We’re back and excited to share some return to success over here at Shed52. As dedicated readers will know, we were deep in the Shed52 struggle for the past few weeks, with no takers on our Stakmore Table Set and it turns out that you actually can say “no” to a muppet on a bicycle. We managed to continue to pare down our possessions in weeks 4 and 5 by giving away freebies and donating lots of clothes from our closets. But the point of Shed52 has been to sell our stuff and feature worthy charities to whom we can donate in the process. So, needless to say, these past few weeks have put a crimp in our style.
Fortunately, things have turned around for us in Week 6 and we’re psyched to report that we were able to sell an item that’s been taking up a lot of space at our place, getting minimal use, and serving as the site of the occasional teen-sibling fist fight. (I love our family, but let’s face it: teen siblings with mountain dew and Doritos in their systems are scarier than a Sharknado in a midnight rainstorm.)
Back to letting the cat out of the bag. A bean bag, to be exact. That’s right: we were able to sell a LoveSac gamer beanbag/memory foam chair that we received as a gift from a family member who was moving several years ago, back when I believed that you could never have too many kinds of chairs in one room. I couldn’t say “no” to a velvish fluff-ball on which I imagined many hours of book-reading would be spent. (I selectively forgot at the time that kids have smartphones now and books are just obsolete ipads in their eyes.) As you can imagine, this underused item has been a bit of a dark cloud in our house for the past few years. Literally.
We posted this bad boy on Facebook’s Marketplace a few weeks ago, where I imagined throngs of gamers in need of a new seating situation would eagerly be outbidding one another on our totally reasonable asking price of $175. (I know what you’re thinking– but these retail new for $350, without the velvish cover! And you don’t get what you don’t ask for.)
Unfortunately, it didn’t play out that way, and for two weeks, we were forced to resort to keeping our bike in the garage and the LoveSac in the living room. In the meantime, we did manage to continue in our decluttering quest, despite the many obstacles we were facing and the limited time we’ve had to dedicate thought to this process. It’s true: I have an uncanny knack for biting off way more than I can chew and perpetually wondering how it will all get done. So basically I chose the perfect time to start a blog.
The good news? Our new good friend named James came through unexpectedly on Monday night and asked to pick up the LoveSac for $75. We were eager to be able to donate to the survivors of the hurricanes in Puerto Rico, where virtually the entire island is without power, so we took James up on his offer and met up the next day. He shared with us that the LoveSac was a gift for his 14 month old daughter, and of course our hearts melted, and before I knew what I was doing, we were telling him to just take it for $60. I drive a hard bargain, I know.
And since that papa’s got a brand new bag, we feel like a total weight has been lifted in this joint. It’s also given us some time to reflect on this journey so far, which is perfect timing, since today is Rosh Hashanah, or the Jewish New Year. We’re looking back and feeling lots of gratitude for the privileges we enjoy every day, and also looking ahead to living more intentionally and more justly. This also coincides perfectly with our plan to give readers a recap of everything we’ve sold/donated in the past 6 weeks:
6 Week Recap
Item: IKEA Kallax Bookcase Sold: $35 Donation: Southern Poverty Law Center
Cherry Oak Bar Sold: $200 Donation: Houston Food Bank
Malm Dresser (Boss’s) Sold: $80 Donation: Jimmy Fund
LoveSac Sold: $60 Donation: Unicef for Puerto Rico
We’re hoping that our practice of donating about 25%-50% of our proceeds from these sales will inspire others to give what they can to worthy causes in a time of great instability in our world.
We’re also excited to announce our next item up for grabs on the blog, along with an organization very near and dear to our hearts and a totally epic announcement about an encounter with a total hero next week. But we don’t want to give anything away…
Check back later this week to learn all about it. In the meantime, tell us about the dark cloud of your decluttering journey. Is it a giant beanbag? Trash bags classy plastic containers full of gently used clothes? What GIF best represents your Shed52 Struggle?
Happy Monday! We’re in slow motion over here at Shed52, enjoying a leisurely holiday weekend of hosting two of our favorite relatives from Cleveland and eating more pizza than should be legal in most states. Beautiful days like this one (70s and sunny here!) remind us why we deal with such a temperamental climate and high cost of living in Boston. Fall will be here before we know it, but we’ll be getting as much time outside and on restaurant patios as weather will allow.
I might also be procrastinating a little by spending the weekend brunching around outside, since I’ve started taking classes toward a PhD (social workers are a special kind of masochist) and French toast is much more appealing to me than French theories on human social development. At least, for now.
And speaking of procrastination, Jason’s been totally avoiding enjoying thinking about the ways in which he contributes to clutter in our house. Since he’s not likely to make an actual list, we… um… collaborated… to share his top 5 clutter culprits in our over-crowded space. I may have taken some liberties in sharing photo evidence of these adorable idiosyncrasies, mostly as a cry for help, and partly in an attempt to garner sympathy. Jason, I love you. Please don’t break up with me.
The 5 Things Jason Can’t Keep from Cluttering our House
I don’t even know where to begin here (though you may recall my reference to Jason’s “Bibliomania” in a previous post) but Jason loves books. As in, we once had a conversation about what we could never live without in life and for Jason, books came before both me and his children. I’ve been told that Jason takes after his dad in his love of books, which is deeply heartening and a sweet tribute (Jason’s dad passed away several years ago) and it seems they both had a wide-spanning love of all genres, authors and subjects.
Which is great! Really! Except Jason doesn’t just read books. He owns them. He has to buy them, borrow them, order them, and then store them. We have 1000 books JUST IN OUR LIVING ROOM. That’s not an exaggeration. I counted once. (Yes, I know I need a hobby.) And we have just a measly thousand in the living room because that’s all she can hold. That means our dining room, breakfast nook, bedroom, garage and basement also have books. Jason and I almost broke up once over a storage unit he couldn’t get rid of, because books. In sum, books haunt my dreams.
2. Papers. Just Like, Random Papers.
I know what you’re thinking right now, because I’ve peered into the minds of normal people before and I know that normal people would be thinking “But Rach! Books are MADE from paper. Haven’t you already covered this?” I envy you, normal people.
No. I haven’t covered this. “Papers. Just like, Random Papers.” gets its own subheading because this is a type of clutter that accumulates on a whole ‘nother level. It creeps in from every corner of Jason’s world. He uses scraps of paper as bookmarks for his bajillion books he’s simultaneously reading. He uses paper to take down phone numbers instead of putting them into his iPhone like everyone else does. He writes down thoughts that he has and wants to remember instead of just remembering them. He’s kept every single sales receipt from every. single. purchase. he’s. ever. made. They’re in a giant garbage bag somewhere in this house, and that is just terrifying.
But it’s not just the accumulation of papers that contributes to the cluttered chaos of our living space. It’s how they coexist with us in the space. Jason (who I swear is my favorite person) has a way of manspreading his papers around the house such that they take up every possible inch of every possible surface we have. Tabletops, counters, couch cushions, buffets, consoles, and even the tops of our clunky old radiators usually have scraps of paper, or Jason’s manuscripts, or sheet music strewn across them. Jason insists that he needs to do this in order to know where things are. I’m pretty sure he does it because otherwise he’ll forget they exist. Needless to say, we’ve managed to accept one another for our different orientations to reality, which usually means I’m tidying, stacking and sorting papers and Jason steps in just to spread everything out again. Have I mentioned yet that I really do love him?
3. The Invisible Man
I fully realize that this next item may not count, per se, in terms of how one brings in things that contribute to clutter in the house, but Jason’s not writing this and so I have creative license here. I’m mentioning this one because I think I’ve burned more calories closing drawers, cabinets and doors in the past year than doing probably anything else. I don’t know what it is, but Jason (and both of the kids) have this baffling habit of opening, say, every single cabinet in the kitchen, and then just LEAVING THEM OPEN. FOREVER.
I’ve joked (okay I might have been crying) about coming home to a house that looks like it was raided by a poltergeist, but no amount of coaxing or operant conditioning will convince them to just close things after they open them. I call it the “invisible man” because no one ever seems to be able to determine exactly who does it, because it’s literally everyone except me. I realize it doesn’t add to clutter, technically, but by god, what good are doors and drawers if they’re not masking over the shame of clutter!? They have one job.
Real talk: Does anyone else have partners or families who do this? I’m half ready to fund a sociology student to do their dissertation on this phenomenon. I need answers.
4. Obsolescent Stuff that Jason is Convinced Will Be Relevant Again One Day
It won’t. I’m not just talking about mix tapes and CDs (Jason’s a musician, so I’ve resigned myself to living in an apartment that’s always going to have like 5 more Phil Collins albums than ever needed to be made). I’m talking about computer keyboards from 1992. I’m talking about extension cords that kind of look like they were actually invented before electricity was. I’m talking about VHS tapes, and weird pottery that will never come out of our garage, and okay, yes, I’m also talking about those Phil Collins CDs. We have a Spotify Premium account, for godsake!
And yes, Jason still owns every single computer he’s ever owned since the late 80s. He also still owns every word processor and electric typewriter he’s ever had. They don’t turn on. They don’t contain any information he’ll ever need or be able to access. But we’ll be damned if we’re going to free up some prime real estate in the garage by throwing out the world’s most expensive paperweights.
Your eyes have not deceived you! I’m giving books a whole second section because a) SERIOUSLY SO MANY BOOKS, and b) because really, Jason is a pretty simple, wonderful guy who puts up with a lot from me and all he needs in life is books, coffee and some quiet time to think each day. Shed52 has, if nothing else, helped me realize that I am actually the one who contributes the most to the “stuff” in our house, with purchases, freebies, tchotchkes and furniture. Jason knows how to live in a space in a way that makes him happy, and he actually doesn’t require many material things to do that. Unless you count each individual book as a separate material thing. Which I usually do.
I might be giving Jason a hard time about the burdens of living with a bibliophile, but the truth is that Jason never complains about anything. His natural disposition is warm, thoughtful and friendly and that’s probably why he’s never met a book he didn’t like. And that’s also probably why books are his best friend, and why they all live with us at Shed52.
So there you have it. Jason may contribute to the cluttered ways in which our space gets lived in, but I nobly accept that I’m the one who acquires the most stuff. By taking a closer look at our own habits, we’ve already begun to treat our space differently, which is an unexpected but positive byproduct of this silly blogging adventure.
And if you’ve gotten to the end of this post and are wondering whether I’m also procrastinating about sharing whether we managed to sell/get rid of our Week 4 item the answer is yes (yes, as in, I’m procrastinating. not yes, as in, we sold it). We’re not telling yet, so you’ll have to check back in later at Shed52 to see whether we bounced back from our struggle to sell, or if we dropped the ball!
What kinds of funny habits have you noticed in your family members/ partners/ fur babies that contribute to the chaos of a cluttered house? I have to know I’m not alone here. Share below, and maybe gather the whole family ’round to read this post too.
It’s been amazing to spend the past few weeks thinking more deeply about what should still have a place in our space, and what can go. When we first conceived of Shed52, we imagined that we’d be getting rid of the big and small things that are scattered around our modest living space by determining what we just didn’t use anymore. What we didn’t expect was the kinds of compulsion-driven conversations would emerge about what we can confidently categorize as either:
“necessary/useful item that should definitely be here!”
“what even IS that thing? i don’t remember buying it. be gone, useless thing!”
It turns out that we probably haven’t gotten rid of this stuff before because it causes a lot of stress to think about letting go of it. Especially when it’s the type of stuff that we have weird, unconscious emotional attachments to and then it ends up accumulating in every imaginable drawer, cabinet or gap between the wall and furniture. We both do this in different ways and so we thought it might be a good idea to share about it by identifying 5 ways in which we each contribute to the clutter.
For example, I’ve been calling more attention to the fact that, when I feel like I can’t give some of my stuff the time or energy required to determine whether to keep it, I hide it from myself. Like a squirrel. I put it in a drawer or a random box (which is kind of like the Inception of clutter), consoled by the knowledge that it’s not entirely gone, but equally comforted by the fact that I don’t have to look at it, or crack that nut just yet. Yes, squirrels are my spirit animal.
As I’ve paid more attention to this over the last month, I’ve been laughing at myself and the neurotic ways that I accumulate– without even thinking– random clutter that must hold a place of importance in my unconscious, but equally holds a place of hilarious absurdity in our house. I’m bravely sharing those with you today, in part because I should actually really be cleaning our house right now but PLEASE GOD NO.
5 Things Rach Can’t Keep From Cluttering Our House:
1. Random Ceramics & Glassware that we Definitely Don’t Need
I once tried to take an inventory of how many drinking glasses we had in our kitchen cabinets and I lost count at 50. You might be thinking “why’s this crazy white girl saying she has a small house when she’s got room for all that glass!?” I get it. But these are four dozen mismatched, sometimes broken, high-piled, mostly inherited displays of my inability to just say no to glass. I don’t understand it, but glassware is one of those things that I’ll accept as gifts from people, and then buy cheaply online or at IKEA, and then grab at a funky antique store and always justify because it tends to be inexpensive AND it speaks to the party host in me. The party host whose idea of heaven is a classy lawn party with cake plates and champagne coupes for days. We have so many platters, glasses, vases pitchers and pots that I’m on track to be one of those old folks who has to build a display shelf along their ceiling for every teacup they ever owned.
2. Stuff with the Letter “R” on It
Despite the creatively cruel nicknames my brother gave me when we were little, my first initial is definitely “R.” My first and last name are also the same as that of my beloved grandmother, Nonna, who passed away in 2011. Despite her unending love for all of her grandkids, I always felt a special connection with her as her namesake, and held a special fascination with the monogrammed linens, towels and kerchiefs she had stashed away from the 40s and 50s. She used those kerchiefs as part of a sweet ritual we had when I was a kid, when she’d drop my brother and me off at home following the epic weekends we spent at her house.
After she and my grandfather would bid us goodbye on the front stoop of our parents’ place, they would slowly drive away while beeping, blowing kisses and shouting “goodbye!” to my brother and me as she waved her white monogrammed “R” kerchief out the window until they were out of sight. She looked like an actual queen, and it’s one of my favorite memories of her. So yeah, I’m #sorrynotsorry that I’ve collected a lot of random “R” stuff, and I’m not ready to part with it. Unless you know someone named Roger who’d love a monogrammed doily. Hit me up, Roger.
3. Nautical Crap
Pardon my French, but one of the great mysteries of my life is why, in heaven’s name, I have such an affinity for nautical crap. I have no relationship to sailing, boats, celestial navigation or marine life that I can recall. I get seasick in kayaks. The older I get, the more scared I am of the ocean. So what’s the deal with my endless need to collect decorative ship wheels, anchors, sailboats and themed screen prints? I wish I had the answer. But until then, I’ll hold on to my pipe dream that I’ll one day be an expert sailor, and friends will join me for a super bougie brunch in my little Laser sailboat on the Charles River, and everyone shall call me Captain. Also until then, our house will inexplicably be filled with wall-art, discarded buoys, and anchor-shaped jewelry. And yes, jewelry will probably get its own post at some point.
4. Picnic & Party Paperware
By now, you might have started to pick up on my fondness for the finer things in life, which, according to me, have everything to do with food and friends. I’ve realized by delving how I contribute to clutter in my house that most of where I spend my time, money and energy has to do with feeding friends and friendships. My ability to actually cook decent food might be up for debate (see our post on the infamous rice cooker from last week) but that hasn’t stopped me from luxuriating in countless hours planning, hosting and remembering parties and picnics we’ve held for friends and family over the past 5 years.
We’ve hosted Thanksgivings, ecumenical holiday parties, annual BBQs for the most important day of the year in Boston , dinner parties with crafty libations, and day-long picnics in green urban spaces all across the city. Nothing makes me happier than eating, drinking and being merry with our favorite people and seeing new, deep and lasting connections form between individuals whom we know are some of the best in the world. We also love to take friends for their first trip to our favorite outdoor music venue, Tanglewood, which is known for its incomparable lawn picnics during world-class concerts by the BSO, John Williams or Bonnie Raitt.
Unfortunately, this often leads me to get a little too enthusiastic about the goods at Paper Source, Target and even IKEA, and lord knows I can’t say no to a patterned cocktail napkin. Jason and I took a hard look at our budget from last year, and let me just summarize by saying that outdoor entertaining needed a line item for the 2018 fiscal year. But can we really ever put a price on making memories?
5. Dead Flowers
I’ve saved the worst best and most disturbing for last, because it’s the freakin’ weekend and you don’t need this kind of stress so early in your Saturday. As our last caption colorfully illustrates, about 3% of all that glassware I own is frequently put to use with all the fresh flowers I buy. Our local Trader Joes often has bunches of beautiful hydrangeas, tulips, sunflowers and roses for under $6 a pop.
The thing they don’t tell you at the store though is that, inevitably, flowers DIE. Seriously, has anyone ever seen this critical detail explicitly advertised in any floral department, ever? If you have, comment below with proof and rock my world.
Having the wisdom that comes with experience, I now know that all good bouquets must come to an end. And reasonable people who have dead, molting displays of unidentifiable flora in their house would probably do the adult thing and dispose of them. But I am not a reasonable person. This often means that our home is delightfully decorated with dead or dying $3.99 Star Market Specials, mournfully wilting and weeping all over the place. Like, for weeks. I’m actually sitting next to some right now. I’m not sharing a picture though because that would just be grotesque.
This is one area in which I AM actually very motivated to do better. Mostly because Jason’s mom yells at me about it with a twinge of both regret and resignation during every visit. I don’t know why I hold so fast to something as useless as dead flowers, but I have a feeling it’s tied more to procrastination than to an irrational attachment. This gives me hope. We’ll be getting further into how procrastination affects the volume of stuff in our house next week, when we take a look at the 5 Ways that Jason Contributes to Clutter. So buckle up.
If you’re feeling weirded out by these admissions or find yourself oddly drawn to confess your greatest sins as a clutter-prone consumer, feel free to comment below! What weird habits do you or your cohabitants have? We promise we won’t judge. But we may send you some dead flowers.