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Saturday, May 28, 2011

Valuable artifacts -- or crap?


When I moved from an apartment to my first real house in 1977, I felt that for the first time in my life, I had enough storage space for all of my shit. Unfortunately, I failed to realize a basic fact of life: shit expands to fill the available space, and then it overflows.

The move to our second house in 2001 required FIVE MOVING VANS, plus about 70 trips in our own minivan, plus the disposal or recycling of about 50 CUBIC YARDS of crap, junk and trash.
  • Shit is stuff with value that is mostly sentimental.
  • Crap is stuff that can be eliminated with little debate or tears.
  • Junk can be eliminated with no debate or tears.
  • A collection is a bunch of junk which can be classified and displayed.
  • Trash should have been thrown out, not stored for later debate.
  • Garbage usually is disposed of promptly because it starts to stink.
  • A husband's shit may be considered junk by a wife.
  • And, vice-versa.
One good way to classify stuff is by applying the 90-day rule (or one-year or five-year rule, or whatever time interval you select). If something has not been used in the last year (or other time interval), there's a good chance that it will not be used in the next year, and can be eliminated.

Unfortunately, if you have enough space, the 90-day rule can be easily extended to become a 30-year rule.


Our second house is huge. Most people think it's much too big for two people and a dog. It's not. A house can never be too big. Not even Buckingham Palace.

Well, we've been in this house for a little over 10 years. The house now contains a lot of both shit and crap (plus lots of stuff and things). The formerly cavernous attic is almost impenetrable. The three car garage has become storage space. It has about 20 cartons that have not yet been unpacked from the 2001 move. (A shelf in our laundry room has a carton containing a silver serving thing which was packed for a move in 1975 but never unpacked.) A guest room has no room for guests.

It's time for spring cleaning.

We have 14 huge bags which were supposed to go to Goodwill by the end of 2010. I hope they get there this year. They're supposed to go today. I'd rather write, go in the pool, watch TV, and try a new restaurant. I also should visit my mother. What the heck. Goodwill is open tomorrow, and Tuesday, and Wednesday.

I'm faced with a major decision.

I have a growing stack of early versions of my books which were marked up for corrections. I don't want anyone to read them, so I can't sell them or give them away. I can't throw them away, because destroying books is one of the few (or maybe the only) sin that I recognize.

Sometimes, when overcome with egomania, I have a vision that some future literary critic will analyze the stash and proclaim to the world, that "AHA! -- in version 3.68, Marcus changed a comma to a semicolon in the last sentence on page 254."

I realize that there is little likelihood that this will happen. But just in case, I'll keep the books. Besides, retention is better than sinning.

The next time I move, I want to go horizontal, feet first, in a black zipper bag, with a tag on a toe. I'll let the next generation decide what is valuable shit and what is mere crap or junk.


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