Thursday, October 20, 2011

LOFT LIFE: Shredding my life away

Our move to Connecticut involved downsizing from 2100 sq. ft. to 1200 sq. ft. with a storage area of about 300 sq. ft. 
This seems to be a growing trend among boomers, so I don’t think we are unusual.
But, do the rest of you feel overwhelmed with the need to discard, dispense, give away, trash and shred the bulk of your life accumulations? It seems like bad stewardship to have spent my life accumulating all of this, and then not to disperse of it intelligently.   
I am becoming a shredder nonpareil. In fact, I am so consumed with un-consuming, I keep the shredder in my living room.
Granted the living room is one third of our 1200 square feet, so unless I want to add it to the dining area, which houses the dining table, buffet, server, chairs, and my 12-foot, regulation-sized, punching bag, or the bedroom, where the large screen TV (which we do not use because we do not subscribe to cable), the bed, the dressers and a chair reside, the living room is really the only place left for the shredder. And, since the living room (really our second bedroom converted to living space) also has our living room couch, chairs, tables and lamps, and our two desks and chairs, this is the natural place for office equipment like a shredder.
Many a day I sit in my living room and shred. I have ten years of banking papers all having to be shredded because in an apartment building with no fireplace (my former means of destroying paper), I can’t chance throwing even one piece of paper away that could contain personal financial information.
I don’t want to do this shredding task. Who does? I am not sure why it is my duty, since all of these papers belong to at least two people. But, I have somehow become the person obsessed with simplifying life, so I do it. I hate it. I feel like the few decades I may have left of life are going to be spent shredding.
When I am not shredding, I am sauntering down the hallway to our storage room to sort through the 400 boxes for something I need, wish to see again, or to give away.

 The boxes are all marked “basement” because all Realtors these days are obsessed with “de-cluttering” other people’s homes in the supposed effort to achieve a quick sale.  Never mind the housing market is in a gutter that no amount of de-cluttering will correct. 
And, never mind that removing all laundry supplies from the laundry room, and having no evidence of life existing in the home, or any personal activity whatsoever, is a major inconvenience. 
What they don’t realize is that when moving day comes, ALL of your belongings are now neatly stored in the basement. So ALL of the 400 boxes now contain your entire life in them and all get marked: basement.
Three years later my storage room contains 400 boxes marked basement. I can find nothing without going through every single box until it does or does not appear.
Like my muffin pan. Since it was not in a box marked “kitchen,” I have now, three years from the move, finally come upon it in my search for blankets for our guests.  Thankfully, I also found the blankets on one of my earlier searches for kitchen things.
I could just load all the stuff on a truck and throw it away. My father-in-law also generously offered to store it for me in South Dakota. I think finding my muffin pan in South Dakota could be more difficult than finding it in my storage room in Connecticut. My mother-in-law’s kind remark that she wished she were closer to help me with the sorting hit the mark much closer. I wish she were here too.
Throwing it all away seems irresponsible. I am not a pack rat. I do not like stuff. I want to live a simple life. Most of this stuff does not belong to me, or at least was not purchased for my benefit.
I mean, really, who is a muffin pan for? I would be happy with my homemade yogurt and granola, and not be sad if I never saw another muffin.
But, like the shredding, it seems to be MY job to open, unpack and dispense with every single pound of stuff in this storage room. We moved 17,000 pounds, 4,000 of which are BOOKS. I tell you, I will NOT move 4,000 pounds of books to our next destination. We have to get rid of most of them. There is just too much. And I can’t lift and carry heavy boxes, so I end up making seven trips to the apartment to unload one box, especially with books.
You know the organizational mantra: 3 boxes. One to give away, one to sell, one to keep. Right. With 400 boxes, three little ones won’t work. Any ideas on this you smarties?
I have stacked up piles of children’s books, clothing, kitchen equipment, and bedding so far, ready for shipping to California, giving it to thrift shops, and finding space for some of it in the living quarters. But, this all seems so hopeless to me.  
Someone suggested I get a wagon. UMM. Does that mean buying yet another thing to get rid of after its use? I don’t want a wagon.  
There has to be a solution short of my spending my last years shredding and hauling, but, I don’t know what it is. I am open to suggestion.