I want to become a minimalist (or: Why does my stuff mean so much to me?)

Recently, I watched Minimalism: A Documentary about the Important Things.(I think you can buy it on itunes or something, but in true minimalist style, I downloaded a torrent version then passed it on).

And it’s kinda rocked my world. On one hand, anyway.

On the other hand, it’s left me wondering why I have so much shit? Why am I keeping it all? Who’s going to get it (or even want it) when I’m gone?

Between us, Jeff have so many collections, most of which are in storage boxes collecting (literal) dust in the garage.

  • Rollerskates that are to big/small/used
  • Rollerskate wheels that we used when we started skating and wouldn’t bother using anymore
  • Rollerskate tools that we don’t need
  • Fabric
  • Rolling Stone Magazine collection (especially with Pearl Jam and Nirvana)
  • Saws, nails, tools I wouldn’t know what to do with
  • Suitcases filled with, actually I have no idea what they’re filled with – their in the roof area of the garage and we don’t go near them
  • Costumes and dress up boxes
  • Jeff’s CDs
  • Containers full of tech bits – cords, cables, computer parts
  • A video machine we don’t use because it’s guts are ripped out (but Jeff will fix it one day)
  • A pool table we haven’t used in 3-4 years
  • A pinball machine I’ve wanted since I was a kid but I never play it (but I own it!!!)
  • Old paint cans
  • Paint tools
  • Spare tiles (just in case we ever break one in the house)
  • Lots of spare things that are going to our spare, I mean, our holiday house
  • Clothing that doesn’t fit but that is super awesome and was super expensive
  • Bikes, including spare bikes, that we don’t ride.
  • Wool and knitting needles
  • Furniture
  • Record Collection
  • Obsolete stereo parts that no longer work
  • Computers the size of a space station
  • String
  • Comic and card collections
  • More nails
  • Old manuscripts for books that have been printed and published
  • Copies of newspapers and magazines with my articles
  • A box of flyers and passes for raves that we’ve been to or have been involved with
  • Boxes and boxes of photos – the old printed kind.
  • Shoes. Seriously. Shoes. (But what if a friend needs a pair of super high heeled shoes? What if she can’t rely on me?)

We’re not hoarders, but here’s our garage (a 4 car garage that has not seen a car since we moved in here 8 years ago).

You get the (very blurry) picture(s). Right?

All this stuff is so heavy, you know? It feels heavy but I don’t know why. I mean, it’s in the garage, or in boxes, or a cupboard. As long as I don’t look at it, what’s the problem? How does it affect me from day to day?

I don’t know. That’s why I’m writing about it. Writing helps me process it all.

So why do I hold onto this stuff?

It’s not that I hate owning things or that I find the idea of ownership to be too middle-class or whatever. For example, Jeff and I love art, and we surround ourselves with it. I have no problem with that, and our love of art has spawned a love of art in Holly, our “adopted” adult daughter. So that can’t be bad. I feel as though we’ve passed on something positive to her, and that’s super nice.

So do we keep stuff because of ego? You know, I’ve got all this stuff, how cool am I? (Hey check out Jo and Jeff; they have the coolest XYZABC).

Maybe. But I’m not sure (lemme check that one with my therapist).

What if I hold onto everything because I’m holding onto my past? I think we’re on a winner with this idea.

Is it that the only way I’m going to live on is through the things I own? Are my possessions the only way of recounting my history when I’m gone?

You see, as we get older, most of us have kids, so we have an audience for our stories, and someone to leave our stuff to. We tell them about what we wore, we show them the VIP passes from gigs, we give them gold earrings that once belonged to our great, great, great grandmother (yes, seriously). We pass on a book, and show them photos of who we were in our 20s, 30s, 40s, when we looked so AMAZING. And they lament that we got rid of the raver pants and (some of) our vinyl collection.

If I’m going to be honest, this is what it’s about.

Other than Jeff, I don’t have anyone to leave my crap to when I’m gone. No kids. No close relatives who I would burden with the old magazines and unloved craft accessories. Holly won’t really want my magazine collection and spare wool. Would she?

I always loved my mother’s button tin. I’ve even raided it in recent times to replace crappy buttons on good clothing. Just yesterday, mum gave me her great great great grandmother’s earrings, as well as my baby earrings. There was something truly beautiful in them, in knowing who they belonged to (even if neither of us had ever met my great great great grandmother). But the knowledge  that I have a history that spans generations has value, even if it will end with me.

So what of the collections in the garage? They’re not gold, or diamonds, or even (Jeff’s mum’s) awesome Avon collection.

A couple of weeks ago, I sent more than half my linen closet, my clothes and shoes to the op shop or the bin. It was a superb feeling. I have no regrets. Anything that didn’t make me feel great went off.

But I fear regret (is that double regret?). What if I get rid of something and regret it later? Even if I sold it and made money, I might want it, or show it to someone.

I got rid of a TONNE of books at a garage sale around eight years ago when we moved into this house – many of them sold, many went to some organisation who gives books to people who can’t afford them (this was pre-Kindle, when fiction books in Australia were $26.95 apiece). I’ll admit that it took me a long time to get over it. Jeff did the same when he left the States. He left a lot behind when he moved over here in 1994. Now that his mum and step-dad have passed and he probably won’t see a lot of his stuff ever again, I wonder how he feels about that? Does he lament a lost past (his army uniforms?).

So what am I supposed to do with SO MUCH STUFF that keeps me feeling trapped?

Would having an organised, minimalist garage matter? Would getting rid of the unplayed piano that houses art books, sculptures and other memorabilia change my life? Does owning all this stuff actually fuck with my life?

I know there’s something super rewarding about getting rid of things. I know because I’ve done it SO MANY TIMES. But why do I feel this grand need to do it, once or twice a year? I have a friend whose home is filled with memorabilia: crucifixes, art, ceramics that she’s made and that she’s collected, etc – and I LOVE her home. There’s something comforting in the clutter and chaos.

What if, one day, someone finds the same comfort in my clutter and chaos?

What if, one day when I’m gone, someone finds a way of getting to know me through my stuff. Do I really need minimalism? Or am I looking for a way to hone what I have so that it has meaning? Maybe the start of my “minimalism” is to just get rid of shit that means nothing to me – the nails, the saw, the string, paint cans – all of those “just in case” items, and really focus on the things that do – the comforter that Jeff’s nanna made for him.

Maybe it’s about really loving the things that are important, and hoping someone will care for them, even for a moment, one day.

It’s time to pull Jeff’s nanna’s comforter out of the linen closet and hang it on a wall (it’s too small to use), and my great great great grandmother’s and my baby earrings are going to hang gratefully from the extra holes in my ears (yay to being a rebel!).

But there’s are a lot of empty possessions in the garage. Maybe those things can go. Maybe we can curate the rest as if they were for a gallery.

We all want to make a difference. Even the craziest of serial killers are looking to make a difference. Otherwise, we wonder, what are we here for?

Jeff and I will live on in the minds of some. But we’ll be largely forgotten, because we had no kids. I feel sad about that. But there’s very little I can do about it. So I’d better live a great life while I can.

So I wonder, when I’m dead will Holly care more that I left her a collection of Rolling Stone Mags, or that I baked a really cool red velvet oreo cookie dough cake?

I wonder.

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Letter to a friend

I’ve been abandoned, and I have abandoned. Here’s the list:

Bernadette Luvara – I left town with my parents when I was 10. We didn’t have Facebook. Sorry.
Nicolina Grimaldi – I felt superior. I didn’t respect you. Sorry.
Nancy Camarda – I left for uni. I felt like a loser. Like you wouldn’t get me. Sorry.
Maree Lavecchia – We were everything. We loved. I left. You cursed me. Sorry.
Anna Lazarevic – You had a kid. You didn’t get me. I felt judged. Sorry.
Connie Athanasiadis – You had a kid. I didn’t get you. You resented me. Sorry.
Rachael Kacen – You had a kid. I hated it. Sorry.
Samone Bos – I don’t understand. I’m jealous. Sorry.

We abandon.

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Enjoy!

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The 100 List

So I read about The 100 List recently. Sounds like a bucket list kind of thing but it’s a little different. It’s not a list of things you hope to do before you die. It’s a list of 100 things you will do while you’re alive.

Same Same but Different?

So this is a keynote speech from the guy who decided to do this, Seb Terry.

I’m working on my list right now, starting with:

  1. Learn to play guitar
  2. Learn to play piano
  3. Complete a big embroidery to hang on the wall
  4. Lose weight and keep it off once and for all
  5. Renovate our home
  6. Go whitewater rafting
  7. Get my PADI license and go diving
  8. Get a great book publishing deal
  9. Foster animals

Sometimes you want to disappear into your made up world

Sometimes you want to disappear into your made up worlds. You want to have all of their lack of give-a-shits.

You want to much more than this thing you have now.

You feel owed.

Why are you still fat?

Why aren’t you successful?

Why do you hate it when someone looks over your shoulder to see what I’m doing?

What is your truth?

You’re incapable of creating when you’re here and now.

What happens when you’re fixed? Do you become irrelevant?

Do you die?

 

Elusive as fuck

One day looks like the other day
Looks the same as tomorrow

Eat shit bullshit repeat

Joy is pretend
Found between the sofa cushions with a bunch of stale unsalted peanuts and one sugared almond
Joy’s the sugared almond
Costs a bunch and rots your teeth
Joy’s elusive, not an unsalted peanut which is everywhere

Like a sugared almond, Joy is for special occasions
And they’re distant as a memory

Repetition is a pack of unsalted peanuts
Always on sale
The olds buy them in bulk packets with bland labels
Everyone can afford repetition
‘s’just that I don’t want it
Beige
Samey
Repetitive
Day as today as yesterday as tomorrow.

Jealousy and Disappointment

Today I cried and made a choice.

Today I chose the wrong way but I know I chose it.

There’s nothing like walking into your bedroom to find your lover staring at the wall, defeated.
Because I made a choice.
He didn’t like.

At least I’m not a lamp made of skin.
I heard this. I don’t own it. I’m not Jewish.

But I’m told I lived in a kind of concentration camp.
I feel nervous at this because I’m not sure anyone is allowed to own the idea of the concentration camp unless they are Jewish.

But it resembled one – albeit with food and school and the rest of it.

My therapist describes my concentration camp as a solitary life, where a child cooks for herself from the age of six, where she has no friends, no family, not until after 5. Where bullies were the norm. Where she sat at the front of the bus, the low seat next to the driver. Where she was the last kid off the one hour bus ride home.

My therapist tells me that my concentration camp looks lonely. Where the adults are unpredictable, even in anger. Anger involves oranges flung at mum. Unpredictable anger where a car is driven towards a pole. Unpredictable anger who didn’t come home until late at night. Mum was sad an lonely and thought she was responsible for killing her mother, but didn’t worry about how she was killing me.

I don’t know who I am. Stories flood my brain and I don’t know what’s real and what’s a lie. My dreams feel more real than my memories, at times.

I made a choice tonight and I’ll live with it.

I grabbed a bottle and chose to drink it.

Should I feel bad that I feel great for the first time in months?

How did I make my therapist cry?
What does it mean?
I feel like everything I tell him is a lie.

No.

What is it?

I’m told no at every turn.
And it makes me 15 again, want to say “fuck you, even if I agree, I’m saying yes”.

No to painting the bathroom blue.
No to more cats.
No to more dogs.

No to making.

Making decisions is hard!

This morning (a Sunday) I made the decision to stay in bed and read, fart around on Facebook, write a pros and cons list, watch my dogs sleep, play with the cat until she tries to kill me… you get the drift.

Because, seriously, making decisions is hard!

life

 

Fucking Mercury Retrograde!

So I don’t usually believe in astrology.

I know that certain signs conform to certain traits, but I certainly don’t read my daily astrology because, who cares?

But I DO believe in TWO major astrological phenomena:
1. The Saturn Return.
2. Mercury Retrograde.

Why? Well I reckon it’s because these are the two stages of life that actually manage to FUCK UP YOUR ENTIRE LIFE. And seeing that Mercury is my ruling planet, I’m easily influenced whether I know it or not.

What’s happened to make me want to say this shit?

  1. I was alone 3 weeks ago and started to cry. I’m on anti-depressants and have NOT cried in years. So it freaked me out and I decided I wanted to die so I drank a tonne-load and took a tonne-load of random pills. Luckily, I sent fucked up messages to my friends and they passed them onto Jeff. One of my bestest friends and, well, she’s like a daughter, came over and let herself in the house with her keys and sat with me with her new girlfriend until Jeff came home.
  2. A week ago, I was feeling so amazing that I decided to drink and take an extra dose of my antidepressants so I could feel more amazing for longer. (You know like when you take E and then chase it with another after another looking for the initial high?) Instead, I became psychotic. I screamed like a banshee, bit and hit my husband, screamed for the neighbours because I was convinced he was trying to kill me (he was not), he called 000 and the ambulance came and took me to hospital. I was a version of me I haven’t been since I was 17-19. It wasn’t even scary to me. It was just a real feeling. I simply stopped caring what happened to me. I begged for my beautiful Holly to be there and she came without a thought. Jeff tells me that I flipped off the (very nice) nurses when I discovered they could not keep me in hospital because I was there voluntarily.
  3. I went to a drug and alcohol centre to be interviewed for options. I am desperate now.

Those are the three crazy events. Also, though,

4. I also heard back from a local writing mentorship group I’d applied for that I have been shortlisted for their mentoring group and went to an interview yesterday.

See? Mercury Retrograde! Anything is possible.

The first day back at work after the hospital visit was hard. I didn’t know how to behave like a normal person after what happened. How do you just act normal after that?

I also didn’t know how to thank and apologise to the people who were there for me. I still don’t know.

I’ve learned a few big things.

  1. I used to love making things. After the first nervous breakdown three weeks ago, I sewed and crocheted like a crazy person in a crazy ward. I’ve missed this shit.
  2. I’ve decided to live/eat/be locally. There is an amazing community in Melbourne’s West, many of whom I’ve met through our shop and various businesses in the neighbourhood.
  3. I want to make a chicken coop and I want chickens and home made eggs cos they’re rad.
  4. We’re eating at home more, thanks to Hello Fresh. Seriously, we haven’t thrown away food since we started our food box/recipe deliveries. Get on it.
  5. I’ve been to my psychiatrist 3 or 4 times in the last couple of weeks and given the cost (no private health insurance so that’s around $140 out of pocket every visit), I wonder how people who have little income can manage their mental health.
  6. I need to drink less. Drinking is my current habit of choice. I’ve had many that I won’t bore myself with. Reminders are so yesterday.
  7. Facebook is great for communicating with actual friends and for asking questions of groups you’re into. Everything else is bad news for me, so I’ve removed the visible widget from my phone.
  8. A friend’s sister killed herself a few weeks ago and talking to her made me realise how hard suicide is on the people who remain. Suicide isn’t selfish. It feels like the only option, sometimes, but your friends and family will never recover, and that’s really sad.

I’m retelling all of this not for some narcissitic reason but because we look normal on the outside. But there’s always something happening inside.

Thanks for supporting me.

xoxojo

See this pic for this post with the woman and the birds? That’s how I want to feel!

Happiness01

 

One time, I burned a book

This one time, when I was twelve, I burned a book. Not a book with cover – no back nor front – but a book, anyway. The book contained 112 pages of angst the size of a high school basketball court. I don’t regret it. Not now. It was probably a pile of shit the size of a high school football field.

But anyway.

Years later, I sold 523 books at a garage sale to make room for 522 piles of shit in my 4-car garage. Not a single one of those 522 items could fill the void made by those books. In the meantime, I have turfed 519 of those piles of shit from my garage, and the three remaining don’t fill as much as a match box.

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