In lieu of writing, I spent the weekend going through my work stuff. Desk stuff, drawing studio stuff, catalogue stuff. Letter stuff, note stuff, picture stuff, closet stuff, blueprint stuff. My drafting studio was a wreck. The table itself-piled so high with stuff that MCat had moved in, and was using it as a penthouse floor catbed. I am one of those people who require a clean space in order to work. Visual anarchy makes it next to impossible for me to concentrate. All I can think about is where does this belong, or what could I do with that. Mounds of stuff, and not a flat space anywhere to draw, paint, construct, dream or doodle. I needed a shovel and a soil sifter, and plenty of garbage bags. There are those times that I go too far, pitching this or that. A phone number I need the second I have thrown it away. One time I found my checkbook in the trash. After I had turned the rest of my space up side down in search, I casually looked in the trash.
A collection of stuff is made up of lots of individual things. Some things make my world go round. My keys, my computer, my books, my Suburban, my socks and shoes. Dog treats, my coffee pot, tools, paper, books-these things I could not do without. Other things litter the landscape. An out of date driver’s license, a pile of change, Milo’s puppy collar, a dead pen, a left over piece of water color paper, a few granite bricks, magazines from 2008. Broken things-I have an impressive collection. My entire office had evolved into the equivalent of my kitchen junk drawer. Rather than dump the lot, all the stuff needed going through. Some stuff matters.
I have a file folder for every year dating back to 1998. They are home to letters from friends and clients. Articles. Photographs. Stuff that means something to me. I am more careful about the stuff I collect now than I was 20 years ago. In any given year, that file has no more than 30 entries. I edit-as best I can. It ought to be 10 entries or less every year, but I am an American. We have a big country, with lots of open spaces. This means I collect, dissect, am pathetically sentimental, go on and hold on too long.
Looking for a rocking discussion of what constitutes stuff? Fire up your computer, and go to UTube; bleep up George Carlin stuff. You’ll find it. The first time I saw his comedy routine about how we organize our lives around our stuff, and how our stuff gets spread out wherever we go- I could not stop laughing, nor could I stop thinking. A house provides refuge, but it also is a giant box that holds all our stuff. What about all of my stuff? My costume for a party in 1994-is it time to let that go? Last winter was completely absorbed with the process and rehabilitation from a knee replacement. That titanium thing organized my entire winter. The stuff enabling me to walk-a prosthesis, a pain pump, a walker, a cane, a portable exercise bikea good stuff. The usual winter cull of the fluff stuff never happened. No old plans got filed. Nothing found its way to the trash.
January of 2011; my 2010 work got done. I went shopping for 2011. I am home, and taking a second breath-that second breath involves a bad cold that seems to be hanging on. February 1, 2011-I am looking at the stuff that has accumulated since January of 2009. Several years worth of stuff. My stuff is not the sort of thing that anyone would want. It’s just litter, clutter, Roly poly bugs long since deceased. It took every bit of two days, and I kicked up a lot of dust. But today I am ready for something new. Where are you, Something New?