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:: Over the Christmas break, I had planned to begin purging my house of excessive “stuff”: papers, curios, objects, junk, magazines, clothes, utinsels, tools, whatever. I made minor progress in one of the three rooms upstairs in my house, albeit the one requiring the most work, my office. What I learned is that such projects take a long, long time to complete. I’d be sorting through said stuff, and inevitably take too much time to examine every single item, wondering “Do I want to keep this, or is it ok to get rid of it? Wait, what if I want to read it again in 13 years?” And on it went. A 1980 issue of Rolling Stone was in my filing cabinet, kept this long because it had a review of Gaucho, and an accompanying article on Steely Dan. Did I need to keep it another 25 years? I reread the two pieces, and passed it on to a friend, advising him not to return it.

I shredded enough paper to fill three blue bags, and boxed some magazines and papers, which I moved to the basement. I know, that’s not purging (it’s shifting, I suppose) but the room is getting spacious again.

What is hardest to admit is that there is much, much more to be eliminated. My plan is to try to finish the first sweep of this room, and then get to the other two upstairs bedrooms, which will not require as much work. In those rooms, the material to be purged will be mostly clothing, which will be recycled to Goodwill.

There is always too much to do. I have music to rehearse for an acoustic concert in February, a new tune to work on for the rock band, and I haven’t been to the Y in six days. My favorite TV shows are back on the air, and 24 begins 24 straight episodes starting this Sunday. Ack.

5 Responses to “Purging”

  1. Lauren Says:

    Hey, if you want any advice/assistance in the Great Purging Project, lemme know! For some reason I’ve got a knack for sorting through and chucking stuff that is of questionable importance (my sisters are also rather adept at this – funny, considering that my mother is a packrat and hoarder to the nth degree).

    Here’s a good bit of advice for stuff that isn’t of huge emotional attachment, like clothes, magazines, gizmos, and whatnot: if you haven’t used it in the past six months to a year (no longer), than purge it. It is a ruthless method, but it is surprisingly effective.

  2. Steve Says:

    You clearly have too many guidelines limiting your ability to throw stuff away. “WIll I use it next month? Do I still need it? Will I want it 5 years from now?” provide too many opportunities to keep junk. Try, “Have I used it in the past year”, applied to everything. Common sense precludes tossing some stuff, even if it hasn’t been used. I also like “shifting” as a valid purging tactic, mostly because it allows you to be brutal. Brutally apply your purge rule to a room, put everything in garbage bags, label the bags, and put them in the basement. If you don’t need to open the bags in the next six months, it’s safe to toss them away (or give them to The Salvation Army), or whatever. I tend to use this rule for general clean-up. It doesn’t always sit well with the kids, however, whose lying-around-toys tend to go missing periodically.

  3. Brad Says:

    Thinking outside the box re: purging.

    1. Enter the room with a large fire extinguisher.
    2. Spray everything (don’t forget under the furniture, if any)
    3. Leave.
    4. Return the next day, Sift through the soggy piles. If something is worth salvaging, keep it. Otherwise, put it in a garbage bag for disposal.This should ensure that you only keep things deemed worthy enough to spend the time it will take to restore the article. Sort of an enforced edit of your life.
    6. Any photographs of me should go in the garbage bag. If you want new ones, let me know.

  4. randy Says:

    Good advice from everyone, especially destroying all photos of Brad.

  5. randy Says:

    Steve, you’re right about the guidelines. Sentimentality and nostalgia combine forces, making it difficult to part with certain items. The process does involve being ruthless and brutal indeed.

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