The junk and clutter of modern life

As regular readers will know, Miss D. and I are moving to Texas at the end of January.  For the past three months I’ve been undertaking the unwelcome but overdue task of sorting through everything we own, getting rid of all the junk (most of it mine), and reducing our possessions to what we really want or need in preparation for the move.

Yesterday I finished going through our small storeroom here at home.  It was the smallest bedroom in the little duplex we rented almost a year and a half ago.  We deliberately chose a small unit because we wanted to force ourselves to cut back on our possessions.  It turns out to have been a good idea, albeit difficult and cramped at times.  That room was so filled with bits and pieces we couldn’t see most of the floor!  It’s taken me two weeks of hard work to go through every box, bag and container, check what they contain, throw out all the junk, put the ‘good stuff’ aside for donation to charity, and pack what we’re keeping for shipment to our new home.  I finished the last box yesterday evening.  It’s amazing to rediscover that there really is a carpet in that room!

Looking back over the last several months, I’m pleased with how much we’ve accomplished.  We tackled my books, getting rid of more than two-thirds of them (involving no less than seven pickup loads taken to a local used book store);  then we cut down from a big storage unit to one less than a quarter the size (including two pickup loads donated to a local thrift store, three pickup loads of garbage taken to a local dump, and a number of bags of trash added to a nearby dumpster);  then we tackled our duplex and got rid of excess stuff in here.  All that’s left to do is a small outside shed, about a quarter of which contains boxes and bags we brought here when we moved.  It shouldn’t take more than a few days to get them sorted out . . . and then we’ll at last have consolidated our two households into one (more than five years after we married!), and be ready to move what we’re keeping to our new home in Texas.

It’s been a huge amount of hard work, lightened by some funny and poignant moments as we find things we’d forgotten we had.  (Miss D. was amused by a picture of a much younger, apple-cheeked me in uniform.)  Most of the excess stuff was mine, because Miss D. is much better organized than I (as well as used to keeping possessions to a minimum, thanks to growing up as a military brat who had to move often).  I’ve been surprised to find out how many bits and pieces we have for things that we no longer own, or things we still own for which we’re missing essential bits and pieces.

  • How did we end up with so many battery-powered tools that require a specific charger – but no charger for them?  Where did they go?  The damn things are worse than socks!
  • How – not to mention why – did we accumulate almost a dozen tubes and bottles of glue of one variety or another . . . all of which have dried out and hardened to the point of being completely useless?
  • How did parts for Miss D.’s aircraft end up in the same box with some of my ammunition and gun cleaning gear?  And how (if at all) do I get a bronze bore brush out of the hole it’s bored for itself in an aircraft engine oil filter?
  • Why do I still own ammunition in several calibers and cartridges that I no longer shoot, and magazines for no less than eleven firearms I no longer own – not to mention two firearms I’ve never owned?  (I’m going to take the magazines to the next local gun show and dicker with a dealer there.  I’m hoping he’ll exchange about twenty magazines I no longer need for about half that number I can use in guns still in my collection.)

I can see I’m going to have to repeat this exercise more often, even if we aren’t preparing to move.  If I do it every couple of years, it’ll be a lot less hard work!



  1. In regards to the stuck bore brush:

    If you can get to the threaded end of it, I recommend using a cordless drill. Tighten down the chuck of the cordless drill on the shaft (add a length of the gun cleaning kit shaft to protect the threads on the brush) and give it a spin–literally. I've been able to retract a bronze brush that did something similar back when I was utterly unorganized and kept everything together in a drawer.

    If it went in threaded side first, there's going to be a lot of cussing and pulling with pliers, and likely a useless bronze brush when all is said and done, so expect to be throwing it away after that.

  2. In an earlier age, "experts" recommended that if one hasn't used an item in five years, it could be discarded. In these more cluttered times, we find that 12 to 18 months is sufficiently long to wait.

  3. Not that long ago, the School Sisters of Notre Dame nuns were each issued a footlocker (about the size of US Army issue.) ALL they owned had to fit inside it. Not an ounce more. That vow of poverty actually meant something then.

  4. Funny, I'm going through *precisely* this. And it annoys the Queen Of The World because she is more organized than I (just like Miss D and you).

    I've gotten rid of maybe two thirds of my stuff, and that's not enough. But the movers are here, and the clock has run out.


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