January 1, 2010 In the interest of creating mental and physical space, and out of a desire to resist our culture of consumption and to examine my role in it, and because I’m challenged by the idea of paring down what I own to only 100 things, as some have done, I’ve decided to use, use up, destroy, give away, throw out, or otherwise shed one item per day in 2010. The rules are flexible and the project may peter out. I’m okay with all that.

Before the new year, because part of me thinks it’s silly to delay the start of a project until an arbitrary date, and because I was craving space and simplicity of all kinds, I spent a few hours going through parts of my room, culling. Two bags of old clothes went to the Salvation Army. A trashbag was filled with random unwanted items, low-hanging fruit in the quest to get rid of something every day. It begs the question, why not just find 365 things to get rid of, and get rid of them right now?

Possible answers: Year-long personal challenges documented in various ways are the zeitgeist. Doing a little every day creates dialogue and reflection and long-term change. This isn’t a one-off about clutter. I thrive on competition with myself. Others want to join in. Maybe what I would shed today is not the same as what I would shed in October?

I’m throwing out a pair of jeans that ripped over Christmas. I got them from Philissa, whom they did not fit. The elastic in them tended to make them slip and sag as I wore them, and I tended to pull them up by the belt loops every so often. Until one day, the belt loop ripped a big hole right out of the jeans, just below my waist. Possibly, but not desirably, repairable. I confess that I went out and bought new jeans to replace them – a girl’s gotta have a certain amount of wearable denim in this town. So they don’t count.

So, to start with:

1/1/10: I give a book that I’ve finished to my friend Sarah, whom I’m visiting over vacation. It’s called Desert Queen, and is about British adventurer and intelligence officer Gertrude Bell. Giving away books was not part of the plan. But it happened.

1/2/10: My old printer has been sitting on my floor for some time, waiting to go. I made the mental decision to get rid of it a long time ago. I will get it out of my house this week for good. It’s mostly broken but I’m not sure how broken. Do I just throw it out?

1/3/10: The rules, as I see them, allow me to decide to get rid of the printer and an old lamp today, even if I do not take the printer outside in the 50 mph gusting wind tonight. The lamp, a floor lamp with five bulbs on flexible, arching stems shielded by plastic shades curved to look vaguely like callalilies, is slightly broken – one of the shades somehow burned. I don’t recall how. I will post it as free on Craigslist and if no one wants it by the end of the week, rescue the bulbs and throw it out. It has not been used in two or three years.

1/4/10: The floor lamp garnered about 15 responses and should be gone tomorrow night. People want free stuff, it turns out, even damaged free stuff. I’m going to post the printer as take-at-your-own-risk. Today I’m getting in touch with an ex and giving him back some stuff he let me borrow way back when. A fan.

1/5/10: A calculator.

1/6/10: Some software.





1/11/10: I once, maybe three years ago, borrowed some old shoes one of my sisters left in a closet at our house in Massachusetts. Perhaps “stole” is a better word than borrowed, but if they were missed, no fuss was made. I don’t remember why I needed them but they fit the bill and then came home with me. They are cheap, pleathery-brown ankle boots with far higher heels than I need. I wore them to school today to see if they were as uncomfortable as I remembered, to see if they should go in the next Salvation Army bag. They were manageable to walk on, and garnered several compliments and at least one “you’re so tall!” but by the end of the day, when I slipped my feet out of them and began to stretch in dance class, my arches were knotted. I’m on the fence. I think I will let them go. And yes, I’m terribly far behind.


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