Monday, March 1, 2010

You, Me & Stuff

How do your friends affect your attitudes towards stuff? I had been thinking about that lately, then Becoming Minimalist posted on being minimalist if your partner isn't. My situation isn't quite like that, but it got me thinking about community & its relationship to stuff.

Side point: one of the HUGE perks about being single is not having to deal with someone else's stuff in combination with my own.

Real point: do the people we live with affect how we view stuff? Yes. Over the years, I have lived with at least 16 different people including my family & roommates. All of these people have had different views on stuff & have contributed to my current views on stuff. Here are a few of the highlights-
  • Freshman year: Buying Star Wars action figures doesn't bring long-term happiness. Don't own heavy furniture that must go up & down stairs when you move! (yep, it's a hidabed!)
  • Sophomore year: A 12X14 room for two people means you really shouldn't go shopping a lot. The more stuff you own, the more places you have to find to put it. We crammed out those 168 sq feet, it got really messy, but it was FUN.
  • Martinique Study Abroad: What?! You can function in life without owning a couch? What?! Your kitchen is less than 20 sq feet and you can make some of the best food ever? What?! You can live in a Caribbean climate without air conditioning?
  • Junior year: Also, owning lots of stuff means you have more stuff for roommates to abuse & destroy. Don't own nice stuff until you live alone.
  • Summer in Puebla: Living out of one suitcase in a hotel room with two other girls for 6 weeks can be difficult but hardly impossible! Since we all understood the situation, we all kept things clean & picked-up.
  • Senior year: Love your roommates; you don't have to love the existence of their stuff.
  • Post-College: Living alone rocks! However, living alone makes you feel like you need to get all your own furniture. This is not true.
  • Post-College Transition: Getting rid of heavy furniture is terrible! Hey, I can fit 70% of my stuff in a storage unit & not use it for a month...
  • Moving back to Lawrence: Crap. I own WAY too much stuff. Crap. How could I possibly have moved all this 10 times in the previous 4 years?
  • In my current duplex: Now is the time to really simplify & minimize! If I haven't used an item in the last year, do I really need to keep it around? Why do I have 3 crockpots?
  • Thoughts on books & movies: I thought these were necessary items to have around to have just in case I should want to watch/read them & to show guests my likes, sense of humor & dazzling intellectual prowess. But then I discovered a wonderful concept, borrowing!!! I haven't purchased a movie in over three years. Books I only purchase second-hand if I need it for a Bible study & a friend doesn't already own it for me to borrow. Most of my books & movies have been sold to Half-Price Books or Hastings & I don't miss them. I feel so relieved I don't have to move them again!!! And as for my intellectual prowess, does generating SQL queries through a VB.NET Visual Studio project really make for a good conversation starter? Or, "Oh, looks like you've read Chaucer. What do you think of his use of gender relations as a political statement or how his thoughts on property ownership compare to training your average canine? I have many leather-bound books & my apartment smells of rich mahogany"? My topics of conversation have been simplified & I'd rather not rely on my stuff to generate intellectual discourse.
  • Overall: Don't own stuff you don't like. Don't own more stuff than you need, but own stuff that makes you happy. If you hate moving stuff, get rid of it.


  1. You would like a lot of the concepts of Feng Shui. Clutter in the room being indicative of clutter in one's life, surrounding yourself only with items that have happy associations, dust and dirt in the home representing general lack of personal order, getting rid of things you don't like so that the negative vibes don't constantly ruin your day/your Chi, simplification of possessions bringing direction & clarity, etc. Plenty of other odd ideas in Feng Shui, but you seem to be headed that basic direction.

  2. First, is your mom, Joyce from above? If so, I think I should get to know her better.

    Second,very witty and interesting post. I enjoyed it and I think am inspired to possibly purge more of my crap.

    Third, I do not have a crockpot and would pawn one off of you if you want to keep it around until my visit.

  3. Mom, I think you're right! I did some Wikipedia research on Feng Shui and it looks like my approach is close to the non-religious, Feng Shui ideas of Black Sect Tantric Buddhism. The name sounds like a freaky cult though.

    Tiff- Yep, Joyce is my mom, she's got a lot of great ideas! And I am now down to two crockpots, so I'll check with my roommate to see if she wants the extra. If not, it's all yours!

  4. Yes - I'm Kristen's mom.

    I met a lady a few years back who was a Feng Shui practitioner and she gave me the overview. She was often contacted by realtors who wanted her to come into homes to help create a better vibe for selling the house. She had lots of great stories about the benefits to people from finally getting rid of photos of relatives that they'd never liked, or household items that held unhappy memories. Makes sense.

    I can't say that I've ever rid myself completely of dust and clutter, but I really like the concept of surrounding yourself with things that have good associations.