Tuesday, September 09, 2008

The "Too Much Crap" syndrome


Evelyn wrote a very thoughtful comment on my post of two days ago. She apologized for giving me a case of angst and then wrote about the angst my angst inspired in her. I think an occasional fit of angst is a good thing, especially when it pushes us to self-examination. She used the term we've all used -- usually when cleaning closets -- "too much crap."

I know this is not a purely American syndrome but I think there's a lot of it in a very large majority of American households, even in many where the income is quite low. We are conditioned day after day to want stuff. Lots of stuff. New stuff. And it piles up. We may love it or we may not. I think of a coworker saying to me a long time ago, a man, because I think women would not be perplexed as he was, "How many shoes DO you have?" More than I need, always is the answer. But never as many as I kind of want.

My complaints here are usually about lack of sewing space and my studio envy. I admit to it but when I have those moments of angst I know it's a knee jerk and unnecessary complaint as I've also written. I choose to live in a NYC apartment. I could choose to live in a house somewhere else or a larger apartment (but not in NYC). The space I have all to myself is generous and more than adequate when I think of homes I have been in in other countries -- a Mongolian ger, a single round room for a family of 5 or 6. A stone farmhouse which was really one room in Tibet for a family of four plus the wife's sister, a tent in the Sahara for a widow and three children, with barely enough room to stand up. They did not have accumulations of crap. They did not have overflowing bookshelves, or fifteen or more bottles of spice and many extra wine glasses, let alone three raincoats. Not to mention a stash of fabric and I do not even know how many completed quilts.

I am trying to clear out the excess but I am Scottish by background so I can't throw useful stuff in the garbage. I haul bags of stuff to thrift shops, to Goodwill. Still there's too much crap. And every time I open a shelter magazine I see beautiful things and think it's good we are not all rich. I'm sure I'm not the only one who would give into impulse buying if there were places to store the stuff. This is, I suppose why so many of we Americans are getting obese -- there is just so much stuff to eat! We seem to have mostly bought Gordon Gecko's mantra, "Greed is good." I wonder if ministers ever preach against accumulating too many shoes or to many bath towels or too many toys for our babies. Does anyone speak of frugality as a good? It was one a Yankee trait, I believe.

1 comment :

Stephanie D. said...

I always said I was a squirrel who married a packrat. When we moved here 5 years ago, we downsized from a 4-bedroom, 2 1/2 bath 2000sf home with two storage sheds, and a large garage, to a 1500sf, 3 bedroom, 2 bath home with no storage sheds, and only a mid-sized garage. Now, there are only the two of us and the dog, with a rare overnight guest, and I have a whole room for my craft stuff, but I still have to fight to keep from bringing in the stuff.

I take a box or two of items to a donation center about every other month (I have 3 boxes waiting to go tomorrow) and try to abide by the rule if I bring something in, something else goes out, but I have a hard time with that--especially when it comes to fabric and supplies. And hubby feels under no such constrant himself.

Periodically I go on a rampage and nothing is safe, but I'm sure there must be an easier way!

BTW, did you notice the Just Us Quilters blogspot is gone? That's how I found your blog, and I had so many more on the list I wanted to search out. Wonder what happened?