About Sara K.

Sara K. is an aromantic asexual from California who has previously lived in Taiwan. She blogs at the notes which do not fit, has previously been a contributor at Manga Bookshelf, and has written guest posts for Hacking Chinese. She enjoys reading, travel, live theatre, learning languages, and gardening.

Emphasizing Decluttering/Purging Material Stuff Is Also Materialistic

In the past few months, I’ve been reading essays, books, and watching videos about ‘Minimalism’. A common theme is that experiences matter more than material stuff. This is how I often react when this point comes up:

Minimalist: Minimalists choose to value experiences more than stuff.
Me: Okay, I’m like that too.
Minimalist: So that is why we declutter and purge stuff!
Me: Huh?

I think I’ve always valued experiences more than material stuff, not because I think it is a ‘superior’ position in any moral sense, but simply because I just care more about experiences than stuff. And that is why it took me so long to become interested in decluttering/organizing/tidying. I felt that experiences were more important than stuff, so why bother dealing with getting the stuff in my home in order when I could spend my time instead on cool experiences? Choosing what to keep, and then getting what I don’t want to keep out of my home takes time and energy. Time and energy I could spend on something else, like writing a blog post.

It seems a lot of minimalists assume that people are holding onto a lot of material items because they highly value material stuff. That is certainly true in some cases, but in my case, I was holding onto as much as I was not because I valued material stuff so highly, but because I did not consider putting my stuff in order to be worth my time and energy. Continue reading

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Departing Denali

Here is my laptop, inside my tent, in Denali National Park, with the first draft of this post on the screen.

I wrote the first draft of this blog post while sitting in my tent at Riley Creek Campground during my last evening in Denali National Park. (I’ve never written a blog post inside my tent before). Tomorrow, I leave the park, and will probably never return in my lifetime.

I arrived in Denali National Park on May 24 and left on May 29. I spent four full days in the park partially because I wanted to sit out Memorial Day weekend and partially because I wanted to maximize my chances of actually seeing Denali, the highest point in North America. I was lucky: I saw Denali on three different days (though on one of those days only the north peak was visible).

This is a photo from the first time I saw Denali (it’s the snowiest mountain).

In addition to seeing Denali itself, my other aspiration was to expose myself to ecological landscapes I have never experienced before: boreal forest and subarctic tundra. Lucky me, I got to do this. Continue reading

I’m a ‘Butterfly’ and a ‘Bee’!

Generally, I don’t take personality quizzes seriously. So I watched “What’s your Organizing Style” from the Clutterbug channel mainly to amuse myself. But then, when I heard Cassandra Aarssen describing ‘Butterflies’ I thought, “that is me!”

I went to the website and took the quiz and the official result was that I was a ‘Bee’. At first I thought ‘this quiz is wrong, I’m totally a butterfly’ but after watching Cas’ videos about ‘Butterflies’ and ‘Bees’ I realized that I also have a lot in common with the ‘Bees’. Thus, I figure I am in between. The main distinction between ‘Butterflies’ and ‘Bees’ is that ‘Butterflies’ favor simple organization systems, whereas ‘Bees’ favor detailed organization systems. I think I favor organization systems which have a medium level of detail.

I am definitely not a Ladybug (like Cas) or a Cricket (like Laura) – Ladybugs and Crickets, y’all don’t make sense to me.

Like many Butterflies, I’ve gone through life believing I was a naturally messy person. Continue reading

Attachment to the Past in the Upper Haight

This post is scheduled to be published when I am a tourist in Alaska, a state where half of the population was not born there and which also has a very tourist-driven economy. I find that ironic.

Amoeba Music is a physically big store selling LPs, CDs, DVDs, other stuff for music/movie fans, they used to sell VHS tapes, and this was the place I went to when I wanted to buy that sort of thing as a teenager. This building used to be a bowling alley (which is why there is a ‘Bowling’ sign) and I remember bowling there as a child.

I first heard the song the song “1999” by Charli XCX when I was inside a store on Haight Street. I heard the lyrics “I just wanna go back / Back to 1999 / Take a ride to my old neighborhood.”

I took a look around me. I was in a store which I had almost certainly visited in the year 1999. And the decor had not changed at all since 1999 (at least they were playing a new song – some stores on Haight Street play the same songs from the 1960s over and over again). If you had shown me a picture of that store taken in 1999 and taken in 2019, I would not be able to tell which was which. Of all of the places in the world, this was one of the easiest places for me to imagine that I had gone back to the year 1999.

I didn’t need to ‘take a ride’ to go back ‘to my old neighborhood’. I was already there. Continue reading

Experiencing Neither Romance Nor Spirituality

This is for the Carnival of Aros: “The Intersection of Religion and Aromanticism”. I somehow ended up discussing spirituality rather than religion.

The words ‘romance’ and ‘spirituality’ have something in common: they are very difficult to define.

‘Religion’ is also difficult to define, but I think it is easier to grasp than ‘romance’ and ‘spirituality’ (but maybe it is more difficult for other people). I can observe the organized sets of behaviors and ideas which English speakers label as ‘religion’ and I think I know what it means. ‘Culture’ is similarly difficult to define, yet I also think I have a firm grasp on what ‘culture’ means.

I think one difference between words such as ‘romance’ and ‘spirituality’ vs. words such as ‘religion’ and ‘culture’ is that, when you ask someone what is ‘religion’ or ‘culture’, there is a good chance they will point at specific and external examples of ‘religion’ and ‘culture’. They are less likely to require that the person asking the question examine their own feelings. By contrast, when you ask someone to define ‘romance’ or ‘spirituality’, a common response is ‘you will know it when you feel it’. There is a widespread assumption that all (healthy) adults will feel these things. So what if you are an adult who does not feel these things? Continue reading

Marriage by Time Skip

This post contains major spoilers for Way of Choices (擇天記) by Mao Ni. I’m serious, the spoilers are major.

Content note: brief reference to murder-suicide

In the novel Way of Choices by Mao Ni, the protagonist, Chen Changsheng, and another major character, Xu Yourong, develop a romantic relationship. This is a total non-surprise since the reader learns in the prologue that they have been designated as each other’s fiancé since a young age. In many ways, their romance unfolds in a very typical way, though there are enough surprises to prevent it from feeling too clichéd. Though they break off their engagement for a while (because of misunderstandings and not wanting to get married to someone their elders arranged for them to get married), they reach a point where they have obviously decided to get together romantically after all.

Then there is a ten year time skip. I was actually a bit surprised by this time skip because I expected them to have the ‘obligatory’ wedding scene before a decade-long time skip. As both Chen Changsheng and Xu Yourong appeared on the scene after the time skip, I expected to find references to their wedding, or to hear the story of why they were not married ten years later. I found it odd that, chapter after chapter, there were no such references, or even a clarification of Chen Changsheng and Xu Yourong’s official relationship. Since Chen Changshen and Xu Yourong are depicted interacting with each other, the reader can interpret how they feel about each other after the time skip, but that does not answer the question of whether or not they are married.

Quite a few chapters later, Chen Changsheng has a conversation with another character which strongly implies that Chen Changsheng is already married to Xu Yourong, though this is not explicitly confirmed. Of course, Chen Changsheng and this other character would already know whether or not he is already married to Xu Yourong, so they don’t need to say it out loud. Continue reading

I actually finished this KonMari thing

Yes, I finished doing the KonMari thing before May 1st.

To be clear:

– I only went through MY stuff; I did not include stuff which is common to the whole household, nor my parents’ stuff
– I am interested in doing some de-cluttering in other specific parts of the house at some point in the future, but NOT NOW, and only if/when I can get my parents on board
– I did not do a digital KonMari (i.e. I did not apply the KonMari method to my hard drives, email, etc.). I don’t know whether or not I want to do a digital KonMari.
– There are still some changes I want to make in my room, but since those changes are not about what stuff I am going to keep and where I am going to place the stuff I want to keep, those changes have nothing to do with the KonMari method

Did you do the categories in the recommended order?

No, my order was: Clothes, Papers, Books, Sentimental Items, and Komono. (I actually started on komono before I finished papers, but since I finished the komono category last, I placed it at the end).

What was the easiest category?

Papers.

What was the hardest category?

Clothes. Thank goodness I got that over with first.

Did the KonMari method change your life?

Of course it did, anything which changes my living space so much is going to change my life.

Errr, I don’t think that is what most people mean when they hear or say that the KonMari method is ‘life-changing’? Continue reading