I know. There are already whole blogs and books and television channels devoted to showing Americans how to organize, store and even get rid of their crap because, let's face it: We are a culture of crap. We're obsessed with crap, we watch shows about people bullying other people into throwing away their crap and people buying other people's crap from abandoned professional crap storage units. We're fascinated by how much or little crap costs, who gets the better deal on their crap and where the best place is to get the most quality crap for the least amount of money. (For the record, IKEA seems to be the most abundant source of cheap crap Americans love.)
But I don't need to tell you how to deal with your crap. You know if you have a crap problem or not, and chances are you'd deal with it if you really wanted to. I'm a crap collector and I hate that I am. But my crap -- which comes in the form of clothes, shoes, makeup, beauty products, hair thingies and purses -- has recently taken on a new purpose: to become other people's crap. And you know what? Getting rid of emotionally-charged objects that serve no purpose in my life feels fucking fantastic. But for even more reasons than I could have initially imagined.
See also: - And Then She Saved accessories swap brings Denver frugalistas together - Buyer Chrissy Giles explains Buffalo Exchange's purchase (or pass) policy on your resale fashion - Breeality Bites -- The two rules of thrift-store shopping: Buy the ugly crap, but don't buy the ugly crap that looks bad on you
I live in a small house. I wouldn't consider it small, except, well, it's probably at least a hundred years old, only has one bathroom and two official bedrooms, and is inhabited by six people and two dogs and a varying assortment of touring bands crashing on our living room floor at any given time. When I moved into this beautifully cramped abode last year, I brought along a lot of crap -- and it didn't have anywhere to go.
My room is closet-less, and for someone who's a clotheshorse (I still don't know what that means, exactly, but my mom says it, so it must be true) that was a brutal reality. I set up a makeshift "closet" (a janky rolling rack from Target) in my tiny boarding-house room and another in the basement, just to house all of my crap. On good days in my relationship with crap, I enjoyed hanging and folding and organizing it into neat little piles and drawers. Oh, how I loved to look at all of this crap I had collected over three decades. But it never was (and never has been) an ideal or healthy situation.
If I really needed something, I couldn't find it. If I wanted to wear something, it was buried so deep in my tiny pit of a room that I would have a miniature breakdown trying to fish it out. Important papers were lost in the abyss of stuff. Parking tickets went unpaid. Wedding invitations were lost forever -- which eventually led to me missing a friend's ceremony because I couldn't remember what time the wedding started. My crap also allowed me to be irresponsible with bills, because if I couldn't see them, they weren't there. Crap had won out over sanity.
But recently, I snapped into action -- and I just started getting rid of my crap. I don't know why; I just didn't want it anymore. I began sorting and tossing it in the direction of anyone who would take it. I contemplated carrying pounds and pounds of wearables down to Buffalo Exchange, in an effort to make a little money to pay off my credit card with the trades. But after putting my clothes into a trash bag, I couldn't risk triggering a Hoarders-style meltdown in public by re-living the reasons why I had to part with my crap in the first place. This was the biggest revelation: I cared about my crap.
Still, I marched on. Beauty products that had never been used were handed off to friends. Gifted knickknacks -- the worst kind of crap, because it serves no purpose, but can symbolize a great friendship or relationship -- went to ARC, the garbage and, if I was lucky, the recycling bin. Everything had to go. Letting go of my crap was hard. Since childhood, I've held on to the idea that inanimate objects have feelings. It usually applies more when I see a sad winter glove alone in the gutter, a mate nowhere in sight. But when having to choose what to keep and what to save, I realized that I was banking a lot on the feelings I had about clothes, jewelry and even scrunchies, and how they came into my possession. Which is nuts, if you think about it.
Seriously, keeping a shirt that is missing the key front buttons that keep your boobies from making an inappropriate exit just because once, long, long ago, it was purchased on a trip to Long Beach? That crappy shirt in no way represents my high school trip to the LBC. My vague memories do. I was suddenly happy to see that thing go.
But the craziest part about this release of crap from my supervision? The unexpected resistance to acquiring new crap. I've worked in retail for most of my adult life, which, for a crap collector, usually feeds your out-of-control obsession with crap. Since clothes are my major downfall, this clothing collecting was pushed to new heights every day I worked. Something is always on sale, something always "looks totally cute on you" and something will always be full price but you will convince yourself (and the other crap collectors you work with will also convince you) that you need more crap. You deserve this crap. You should forgo other important bills and indulge in buying this crap because you can.
To that, I say fuck it. Do not let your crap define you. It is, after all, just crap.
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Unless, of course, I could have Cher's closet. Then all of this "simplifying your life" crap would go out the window.Follow @WestwordCulture