18 Jun 2010, 10:24pm
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while packing up my life

about packing, Away, and creating our environment:

i got rid of five grocery bags absolutely full of books. (when i moved into this apartment, i got rid of even more.) i still have really mixed feelings about it. i don’t need them, and i will be glad not to have to find storage space for them and carry heavy boxes of them between places, but i feel somewhat like i abandoned a sack of puppies. i would have preferred an adoption process: will you love and cherish and learn from this book like i did? or, will you love and cherish and actually read this book, like i could not or did not get around to?

(this essay doesn’t help.)

the books all went to powell’s, and the ones they wouldn’t buy were left underneath the book & zine exchange mailbox at 33rd and belmont. (seriously, i love that thing. tonight i pulled out my own marked-up copy of pride and prejudice from high school lit class–all that remained of the books we left–and a douglas coupland novel.)

i probably still have more books than is reasonable.

right now i am sorting through clothes. i have a bit of an easier time getting rid of worn-out clothes and stuff i never wear, but it’s still tough. i have the same kind of “but i have to keep this for my kid!” reaction to some things. when i was a teenager, some of my favorite clothes were things my mom wore in the seventies and early eighties (i have since worn them into pieces and/or transparency). i mean, i never really forgave my parents for getting rid of their record collection when i was just a little too young to be made instantly cool by an old record player and my parents’ beatles albums.

this is one of modernity’s dilemmas: on one end, we have Too Much Crap, a lot of it low-quality and more or less disposable, a cheap and ugly state of affairs… but we also are too willing to get rid of stuff. everywhere we hear the advice: simplify your life! throw away your crap! et cetera! (and then we hear: buy this cheap-ass soon-to-be-obsolete item!) the stuff we throw away goes Away and we don’t have to deal with it anymore, but as most of us are increasingly aware, there is no Away. the clothes i am culling will probably go in a free box on the sidewalk, and then in a bag for goodwill, and then from there the possibilities are pretty plentiful, but one of them is definitely a landfill. i would prefer to imagine them as renn fayre costumes at the bins or even as autoshop rags, but all i really know is that i won’t have to deal with them anymore.

my point is that i don’t want to make myself feel too bad about putting things by for my hypothetical kid. in the world i’d like to live in, everyone would do it because their stuff is quality stuff. i am trying to get there with my stuff.

part of the problem is that i have learned about my taste and what stuff i want around me through trial and error, as part of the self-creation of my identity. everyone does this. we need to acknowledge this and find ways to nurture this exploration without encouraging consumption and waste. for example, more clothing swaps please! more personality in public places and businesses would help as well.

during the vbc, mark lakeman responded to criticism he has occasionally received from people w/r/t to city repair: the aesthetic is too hippied-out or too this or that. mark’s response was that for decades we have allowed middle-aged well-off white men to design almost every aspect of our environment; we don’t know what it looks like when children, the elderly, women, people of color, etc, contribute their aesthetics. i feel like this is part of our consumption and waste problem. we don’t learn how to create our own environment or how to figure out our own taste/the tastes of our communities; we don’t feel comfortable in our environment; we fill our environment with useless crap in an effort to feel more at home or to feel like we have some control over our environment. of course it doesn’t work.

# of instances of “i guess” and “i think” that i deleted from the above paragraphs: 6, and i left some instances of “i feel.” i’m trying to own my opinions, but it is frustratingly hard.



had an awesome dream a few nights ago in which some unbelievably huge shift actually had occured in everyone’s consciousness. everything (time, money) was suddenly valueless, and so everything (time, relationships) suddenly had value. some dude went wild on a piano, playing amazing free jazz improvisation while a whole room of people sat across from each other and drew each other’s faces, just because they enjoyed it, not because they thought they might get better at drawing if they practiced or because they wanted to sell the drawings later or even hang them on a wall to look at to remember the person they were drawing or something. but just because it was what was right to do in that moment.



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