Saturday, June 04, 2011

clean up, clean up, everybody clean up

(Sometimes my students would sing that as we tidied up. I never learned that song, either as a kid or as a teacher. Feel like maybe I missed out. :D)

I have been on a kick lately.

Recently I happened upon some blogs (Small Notebook and Unclutterer) and then an issue of O Magazine, and that finally got me inspired to start organizing and decluttering.

Last weekend and this weekend, I have done a lot of work eliminating unnecessary stuff, and organizing the things that I want to keep.

In one article in the magazine (whose theme was "decluttering your life"), the author joked about buying some pens even though she already had a bunch. That got me to remember the big fabric bin of pens, pencils and markers that have been on my desk for a long time. So I went through every single one and tested them (which created a fun sort of artwork):

These are all the pens and markers that don't work, and pencils with bad erasers. As a teacher, I hoarded pens and pencils, because a teacher is always, always running out of them. But now I can let go!

I've also eliminated almost two feet of books, some old gift baskets, and my old silverware set.

Additionally, I got rid of some old 'art', a collection of Europe photos (top: Rome; middle: Venice, Scotland; bottom: Paris) that I had blown up on foam core after my grand tour in summer 2001. I had them up on my wall in my studio apartment for awhile, but I couldn't figure out a non-damaging-enough way to keep them up. They've been in a pile on a shelf ever since, so I was happy to let them go.

All of this went out on the sidewalk last weekend. I dropped off two bags of clothes and an old suitcase at Goodwill too!

The bookshelves were full enough that they all had piles of books in front of the shelved books. But, I eliminated enough books that there are no more piles! I also finally tackled the shelf in our bedroom, which had piles piled on other piles--books, pictures, old paperwork, all kinds of crap. The top shelves now neatly hold my picture books, photos from film classes, little flip photo albums, maps, old calendars and notebooks, and my grad school diploma is actually visible (instead of hidden behind piles of those things).

Next up for decluttering is magazines. I have National Geographic from 2004 and Smithsonian from 2005. Some older ones have been living in a big plastic bin, and there are six and a half Dokuments full of more recent ones. (For the record, my stepdad had decades' worth of NatGeo, and my dad had a ton also, so it's not surprising that I've also kept mine.) Friends say I should get rid of them.

Recycling them would be criminal. Someone suggested giving them to an art teacher, but that means they'd be all cut up and destroyed! I do like the idea of giving them to a school or public library that could use them.

Yesterday I went through and actually sorted them, and now I am reluctant to part with them at all! Isn't that silly? They're just so full of interesting information and also pretty. What an amazing resource. But...sigh...I know that I can't keep them, since we're in an apartment and also, technically, I don't need them. So I will try to find a good place to donate the issues through 2009. That means they'll have to sit around more, though.

Overall, I am very happy with my progress, and I am excited to continue streamlining my stuff!


Nancy said...

go, you! i know it feels sooooo good! (it's not the world that's heavy but your stuff!)

some suggestions for your magazines:
1. freecycle
2. flea market
3. ebay

I have a stack of old editions of Gourmet that are valuable because people collect the vintage ads inside.

J said...

Good call, Nancy!
I put up a notice on FB and just listed them on freecycle (my first time!).
What do you mean about the flea market--just give them to someone there? try to sell them myself?

Nancy said...

a dealer at the flea market might buy them from you, or you could try to sell them!

J said...

ah, ok. i have 'bites' for both on freecycle--cross your fingers that they follow through! :) if they don't, i'll try the flea!