Su Lum: The crap factor
May 21, 2002
Over the past 10 years I’ve written a few columns about cleaning up the house, but this time I’m really serious. And I’m not just tidying, I am going (sta-STOMP, I really MEAN it!) to whittle down my impedimenta to the bare bone, so that if and when I’m ever ready to blow this town, all my remaining possessions will be in order.
I will no longer be imprisoned by my crap!
No one thing triggered this resolution. Six months ago I looked at a little house in the West End, which cost substantially less than the appraised value of my old mining shack. It had been refurbished and was very cute but VERY tiny.
It was one of those lot-split historic preservation places, the teeny Victorian on a plot of ground the size of a washcloth, with an enormous “new Victorian” monster home sprouting up inches from the back door.
Within 20 seconds, I knew that however cute it was, it was WAY too small. But in the ensuing weeks I began thinking, “How big would a place have to be for me and my dachshund Trudy?” and began translating that into the real question, “How big would it have to be to hold Trudy and me and all my CRAP?”
One thought leads to another. I catch my oxygen cord on the refrigerator for the 16th time in a day, and think about going down to sea level where I could be off the tether. Now, it’s an option, but later it may not be, and the big obstacle is the crap.
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I’ve considered going down for a winter, maybe, spending a winter someplace where it’s warm and I can breathe, to test out that idea. I could rent the house, not burning my bridges, and again I face the issue of the crap.
Then there are external issues such as the prospect of the four-lane highway, and the Mesa Store being painted blue, that make me think, “It’s time to get out of Dodge.” And if it gets beyond bearing, I don’t want to be held back by my crap.
I’m not like those hermits you read about in the papers after they die, whose crap is piled so high that there is barely space for narrow aisles to navigate from room to room.
My crap is mainly, but not limited to, BOOKS, so I’m starting with the books.
When I bought this place in 1972, I could have told you the title of every book I owned and where it could be found on the shelves. But after 30 years of library and garage sales, and Explore Booksellers, the system has run amok.
One reason I decided to get rid of my crap was a friend’s offer of a large bookcase.
My immediate reaction was, “YES! I desperately need more book shelves!” But then I amended that thought. I didn’t need more shelves, I needed fewer books!
I have set attainable goals. Every day, 10 books will be taken to The Aspen Times revolving library and from there to the Thrift Shop. In the last two weeks I unloaded 140 books and, while there are miles to go before I hit bedrock, I can already see a difference: there is actually space on the shelves!
There will be difficult decisions down the line, but so far it has been easy. OUT with all the pop-psyche books of the ’70s – the inner child, the primal scream, the “I’m OK, you’re not” books.
OUT with all the books that I don’t remember if I’ve read or not. OUT with the duplicates and triplicates of books I didn’t even know were on my shelves – Edgar Cayce on Atlantis, where the hell did THAT come from? Out with “Let’s Go, Great Britain!” 1975 edition. Out with, “Modern Greek in 20 Lessons.” I’m making a dent!
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