Thursday, July 4, 2013

Is it shit, crap or merely junk?

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. We still have a silver-plated-something unpacked from a move from daBronx to Flushing in 1975. My wife says we may need it some day, so it stays on a high shelf -- unpacked.

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. (That is an old picture above. We have more and bigger plants now.)

Well, we've been in this house for a little over 12 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 guest room has no room for guests.

Now that summer has started, it's time for spring cleaning.

We have a bunch of bags that were supposed to go to Goodwill by the end of 2012. I hope they get there this year. We also have a six-month accumulation of deposit bottle that should be stuffed into the car, transported, and fed into recycling machines. There are also boxes of stuff, and furniture, that didn't sell at a recent tag sale, or with Craigslist ads.  

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.


  1. Junque is better than mere junk.

  2. Oy, and no kids about whose stuff to be even more sentimental? THAT's hard for a mama! I tell people that that our apt., while huge even by St. Louis standards [would be palatial in NYC!], is so cluttered because it really holds three households worth of stuff. My younger son has moved back home a couple of times, once after a major break-up with a longtime POSSLQ [remember Charles Osgood's poem?] and again after returning from months on the Dem. campaign trail in 2012 [yay, Claire McCaskill!] And now that he's back in love and again SLQ, he didn't take all his stuff with him [he owns more clothes and "toys" than my older son and I put together.] And my mother, who had lived in and filled up a real house with full-sized basement, died and we had to clear out and sell her house to settle with the state for "spending her down" to Medicaid, for her final 3 years of intensive nursing care. I'm the only one of 5 sibs still in this vicinity, the only girl [so can use more of her stuff than the bros could] and I'm by far the most sentimental, so... Thing is, next weekend will already be her 4th yahrzeit.... Yeah, I'm also the worst procrastinator of the family. And, you can see, the most verbose. [Mom was a retired medical editor and former newspaper editor, and always said I seriously needed a blue pencil!]
    Mary Kissane