As it would turn out, the Deletist has kryptonite when it comes to getting rid of clutter. I’m spending this week helping my mom go through all the stuff in her house to de-clutter it. My primary job is to go through my things. The process is slow going as it requires me to sift through boxes of old photos, bundles of correspondence and stacks of school work dating from elementary school to university.
In the days before long distance calling and email, letter writing was how we kept up with each other. I’m one of those weirdos that saved all my letters. Going through these piles of correspondence, I find myself faced with a number of dilemmas about how to establish criteria for keeping or destroying them. I came up with some flimsy guidelines:
- letters from people I can’t remember – Toss
- letters from people I am no longer friends with – 50/50 (some toss, some keep – it depends, basically on how tired I am or how I feel emotionally about the content)
- cards – depends on who gave them to me, for what purpose and how much is written on the inside (for example, birthday cards from my parents or grandparents were all kept, even though they were often without a date and only had a few chicken scratch scribbles on the inside)
No easy task.
There was also the discovery of a few odd things that had been kept for far too long, such as:
A kickback to my conspiracy theorist days. Somehow I thought I could preserve history by saving a few old newspapers dating Sep13-15 2001.
Old newspapers? What was I thinking? In the archival world we refer to such things as “acid bombs”. They were all recycled without a second thought.
Not quite sure why I saved these since it’s kind of disgusting, but you can tell they’re real old because I started playing bassoon in 1988!
Bassoon playing is still my hobby over 20+ years later, but I no longer save the old, worn out reeds. I’m too focused on getting the new ones to play properly.
My talent as a potter was pretty limited. Contents include: a piece of pizza, a basket with a bunny for a handle, a dish, a panda bear pencil holder and a “music box”.
Old art projects. It’s hard to create criteria for this one. Thankfully my artistic talents matured at a young age so I’m quite sure I could replicate any of these things without a problem.
A box full of old notes from middle school.
A huge quantity of crumpled up notes from my girlfriends crammed into a small box. In the front left are 2 notes written on 8.5×11 lined notebook paper and then folded into a special square with the recipient and author’s names on it.
Giggle and then TOSS!
Old Christmas money
Who doesn’t like finding money when they’re cleaning? The envelope claims it’s real legal tender, but the margins are off centre and the texture feels funny. Rudolph is just a sticker but I’m still questioning the authenticity of it. I should’ve just spent it in 1988 when I received it.
My brother’s collection of Smurfs.
My best memory of the Smurfs was when I used to take my brother’s favorite ones and dangle them in front of him from the tree house by a string so he couldn’t have it. tee hee This memory was buried deep and only resurfaced because we found the Smurfs. Are our memories attached to the physical items? Or is it the presence of the physical item that triggers them?
And then came the hard stuff…
Dad’s stuff: Clothes, birthday cards, awards…
10 years after he died we still find it difficult to deal with personal effects. 🙁