Sunday, November 18, 2012

Mudslide By Moonlight

I've been cleaning our garage.

Really cleaning the garage!

And what I've decided is that through their lives, people acquire too much stuff.

It's hard to get rid of stuff. Stuff reminds you of other stuff. Or times. Or people. Or things you've always intended to do.

Or it's the kind of stuff you think might be useful.

In certain circumstances.

Which might arise.

Someday.

I'm a good organizer. I know how to label a box. I know how to maximize storage. I know how to juggle a puzzle of boxes.

Around here I'm known as The Master Packer.

So I am very good a squirreling things into spaces, but this time I've exposed the contents of all cupboards and have been merciless to the Little Voice that whispers, Reconsider...it might be useful in a full moon mudslide.

No.

Mercy!

No, you Widget! You get back in the Goodwill box!

Pleaaaaase!

Down, Widget, down!

Clearly, it's been a battle. And part of that battle has been books. My own books. Years ago I started with How I Survived Being a Girl and have continued through each of my 28 (!) books, to squirrel away 6 autographed first editions of each title. For, you know, grand kids, should they ever appear. And if they don't, for my sons to auction off for charity (or whatever) once I'm dead and gone and people think an entire series of first printing autographed Sammy Keyes hardcovers is worth something.

Thinking ahead can take up a lot of  space in one's garage.

I also have foreign editions. And copies of the audio book. And random publication paraphernalia.

Anyway. Aside from Book Stuff, I've been pretty good at letting go of Other Stuff. The trouble is, that only applies to My Stuff, and a lot of the stuff in the garage is not My Stuff. It's Their Stuff. And They don't want to get rid of Their Stuff.

For example, there are two tall, cheesy speakers that go with a tall, cheesy stereo system that my son got for (basically) free at a garage sale. The woman was so excited that my son wanted her junk that she actually loaded it into her truck and delivered it to our doorstep.

"No!" I cried when I saw it, because it was clearly out of someone else's garage, and I know spider poop when I see it.

"No!" my husband cried, because it was clearly a cheesy stereo system from the 80's and couldn't possibly work and was way too big for our son's room.

"Yes!" our son told us, and proceeded to haul his spider-poop prize upstairs to his room.

The system did work (which got ample HA!s from our son) but it is cheesy, and takes up way too much room, the proof being that  it's now back down to our garage where it sits waiting for its rightful owner (the dump truck)...only I'm not allowed to get rid of it. He demands that I leave His Stuff alone. "Stop trying to throw away my childhood!"

Ouch.

Garage-sale stereos aside, I guess it's my own darn fault that his childhood included so much stuff. Parents like to shower their kids with stuff. Stuff that they maybe didn't have. Or stuff that they really wish had been around when they were a kid.

Cool stuff.

But after a while even cool stuff starts to choke you out of your house. Not just your kids' stuff. Your stuff. The cool and the not-so-cool stuff. The useful and the mud-slide-by-moonlight stuff.

And you look around and realize--I don't need all this stuff.

I don't want all this stuff.

I just want my family and time.

If you don't manage your own stuff, people who are left to clean out your closets when you kick the bucket are gonna say, "Why'd she label this bin of bricks?" "What's with this box of buttons?" "Old curtains? Is that what these are? Why?"

And you can't pop out of the grave and explain, "Those curtains would make a FABULOUS dress, can't you see that? Haven't you ever watched Gone With The Wind? Stop! Put that back you stuff-trashing fool!"

I know I'll never make the dress. But thinking that I might gives my brain a little jolt of...someday. I like jolts of someday, because they make me feel like life will go on indefinitely.

Which it won't.

I know.

Not that I'm planning to kick the bucket anytime soon--after all, I have the final Sammy Keyes to write!--but I really need to sort my own stuff before some stuff-trashing fool comes along and does it for me.

Meanwhile, I'm done buying stuff. And if anyone wants to trade Stuff for Time, please let me know.

I'll make you a great deal.

15 comments:

gabrielle said...

My moms a great organizer too,and she fits a lot of stuff in one box! That's why I like her to help me whenever we move. I'm actually pretty good at getting rid of stuff though,but some things are hard to let go of,because your like maybe I'll use that,even though you won't.

Kylie said...

It is so terrible hard to throw out anything for me. I always think about that maybe this person would want it or I could just fix it a little an it won't be broken anymore. I have four drawers in my room that are full of knick-nacks. Old glitter pens that exploded in my backpack, small toys that I got from fast food places, broken toys from gift bags, pieces of paper that have some old drawings on them. And while I do not need any of it, I can't get rid of it. I don't know why. Every few months I tell myself that I am going to clean out my drawers, and I try, I really do, but I only seem to get rid of the really broken things or give a toy off to whatever niece or nephew present at the moment.

I think this is because I have a hard time letting go. When we had to move, I laid on my bed for half of the day under my blankets crying because I didn't want to move because that was the house were I learned everything and the new one didn't have that. (Great guys now I am crying). I didn't want to let go of all of those memories that happens there. Sitting on my sisters Barbie airplane and using it to rid down our hallway, pretending to be Indians and cutting my leg open, teaching my nephew how to crawl. Everything I had ever known was at that house and I didn't want that to change. But it did because things change and that can't be prevented. And sure I don't have as many memories in our new house as I did our old, but some are still as great.

Sometimes I think I need to realize that letting go helps you move to bigger and better places. (Figuratively and Literally).

Well now that I have had a good cry, I hope you all have a great week and Happy Thanksgiving.

Kylie

Wendelin Van Draanen said...

Kylie, I've found (over many years) that we just need little reminders. Pictures are wonderful, but even just a few small things help us feel connected. For example, I have one of my father's ties. It's a skinny tie, from, like, 30 years ago. It reminds me of him and makes me happy to wear. It's really all I need. That one thing. And some pictures. And BTW, I know what you mean about moving. I hated leaving my "childhood home." Even if the new house is better, there's nothing like your childhood home.

Kylie said...

There really is nothing like it.

And the fact that you wear his tie is adorable. I have taken over procession of one my dads jackets. I wear it when ever I can, especially when he is on a fire because it smells just like him.

And hard thing about that house is that my older sister moved in with er family when we moved out, and while it is still great to go there and close my eyes and remember, the house looks so different that it doesn't feel like that house anymore.

I might have to take the idea of keeping small things.

Ky

Connor Parsons said...

HI MOM.
My stereo isn't cheesy.
It's old.. but not cheesy.


Yeh, that's all.
Hi from college!

-Connor

Yusa said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Yusa said...

Hey Connor.... I just bet it isn't cheesy... you know what would settle this? A picture! Just a suggestion....
--Yusa

Ling said...

I feel the same way! I keep getting things that I feel will have sentimental value, and it does. Unfortunately, I'm a naturally messy person, so it just becomes a bunch of clutter! When my parents suggested moving, I bawled my eyes out. I couldn't fathom permanently living anywhere else, and it was a time of huge change. For one, I was heading off to college! But we ended up not moving, and I was glad for a while, but now I wish we had. In fact, it would've been great incentive for me to get rid of a bunch of things.
As a kid, we had those book sales, and Scholastic catalogs, so I have boxes of books. Most of them I have not actually read, ever. Recently, I've been on a quest tp acquire all the Sammy Keyes books in the series, and all of Dr.Seuss's books because they remind me of childhood and are ultimately enjoyable to read. Sometimes I feel like I need to stop buying things because I'm slowly, but surely running out of space. Eventually, most of it will overflow into the basement(my equivalent to the garage). Actually, I have two large black garbage bags filled with my stuffed animals. My dad always threatens to toss them out and we always argue over it. They mean so much to me. But when I think about it, they're in garbage bags and I haven't taken them out since they've been put in the bags. Maybe I'll just keep the few that I cherish the most and get rid of the others. It's so hard because they'll always be some sort of memento or keepsake.

Yusa said...

My mom doesn't let go easily either. Me and my older brother tried to clean the garage but then my bro refused to continue because he said be refused to throw anything away. My mom used to run a daycare like 10 years ago so we have all these old toys and kid books and stuff like that in our garage but she claims she could put it to use or start it again or if relatives with small kids visit but it's really just taking up half out garage. I mean i found a box of magazines that were like 15 years old. And clothes. We need to get rid of so much but its so hard. And it seems like right when you get rid of something you need it.
The only video games we have in our house are antique also. We have a NES (Nintendo entertainment system), a gameboy color, and a Nintendo 64. 1983, 1998,1996 in that order. The first one is like the first Nintendo. WAAAAY older than me. It's almost 30 years old. And we actually still play them. I mean Star Wars Pod Racers can never get old. So we need to take another trip to Goodwill and NOT buy anything... but maybe if we move we'll get to the organizing. Right now everything is fine where it is...
--Yusa

Wendelin Van Draanen said...

Agh! My son reads my blog! Busted!

Caradith Craven said...

I'm with Connor. What's cheesy about a tall stereo system with tall speakers. There's one sitting in my living room that's been there for 23 years. Granted...there have been threats to remove it when I'm not around, AND it is a dust collector AND none of the components in it actually work anymore...BUT it's the reminder of the musical memories that keep it in its rightful place. Just find a corner for it until Connor has a place of his own to keep his childhood memories. I love this blog, and how you can take cleaning out a garage and turn it into a great discussion topic.

Isabel said...

I know how it feels with old stuff, but whenever I throw something away, or give it away, it seems like I need it. I HATE when that happens, so what I do is separate the stuff. So right now, i haw a whole "package" full of my art supplies. Than folders full of my past years of school :/ I love looking at the stuff, but now there is like no space for it :( Now, I keep them in the folders. I have a special space for them, And same for my art supplies, I mean i still use them :) So, today I'm going to clean up my room, and hopefully I'll have more space. ALSO, Wendalin Van Draanen, "Jolts of Someday," could be a good title of a book, I just popped up in my head :) Hope you like the idea!
~Irah
or
Isabel

Isabel said...

It just popped in my head.


Just a correction

Isabel said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
gabrielle said...

Im actually pretty good at getting rid of stuff. And I was sad when we had to move out of our house,since that was the longest house I lived in,I was five when I moved into my house. And I used to have LOADS of stuffed animals,like when I was younger my stuff animals to up all my space in my closet,I got rid of a lot,but I still have quite a few. And also my sister is not good at getting rid of stuff,like she has a disco ball and a strobe light,and neither of them she will ever use,and she also hates change. But my mom is pretty good at getting rid of stuff.