Thursday, May 25, 2006


The Uphill Battle of the Giant Mounds

Alas, my room is thrashed. No matter that it was about 70% clean and organized a few months ago. Right now, it's at its pre-storage unit state, which means there are crates and containers and piles everywhere. 90% of my problem is that I don't have anywhere to put things. I'm in a space crisis. "Space poor" as one book put it.

I've already gotten rid of about 80% of what I owned 6 months ago. Downsizing from an entire house and basement to a 10 x 13 room will do that to you. In the past few days I've looked for: a particular book, a serving spoon, and a needle and thread and I realized I no longer own these items. Actually, the needle and thread are in the "to be divided" boxes over at Kieren's, but the other stuff--gone.

The things I do own are hard to access. They are buried under piles of their "thing friends" or in the storage unit or at Tara's.

Why not get rid of it all?

To be honest, I need most of it, and I want the rest. Or most of it. It's nice to have duct tape and a TV and massage oil and an alarm clock and a stapler. I could get along without these things, sure. But I think it would be frustrating.

I'm already spending a lot of time missing the general household things I parted with in order to cram myself into my current space. I was told that I'd feel a sense of freedom, of lightness, when I divested myself. Really, what I mostly feel is that my space is still way too crowded, that I'm going to need to go through things again (2-3 more times) before it's down to a managable mound, and that even though people said I'd never miss what I got rid of, I do.

For example, I really didn't want to let go of my small espresso maker (the stovetop kind). I take it camping with me. Now, I'm about to go camping, and I want it. But I don't have it. It was my decision to let it go, because I don't camp every weekend and it's not an item that I'll use more than 7-8 weekends a year, and it takes up space. But I'm going camping this weekend and I'm half tempted to go buy one for the trip. I won't, but I'm tempted.

Sure you can get by with a few pairs of pants and a couple of books, but I take pleasure in my clothes and my books, so getting rid of much more than I have already(which, trust me, is a lot) will make me feel poor and deprived and generally lacking in the "things" department.

That's not to say when I read a book, I will keep it. I've narrowed down the categories of books that I hang onto. They are mostly non-fiction "how to" or "New Age"/"self-help" books. Mystery novels, short story anthologies etc. now go back to the used bookstore as soon as I accumulate a decent pile. And I get rid of clothes I no longer wear. But there's that space problem. Namely, there's no space.

I don't have many knick knack type items anymore, just a handful of things and a few photos, so it's not like divesting myself of a few items such as those will do much (except take any sense of decoration from my room).

Tara told me the other day she doesn't really expect it to get any better in my current space, and as much as that pains me, she's probably right. It sounded like she doesn't think I have it in me to declutter. And perhaps at this point, I don't. I live among the piles and boxes because I need my tax materials and my computer (although there is no room for it to be set up in my room). I try to be tidy, but it's hard because even though my giant luggage stash is down to a few pieces, they compete for space with my clothes in the closet. Even though I'm down to one bathing suit, it still needs a drawer in which to reside.

This is compounded by the fact that I work a lot, and am not home very often. I sleep on a crappy futon, one that hurts my back and is very hard to make up as it's pressed into the wall on two sides. In general, I have to just tune out my surroundings or I'll lose it. The rest of the house/condo is cute but I don't spend time there as it doesn't really feel like "my" space. I do use the kitchen, however.

I'm not sure why I'm writing this, except that I want to get my thoughts down (and out)...

Oh Wen. You sound unhappy about it darlin'. I like my things, and yet I try to declutter regularly. It sounds like you were forced to by unpleasant circumstances which is entirely different. I suspect you really decluttered enough it's just not really desirable for many of us to live in such a small space or with so few things. There are a rare few who rival zen monks. The rest of us, not so much.
I have so admired your blog and your entertaining decluttering accounts as I try to declutter my own space. However, I do feel for you now and agree with dharma that you sound sad and forced by circumstances. When I was in Japan, my space was very small but I found that the Japanese have very unique and efficient ways of handling small spaces - beds high enough to put boxes and shelves underneath - cupboards and shelves at varying heights along the walls so that you can put books and some of the other knicknacks that make you feel at home on top of them and there are too many others to list here. The Japanese never failed to amaze me at how much they could fit into those little rooms. I haven't tried enough of these tricks back home here in America but hope to in the future after I have decluttered to the full extent which I am capable.

Anyway, too much about me and the Japanese. May you continue to have the spiritual relief of decluttering and give the rest of us hope by blogging about it.

Cathy (seajade - blog Waking Up on the Other Side of a Dream)
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