Tuesday, September 09, 2014

Divestment and Discovery of Objects

The decluttering is off to an excellent start. I’m philosophically in tune with this, so it was a short hop from “But I might need these hundred pounds of expired batteries someday” to ruthlessly placing objects formerly considered to be of great sentimental value in bags bound for the thrift store. The hundred pounds of batteries went to the soup kitchen.

A wondrous transformation was effected in many areas of my small apartment. I asked myself, “I know this happened to belong to my grandmother, but do I really love it? Do I ever even look at it?” I also kept in mind what my new guru Barbara Reich says about what we’d like to do or intend to do versus what we actually do do, and consequently got rid of, among many other things, some pretty fabric I’ve been meaning for years to make into a certain thing. I’d like to do that, but evidently not enough to have done it in the past year, or the several years before that, so into the trash it went, as the thrift store doesn’t take fabric or linens.

I parted with an ugly ceramic vase with a frightening face with bulbous rubbery features on it. I don’t remember how this came to me, but it was serviceable for keeping colored pencils and highlighters in, and I felt obligated to safeguard it as a certified unique object. But I never really loved it, and drawing with colored pencils is more a thing I’d like to do than a thing I actually do, and why do I need four highlighters? One is plenty. How often do I highlight anything? One highlighter was easily stored in another pen holder, and the remaining highlighters, the colored pencils, and the vase all went to the thrift store, along with a little square metal case with a handle sticking out of it. When you press the latch, the lid springs open and a curved piece of metal flips out: a little personal ashtray for ladies playing bridge in the 1950s! It’s a groovy thing, and it has some of my grandmother’s own cigarette ashes still in it, but do I love it? And how many times a year do I spend time with it? So I took it to the thrift store, but dug it out of the bag and explained to the fellow exactly what it was, so it could be fully appreciated and sold for $100.

Soon I’m going to be getting to books: am I ever going to reread this book? I do tend to regard books as actual friends, and to love them, ditto my vinyl LPs, so those may be a bit tricky.

After the thrift store, it was off to the soup kitchen with three bags of stuff to give them, including a brand-new garlic press and a brand-new can opener, items that had been in a kitchen cupboard in case I needed them someday. I sat on the two-person bench just inside the gate and handed out numbered meal tickets to those arriving. The tickets are just to help manage the initial flow into the soup line. Once things have slowed down, we stop giving out tickets and people can just walk in and get in the food line; there may not be a line at all at that point. No one is turned away. After I was done giving out tickets, I went to fetch second bowls of soup and bus tables.

One guest said that he had taken a shower, which the soup kitchen offers, and that he was “clean—zestfully clean.”

Dennis had a new hat that said “Obey” on it, with a picture of a skull, and said it was yet another “ground score.” He finds a lot of good stuff, always very clean. He said that’s because if it was dirty, he wouldn’t touch it. Then he hinted that if I were ever to think of parting with my hat, he would take it off my hands. I think he said, “I could help you recycle that hat.” I said I thought he had a policy against putting his hands on anything that is filthy, and pointed out its very visible wear, but he said, “It has a certain panache,” so I agreed that if I ever decide to upgrade, the hat is his, minus the pin on it with the pair of shifty eyes peering out of the darkness, which Dennis himself gave me. However, it may be quite a while before the decluttering initiative extends to my hat.

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