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Stuffity stuffity stuff.

Hey, guys, thanks for the stories and comments on my previous post. I am sorry I haven't commented back, but I had a bad day yesterday, and limited myself to washing the sheets (did you know, you can freshen feather pillows by putting them in the dryer on "low" and throwing in a couple of dryer sheets? - assuming you're not allergic to any of those things, of course) and tidying the sitting room, which is a mess.

I have too much stuff. I mean, I use all the stuff I have (mostly), and I go through my stuff regularly to cull and donate the stuff I don't use, but the stuff, she is taking over my life. I no longer fit into a 1,100 square-foot apartment. And believe me, it's mostly my stuff, not Bob's. I even have an entire studio room chock full of stuff. Some of it is collections stuff, like my skulls, vintage clothes, and magazines/ephemera, some of it is art stuff (in other words, stuff to make other stuff), a large part is books (many of them on how to make stuff from other stuff), and, of course, my toy animals.

I don't know where they all come from, the animals - I'm guessing they're making the beanie-beast with two backs at night. All I know is they multiply, no matter how many of them I pack in boxes or give away.

(I hear squeaks late at night.)

And I constantly get catalogues exhorting me to buy more stuff. I know I should get off a lot of the lists, but I really love getting catalogues - I find things I never knew were out there (seriously - I got a catalogue of Cher's home furnishings once - very gothy, it was, too). Mostly I resist, but recently, what with needing to get Stuff-with-a-capital-Uff for the new house, I've been shopping a bit. In any case, I read all the catalogues that catch my eye, even the ones that don't fit any need of mine, and make me wonder quite how I got onto that mailing list.

(Fortunately, the dumpsters in Arvonia take catalogs for recycling.) (I can also take them to work.)

So I got a nice catalog for Kripalu, a place in Massachussetts that does yoga and other retreat packages.  It's not a spa - the cheapest overnight packages are for dormitory rooms with bunk beds and a shared bathroom (not my style - I'm bathroom-shy) - but does offer spa services, in addition to hundreds of different classes all tied into self-awareness, healing, enlightenment, and every variety of yoga you can think of, including hip-hop yoga.  

(Two great tastes that taste great together!)

The course descriptions are earnest, and wholesome, and the catalogue features pictures of real people, not perfect models, but it's all entirely too touchy and feely for me, as I am a cynical bastard.  Even though I do appreciate the idea behind these things, I'm buzz-word sensitive, and I know better than to ruin someone else's spiritual enlightenment by laugh-snorting at being told to "understand and love (myself) in a way (I) never have before".  Because I am TEN YEARS OLD.

It's not that I don't want to be more in touch wth myself, my surroundings, the earth, and all the other delightful things they want to help me with, but I just have an uncontrollable urge to giggle when someone says "moon cycle" instead of menstruation.  I really do respect that people find deep meaning in this way of speaking and approaching the world, but I simply can't speak in that language and not be conscious of how "jargon-y" it sounds without meaning to.  I also understand that substituting "special" words for common ones helps some people to define their ownership of  particular things, but it always comes off as self-conscious and precious to me, in the same way that wiccans who insist on spelling "magic" with an extra "k" sets my teeth on edge.

(No disrespect intended; it's my issue, not yours.)

So I know better than to inflict my inner brat on other people, all of whom are better off finding deep spiritual awakening without me around. 

But the catalogue did have a rather nice essay from one of the regular retreat teachers about stuff, and how the pursuit of stuff (he even used the word "stuff", which made me happy) can get in the way of our happiness.  He talked about the aggregation of stuff as a screen for feelings of need, anger, insecurity, and hunger, and even pointed out the negative side of striving for less stuff (as in "I am so spiritually enlightened, I can go through my day with just a stick, and therefore I am more special than you"-type one-upmanship), and how a lot of people's attempts at "going green" are still centered around stuff.

I am down with this.  I accumulate stuff, because stuff fascinates me.  The antiques and vintage things I collect all speak to me in various ways of past lives and past times, and they give me a feeling of connectivity (now there's a buzz word for you!) with the past.  I'm a visual and tactile little beastie - the shape of something will delight me, and I want to experience it over and over again.  I like my skulls, because they don't seem morbid; to me, they talk about life.  I even collect wild animal skulls from the woods (I have a knack for finding them; Bob doesn't know how I do it, but it disturbs him slightly).

But - I do have entirely too much stuff, and I assauge my guilt feelings about that stuff by trying to ensure as little of the useable stuff goes to landfills as possible (next, I'm going to be working on my trash), and goes to charity stores instead.  I want to make the house as green as possible, with recycling, a compost heap, growing my own vegetables and fruits, and planting to create as much of a wildlife sanctuary as I can without giving the deer and rabbits all my hard-earned tomatoes (they can have the zucchini).

A bunch of my catalogues now have all sorts of delightful (and pricey) "green" stuff.  I can buy a $700 composter, designer recycling bins, gorgeous recycled garden things (stuff), artisanal birdbaths made from recycled glass, and I can easily drop many thousands on more stuff.  

Talk about going "green".  Where did all my money go?  

I don't plan on getting most of that stuff.  I might get a cute birdbath (in addition to the fountain we will have in the courtyard), because I loves the little birdies (though if the vultures decide they like it, I might need to get a bigger one), but I can make my own compost heap, thank you.  I can use cheap bins for sorting my recycling, since they'll be in the pantry anyway.  I know how to do all this "green" stuff for cheap (which is partly the point, I guess).  Sure, it'll never be featured in "Better Homes and Gardens", but it will be functional.

Besides, I already have a house's-worth of stuff.  I've come to terms with the fact that I'm not really the minimalist type (think cozy English country cottage, filled with the stuff of lifetimes, all precious and loved).  And designer minimalist is way outside my budget.  I don't think I'll ever lose my prediliction for accumulating stuff.  On the other hand,  most of it is antiques.

...at least I can say I'm recycling.

...right?  right?

Comments

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(Deleted comment)
attack_laurel
Apr. 9th, 2008 01:30 pm (UTC)
I think the point is that as long as it's not stuff for the sake of stuff, if it has a reason for staying, then it isn't interfering with your chi in the way that omg-I-need-more-stuff-so-everyone-can-see-how-important-I-am stuff does.

He didn't say "get rid of all your stuff!", which I appreciated. He said "be mindful of your stuff and why you want it", which I think is a much better message. :)

(and I added the cut so it's not OMG-LONG on the f-list.)
(Deleted comment)
(no subject) - attack_laurel - Apr. 9th, 2008 03:12 pm (UTC) - Expand
stuff - gianetta - Apr. 9th, 2008 02:32 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: stuff - attack_laurel - Apr. 9th, 2008 03:12 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: stuff - gianetta - Apr. 9th, 2008 03:46 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: stuff - attack_laurel - Apr. 9th, 2008 05:50 pm (UTC) - Expand
mermaidlady
Apr. 9th, 2008 01:38 pm (UTC)
I hear you on the stuff. I try very hard to store or display it in an uncluttered way and sometimes I even succeed. My house is hampered by also storing the accumulations of a business run by someone who says "This thing might be a useful prop or other piece of stage equipment", which is why I have a neon manicurist sign tucked away in a corner of my foyer.

My mother, a yoga practitioner with little patience for touchy-feely stuff, loves Kripalu. Especially the silent breakfasts. I think their philosophy is that it is a time to meditate and reflect. My mother just likes the fact that she doesn't have to make pleasant small talk at dawn in a place with no coffee.
isabelladangelo
Apr. 9th, 2008 01:53 pm (UTC)
Have you ever tried to take any of skull collection through airport security? It's really amusing....

I think the problem with stuff is very simple "Oh! Pretty! Shiny! Want!" turns into another "Oh! Pretty! Shiny! Want!" cause the first thing goes so perfectly with this second thing and vice versa...and then there are the "helpers". I admit, I am one of those people that, once I find out you like a certain thing, I will buy everything that has that element on it. This is why my SIL now has forggy pj bottoms and my nephew has a green blanket, a froggy rattle, a froggy "huggie", and many MANY other "Froggy" things. Helpers love to help buying stuff (if we can give it to someone else that will love it and it doesn't have to be in our messy house, all the better!) because it's all about the buying, the shopping, the finding that certain thing that is just oh so cute. This is why most helpers also have a ton of "stuff" on their own.....and why I have 6 tubberware containers (body bag sized) of fabric...an attic of dolls, and an entire bedroom dedicated to vintage/antique clothing and garb. (Actually, the bedroom is very clean and nice since all the clothing is put away in the closet or wardrobe. It's the sewing room that eats scares people.)
attack_laurel
Apr. 9th, 2008 02:08 pm (UTC)
I have managed mostly to discourage random buying from people, because I am super-fussy about what I like and don't like (even Bob can't always tell).

zihuatanejo
Apr. 9th, 2008 01:56 pm (UTC)
My lady, this is very off-topic, but will you be at Night on the Town this weekend? I'd like to pick your brains about quills if you have the time.

jenyanydots at gmail.com if you'd prefer conversing off LJ :-)
attack_laurel
Apr. 9th, 2008 02:09 pm (UTC)
Ayup. I'll be there. :) If it's not pouring rain, I'll be in the Gardiner's dayshade (look for the Elizabethans). If it's pouring cats and dogs, I'll be in the hall.
(no subject) - zihuatanejo - Apr. 9th, 2008 02:17 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - attack_laurel - Apr. 9th, 2008 02:27 pm (UTC) - Expand
spranglady
Apr. 9th, 2008 02:11 pm (UTC)
You know I fight a constant battle with 'stuff'. Stuff usually wins, but every now and then, I manage to come out victorious in a fight.

but the 'I might need that later!' syndrome is strong in my family... I get it honestly from my dad. :P And dang if it didn't happen... after that last big purge, I ended up needing something that I'd just managed to get rid of! Sonofagun!

But I know what you meant about never being a minimalist... not because I'm cheap, but just because I honestly LIKE having stuff. And all the stuff I make requires stuff to make it. So until the day I stop making things (heaven forbid... I'll be in a wheelchair, drooling, on that day...)I'll have tons of stuff. :)
chargirlgenius
Apr. 9th, 2008 02:12 pm (UTC)
When my ex and I separated, I shoved whatever I could into my VW Beetle and drove across the country. That included a couple of tubs of fabric, a sewing machine, and an ironing board, so there wasn’t much else in there. :-) I was surprised by a) how I could get by with less but b) how quickly I accumulated stuff. Most was given to me, but when I moved back I had to rent a 5x8 u-haul, only 9 months later.

I wish more yoga, spa and wellness resources weren’t so woo-woo. For example, I think there are a lot of good ideas in feng shui, like making sure that edges aren’t pointy and drawers aren’t blocked, and that a house flows comfortably, but then it’s all ruined for me by the weird metaphysical stuff.
chargirlgenius
Apr. 9th, 2008 03:01 pm (UTC)
On the flip side, when I was renting a room with a friend, and had all of my stuff in boxes in the basement, I missed things like my Looney Tunes mugs terribly.
:-D
(no subject) - attack_laurel - Apr. 9th, 2008 03:04 pm (UTC) - Expand
akgnome
Apr. 9th, 2008 02:36 pm (UTC)
I hear you on the yoga front. My company has gotten a yoga instructor to come in once a week for 45 minutes of yoga. The regular instructor isn't too bad, but has a tendency to do more 'strength' based yoga (such as 'down dog' and planks for longer than one breath) that my shoulders just are not pleased with. She recently went out of town for a few weeks, and had someone else come in, who's version of yoga was much more 'stretch' based than strength (if you get my meaning) which I preferred, but she was very....zen. I had the hardest time trying to stretch and breath while trying not to laugh at her monotone 'soothing' voice. I also wish that kind of stuff weren't so cruchy granola....it would be much easier to get into them if they didn't always try to sound like the dhali lama.

See you at NotT! I'll be there, flailing around, trying ot make it look like I still know what I'm doing....
grnvixen
Apr. 9th, 2008 02:37 pm (UTC)
Nice timing, I am fighting the battle of 'stuff' now in prep for a garage sale. Where did it all come from??? I stay inspired to clean, sort and toss by watching those clean sweep shows. I do not want our house to look like that, and two rooms came to darn close during the recent redecoration in the living room!
zarhooie
Apr. 9th, 2008 02:51 pm (UTC)
An interesting side note: Kripalu is about 45 minutes from my hometown.
attack_laurel
Apr. 9th, 2008 03:05 pm (UTC)
It looks like an awfully nice area, and I was almost tempted to try a weekend of spa treatments and silence, but I'm afraid the early wake times and no coffee would do me in. I am a slave to the industrial age.
acanthusleaf
Apr. 9th, 2008 03:05 pm (UTC)
I've been reading unclutterer.com lately, and I like their philosophy that things we keep because of sentimental value should be honored and properly displayed and cared for. If it's in a box in the attic, how much does it really mean to us?

This from a woman whose 3-bedroom house has 1 tiny bedroom, one large studio, and a storage room. :-)
attack_laurel
Apr. 9th, 2008 03:09 pm (UTC)
There's a philosophy that I like which describews our everyday things as "sacred" objects, in that they give us peace. It suggests making little altars (i.e., display places) throughout the home for things that make you happy. I find I do this all the time, without thinking about it.

I've done it as a conscious thing - I have what I call a "voodoo shrine" in my studio that is really a collection of neat things and found objects that give me pleasure. It's my "magpie" place.

But that's what the English cottage aesthetic is about - open shelves, and display pieces for the things that make up your life, and if you keep it only to things you love, and ignore any specific decorating ideas that don't speak to you, people almost always respond positively to it. The only problem with mine is that they get dusty. :)
(no subject) - albreda - Apr. 16th, 2008 09:55 pm (UTC) - Expand
_medb_
Apr. 9th, 2008 03:54 pm (UTC)
Try moving into an apartment that's about 250 square feet plus a storage locker- you learn fast how easy it is to accumulate! ;) What I find annoying is how so many people insist that having gigantic houses is better- while I'd love more space, I find one can adjust to having a small space and I now find most smaller city residences to be gigantic (drives me bonkers when someone complains their 2 bedroom house is too small to cut out patterns- I've done it on my 'living room' floor where I could barely lay myself down, hah hah hah!)

As for the yoga being too weird, it all depends on where you go- I hate the whole touchy-feely stuff, but have become a regular at my local place for the past several months. While there is a bit of new agey-ness (kind of have to with the meditation, though I find some of the techniques used are similar to hypnosis), the instructors I've taken classes with thankfully take a more practical approach to it (though I kind of wonder if it's because my instructors are guys rather than women). That's one really good result of yoga becoming so popular- it's easier to find places that aren't so fuzzy-wuzzy.
kittyblue
Apr. 9th, 2008 04:52 pm (UTC)
The phrase a family friend uses quite often (and with a bit of tongue-in-cheek) is "The weight of things."

And, "Three moves is as good as a fire."

But mostly the first one. :)
trystbat
Apr. 9th, 2008 04:59 pm (UTC)
"Stuff" is so hard! Like you, I'm pretty tactile & visual, I love the history of things, the memories. I also love design & fashion, so I can get wrapped up in the aesthetics of stuff. But I go thru what I call zen moments where I do want to live with nothing but a stick & a sheet & a cup of water (I was raised by hippies, this green thing is in my blood ;-). So I start to purge stuff. I'm very cyclical about it. I give things away, sell them, break things down & reuse them as other things.

You know the George Carlin "stuff" skit, right? Damn, I love that. Stuff!
attack_laurel
Apr. 9th, 2008 05:13 pm (UTC)
A Place for my stuff! "You start with just a little bit of stuff..."

I also like the bit about the empty plate in the fridge - "Something ate something else! Me, I think it's a little mouse in gloves and a parka, waiting for the light to go out..."

bdeb
Apr. 9th, 2008 07:36 pm (UTC)
Thanks for posting this. I think I will make a promise to myself to go around the house and eliminate 10 things this week that I don't need or use.
grian_ruadh
Apr. 9th, 2008 09:18 pm (UTC)
After several large moves (and another one impending), it gets easier and easier to let go of things. Frankly, there's a bunch of stuff in my garage that I just don't want to have to pack up and cart somewhere else again. We've been going through it a box at a time, tossing, recycling or donating what we don't want, and reboxing the rest for the move. When the actual move does happen, I have a feeling that a lot of what has been kept will end up going away as well.
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