Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Packrats and Pitchers

Some people love to save things; other people love to pitch things. Often they marry each other, which makes for terrible household strife.

I'm someone who loves to throw things away. I've always been that way. As a child, I would play a game with my sister; for some reason, the game was called "Sister Sue." I'd be Sister Sue, and I'd clean up my desk and get rid of heaps of stuff and give it all to Cheryl. To this day, she has heaps of stuff. She's the one who still has all our old 45 speed records ("Cherish," by the Association; "Downtown" by Petula Clark); she still has the Unisphere pencil sharpener we each got as a souvenir from the 1964 New York World's Fair. I have hardly anything. As far as stuff goes, I live an unemcumbered life.

Barbara Sher, in Live the Life You Love, gives the following tip for getting rid of clutter: "begin a small, relentless ongoing program to throw out ten things from every room as often as you think of it. If you're combing your hair in front of the bathroom mirror, bring the wastebasket closer, open the medicine chest and find ten things to throw out while you keep brushing your hair: your cousin's shaving cream, that outdated prescription you wouldn't dare to touch, those old vitamins." Oh, how I wish I could! But it's already gone, all of it. It might be worth getting some clutter just for the fun of getting rid of it. But accumulating clutter simply isn't in my nature.

I even love deleting emails. When I go on a trip I'm wild to check my email, not so much because I want to read any of it (though there is always hope that I'll get an email announcing that I've won some major, prestigious, lucrative award), but because I love deleting it so much. I adore having a tidy inbox.

In fact, another email or two may have come in as I've been writing this. More to delete! And then maybe I'll just look in the medicine cabinet. There probably isn't anything there I can throw away. But just in case. . . .


  1. I call it sort & throw. I do a lot of it and find a great deal of satisfaction. Lately, I've accumulated too much stuff, and as soon as I finish the draft of this novel, I'll be in a frenzy of sort & throw. BUT I still have the first stuffed animal my mother made me--Frisky the red squirrel--and I, the tidy, am the only one in my family who does. Need I add that the rest of them envy me? Miss you today, poetry buddy.

  2. My mother kept nothing--not even her wedding dress. I asked her about it once. "I'm not sure what happened to it," she replied. My guess is someone needed a wedding gown, and my mum gave it to her.

    Whenever I regret that my mum tossed my school papers, I remember that wedding dress. And I feel a bit better about my sons' poorly documented youths. Some of us just aren't packrats. But we keep the memories.

  3. The memories are everything! And I have to confess that I did keep all my papers from high school and college, and my love poems to that one boy I called Apollo. . ..