Friday, August 28, 2009

Can I just throw it away? Please? I’m done.

I guess that’s part of the reason lately (ok, most of my life) that I have all of the things I do. I don’t make the time to sort through and make decisions about things. I’m finding that I want to spend time on activities that are going to make my life better. Like working, building my video game company, spending time with my family, going out and doing fun things.

But that’s not the only reason. I can go right back to the question above and ask myself, “Can you throw it away, Nick?” Well, I’m finding that I care less about the things that weren’t mine to begin with, so I’m more ready to throw those things away that I originally thought had value. My own things? Hmm… I’m still stuck on that question.

There are four categories I see my stuff falling into. Things that are sentimental to me, things that may be useful in the future, things I think may have value and things I’d like to give to my kids when they’re old enough.

The sentimentality is something that has been more apparent lately. I have a cardboard box that my grandfather gave me with odds and ends supplies in it like nails, screws, brackets, holders, etc. Well the box is past being on its last flap and I had to replace it. The box is still sitting in the dining room. It was my grandfather’s. One of the two possessions I definitively know that he gave me. (Well, he gave me the stuff inside. The box was an incidental container.) What am I going to do with an unusable cardboard box? Should I re-tape it and try to make it useful again? That may work if I spend some time and effort on it. But here’s the catch; it was the box that my supplies have been in for the past 18 years. (Wow has it been that long already!) It’s the supply box! So not only does it have my memory of my grandfather attached to it, it has a designation too – it’s the supply box! Oy! What am I going to do with myself? That’s just silly. But it’s the thing to uncover since this is a piece of what’s holding the stuff around. We’ll come back to this.

The next category is the useful things. The useful things are good. I’m not ready to part with useful things. I would like them all to have a place and all be in their place so when we need to use them we know we have them and they are easily accessible. I know we have things lost in the basement that we need on the rare occasion. And I know we have things that we don’t even know we could be using. The first is more frustrating. The second is surprising and exciting when we find we have a useful thing and then sometimes frustrating when we realize we went and bought something similar since we didn’t know we had one in hiding. But is it even worth the time to go through everything in the approximate 200+ boxes in our basement to pull out the few useful things we have down there? Would the time spent be more than the money saved? One of the hooks here is that if I did go down to the basement to throw everything out, I’m sure I would start seeing the useful things and get distracted with pulling them out, thereby expending many more hours. Uh.

Next category. I have lots of little things that seem to have some value in them. This mostly contains paperwork, like old bills, ideas I’ve written down, things from my music career and lots of articles pulled out of Wired magazine. Boxes of paperwork. Probably 10 to 20 Hammermill Paper boxes full of paperwork. If you work in an office type environment you’ll know the boxes I’m talking about. The ones that fit 12 reams of 250 sheets of paper. That’s a lot of paper I’ve got collected. And I’m sure if I emptied my filing cabinet out I’d fill up another 10 boxes.

And lastly, how many books can my kids read? Mostly what I have for my kids are my sci-fi books and my comic books. Would my kids even care? Genny has more toys and books at five than I could have accumulated in my first 20 years of life. She likes fairies and princesses. And doesn’t like boys. What makes me think she would be interested in my male-leaning super hero comic books? That means it’s probably all going to go to Cole. If he ends up liking comic books. Instead of sports or video games or sports video games. And again, how many books can he read? I’ve got a few thousand comic books. And would I be able to let him touch them before he’s at an age that he would respect the value of these ‘possible’ collector’s items? The items that defined my youth? Ha! I’d probably be watching over him like a hawk. That would be fun for both of us (sarcasm)! So what am I saving these for again? Did I just talk myself out of giving my youth to my children? Am I so tied to the identity of my youth that I can’t give this part of my life to my kids?

This brings me to another thought. My things define who I am. Giving or throwing them away is like giving away me! How can I do that? Like the box from my grandfather, it’s a piece of him… my things are a piece of me.

Why am I so desperately trying to hold on to me? Will I lose myself if I give away my things?

Sometimes I wish for it all to burn up or get lost in a flood. Here’s a big knock on my noggin that that doesn’t happen. But there are times I have wished that it gets taken from me so there’s nothing I can do about it but move on. But really deep down inside I don’t want that to happen. It just seems like a good way out of my situation without having to do the work. Would that resolve the issues I have inside me that are keeping the things where they are? No. It would be like the people who try to run away from their lives. You can’t escape yourself. You have to go through it. And hey! That’s why we’re doing this blog in the first place! J So we’re in the right place.

So, why am I so desperately trying to hold on to me?

When I was in my twenties I had a girlfriend that said I couldn’t remember anything. And from that point on I remember not being able to remember things as well. Did my collectionistic behavior start then? It runs in my family, so I’m pretty sure it existed before then. Maybe it’s just gotten worse with age. And now with my life being full up with kids and work and video games and new software programs, I know that some of the information leaks out my ears and I just don’t seem to be remembering as much and I think it’s probably gotten a bit worse from that.

Am I afraid of forgetting? When I try to compare Cole now to Genny at his age I have trouble remembering what she was like. Ok, I don’t seem to remember at all.

And here’s another thought that just popped up. When I was young I wanted to save and record everything in my life. I would daydream about how that could be accomplished. I still have ticket stubs from concerts and birthday cards from my family from years ago. At the end of our lives will we have a chance to sit down and review everything before Him and account and reminisce about our lives? Will we be judged? Am I trying to collect evidence from my life to show that I’ve tried to live as a good person?

Wow, that would be weird if this was all because I want to be loved. If I save these things, I’ll be able to show someone that I was a good person and they will be able to see it all right there in front of them and say to me, “Yes Nick, you’ve done a good job. We love you.”

So, I have it all here. I’m ready to prove myself. Please come and look at my stuff.

Monday, August 17, 2009

We Sold Our First Book

Our family went away for a week to Myrtle Beach, SC, so we were AGAIN playing hooky from Five Boxes.

And to make matters worse, we came home from our vacation with more stuff!

We did have our first sale while we were gone though.

We sold a cool old book from our Etsy store, "The Personality of Insects." So I will be off to the post office today.

Hopefully, Nick and I will be sorting through more stuff this weekend!

Wednesday, August 5, 2009


The emotions that came up the first week we started our project ranged from amazement at finding what looked to be a first edition of Les Miserables, frustration at finding the baby toys that we just repurchased since we couldn’t find this box, frustration that we were unwrapping a big box of dishes that we would need to rewrap, fascination at the old sugar bowl and excitement in having things so old and possibly valuable, and amusement that the set of cups, saucers and dessert plates we unwrapped and decided to keep (since they were a really nice set), happened to have their matching dinner, salad and appetizer plates in our cupboards waiting for their long lost cousins. We obviously thought the plates were nice enough to keep the first time around too, now it’s nice to have the whole set together.

The second week brought up a lot of emotions around respect. Respect for elders like Sissy whose style and personality show through the most in the possessions still in the house. For the old things around the house, mostly the books that we’ve been going through the past two weeks. And for the religious items that Sissy was so fond of.

Week three was a bit different. I’m over the old books. We have so many old books; I’m getting ready to part with the less older ones. I know I’m not going to read any of them. I don’t have time to read the books I need to read, never mind the books that I would like to read for enjoyment. I’m still amazed at the books from pre-1900. Especially of note are the books from 1805… that’s only 30 years after the country was born. Wow. Cool.

When we first moved into the house I found the book Soils and Men, Yearbook of Agriculture, United States Department of Agriculture. That interested me then because it was so old and it still interests me now since we have a garden. I may read that book someday when I have the time and want to learn about gardening and soil more. Not too likely, but maybe. But Les Miserables? I really doubt I’ll have the time to read that nor do I really have the interest. Ok, it’s supposedly a classic, but I’m sure there are others I could read. Just because we have a classic book in our house doesn’t mean I have to read it, does it? They’re strange rationalizations but these are the type of unconscious thoughts that have me keeping the stuff in our house.

And Sissy’s religious items. From our book list you can guess what a good portion of the house is filled with. It’s reflected in the paintings on all the walls (and piled in the cellar) and the other little knick knacks around the house. I’m not so religious that I would read any of the books. And not enough that I would want the paintings on every wall, especially since the frames are pretty worn and old and a lot of them are falling apart. Because of the sheer number of them, some have to go. But how do I get rid of these things? I’m guessing most people wouldn’t care much about things that are not theirs. But I have respect for my wife’s family and religion. Do I have too much respect?

I’m thinking this post is helping me. I think I may be able to part with a little bit more from gaining this insight.

Really… the pictures in the basement really are in bad shape. Some are even… ahh!… moldy. And yet we’re still keeping them down there. And some of the frames are broken. Are they antiques? Would an antique frame be worth anything if it was fixed? I’m sure we don’t have the little pieces of wood that have fallen off of them. And who has the time to find out if they’re antiques, let alone fix them? I don’t care enough about them nor do I have the expertise to do that. And I can’t imagine that they’re worth enough to make up for the time spent.

Is it possible to have too much respect – to the point that it’s a detriment to one’s life? Well, if we got sick because there’s mold in the house that would be a detriment. And like I said in a previous post, there’s the whole aspect of the time, money and resources in keeping and managing this stuff.

Does anyone even know I care that much? I don’t even know if my wife cares that much about her family’s stuff. She may, but I don’t know; I could be respecting in vain. I wouldn’t want to nor could I stop myself from caring as much as I do. But I’m sure I can find other ways to show it. And I could pick something I know she would like.

I think it’s time to ditch some stuff.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Week 4 Has Not Begun

Wow. Only week four and we've fallen off the wagon.

Well, we have an excuse. We were away for the whole weekend. That's not a good excuse.

This getting-rid-of-stuff-thing is not easy.

In fact, we came home from this weekend with more stuff: an exercauser someone was throwing away (it's newer than the one we got off Freecycle), and a newer playmat than the one we borrowed from my step-sister. How could I turn down good, free baby stuff?

We need help.

I will at least try to get some more books listed on our Etsy store. This shall be my penance.