Wisdom of MY Words

Random Musings & Book Reviews

Archive for February, 2012

15 February
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Destination… Not in Sight

Yesterday I cleaned out Son Number Two’s room. We trimmed down to only one dresser. 52 donatable items, with another 11 to school for uniform clothes resale. I now have 12 items to list on eBay from his room including Oilily jeans, Wes and Willy and Mini Boden shirts and the dresser needs to go on Craigslist. We had a huge fire with twigs that are in the garage and a zillion shoe boxes from goodness knows how many pairs of shoes the kid has trashed. There are still more shoe boxes in his closet.

Essentially that is three full rooms that are done now. That leaves the other office because mine is beyond the pale, filled with eBay. That office needs a seam in the plaster fixed in the ceiling, all furniture moved out and a thorough cleaning and then a new paint colour.

My daughter’s bedroom is not even on the docket, but her office is getting ready for my sticky fingers to sell everything. She said yesterday that her room is the colour of shit. That’s what I get for going neutral Pottery Barn colours. But she has two great chairs from Room & Board and I just know I’m going to take a huge financial hit on the, They are super contemporary and adorable. The same furniture design, but not the patterns, is premiered in a new Parisian hotel in the 2nd A. They are great chairs, but they are more for a guy than a girl.

In moments I will start paperwork filing. It amazes me the amount of paper that ends up in this house.

This is also a plug for my book.

My book can be found for Kindle-only, here:

09 February
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Day Two of My First Diet, Day Four of Purging the House

Today is quite literally the first less than 24 hours I have been on a real diet. Besides consciously buying a fitbit, it isn’t calibrated right because it doesn’t calculate stairs very well. However, this is the first 21 hours of my consciously being on a diet. I have lost one pound. I lost three from the stomach flu, so I’m heading in the right direction.

Last night when we went out to dinner, the kids and the husband ordered fries. Miriam dumped salt on them and Jon and I both said No! I understand she doesn’t get much salt at the house, but it was a shared basket of fries. So, I stayed away. As if the fries were the plaque. I think the hardest thing for me is going to be cooking constantly with PAM and not butter as well as forgoing Sherry when I make spinach, garlic, mushrooms, and onions. I have Quiche to make, and that will be difficult. I avoid the base of bread and put it in a flan-like pan. I’ve been doing that for years. But now has come the time to not only purge the house, but to urge my dietary habits. Walk more, because frankly I am too cheap and disinterested in people to deal with a health club. I do want to get back to yoga. I started meditating again this week after a very long hiatus. Yoga is probably the most human interaction I can handle besides my family and my work team, plus my co-authors for three books. One of whom is my almost 21 year old son, whom I know will procrastinate when I give him what I have for a book. So what’s the point.

This whole paring down concept has me thinking about some places I’ve either visited in real life, or through books. Places where they don’t have thousand a pictures frames with moments in time captured for all posterity. Why don’t they have they things? Because they just can’t afford them. The luxuries we take for granted as Americans is ridiculous. We have forgotten from whence we come, from generations of labourers in all fields that came to America to make their future. The Muslims have it right about debt, don’t have any. If you can’t afford a second home and a second wife, don’t get one.

I was lying in bed a mere hour ago thinking que sera sera, whatever will be, will be, the future’s not ours to see… I despise that film. But the song was sticking in my head like a badly worn memory tape, because really, what is it all about? Is it about who has the most toys (furniture, money in the bank, nice cars, prestigious homes with prestigious addresses), or is it all about something else? This isn’t going towards religion for those of you about to panic. This is going towards meaning. What defines a life?

In days of yore, not all that long ago, our ancestors had nothing. They left famine, pogroms and war and came to America on some horrid ship that we can only read about, some of us were forced here by the master race, brought in irons and subjugated to punishment and hard labour for the rest of their lives. The show Hoarders comes to mind. There is really something wrong with people that have a houseful of items that are keeping, well, just to keep. Those items become part of the scenery of the daily life and then are ignored on a daily basis.

So, true are items that we clutter our life with, or put in to our bodies. I don’t think the standard should be 90cm hips, but I don’t think the paintings of Michelangelo reflected gross obesity either. We are a consumptive society. Americans just want the next best deal. Trend and market watchers say that joblessness is reaching an all time low and  people are spending money, again. For what I want to know?

In MOA I feel trapped, like there are not enough exits, and we go shopping for utilitarian items that are needed, such as uniform pants for Zack, since he has all ready out grown the pants he owns and buying irregulars isn’t working anymore. Or undergarments for Miriam. All needed items. But I watched my daughter try on boots last night, because she has made a decision that she NEEDS BOOTS NOW. So, dammit, she is going to get them. I’m going to send her an email about how this disturbs me. It disturbs me because we are out of season, that’s how the fashion industry works, it has for as long as I’ve been around. Secondly, she doesn’t need them now, she just wants them. A want is much further down than a need. They are a luxury. An item that is unnecessary just because you feel like you deserve them, or believe you need them because you don’t have any shoes to wear, I mean, seriously?  Boots to me are an investment that you have to make and wear over time. Albeit, I feel that about clothes as well. Unless I get some super deal on a great shirt I like at a second-hand store. Then I know it may wear out at any time and be useless to me. That doesn’t bother me if I purchased it second-hand. As Marla Singer said, Someone loved this dress and wore it for one day and then threw it away. [ad-lib]

If you are not in love with a piece of personal property, that you really don’t need for work, do you really need it? Since I’m now dieting and have less than three weeks to purge my house, I’m going to answer a solid no.

07 February
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Day 2 of Uncluttering of Your Life

Today is day two of this blog. Last night only one of two items sold on eBay. I’m listing the Slow Cooker, which I rarely use, on Amazon. Today is free listings on eBay, but I just don’t have the energy to work on them between feeling ill, work and laundry. Napping at this juncture takes precedence.

Perhaps tonight, if I feel better I will list some items on eBay. I paid the Neiman-Marcus bill today. The great thing about that bill was, I bought boots I desperately needed, although the weather in the 612 has been fairly balmy. They are great snow boots, fully lined, and even texted a girlfriend with the picture and she said, “Gorgeous, can you live without them?” And I repled, “No.” But I talked to my great shoe guy, and he agreed to take back the Tory Burch flip-flips that I only wore once and the Gucci semi-flip-flops that I never wore. That gave me back $450 on the bill, which was during the shoe sale and 50% sale.

Husband and daughter did acquire some new items, and I did exchange my Tom’s, which had a tear in the toe area. The great thing about Neimans is that if you spend a little extra, they really take care of you. My great-grandmother always taught me to not skimp on shoes, as your feet have to be happy. I have to agree with her. What company, even with a receipt, would take back two year old Gucci’s and one year old Tory Burch’s? No one. Not even Nordstrom.

I’ve had comments through the years from various friends and boyfriends that I’m a snob because I shop at Neimans. For cool men’s items you can’t go wrong, the 312 store has a super phenomenal selection of women’s undergarments, and the shoes you can rarely find anywhere else. I notice people’s shoes, it’s third after eyes and teeth. People always compliment me on my shoes. If I am a snob about anything it’s about not having what everyone else has, I’ve never been one to follow the crowd.

Back in the day I used to wear my horse-back riding clothes in to school. That was after years of wearing a uniform. Several years later, leggings and jodhpurs became very popular. They were comfortable, so I’m not surprised. I bring up Neimans because I received The Book in the post today. And last night Miriam and I looked through the sale catalog. The other thing my great-grandmother taught me is that you can ALWAYS window shop. I enjoy seeing new fashions and wishing I had the chutzpah to spend money on a $400+ Cashmere Henley from Gorsuch, http://www.gorsuch.com/, but I won’t do it, I’m just frankly too frugal. Even if every time I get their catalog I want that damn Henley!

06 February
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Unclutter Your Life in 160 Days

My personal writing has been suffering lately due to work, trying to create three book proposals, and tons of eBay auctions. I started decluttering our life in last August, after we got back from Europe. I realized after that trip that we’d never be able to fit everything we have from a 2500 sq. ft. house in to a flat. After having living in one of those flats, albeit more of a bedsit in the 19th A. in Paris during college, as a foreign exchange student studying French, I realize how little I used to own.

With the increased incomes of myself and my husband, we buy stuff. He buys electronic stuff, I buy the four of us left in this house, clothes. Simon is out of the house, so I have one less person to worry about. But his extra clothes were here for a while. And items he grew out of that his little brother didn’t want, so we started with a Tag Sale in late August 2011. We sold 54 items. Some were bulked, so I’m counting them as one unit. For example, eight boxes of trade books I don’t need for reference.

Then I started eBay and did my 50 free listings, plus whatever free promotions they were running for flexible bid auctions. In September that eliminated 62 items. Then there was Zack’s Annunciation school clothes that were donated back to Annunciation, another 22 items (shirts, sweatshirts, pants and shorts.)

In October, I started listing on Amazon and Craigslist, as well as eBay that cleaned out our bedroom of a Dvx-DVD player, with a cool JVC stereo and a monitor left, and also the CD player from the DR that we never used. All told, that was 82 items in October 2011.

In November I listed 88 items on eBay, two on Craiglist, one which just sold this past week-end. Out of 88, only 71 sold. Then I went to Port Ludlow, WA and my girlfriend gave me two huge ($20 each to ship back) boxes of her stuff to sell on eBay. In December 2011 I cleared out eight of her 15 items. We started taking items to Bella Boutique, so picture frames, candle holders, a marble coffee table, etc. Between Bella Boutique and eBay, including GF’s items, I sold 55 on eBay and 42 at the Boutique.

We left for our Christmas Break trip to Mexico and I was free of the clutter for a solid week. What a joy that was for me! But we came back at the tail-end of December, so I listed about 18 items on eBay. We sold our JVC stereo and bought Zack a new Mac Mini with OSX Lion, sold his computer monitor and gave him the one from our bedroom. And sold his old Mac Mini. Additional picture frames were taken to Bella Boutique at the tail end of December.

In January 2012 I sold three items of my GFs and listed another 54 items on eBay by the 15 January. 48 of 54 items sold on eBay.

As we move in to February 2012 I have 11 auctions on eBay, four on Amazon, not including books. Our DR is clean and our stereo receiver has been moved to the kitchen cabinet, where the kid’s had their crisps. Our bedroom is virtually empty, the Bose docking station moves through the house. Zack has a pretty clean room. Miriam’s room is a disaster. She has an office and a bedroom (since Simon is now gone.)

I also have five giant liquor boxes (boy do liquor stores like to get rid of boxes) full of donations, and one that is half-full.

Jon has started moving the UPS back-up batteries (that give us about four hours of power if the electricity goes out), into the crawl space and the hub and modem are moving down there. There are two plastic bins in the attic with 1915-1940 picture frames in them that are hard to come by now. The attic is empty except for some extra cleats, our luggage, wrapping paper, and a cabinet that originally houses the stereo, from 1920ish.

All told, including donation boxes in late 2011, we have disposed of over 750 items, not including my girlfriend’s items. That is literally a crazy amount of stuff! My goal date is 01 March 2012. I have an eBay account I have not used since 2007, which is about as rusty as this blog, and I’ll be listing my 50 on the primary and starting on this old account when I hit my 50, which is ~38 away with re-listings this month alone.

So, what is the American perception that we have to keep so much stuff? Why do we buy all these items we never use, or use rarely? I don’t shop at Wal-Mart, Miriam, who has been working since July 2011, buys her own clothes, and I still am aghast at how many items I am left with, I’m concerned 01 March will not be do-able. But we’ll keep chugging away at it and see where we come out.