Times Are Rough – I’ve Got Too Much Stuff!

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A friend recently shared an interesting article from the New York Times entitled “The Way We Live: Drowning in Stuff.” This article raises a number of interesting issues about family dynamics, many of which I explored in blog posts earlier this week.

The article discusses a new book coming out next week called, “Life at Home in the 21st Century.” This book is the result of a study in which anthropologists followed families with at least two small children in the home to document how these families handle their “stuff.”

One of the findings of the study which made me chuckle was this one:

There was a direct relationship between the amount of magnets on refrigerators and the amount of stuff in a household.

When I married my husband, he and I both knew – in fact, anyone who ever has known me for any period of time probably knew, that “stuff” would be our marital conflict. I like my stuff. My husband prefers a space that resembles a zen meditation center – without the meditation.

I come from a long line of pack rats. I feel a certain comfort when surrounded by things that remind me of people and places I love. My husband, on the other hand, feels comfort when surrounded by clean, flat surfaces without piles.

Having just faced the concept of having to pack only what would fit in my car to flee a wildfire, I was forced to think about all the stuff that surrounds me.

Somehow, when faced with the possibility of losing everything, I was not as panicked as I expected.

I think that was because I knew that I would be able to get myself, my husband and my teenage pup to safety and that we would all be fine, no matter what happened. Apparently, that is the stuff that matters.

What do you think? Are you a pack rat or a minimalist? Do you have emotional issues about your stuff? Do you regret having eliminated something that you thought was clutter, only to realize later that you needed that item? Have you had to work through these issues with an aging parent? Do you have any advice for those of us who like to hold on to things? And why does it seem that when I come back from a long trip, I feel much more willing to get rid of things that were not needed and used in whatever bag I took? That seems to be the best time for my husband to discuss this issue with me, when I am most open to changing. Finally, how many refrigerator magnets are on your refrigerator?

I would love to hear your thoughts. Thank you for reading.

29 Comments

Filed under Books, comedy, Culture, Environment, equality, Parenting, Peace, Relationships, Stereotypes

29 responses to “Times Are Rough – I’ve Got Too Much Stuff!

  1. I must confess I am not a pack-rat. When we moved about ten years ago — after being in the same house for more than twenty years, I put everything we had not needed for the previous ten years in the trash bin before the move. Needless to say, we needed a large bin. And I think since then I only needed one of the things tossed out since that time. I don’t like clutter.

    • God bless you for that. My dad says that my husband is the best. Thing that ever happened to me because otherwise I might collapse under my piles! I agree….most of the time. 😉

  2. P.S. We do, however, have a great many magnets on the ‘fridge!

  3. Dear Huey Lewis and the News, (heehee i’m feeling crazy:),

    Isn’t this a BUFFET song???:))) And i loved this post. I’m feeling motivated to clean and organize my house now!!!

    I have exactly 107 magnets on my fridge. Does this paint a picture?
    🙂
    Love, lis
    xoxooxx

    • I was wondering who would catch that! It is a Buffet song. I need some beergaritas with that! Enjoy your cleaning. Sounds painful to me. 😉 Thanks for reading and commenting.

  4. Have you checked out Minimalist Living blog? The author has posed similar questions, which are definitely worth considering.
    I collect books, and have trouble fitting my stuff in my man cave. I try to declutter by giving away stuff on Freecycle.
    I have a lot of things that I rarely use, which annoys me. The rise of collaborative consumption, sharing tools/small appliances, renting items to people on a Craig’s List type site–I believe this type of approach to “stuff” and consumption will eventually become not only desirable, but necessary.

  5. Whoa! For a moment, I thought I was reading about myself! lol “Hi, I’m Susan and I’m a pack rat, too!” One of my tasks for the summer holidays is to go through all the stuff in our storage room and get rid of anything that I haven’t looked at in 2-30 years! I do have an ulterior motive, though. If I can get rid of enough stuff, my hubby says he’ll expand my craft room into the leftover storage space. 🙂

    • Ha! Wise man. The negotiations around this could be a sitcom, couldn’t they? My first piece of jewelry from my husband came through a piece of negotiation after cleaning out my junk closet when I lived alone. My best friend said “you tell that man that he should ot be giving you anything for cleaning that closet.” I told her that I would not tell him any such thing. 😉 Thanks for your comments. Good luck with the purge and enjoy that new space – sounds luxurious! 🙂

  6. The comment about the magnets on the refrigerator gives me away. I have magnets all over the refrigerator including the side! I did recently organize them by national park, don’t know if that is a step forward! 🙂
    I’ve been in a cleaning/purging process in the last few months, so that the stuff that we have left is what we really love. Even so, if something happened where it all disappeared, I believe I still would be ok as long as my loved ones were safe.

  7. My dad was a pack rat and my mom was not. I am my father’s daughter. I am a pack rat and my husband is not. Yes, emotional about certain stuff but practical about others. The worst feeling is pitching something only to need it after trash day. As for refrigerator magnets, I don’t know how many are on there but I know that I have 3 new ones that came home from work with me? Hmmm … I don’t think I should be collecting these.

  8. My “stuff” fluctuates. Two years ago I had a big stuff purge. I have made it to another breaking point and have planned for another stuffapalooza this weekend. Paperwork is my biggest hurdle. Hopefully it is all so old I can shred instead of file 8)

  9. We are pack rats here as well. We love books, so we keep running out of shelf space. I think I always have an inventory of twenty books to read.

  10. Simplicity is my motto and we try very hard to repurpose things to use, donate things and recycle things…and yet we still manage to have stuff for garbage pickup day. The less “stuff” the less complicated…..I get overwhelmed with clutter (cleaning OCD).

  11. My mom was a Depression Baby, and she rarely threw anything away. I can do it, and always feel good after purging a closet of stuff, but I also have a storage room of things I’m saving for my unborn grandchildren. When the kids truly leave home, I will have to address our Costume Room, but not until I’m sure they will no longer be filming movies or having costume parties that will call for a bowlers or a white powdered wigs or a Roaring Twenties dress or a wimple.

    My post, The Secret Object I Keep Hidden In My Underwear Drawer, addresses this subject, if you want to check it out. Thanks for a great and thought-provoking post!
    http://naomibaltuck.wordpress.com/2012/02/10/the-secret-object-i-keep-hidden-in-my-underwear-drawer/

  12. I’m minimalist; if I haven’t used it in a year’s time and have no concrete plans to use it. then it goes to different home. I always found someone who actually needs it. The whole top of my fridge is covered in magnets. I have great quotes there and some business cards type things that I don’t want to lose track of; and flower magnets and a few lady bug magnets.

    • Good for you! I need to learn from your minimalistic style! But you buck the trend and still have great magnets. Even better! 🙂 Thanks for reading and for taking time to comment!

  13. I tend to be a pack rat event thought I yearn to be more of a minimalist. It’s probably something from my parents, who came from a generation that saved everything. I’m also a sentimental dork and I tend to save old letters, notes and cards. I have notes saved from high school. And let’s not get started on my bookshelves. Every year or so, I read about simplifying life and decluttering possessions. It usually inspires me to do a massive clean up and donate mass amounts to organizations. It helps me remember that life is not about the accumulation of stuff. But I forget. And the next thing you know, I’m collecting more stuff again. 🙂

  14. Pingback: Our Disposable Culture and the Gentle Giants of Music | newsofthetimes

  15. Pingback: The Cost of Owning Too Much Stuff | newsofthetimes

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