Get Rid of All The Things!

In preparation for the garage sale our family and neighbors will host this weekend, I've been scouring our house with an eye to throw everything away. I mean this. Nothing is safe.

Last week, for example, I launched an epic cleaning endeavor that targeted the cabinet where roughly eleven thousand mechanical pencils, wooden pencils, colored pencils, broad-tipped markers, fine-tipped markers, scented markers, Crayola crayons, Twistable crayons, Twistable pencils, pens, Sharpies, and other miscellaneous and/or specialty writing utensils have accumulated, and apparently multiplied, in dozens of plastic pencil bins.

Because this is how I spend my down time.

I poured myself a tropical cherry sparkling water, turned out some music, and organized until my heart was content.  Dried-out markers, wrapper-less crayons nubs, and pencils without erasers were tossed.  Dull pencils were sharpened.  Like items were sorted with like items.  Extras were packaged in neat bunches and donated to a new teacher who's starting her first classroom.

 Bit by bit, my exterior world came into more order, and my heart soared a little.

Then I realized that this was just one cabinet, and there we sundry other things -- toys! games! more craft supplies! books! clothes! kitchen things! -- that needed to be sorted, tamed, and reduced.

For the love.  How does this happen?  How does this amount of stuff enter a household?  I prefer to believe that I don't own too many possessions, like it's a mark of sobriety and contentment and not being snared by the materialistic trappings of the world, but fifteen plastic pencil boxes of writing utensils will disabuse you of the illusion that you don't own much.

I'd blame my kids, given that they're chief perpetrators with their craft creations, books, gadgets, school worksheets, and special occasions detritus, like those birthday party goodie bags filled with small plastic gizmos that they love and I want to spontaneously combust, but the truth is, kids really can't bring that much into a house without you letting them.  (Or, if they smuggle things in without you knowing, like the time my girls and the neighbor kids hid a pet frog in our garage in a plastic crate.  It died.  They still feel badly about this.)
But back to the stuff.

Even thought I'm highly organized, I also contribute to mass accumulation.  You see, I'm kind of a hustler.  We live in a transitory town where people -- students, mostly -- leave things on the side of the road when they're moving out.  (We're talking about furniture, home goods, and entirely viable products that, at least in my mind, don't belong on the side of a road destined for a landfill.)

So, I sometimes pick up these cast-away roadside treasures and bring them home, which, as you can imagine, my husband deeply appreciates. Then -- here come the hustling part -- I sell these items FOR PROFIT.  (My husband appreciates this part more.)

That's where we are now.  We've reached critical mass.  The only thing separating us from a garage where we can actually park is a mere 327 sequential pricing decisions (should I charge 50 cents or one dollar for this candle?), and then, during the sale, some strong currents of mental telepathy to the woman who repeatedly returns to the corner table to hold the decorative lantern. Buy it. Buy it. You know you want to buy it.

Because maybe she'll take it home and treasure it forever.  Or, just maybe, she'll sell it at her own garage sale next year.

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