The art of self editing one's posessions.

Reply Sun 9 Oct, 2011 04:13 pm
Maybe it's the cold damp day, or the need to clean out the garage and basement, or my looming birthday making me feel old, or maybe it's all three but I'm trying to discern what to keep and what to give away or throw away.

Having always been the photographer within any group there are very few photos of me but there are thousands upon thousands of photos I've taken. They are all neatly stored in a gigantic file cabinet. I have a hard time throwing them away even though I don't look at them often. I fear they will someday be a burden to Mo so I think I should start editing.

I also have a box of papers and other writings, not journals, but things I've kept because they seem to have some special value to me. I can't imagine Mo ever being interested in them and I hate the thought of him having to wonder why I kept them and what in the world he should do with them.

That said, I wouldn't mind him having a few little surprises that will allow him a glimpse of who I was long before he knew me.

So tell me, A2Kers, how do you edit your things?

What of your parents of family has held meaning for you without being a burden?

What objects were a burden?

I think there must be an art to this but I'll be damned if I can discover it.
Reply Mon 10 Oct, 2011 10:17 am
Photos aren't an issue for me as I don't have many. Family photos in general landed with my sister, I have no idea what she plans to do them with in the end. The few photos I do have are mainly in a dresser drawer in various envelopes. If you have several photos of the same event or people, it's a matter of deciding which really seem best, hold those, either scrap the others or send them to other people (anyone who is in the photos). I have personally taken so few photos myself that this is not an issue in on in on in my situation. my camera still has film in it (likely not useful) from 2002.

Personal items are a little trickier as things can relate to a memory which we don't want to ever be broken from. Another member here had a troublesome time with a spoon, it connected to fond memories; however, due to it's design (a design on it) there was an edge of uncomfortable. In the end they closed by stating: " have very few happy memories of my mother. The spoon is connected to one of them. I'll hang onto it. My heirs will have to decide what to do with it."

There isn't a great amount of personal related to family stuff in my holdings, I have a cast iron casserole and an old manual egg beater from my grandmother, neither of which I ever use but I can't part with them. I have my grandfather's dressing bureau from back when he was still stateside and married to my grandmother; but, it is in constant use so it's less of an oddity.

Stranger items are a hurricane lamp, with a depiction of The Last Supper on it. My mother gave it to me and I am unable to part with it although it is not something I use or really want. Considering my thorny relationship with my mother, I can't explain why I've held on to it. Weird.

I don't usually attach to personal possessions, most I can dispose of with little to no thought or care. Some, bring a few moments (or days) of sadness when I let the item go, or am forced to dispose of it (because it is in such bad shape), nothing seems to draw me into a space of feeling bad for a long time.

My hardest disposals are books. I never like giving up a book.

My bigger concern is the many items I've written over time. Letters, stories, poems, even a book and a few partial books (I seem to lack the ability to finish things). For a long time I had every last piece of them, from initial starting idea, to first draft to second and on until the final product. Slowly I began tossing out the middle parts, leaving me with the start and the finish (when there was a finish).

Papers and writings are an interesting thing. They can offer an insight into the person, your son could get a different take on you, maybe appreciate that you felt a reason to hold on to them or he may wish to hold on to them as his way of having a connect with you when you are gone. I still have papers from both grandparents which I treasure and read at times. They have no direct meaning to me, the content is not about me, it's most all from before I existed. It does offer me a calming though when I read them or even put hands my hands on them.

When I die, my stuff will most likely end up in a landfill. My brother never involves in these things and my sister is like our mother and just throws stuff out without giving it a lot of thought or consideration...if it belonged to someone else. (although her own home has her clothes from when she was 12 years old and all manner of other trinkets from her childhood). She may do a quick browse, or send my niece or nephew to tend to it, I can see them carrying a laptop computer around hooked up to Skype or some other thing, and my sister will declare "oooh that looks nice, pack it up." or "what books are on the shelves" or "does he have any good condition sweaters, sweatshirts, shirts, jackets?" - she is good with a sewing machine and alterations; and even if she weren't she likes loose fitting garments. We are both slim, and I'm only 3 inches taller than her, so she'd manage. When we lived in the same city she often took my shirts and never bothered telling me and twice took jackets and altered down to her own arm length.

Maybe she'll want my refrigerator magnets.

At any rate, these days I'm in an apartment, and often NYC apartment contents collide with dumpsters when a tenant dies and the local street dwellers sift through grabbing what they can get a few dollars for. Other items are sometimes grabbed by locals looking to refurnish or get a new set of dishes. Hopefully somebody will check that suitcase with the glassware. (this may be a genetic thing, my grandmother had a suitcase filled with dinner plates).

I've heared at times that anything which hasn't been used for a length of time should be tossed...that never made a lot of sense to me, especially with the 6 month version, which would mean getting rid of any holiday related things.

Go slow and easy, dispose first of things which are of no interest (including in photos and papers), see how that feels, then move on to other items and decide according to how comfortable y0u are or aren't with getting rid of things. If you feel you can't, then explain it to your son and let him know he is in no way obliged to keep anything. Advise him on the joy of having a tag sale as a way to get rid of things, maybe get a friend or 2 or even 3 to help assist him in that.

I am sincerely hoping others will give advice on this as mine seems to be written by a crazy person. Bottom line, stop worrying, it will all work out the way it should in the final picture.
Reply Mon 10 Oct, 2011 01:08 pm
This is a pesky problem for me.
I'll think about it some more tomorrow...
Reply Mon 10 Oct, 2011 02:03 pm
I've been finding neighbors who can use my "stuff" that I like, but no longer need. For example, my lovely next door teacher neighbor who has raised three daughters. Two are going to go to college in other areas. I wanted to help them fill their apartments so they won't have to spend their money. So, I gave each of them beautiful sets of full dishes, glasses, pots and pans, and even sets of silver cutlery flatware. There were things for their bathrooms and bedrooms. I even gave the younger daughter in high school my large collection of good film discs. They were so thrilled. Their mother said they felt like they were getting tons of Christmas gifts. It will make their college days easier.

Anther lovely neighbor spent hours going through the good quality clothing that I wore when I worked. My large walk-in closet was so full that I didn't have space for the smaller size clothing I wear now. I gave her a lot of the best clothes, and gave the rest to a source for the needy. I also gave her a box of really nice jewelry that she can wear with her now clothes. She also can use some of the parts for the costumes she makes for the women strippers. She works at night for a strip club, where she drives the drunks home at night so they don't kill anybody. She told me the next week that the men where she works started noticing her more, which made her laugh, because she is a very religious woman. She one of my more interesting neighbors.

I still have lots of "stuff" to find new homes for once Butrflynet tells me what she wants to keep for her when I'm gone. We will have to ask my son in Arizona if there anything that he wants me to save for him.

Our doggies, Madison and Dolly, told us to not give any of their toys away.


Reply Mon 10 Oct, 2011 06:44 pm
Thank you, Strugis, for that really lovely response.

I think I'm a bit like you in that the objects I've kept from my family are odd things: my grandfather's key chain, my grandmother's cup, a safelight from my father's (and mine) first darkroom. When I was visiting my mother over the summer I tried to steal one of her pans -- a pan I can remember from forever. She still uses it and wouldn't let me have it though.

I rid myself of books not too long ago, determined only to keep 100. It was so hard but kind of freeing. I guess I'll have to approach the photos in the same way. Some of them are really quite nice, taken back in my old photo school days and thereafter. I don't even know the people in them. Even worse than the photos are the negatives, thousands upon thousands of them. I know I should toss them but yesterday I found myself actually sniffing them. I'm hopeless!

As a dedicated Goodwill shopper I sometimes find myself wanting to rescue things I have no use for but just get the feeling that it ended up there because someone didn't recognize how important it was. Silly me.

Thank you for the kind advice. I will take it slowly and feel it out.
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Reply Mon 10 Oct, 2011 06:45 pm
I look forward to hearing about it, osso.

It is a pesky problem.
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Reply Mon 10 Oct, 2011 06:51 pm
You are probably the most pragmatic (and generous) person I've come across BBB. I wish I'd had a "sponsor" like that when I was first on my own!

I love the story of the religious neighbor working at the strip club! I think I'd like her.

It feels good to give things away when you know they'll go on to an interesting life.

Thanks for your reply!
Reply Tue 11 Oct, 2011 12:38 pm
It's interesting that the mother of the two girls I gave so much to thanked me and said I was of the most "generous" person she had ever met.

It's a win-win generosity because they get the good stuff and I find deserving homes for things I don't need any more.

I promised my doggies Dolly and Madison that I will never give away their toys. They were so relieved they gave me juicy kisses on my face.

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Reply Wed 9 Nov, 2011 04:57 pm
It's hard for ms. sentimental who likes worldly goods, not so much for their inherent value re sales, but for the richness of texture, design, and memories, to get rid of stuff.

As I've posted before, I've gotten rid of scads of stuff several times before, so now I'm down to not the finer points but getting closer. Today's hard part - but also freeing move - was to put all of my guatemalan tablecloths and napkins in the goodwill, plus some bedding I'll never use, and two more coats (winter's nigh and it can be cold in this city). Sigh - I really liked Guatemala and the friends I went there with, though I didn't have a clue at that point about the tough stuff that was going on there at the time. I still have a huipile, not near as great as the one stolen from my studio back in .. gah, the seventies. But that'll be next. . .
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