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Tag: getting rid of extra crap

Here is all my stuff. Please take it. (And maybe give me some money.)

This week, among many other little things like changing the type of current account I have to a non-fee-paying flavour (I Know, I know, THRILLING), I’ve told myself I really need to figure out which things I’m getting rid of that I need to try to get money for. And then actually list them or hawk them in some way instead of telling myself I’ll get to it.

Most of what I have I’ll be happy to just give to people. I’ll probably have some kind of weird party during which I’ll put all the shit I want to get rid of in the room, serve cake, and have everyone come take things away. If they want to buy me a drink or donate some cash (or better yet travel stuff I need!) to the cause in exchange, all the better. But I mostly just want to get rid of things with minimal effort.

But I need as much money as I can get and there are a few big items that I really need to try to sell properly. It’s just that it’s such a friggin’ PAIN. I just started writing an ebay listing and when I got to the shipping section I remembered why interweb selling makes me want to curl up and die. I don’t know how much my J Crew blazer weighs! I don’t know what kind of packaging I should ship it in! I don’t know how much that all costs! I just want someone to buy the damn thing, which itself isn’t guaranteed.

Related: why on earth did I ever buy a blazer of any kind, let alone one I spent £200 on and never wore? I don’t do things like that! When I spend that much on an item of clothing, it’s something I know I’m going to wear the hell out of. I blame my move to the corporate world and having absolutely no idea what I was doing with that. There were many bad clothing purchase choices. This just happened to be the most costly. And dammit, I will get SOME of that money back (and someone else will get a bargain on a very nice blazer that never had any business being on my back).

In any case, as this sort of thing is now taking up much of my free time, I straight up forgot about my own Thursday blogging deadline for the first time in a year. I was initially a little annoyed at myself, but now I’ve decided to give myself a permanent break from that. I have a lot of piddly, boring, tick-off-the-list things to be getting on with in the next 6 months, so I will now be posting once a week instead of twice to give myself the time to sort it all out. This will hopefully also mean better quality posts instead of a lot of churn-em-out ones, but that remains to be seen.

In the meantime, if anyone wants a bucket barbecue, I’ve got one going spare.


Using stuff up

The massive Getting Rid Of Things task has started in earnest, as I’ve found a new home for the bread maker I never use. It’s a pretty amazing piece of kit, but it takes up basically all the working counter space I have (not an exaggeration), therefore I can rarely be bothered to clear the space for its overnight use.

Other large and rarely-used things will follow it out the door in the near future. But while I am all about paring down my belongings to the essentials, I am NOT about getting rid of my stuff that makes my flat a home. The whole de-cluttering fad is just a ridiculous way to make people feel guilty they are actually human beings who like things, be they super interesting conversation stimuli or just dumb shit they like for no reason. HELL if I’m getting rid of the neon dinosaur erasers that converse (and gather dust) atop my full-length mirror. They will follow me to every new place. No one should feel like they have to toss the things they enjoy having sitting around. Homes are made for living in; it should look like you live in yours. So I’m happy to pay storage fees on dinosaurs and nice books and miniature shopping carts.

What's the chat up there, guys?

What’s the chat up there today, guys?

That being said, the massive stash of fabric filling nearly 3 boxes in my closet was not making my home look ‘lived-in’, it was just sitting there doing nothing. Because ‘oh man, I will TOTALLY make something with this’ is a promise that rarely comes to fruition, particularly when you have about a billion project ideas floating around your brain at any one time. Then when I do open the box of things part of projects never to be, it mostly just makes me feel like I’m not doing enough. Ugh.

So when my friend Kristina said a few weeks ago that she was trying to use up her own massive fabric stash, she decided we should try to make quilts out of what we had. Neither of us had ever made a quilt. We were mostly just in awe of the super stylish one our friend Alex made for Kristina and Yann’s wedding gift. Inspiration! So we reserved this weekend for a hardcore quiltathon, during which we would bumble through it while drinking tea, eating snacks, and allowing Yann to more or less wait on us hand and foot. (Thanks, Yann!)

I think when you can make a task like ‘get rid of all my extra stuff’ into an event where you get to make stuff and listen to records and chat and have breakfast, lunch, dinner, AND AMAZING CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES made for you all weekend, it’s generally a win. I’m pretty sure I’d like to get rid of MORE stuff that way.

The other thing that’s nice about it though is not just getting rid of said stuff but consolidating it into something kind of new AND creating an inexpensive weekend-o-activity out of it at the same time (because obviously I’m also trying to save money).

I had considered keeping the quilt when I finish, but I think now I’ll give it as a gift or something. So I’m still getting rid of stuff! But in a much more designer way.

PROGRESS! This is about half sewn, half just laid out. Slightly wonky all around.

PROGRESS! This is about half sewn, half just laid out. Slightly wonky all around.

After about 14 hours of work, neither of us finished our quilts, but after one more day next weekend we should be close if not there. We did get loads done though. And it forced me, indirectly, to root through my sewing toolbox and weed out the unneeded stuff in there as well, so the consolidation is spreading slowly outward. (I had to keep that phrase even after I realised how backwards it is, because it’s probably a good indication of my brain function after staring at fabric and doing various angle and seam allowance calculations all weekend.)

Anyway, the moral of the story is, as Mary Poppins once so pleasingly put it, in every job that must be done, there is an element of fun. (And also cookies if you’re lucky.)


PS: You should absolutely check out Kristina’s blog on art, fashion and tech, because she’s an amazing sewer and she’s also doing some rad machine knitting right now. AND Yann’s website, because in addition to cookies, he does all sorts of cool stuff with sound and games.

Digital downsizing

Facepalming at my computer

DOWNSIZING. This is pretty much how I feel about the process.

I decided almost immediately when I started this whole shift to the travellin’ lifestyle that one of my first moves would be to get my digital life in order once and for all. I still find it ridiculous that a digital life is even a thing, but I think that’s my resistance to becoming completely consumed by technology rather than my resistance to reality.

I’m a reasonably organised person, but somehow in all the years I’ve lived my life on computers, I’ve failed to have a proper, consistent system for keeping all my digital crap in order. Moving your digital life around is unlike moving your physical life around in that you don’t really see all the stuff you’re taking with you, no matter how big or unruly it gets. If you’re anything like me, when you get a new computer, you just chuck everything from the old one onto the new one and never really pay a great deal of attention to what’s in all those boxes. They just come with you because they’re there. At least when you move house, you’re motivated to get rid of some of your old shit so you’ve got less to lug up and down stairs and shove into closets.

So this time, I’ve declared, will be different. This time I’m going to clean out my digital past and try to be as ruthless with it as I’m trying to be with the clear-out of my physical stuff. The first milestone on this particular adventure will be upgrading/downsizing to a Macbook Air (wooo, new toy!). I’m currently on a nearly 3-year-old 13″ Macbook Pro. It’s in fantastic shape, but the smaller and lighter I go, the better. And this computer has 500GB of space on it where the Air I’ve currently got my eye on has about half that. So I’m immediately being forced to chuck some things out.

Rumour has it that Apple will be releasing new Macbook Airs in September when they’re meant to announce all manner of other new gadgets, so I’m waiting to see if that will bring a higher capacity 11″ than the 256GB you can get now, but I also think that maybe it’ll be good to be confined to less. Because much like all the extra crap sitting around my house just because it has space to be there, I don’t actually USE most of the files taking up all that space on my computer. I’m only using about 242GB of my current space, but that’s too close to the line I’m shooting for, so I’ve already started the process of cleaning out.

Not surprisingly, the majority of that space is music (97GB) and photos (52GB). The hardest things to get rid of.

So the first thing I attacked was my image folder. I started with around 57GB of photos, and I didn’t really get rid of much in terms of unique content. Most of what I cleaned out consisted of:

  • Doubles and triples of the same files
  • Random images saved from the interweb in college for now-forgotten reasons
  • Album art
  • Vast selections of AIM user icons
  • Alternate versions of the same picture
  • Bad pictures of food

It took HOURS to do this. And it was, in some ways, a pain. But it was also just as nice as when I did the same purge on my physical box of photos in my parents’ basement last year, in that I got to look through 10-15 years of photos and memories from all different points and places in my life. And it’s nice to be reminded of what you have and where you’ve been and people you don’t see anymore.

I won’t be getting rid of most of the rest of what I have because I think it’s great to be able to look through your own history like that. Particularly as a way to combat homesickness or general travel fatigue. It’s built-in therapy. As well as an instant storytelling aid for people you meet along the way. So once the actual chaff was chucked, I was happy that I’d pared it down as much as necessary.

The music is the next thing to attack, and that’s a little less straightforward. The 97GB I have now is AFTER clearing the doubles generated by moving my collection between computers. It’s so easy to justify keeping everything because it’s only taking up digital space. But I’m willing to bet I’ve never even listened to about 10-15% of what I’ve got on iTunes at all. This comes from the massive amount of music I got from other people over the Washington College network. Things that I grabbed just because they seemed like ‘good things to have’. Quite a lot of Beatles and Zeppelin for example. I love the Beatles, but I don’t really like Led Zeppelin enough to own nearly their entire catalogue. And there’s a lot of other stuff in there that I like well enough, but just never, ever listen to and probably never will. Half of it is probably a digital rip of the CD I once had and sold or gave away because I knew I wasn’t going to listen to it. So why is it SO HARD to delete the files?

Thanks to Spotify, I can listen to most any of this stuff whenever I want without having it on my own computer, but for some reason it’s still hard to shake my stubbornness about not having it MYSELF. I think this is because I’m one of those people who still buys CDs (and the occasional collectable vinyl release) because I really value the idea of having a proper music collection, at the very least of your favourites. No matter how ruthless I get about purging my earthly possessions, music is important.

I think some of the experience of having music is lost when it all only exists digitally. I still love putting in a physical album and listening to the whole thing. I like album artwork and liner notes and knowing who helped the band out and seeing flippant comments and inside jokes among the credits. I like the deliberate effort of physically going to the shelf and choosing the thing you want to hear at that very moment. And if I ever need to put my stuff in storage, a good bit of what’s there will be the music I refuse to get rid of. My CD collection isn’t nearly as big as it once was when I was a student with nothing but disposable income and space in my parents’ house, but I still have the stuff I really love, and I still buy releases by my favourite bands. I always will.

Despite all this, I know I need to cut back on the digital front. I also know I’ll never miss the stuff I do decide to delete because I don’t miss it now. I barely know it’s there. No one can give equal attention to over 21 days worth of music, and according to iTunes, that’s what I’m currently sitting on. So, as a first goal, I will set 70GB as a target. I should really get rid of more, but hopefully once I get to 70GB, I’ll be on a roll and it’ll be easy to keep going. I’ll let you know how I get on.

Outside photos and music lies a whole mess of other files I need to whip into shape with a proper filing system, but that’s a story for another post.