Saturday, April 25, 2009


If I have one weakness, it's stuff.

I don't necessarily commune with it.

But I can't bare to throw it away.

I'm not as bad as a I used to be. But I do keep a lot of useless junk around.

I have a button collection (or whatever you call "des macarons" in English) that I've had since grade 1. It's very special to me because a number of the pins that I bought were from a trip to England that I made at that time. I have a button of Prince Charles and Princess Diana that I bought a few weeks before the wedding (I left just before the wedding).

I have other political buttons, too. And school buttons.

I just could not bare to part with it.

I just decided recently that my poetry notebooks were not worth keeping. I've read writers advise to keep one's notebooks. The truth is, that vast majority of it is crap and will have no value. I save all the good poems and really, I just just trash everything else. I will not go over the fifth draft of the poem I wrote in Drama class in 1997. Not gonna happen.

But the toughest junk to part with is the sentimental junk. I still have a handwritten book of poetry that a boy gave me when I was 17. How could I possibly throw that in the dumpster? I'll probably have to adopt my sister's approach. Last week I was helping her de-junk her apartment because she'd completely run out of room. "Here," she said bravely, handing me a dirty old stuffed Snoopy dog from the back of the closet. "I am going to leave the room now, and you do whatever you think best."

I go to my husband for that. Because not only do I have trouble throwing away my own junk, I have throwing away the kids' junk, too. I gather up some things that I think I could do without, and I tell him: "Here. Make an executive decision."

He would throw out ninety per cent of the kids' toys, if I'd let him.

I used to think it was wise to save junk, as in "you never know when you might need it." Or "you might want to recall those memories."

The reality is, unless you're especially badly off, you won't need it or you can buy a new one. And most people are too busy for memories. It's more effort than it's worth. How often do we read photo albums or look through old letters?

All this to say that the truth, to paraphase Thoreau, is that you don't own stuff.

Stuff owns you.