Friday, January 7, 2011

Out with the old, in with the new

After all of the December acquiring we did, we are now doing our ritual January purging. And by "we," I mean "I."

I am really schizophrenic when it comes to getting rid of things. I hold onto things that are really not worth holding onto. For a while, I save everything: every preschool art project, every card anyone ever sends me, every Chick-fil-a toy. Eventually I get completely fed up with the clutter, and then I am ruthless about getting rid of things. At this particular moment, I'm going through a purging phase. I've been going through old toys and tossing them in bags and posting the contents of those bags on freecycle. Someone from freecycle wants them and is supposed to come take them away tonight. Yay! I love that our beloved toys will have a life beyond our house. I hate the idea of them not getting played with. Maybe I've watched too much Toy Story.

We dismantled our guestroom bed that only gets used two times a year, figuring that real estate in our small house could be put to better use. We're keeping the mattress in the basement in case we ever have another guestroom in a future house, but we decided to get rid of the box spring and the lopsided metal frame it rested on. Incidentally, to make the metal frame un-lopsided, Brandon and I stuck a really cheesy paperback book underneath one of the legs to prop it up. Classy, I know. This book basically has a hole in it because it had been holding an entire bed up for many years. When it came time to toss the book in the recycling bin, I almost couldn't bear to do it because this was the book Brandon and I had read side-by-side on the plane to our honeymoon destination in Tangolunda Bay, Mexico. We read that whole book tandem-style, each one waiting patiently for the other one to finish so we could turn the page. It was a courtroom thriller. I can't remember much about the story other than that. It's in our recycling bin right now. That book has served us well, but it's time had come. See, I'm totally ruthless. But what am I going to do with a cheesy courtroom thriller with a hole in it now that it is no longer propping up a bed?

So, I need to somehow dispose of a box spring mattress. People on freecycle are giving away cheese that's past its sell-by date, so maybe someone will want my box spring and broken frame. Did I mention I have our living room furniture on craigslist? Brandon is a little concerned about that one. I guess I can't blame him. We have a lot of furniture crammed into our tiny living room. We tried moving two of the chairs into different rooms, but they won't fit through the narrow doors or up our tiny, treacherous staircase. Have I mentioned before how this house was built for exceptionally small people? Well, I'm no anthropologist, but the tiny doorways, low bathroom counters and shorty ceilings indicate that the people who lived here and raised six kids here were very short. I am always bumping my head on things and I am 5'5".

I mentioned freecycle earlier like everyone knows what it is. Have you tried this freecycle? As with most things, I'm a little late to the party on this one, but it's pretty amazing. You post things that you want to get rid of (for free) and then if someone wants your stuff, they email you and come and take it away. I like getting the freecycle emails. Here are the items being given away in my neighborhood freecycle group at this very moment:

  • 3 old fashioned keys
  • wooden box with salmon on it
  • Pewter porringer (um, what?)
  • Pentax film camera
  • messenger bag
  • Bra w/prothesis
  • Gold snake choker
  • Electric laminator
  • Sewing machine with broken needle
  • Standing Japanese shoji screen
I could go on, but you get the idea. I think this list is amazing. I may use it as a writing exercise at some point where you have to write a story using all these items. Put all these items on a farm in Canada and you have an Alice Munro story.

Well, speaking of writing, I have a rare block of time where a kid doesn't need something. Teddy is sleeping, Charlie is at a friend's house and Emma's at school. I am hoping to get a little fiction writing accomplished with this lovely hour or so. Feel free to steal my freecycle story starter idea if you're blocked and need a little writing exercise to free you up. If you have other great writing exercises, I'd love to hear them.

Also, I've been thinking about the books I've read this past year and trying to pick my favorite. So far, the front-runner is Room by Emma Donahue. Has anyone else read Room? I'd love to hear your favorite book of 2010. If you leave a comment you'll automatically be entered to win a free box spring mattress!


Pamela Ehrenberg said...

I laughed so many times when reading this, and I definitely need to try (and refer others) to your Freecycle story starter. I recently Freecycled the scuffed, stickered purple mats that used to be on Talia's floor when she was a baby.

Though--my two cents on Eric's birthday--I suggest finding three other books on your shelf that no one will ever read, donating those to your library book sale, and going to fish that courtroom thriller out of the recycling bin. (Sounds like you'll have a lot more space in your living room without furniture...maybe you can use it as a very small end table.) : )

Elizabeth said...

Good point, Pam. Maybe I will go fish it out of the recycling. One little book is going to clutter up the house that much. Happy birthday to Eric.

Robin said...

Thinking of Eric right now...remembering how funny he was! It's making me smile. Love to you both, Pam and Elizabeth!!


Robin said...

I'm on a decluttering mission, too, Elizabeth. Wish we lived closer so we could help each other out. And by that I mean, keep my kids while I get rid of some silly Beanie Babies that they spied in the Goodwill bag and promptly burst into tears over. :)


Lesley said...

I'll pass on the mattress, but I LOVED Room! My book club read it. I also loved The Glass Castle by Jeannette Wall. Those were probably my favorite fiction and non-fiction books last year. A close runner-up for fiction would be The Help or The Hunger Games. Other good ones were Water for Elephants and the other two books in the Hunger Games trilogy.

I'm reading The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks right now, because it got the top pick as book of the year by the Amazon editors. It's fine, but I don't love it.

What other books would you recommend?

Elizabeth said...

I wish we lived closer too, Robin. Brandon is working on it. I'm trying not to think too hard about what the future holds, but I'm very curious.

Hi Leslie! Don't you think Room will make a great movie? I couldn't put it down.

I'm reading Jonathan Franzen's Freedom right now. Even though I wasn't a huge fan of The Corrections, I am really enjoying this book. He's a pretty amazing writer. I also liked My Hollywood by Mona Simpson and The Gate at the Stairs by Lorrie Moore, two kind of similar books about motherhood. My other favorite book of the 2010 was Anna Quindlen's Every Last One. That would make a great book club book. I have been meaning to read Hunger Games and Water for Elephants. I'll have to get to those soon! Thanks for the recommendations!