November 15, 2007

Getting Rid of Stuff You Don't Need

Is this an inspirational post about letting go of anger and petty resentments, embracing joy and forgiveness, and moving forward to appreciate every moment of a more spiritual, generous, and unencumbered existence?

Nah. Let's not get carried away here.

Crabby just has a bunch of crap in the basement that she's gonna have to sort through before she and the Lobster can sell the house. So that's what this post is about.

(Health-related? Well, um, there's always "mental health" and so... hmm... something about honoring the past while moving forward and avoiding procrastination and tackling things and you'll feel better blah blah blah?)

The real reason for the post is that Crabby needs to try to figure out how to take pictures and put them on her blog and stop using stock photos all the time. Eventually she wants to learn how to be more like her blog idol, the world-famous Bossy. (And you MUST go check out Bossy's blog if you haven't recently, especially this post. It's even fitness related!)

But here's the problem with aspiring to be Bossy one day: Crabby is crap at taking pictures. And she's never learned how to do photo editing because it looks really complicated. Today will be the first time she ever even attached a camera to her computer and downloaded a photo--before, the Lobster just emailed her stuff.

However, Crabby is feeling all inspired by the advice she got yesterday--many of you pointed out that you really need to try New Things sometimes. (Plus, it is time to start sorting through all those piles of junk stashed all over the house so she and the Lobster can get ready to move to Disneyland Provincetown!)

Of Course This Isn't Crabby's Photo
(Just Seeing If You Were Paying Attention)

So let's get started, shall we?

When sorting through your own personal belongings, whether for a move or "spring cleaning" or whatever, do any of you struggle with deciding what to keep and what to toss?

Like there seem to be some items that are not the least bit useful but somehow you can't bring yourself to throw them away:

The Recycling Guys Won't Take Her Anyway

But then there are other items that are a little easier to part with:

She Did Watch it, Once

Sometimes, you don't even know what the hell the thing is:.

It Probably Cuts Something, but What?

And then there are items you can't throw out, but you really shouldn't move them either. You may have to suck it up and deal with them.

This is Money, but Not the Fun Kind

And others items have only sentimental value and you probably shouldn't move them again one more time. (Especially if you no longer own a turntable).

So What if They're Warped? So is Crabby!

In fact, Crabby promised she wouldn't move her humongous box of unplayable lp's ever again. She hadn't opened the box since two moves ago.

She swears she won't just re-label the box: Important Tax Records; Must Save! Because that would be sneaky and dishonest and very, very wrong.

So is Crabby the only one who has Trouble Getting Rid of Stuff? What do you folks do about keeping, tossing, or moving your worldly possessions?


  1. Oh my. I am a total pack rat. I have angst when I'm faced parting with ANYTHING. However, I have been 'blessed' with having to move, oh lets see... wow, well I've lived in well over 10 different residences in the last... 8 years. And moving FORCES you to throw at least some stuff out. It also forces you to lose stuff...

    I now have a permanent (hopefully!!!) home, but I hope to learn from my moving experiences and continue only keeping what I need and use. It makes for far less chaos.

  2. Ha ha ha - amateur! The Bag Lady had to build a 10 ft x 20 ft storage shed for all the junk SHE has accumulated! (that is in addition to the 3000 sq ft house she lives in...and the 2 other storage sheds, and the 26' x 48' shop, and the barn) Actually, the cowboy refused to allow her to have a basement when she designed their current home, and she had to have somewhere to keep all those treasures she inherited when her parents died. Plus the 10-foot long "Colorado Inn" sign from one of the theatre productions she starred in. And the life-size cut-out of Nelson whatever-his-name was (who sang with Jeanette McDonald in those '30's musicals) from yet another theatre production. (Can you spell pack-rat? Perhaps the Bag Lady needs an intervention!)
    The Bag Lady can never move...she doesn't have the intestinal fortitude it would take to even sort through all this crap, let alone decide what to part with! Her step-daughter can have that joy after the Bag Lady passes away.

  3. Oh, and Crabby - that thing is for cutting pasta, isn't it? (only ONE box of lp's? The Bag Lady has 2 boxes of 78's, for Pete's sake!)

  4. My husband is way more of a pack rat than I-however, one thing I can not part with are shoes. Even when they become totally unwearable, I just can't let them go.

  5. Wow I was gonna say I had you beat, but I can't even hold a candle to Bag Lady! I've been in this house for 23 years now and am afraid of what I'll find up in the rafters of my garage. Quite possibly the container of cat food that somehow got lost in the move from my apartment just a few blocks away.

    But Crabby, I like your taste in music.. Joan and Carly! My sister just bought an anniversary gift for her in-laws - a multi-purpose machine. It looks like an old-fashioned radio, but also plays LP's, tapes, and CD's. I don't think it will manage your 8-tracks though. ;)

  6. I move fairly frequently (about once a year, the joys of renting), and I tend to alternate. One move I'll keep just about everything, the next move I'm tossing stuff left and right. It also depends on where in the packing process I am. The closer I get to being done, the more likely I am to say "Screw it - I don't want this badly enough to pack it" because I have just had ENOUGH of the packing already.

    However, I fear I may have been a little overzealous last time, as there is a whole bunch of fall/winter shirts I can't find that I'm fairly sure I didn't intend to give to Goodwill. Oops.

  7. Ah, how easy it would've been to move last August if only I didn't have so much stuff!

    I blame my stepmother for my inability to throw things out. She used to go through my room and throw things away while I was at school. I'm scarred for life now and live in secret terror that an important piece of string might get thrown out the day before I desperately NEED it! And besides, what's a stepmom for, if not to blame?

  8. Ugh, when we moved earlier this year (the first move of the year) my husband had lived in that house for his entire life so we had 25 years worth of crap to go through (no, my MIL couldn't take any with her...) So yeah, bye-bye stuff. Having to move 2 times in one year makes you really think about what you need and don't need.

  9. We live in a really small house (I mean really small - the deck outside, which I admit is large, is almost as big as the entire inside of the house). This has the effect of making me keep throwing things out - a sort of ongoing event.

    This does not mean the house is clutter free. In fact, everytime I take a puppy pic, I have to throw various things aside so that you don't all think I like in a tip!

  10. I saved a lot of stuff - and then we got flooded.

    Actually, it was kind of funny. We were standing on the stairs, looking at 12 inches of water, my daughter's doll stroller partially submerged. Then, out of the corner of my eye, I see a piece of driftwood my son had brought home from the beach. It very gently floated past us. To have a flood is one thing, to have a piece of driftwood float through your basement is quite another. ;-)

    I do have trouble throwing some things away but no trouble other things. Just depends on the mood I'm in.

  11. New reader, first-time commenter...

    With 5 kids (ages 14-24) needing storage space in our house, and a husband who is a pack rat, I've had to be the Enforcer. I hate having stuff around I don't use. I try to get rid of that ASAP. Books are harder, but if I haven't read them in 2 years, there's a good chance I'm never going to.

    Basically, I'm lazy, and don't like to have to try to think of places to put stuff I don't use anyway.

    That said, sometimes stuff gets foisted on me:

  12. I would say ditch the cat instead of the warped LP's. But then again, what do I know, I'm a dog person.

  13. Who was it said "Two moves are equal to 1 fire." I think Benjamin Franklin. So, Crabby, during your move you're likely to get rid of some stuff whether you mean to or not. Or break some.

    What REALLY irritates me is I dither over getting rid of old software and manuals and floppy disks and stuff. That's so absurd! I still have my old Mac G3, and if I ever figure out how to get stuff off the hard drive I might need the software....ACK. **dithering madly just thinking about it**

    AND I have a husband who likes to rescue things out of the trash. I don't complain too much because (besides a lot of junk) he got a TV, a perfectly good Gateway computer and a beautiful huge cherry entertainment center out of the trash. And a brand new Juicy Couture suede diaper bag. We have a real nice grade of trash in our building.

  14. I meant to say too, there's a virus warning floating around that's just another HOAX. The Olympic Torch/invitation thing. I checked it out at and you can too:

  15. My storage solution is leave a ton of stuff with your parents when you flee the nest :D

    But I should probably get around to tossing out university and college notes, as they're not doing me much good collecting dust in my house and cds that I haven't listened to since high school that aren't anywhere near tolerable now (or even then, come to think of it).

    Personally, I'd like to get rid of a large papasan chair and a couple of ikea poang chairs that are occupying too much realty in my abode.

    My house is apparently where ugly furniture goes to die

  16. I don't like moving. I resist change. I am a serious pack rat. But I'm told I come buy it honestly - my grandmother was the same way.

    And I have ready excuses:
    1. That has sentimental value!
    2. I might need/want that someday!
    3. The landfills are overflowing - I don't want to add to the problem.

    Unfortunately that leads to the problem of the junk crowding me out of the house. So every so often I have to get tough and do a purge. I find the easiest thing for me is to identify things that are still useable, but that I won't use, and either give them away or donate to charity - if I'm not actually throwing things in the garbage, it's much easier. If all else fails, I will stand there and hand things to my husband so that he can put them in the trash bag - somehow that hurts less than actually putting things in the trash with my own hands. How crazy is that?

  17. Ditto to Wendy Dunst's comment. I get rid of everything. I have even thrown out my husband's cell phone.

    (The pictures CRACKED me up!)

  18. Hey everybody! Let's all go party at Leah's...nobody's home! We can fill the Goat's Lunch Pail with comments and surprise the heck out of her when her 'puter comes home from the hospital!! :)

  19. I have a hard time throwing things away because I know I will desperately need it as soon as the garbage man comes and takes it away.

    I would be happy to give things away. I'm too lazy to have a yard sale and think it is such a waste to throw perfectly good items in the trash.

    One of the biggest problems with constantly losing and gaining weight is I have clothes ranging in sizes from 7-18. I should open up my own vintage clothes store and sell it all off. I haven't been able to get into the single digits in over a decade but still hang onto them in the hopes I'll be able to again. I do get rid of the larger sizes when I lose weight only to have to buy more when I inevitably regain. Of course, you know as soon as you throw it away it comes back in style, right?

    Watch a few episodes of Clean House on the Style Channel - that should get you inspired to toss the useless stuff (and give you a good laugh because the host of the show is crazy).

    Good luck with the purging.

  20. Well, the bag lady being my sister, I do have pack rat genes. However, having been forced to downsize, I have gotten rid of lots and lots of stuff. (Uh, quite a lot of it to her.) It is so very frustrating when you just know you had a pasta cutter, (or whatever) but can't find it. Even though it will be the only time in your life that you would use it, you tear the house/apartment apart looking for it because you know you had one - somewhere, sometime in some other universe, or it fell into the black hole in the closet.
    Sorry rambling there.
    Good luck with purging Crabby.

  21. It's great to hear I'm not the only one who has trouble tossing stuff! I'm loving the tales of Sneaky Stepmoms, boxes of old 78's, driftwood floating through flooded basements, untossable clothes and shoes, graveyards for ugly furniture, and other tales of moving & storage woe. But then some of you sound quite ruthless and efficient!

    Sorry it's another bonkers sort of day, but what awesome comments--and it's great to meet new folks like adora and wendy and dawnie!

    Hopefully I can do a little better job catching up with everyone when things calm down a bit. My blog visits may be somewhat curtailed as well, unfortunately. OK--gotta dash, Stager Dude just left but Termite Inspector Man Approacheth!

  22. Karen isn't particularly a packrat, but she does have a lot of books. She refuses to get rid of any either. So about once a year she has to buy a new bookshelf.

    We are most likely moving as well (by spring, Lord willing) and Karen is predicting at least twenty boxes of books.

    Your cat is very pretty. Karen mentioned she must be the cause of much vacuuming.

    -- P

  23. I've moved several times over the past few years, and every time I do I end up getting rid of/giving away a bunch of stuff. And the thing is, it's true what people say -- I never miss the things once they're gone. Out of sight, out of mind. :)

  24. My m-i-l has 2 words for this: Pitch it.

  25. Bunnygirl, I feel your pain. My evil sister (who I swear was adopted, the strong physical resemblance is pure coincidence) went through all my belongings and threw out the ones that weren't "important." (Definition of important being hers, of course.)

    Crabby, I have just the book for you. For some reason, people keep giving it to me:

    Clearing Clutter with Feng Shui

  26. Technique my mother-by-marriage uses:

    Sweetheart - I have this (put name here) it is a family heirloom and I really want you to have it.


    I am trying to clear out and why don't you and M take this to where you live and sell it and YOU keep the money you get for it.

    Then there are my techniquest for getting rid of M's things (like papers from 12th grade) -- this idea obviously for Lobster---
    just put them in a trash bag while Crabby is not looking and out with trash. DISCLAIMER -- M figured it out and insisted on going thrrough all trash bags before they were actually thrown out.

    Hope these help

    Grins and Groans

  27. My husband and I are very good at finding the other persons belongings useless, but we don't throw them away... Oh well, maybe we're bad, but not hopeless.

    That cutting thing is for parsley and other herbs. Just roll it over the herbs on a cutting board until they are finely cut. Mix parsley and garlic with butter and put on a warm, rare steak! My mother used it for nettles (yes, the burning ones) when she was little. My grandfather was a health freak, and the family quite poor. I love nettles in soup (great iron source!) but raw? Mum says that it doesn't burn if you cut them well. On the other hand, there was always one that wasn't...

  28. Even more helpful packing/moving advice! I hate decisions, and because we're starting early, I have a ton of time to change my mind back and forth. Which is not a good thing.

    I'm pleased to discover the Thing can cut herbs--because fresh pasta dough? That's seriously not happening.

    Although now there's one more thing to move from the "toss" pile to the "keep" pile!

  29. Do I have trouble throwing things away? Hell to the yeah!

    I have all kinds of junk in my trunk.

  30. LOL. Cats ARE useful. They are fun to hug when it's cold. Even if it annoys them, it's still fun because they annoy you so much!

  31. Health related? Surely anything that involves dust and mold must be health related!
    I love the cat picture--she is clearly saying "What do you foolish humans think you are doing with My House?"
    I have not started packing much yet, since I'm not allowed to put anything in the not-quite-finished New House until the workmen stop using the basement for a workshop. I've run out of things to throw away from my parents' 47 years of keeping stuff. However, when I moved seven times in seven years I didn't get rid of anything except my television on the sixth move--still don't have one ten years later--and it wasn't all stuff I use every day either.

    Mary Anne in Kentucky, soon to move from two houses into one. Eek!

  32. Poppy, if you figure out how to donate "junk in the trunk" to goodwill, let us know how, okay?

    And Decaf--yeah, I'll admit, our cat has a few practical uses too. Bed warmer, bug chaser... but most of her value is purely sentimental!

    Maryanne--yikes, sounds like you have some work ahead of you too! But hopefully it will all be worth it with the new place. (Ulp... 47 years worth of parent's stuff?)

  33. I'm in the middle of moving...leterally. I sold my house and I'm in temporary housing until I can move into my new one. I ditched a lot....but also ended up quick packing a lot too.

    My "thing" is dishes. I have several sets. Dinner sets...everyday (2), more formal, and Christmas. Luncheon sets, dessert sets, single place settings, etc etc. I packed and I'm taking them all! LOL

    Oh, my LPs are in good condition and I still have a turntable, so they're going too. I'm downsizing from 7 rooms (1500+ sq ft) to 4 rooms (1050 sq ft), so lots has to go...but not my LPs!

  34. The Bag Lady rarely watches television, so almost laughed her ass off when she sat down on Friday and watched Oprah, only to find it a program about hoarders. the Bag Lady had been worrying (a little) about the amount of 'stuff' in her house, but after seeing them take 75 TONS of garbage out of that house, and hold a 3-day garage sale in a 10 thousand square foot warehouse (and make $13,000.00!!), she feels better. There's no way she has that much there?

  35. Cindy, if you still play at least some of those lp's, you're way ahead of me! (And hmm, dishes and lp's are the same shape... don't know what to make of it psychologically, but it seems you like circles). Circlephilia?

    Bag Lady--I'll have to have the Lobster what that Oprah episode to put my single box of warped lps in perspective! (And I bet you're nowhere NEAR as bad).

  36. I've totally found the solution to my holding-on-to-crap-I'll-never-use problem-- give it to someone else! I love love LOVE freecycle (check it out, there may be a group in your area). I find something around the house that is just taking up space, is in great shape but not worth selling or having a yard sale for, and I post it on Freecycle. Someone comes to pick it up, take it away, and hopefully love it and use it the rest of its useful days :) Makes the pain of getting rid of things better. At the worst, someone takes it from me and throws it away themselves!

  37. My method is to grab empty cardboard boxes (about four at a time) open them up and then go from room to room with a laundry basket, filling it up and eventually filling all the boxes. Then I seal them so there will be no peeking nor backsliding. I use the interval from New Year's to mid-April to clutter-clear the whole house (three floors) and make a major donation (up to about twenty-five boxes so far) to a charitable community organization which will accept the whole load unopened and sort it on their end, &c. Then I treat myself and my life partner to a nice lunch at the same restaurant that gave us all the free boxes! Good Luck to all of you working through caretaking all your clutter and slowly getting free of both the caretaking and the clutter! From Chris in South Portland, Maine, U.S.A. I am 64. I jump up and down with joy when the project is finished each year! Thanks for reading my post.


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