton. I have just a little bit more to go through. It is downstairs though, and I have been pretty lazy to do it, although I can have it done in a couple hours.

Today's project after work. :)

Happy Holidays to you and your family. :)