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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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

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

“Are angles real”: Dealing with Sentimental Items

The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up recommends putting all sentimental items together, and to deal with them as the very last category.

I am following that principle in my own way.

First of all, I disposed of quite a few sentimental items in my pre-KonMari sweeps because, as soon as I handled them, I knew I did not want to deal with them any more. Why fill up my sentimental item box with stuff I already wanted out of my life?

There were also quite a few sentimental items which I figured I probably would end up not keeping BUT I wanted to spend some time with them before I let them go, and spending time pondering sentimental items slows down the whole process. Thus, they went to sentimental items box.

I’ve reached the point where I’ve found almost every sentimental item I am going to find, so the number of items in the sentimental item box is no longer increasing. Considering how many ‘I know I want to let go but I want to spend some time on them first’ items there are in there, I dreaded the prospect of doing a clear-the-sentimental items marathon. Thus, even though I’m not finished with komono (i.e. the stuff that does not fit in any of the other categories) I’ve started the habit of pulling a few things out of the sentimental items box every day. That way, I can give myself as much time as I want to ponder them rather than rushing through them. Also, this way I do not get fatigued with going down memory lane – as soon as I’m tired of thinking about them, I put them away. When I am ready to let go of an item, I do so in the most appropriate way (usually via the recycling bin) and if I do not want to let go, even after I’ve had time to study and ponder the item, I either assign it a new home and move it there, or I put it back in the sentimental items box. Continue reading

The Books & Basement Saga, Part 2

Part 1 left off where I finally got into the basement with my dad to find the books I really wanted to find. We had been in the basement together before multiple times to either do other things or to prepare for searching the corner where we believed the books were, but this time we were SERIOUS. We were actually searching the corner where my dad believed the books were.

During the conversations my dad and I had about finding the books –

The fact that you needed to plan this search in advance, have conversations, and do prep says something about the disorganization of your basement room.

– he proposed tossing out a bunch of my mother’s stuff without telling her about it. He said she would not miss it, and I am 95% certain that he was right about there being a lot of stuff she would never miss if it disappeared.

But just about every single book / guide / YouTube video etc. about decluttering, even if they strongly disagree about other aspects of decluttering, emphasizes that getting rid of other people’s stuff without their permission is a REALLY BAD IDEA.

First, it is disrespectful, and that is reason enough to leave their stuff alone. Second of all, if you do get caught, they will stop trusting you, and it will be bad for your relationship. Third, if caught, they will hold onto their stuff more tightly, and generally make decluttering even more difficult. Fourth, getting stuff out of the house is an effort. I’m more willing to put that effort into my stuff than my mother’s stuff. And finally, my dad also has quite a bit of stuff in the basement which he says he does not need. I think it’s tacky for him to talk about getting rid of my mother’s stuff when his own stuff is not in order.

Also, I need to clarify something: there are multiple rooms in our basement, but only one room is called ‘the basement room’. This post is only about ‘the basement room’ not ‘the basement’ in general (after all there is a room in our basement which has been empty for a long time). Continue reading

The Books & Basement Saga, Part 1

Going through the ‘Books’ category of the KonMari method was difficult-

Of course it was, you love books.

No, that’s not the reason why it was hard.

Really?

No, I’m not one of those booklovers who clutch books just because they are books.

You seem a bit defensive about this.

Yeah, I guess I read too many comments responding to Marie Kondo’s ideas which declared that letting go of books is horrible, without any consideration of potential negative effects of having too many (paper) books, such as not wanting to dedicate time to organizing books because there are too many of them, not being able to find specific books because of disorganization, or books getting damaged because someone was too busy reading books to make sure that books were being stored properly.

Oh, so that happened to you.

Sadly, yes. It was only a handful of books that were severely damaged (mostly due to water damage, but there were also a few books with many pages falling off the spine). One of them was a book which once meant a lot to me. I felt sad when I realized that it was no longer readable. My dad also has some old books which have been chewed on by insects because he had them when he was living in Florida (which is apparently a bad place to store paperback books), though at least those books are still readable. That said, I know that some people who embark on home tidying projects discover that their beloved books have been subjected to even worse forms of damage due to neglect. Thankfully, 99% of the books I had as of January 1, 2019 were still at least readable, nor did I find any books in really disgusting condition (even the few water-damaged books had dried up).

Finding those damaged books was a wake up call that if I really respect my books, I need to keep my personal book collection small enough that I can manage it well even with the small amount of time and energy I am willing to put into book maintenance (or put more time into book maintenance, but I prefer to reduce the size of my collection). Continue reading