Category Archives: Decluttering

Small Apartment Living

My apartment is a mess. I wasn’t really aware I still owned enough stuff to have a mess, but I do. I guess in 500 square feet, it’s pretty easy. There’s the sorted laundry that needs to go downstairs to the laundry room. It wouldn’t kill me to take the trash out, either.

The downside of a tiny apartment is that your chores are always staring you in the face. From my current seat, I can see the laundry, the trash, the mail that’s waiting for me to buy a new shredder.

Sometimes this apartment feels much smaller than 500 square feet. Part of the problem is that it (and all of  our neighbors) were carved out of a single home. This means we ended up with a kitchen that’s quite large, but not large enough to really do anything but cook in, a long, narrow closet that didn’t have any hanging bars at all when we moved in, and my girlfriend’s closet-sized “craft room”. All of these things take up some of the square footage but make it really hard to use that square footage effectively.

Also, just to make things interesting, the stairwell is oddly angled and low ceilinged, so it’d be nearly impossible to get any larger furniture up here. The table was hard enough and it has hinges so it’s barely two feet wide.

I have acquired more books – these things happen! – and more art, which is my real weak spot. Worse than books, I think. I’m okay with getting rid of books. I’m much less okay with parting with art. I’m trying to stick to small pieces, so they’re easier to group on the walls, and paper prints instead of giclee canvas – canvas is nice and all but they’re much harder to move or store if I want to cycle through them. I’m speaking from experience here.

Speaking of canvas, I haven’t painted since the move. I think that’s a combination of factors weighing in – I gave away my art supplies to save space, and I can’t really justify the cost of new ones right now. I also don’t have the space for an easel, or to store finished art.

I also ended up donating a bunch of my paintings with all the other thrift store stuff when we moved. It wasn’t that I thought people would like them, particularly. Just that I didn’t have space for moving them. I didn’t think much of it at the time because I was in a huge, last-minute hurry, and I wasn’t really satisfied with my work anyway, but I think that’s probably at least part of the reason why I haven’t felt like getting back to it.

I should attack my watercolors anyway, though. It might help me feel better. Of course, so would starting on the mess in here. Maybe I’ll go do the laundry.

10 Years of Ashes

I took this picture three years ago. At the time, it was every journal I’d used for the past eleven years. Of course, the pile only grew after that.

Until now.

Very early in the packing process, I got rid of the ones that were empty or almost empty, clipping out any pages I wanted to keep. Anything that was full or nearly so, though, I dutifully repacked for moving.

Today I decided to take another look at them. On my way to work, I grabbed a stack – most of the pocket-sized journals, as well as a larger one – and today I went through them. I realized that most of the stuff between 2000 and 2004 or so is amazingly incoherent and entirely irrelevant to who I am now.

That’s not me anymore, and that hasn’t been me in a long time, and god knows it’s not like I’ve actually pulled these out and reread them in the last fourteen years.

I didn’t actually set them on fire, though if I wasn’t at work, I’d be tempted to. Instead I ripped each of them out of the hard covers, dropped the covers in the trash, and dropped the pages in the shred bin. Not as visceral as burning, but almost as theraputic.

I’ll grab another pile tomorrow, or maybe tuck into them tonight, and when I’m done, maybe I’ll take a new picture.

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Decluttering Is Sexy

No, really, let me explain.

Yesterday my girlfriend and I were discussing books, packing, and all the annoying things about moving. She’s gone through her books before but suddenly she was on a mission. As she packed box after box, she explained her new philosophy to me.

Rather than being a completist, she’s decided to keep only the truly emblematic books from each author. She asked herself what she was really saying with each of her collections. What does a bookshelf full of every L.M. Montgomery book say about its owner? I’m still not entirely sure, but I’m pretty sure that whatever it says, it’s not something that’s true of her. She kept her favorite Montgomery, her favorite Stephen King, and so on.

Watching her finish up her books gave me the push to finish going through my comic book boxes. We each put a few things aside for friends we think will appreciate them, but three boxes of comics went out the door as well. The trunk and the back seat of the car were both completely full when we headed out to Half Price Books.

Just before we left, I smiled at her and told her, “You’re so sexy when you’re decluttering.” It was a joke, but there’s a kernel of truth to it as well. When we first talked about this move, my biggest concern was the expense, even moreso than the effort involved. We talked about our goals and what we wanted, though, and it turned out we were surprisingly in sync. I’ve gone out of my way not to push her too far as we pack – possibly too far in the other direction. But every time she demonstrates that she’s just as excited, just as committed as I am, if not moreso, I understand a little more what it means to be in a relationship where you and your partner share common dreams. And that’s exciting.

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More Waxing Poetic About My Books

I’m down to 49 books, guys. I counted.

I don’t usually ascribe to the “count all the things” school of minimalism, but in this particular case, I was curious. Considering that as far back as I can remember, I’ve had more books than I’ve had shelves.

Of course, we’re making progress selling all our shelves too so I guess I might still end up with more books than shelves. Two jewelry storage units went out yesterday thanks to Craigslist, and I’m waiting to hear from one of my coworkers about whether she wants to arrange the sale of two bookshelves and a desk today.

I’m just starting into the throws of “no, really, do I want to keep this?” now, as we hit the one-month deadline. Right now, everything needs to justify itself, and I need to keep reminding myself that everything needs to answer that question instead of packing things without thinking about it.

Our notice is officially given to the apartment complex, so we’re moving at the end of August no matter what!

Decluttering Bookstores

So Borders is giving up the ghost entirely.

Almost all the ones near me already closed, but there’s one left in reasonable driving distance (near the Half Price Books where I’ve unloaded so many things lately). I don’t really want to do much shopping, though, because however fast a reader I am, I doubt it’ll be fast enough to read anything I buy there before moving.

I may go raid the magazine section once it’s on sale, though. Magazines are great for a quick read and purge.

Even with my efforts to get rid of books, I have to admit that losing bookstores makes me sad. I worked in a Borders after graduating college – though that particular location has been gone for two years now – and it was a real joy to be surrounded by books every day (even if I hated the customers).

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An Ode To My Old Copy of The Crow

I’m perfectly aware that this is kind of sad, but it’s still hard to let go of it. I first acquired this comic book in high school, not long after the movie came out. I was a babygoth, and at the time I thought it was so beautiful and so deep.

It’s a very worn copy because I loaned it to several friends whose parents didn’t let them buy stuff like that. I’d had to get a ride to the nearest city to get it in the first place, visiting my first Friendly Neighborhood Comics Shop. When I went overseas, I wrapped it in a plastic cover to protect it from humidity (and from the additional wear of even more friends who wanted to borrow it). I’ve owned this comic half my life, carried it halfway around the world, met good friends via fanfiction I wrote for it.

But I hadn’t read it in at least five of those years, and when I opened it up, I remembered why. What was once poetic is now… somewhat less so. I’m not sure if that’s the fault of my maturity, my cynicism, or simply the fact that it’s not the 90s anymore. It doesn’t really matter.

So off the book goes, and hopefully some new babygoth will enjoy it.

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