Modern Day Past History

Sunday, 20 March 2011

Susie's place is a bombsite.  I have begun the anxious and tedious process of removing any trace of my existence from my previous-but-sorta-still-current abode (with a little help from some Sugar Soap and Freecycle and my boyfriend).

I think photography has a lot to answer for.  The stuff I'm putting on Freecycle, like the old rocking chair, and the pine kitchen hutch, look so much better in the photos than they do in real life that I am tempted to keep them.  At the same time, I am paranoid that the people coming to get the stuff will change their minds once they get here, because this happens to me on eBay all the time.  The lovely looking top or the cool-looking boots just look like more junk when they get here.

So someone is coming to pick up the old DVD player (to be sure, it's a reasonable one I suppose, a 5-stacker 5-speaker deal.  But it's rather scuffed and seen better days on the top of it).  More surprisingly, someone else is coming to pick up the wonky old rocking chair, and another person is coming for the grey, soulless, three-drawer filing cabinet that is the perfect and fitting place to fit your capitalistic accoutrements.

I hate stuff.  I am inspired and motivated by my friend Jane who had a big cleanup recently and got rid of heaps of stuff and feels so much lighter for it.

Ahhh ... stuff.  Bloody stuff.  I hate stuff, and I don't even have that much compared to some other people.  But still, I feel weighed down even by what I do have.  The stuff that I run my eye over and it feels like the dead zone 'cause it's stuff I don't use and I don't want.  But I hold on to it out of guilt.  Throwing stuff out into the rubbish makes me feel so bloody guilty.

Yet there is gonna be a tip run here.  It's gonna contain the stuff that's so dead zone that it's in cardboard boxes in the cupboard, along with an old HP printer/scanner/copier that even Freecycle don't want.  Oh, the guilt of making a tip run, of contributing to the Plastic Island in the middle of the ocean.  The tip run will at this stage contain a cardboard box filled wiht the following items:  old 33 records;  a glass bong;  a bunch of tapes I sent away for in my fundy Xtian days, awful things with titles like "Last Days Chronicles - Part 8:  Rome" and tapes from Presbyterian churches in the States, and things from places called Grace to You and Firefighters for Christ and now, lo, though I do be a sinner hellbound I feel lighter already that that stuff is in the box marked "Tip".

So I am here surrounded by bits and pieces.  Because we all know that moving house means it's gonna get w-a-a-a-y worse before it gets better.  That's why the bench top has an old teapot and a lampshade  and bits of paper and just STUFF all over it..  And I'm on my old laptop that hasn't seen any action for 9 months, and I've opened up Outlook, and now there's old reminders in there as well about things I need to delete.  And I hesitate to delete, even though I have no remembrance of what is on there anyway.

But this is what I've got wondering about.  It strikes me how our technological footprints are just as great as our carbon ones.  But while the latter has its effects on the earth, the former has its effects on our sense of history.  Has there ever been any group of people in the history of the world who have so much history documented right there in their inboxes and on the interwebs, on social networking sites?  Does it make you cringe, to think of how much of you is out there online?  And how much it doesn't reflect the you that you may be now?

How much of the past is best kept there?  But it's emails from people I lurve that stump me when I'm going to hit the delete button.  I find it very hard to delete them because they're like mementoes, reminders, snapshots of 2008 or 1995.  I like reminders because my memory is like a brain-damaged fish and I can't believe how much stuff I forget. 

And yet, perhaps a certain amount of forgetfullness is bliss.  I like how someone somewhere said at some point that if you're not ashamed about certain things in your past that you once liked, then you haven't been growing enough.  But does that mean we want to be reminded?  Like, I forget how, for example, apparently going to bingo was something I did regularly enough back in 1990 that I put it in my address book.  I'm so embarrassed.  And yet here I am writing about it online.  So that address book is in the rubbish bin.  And yet I liked being reminded of how my friend moved house on four different occasioins in the time I had that address book.  That's something I like remembering.

But is it something I need to?  And I wonder this too: do those people whose emails I want to keep even want me to keep them?  So much documentation in paragraph form and sometimes I wonder if leaving stuff in the deep misty ether isn't an entirely sexier way to look at history.

Gotta fly.  Someone has agreed to take the filing cabinet wth the Hawthorn stickers all over it. I need to empty it before they do.


  1. you go girl - "lighten up"
    get rid of the stuff


    and when the new and wondrous comes pouring into your life, you'll be so glad you made room for it

  2. Im moving too. Cleaning five years worth of grease off the kitchen ceiling wasnt fun:)

  3. That sounds so refreshing, Sue. We got rid of loads of stuff last fall, and it didn't even make a dent. I hate it, but somehow,'s not even my stuff, it's the kids stuff and the hubby's stuff, WAAAAY more than it's my stuff.

    That guilt, yeah, that's a bigger problem when you have kids, because they come with years and years of baby clothes, and then they bring home every paper and craft they ever make at years and years of school. It's all sentimental...what to do? And then the kids themselves collect stuff like stuff is going extinct.

    I look forward to the days in the future when the stuff becomes less. It's one of my deepest intentions not to leave lots of just "stuff" when I am gone some day.

    Have fun lightening up. I'm jealous.

  4. Kel - lighten up indeed. Thanks for the reminder to watch out for the new and wondrous :)

    Urbanmonk - no, that would NOT be fun :) So you're leaving the hermitage? Hope you take the solace you gained there with you out into your next incarnation :)

    Erin - that must be extra annoying when you're surrounded by stuff and a lot of it is not even yours. And yeah, the whole "where do the memories end? what do I keep?" must be so much harder when you have kids.

    I love that intention of yours. Very cool :)

    Erin -


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