You'll have to forgive me if this is a rambling, convoluted post, but it refects my current state of mind while I continue to pack up and prepare for our new life up north.

There's nothing like moving to help you realise just how much junk and baggage you're likely to gather over the years. Today alone, I've found a book on programming a Commodore PET (circa 1981), some early-70's Avengers comics imbued with the piquant aroma of basement mold, four high-grade replicas of 13th century swords, some notebooks with my Breton language exercises, a series of embarrassing journals written in eighth grade (1983), a Duran Duran cassette, a crossbow and several quarrels of bolts, my high school graduation ceremony (in Sony Betamax format), and a strange black plastic thingy of uncertain usage that's been following us around for the past four moves.

Although we're travelling across the continent with an eye to starting fresh, we're also collecting various bits of our histories lurking deep within our mothers' basements, and there's a certain trepidation at leaving something behind that's a forgotten relic of our youths -- perhaps pictures of us with elementary school friends, or a paperweight/ashtray specially constructed for a dearly departed father. These are links to our past, little glorious momentoes we didn't know still existed, lying undiscovered. And the thought of these disappearing into the trash someday, their true value unrealised, is a cause of some anxiety for me.

But sometimes, when beginning a new life, you have to purge the old one. A week or two ago, I donated many, many boxes of books and web design magazines to a local understocked small-town library in central Newfoundland, as well as a hundred or so pristine VHS movies ranging from Kubrick to Hitchcock to, Ed Wood. It felt pretty good. Mind you, I still have about 40 boxes of books travelling with us, but it was still a significant cut.

Likewise, I'm gutting through old papers, journals, folders, everything I can find that we've been carrying as deadwood for years. Mismatched dishes, truncated spatulas, flaking Teflon pans... gone. In fact, the whole contents of our kitchen will be reduced to two small boxes. And who needs three copies of Plato's Republic? All those cassettes I also have in CD or MP3 format? Twisting, writhing worm-balls of wires for ancient devices? All banished. Miscellaneous colouring pencils from high school? My old comfortable shorts with little to commend them by way of crotch cover? "Dummies" guides for the Internet circa 1993? Early 80's transistor radios? How about my collection of Captain Carrot and the Amazing Zoo Crew? All of these bring back little flashes of the past, most of them pleasant, but their intrinsic value has to be weighed with hauling them from one province to another, from one life to another. Most will wind up in little boxes at my mother's next yard sale, no doubt.

It seems like this is something I should have done more often. Those cursed packrat tendancies of mine seem to view some sort of value or potential in everything, and I must try harder to overcome them. Sometimes that isn't easy. My Commodore 64 I tripped across yesterday is still in perfect shape even after 23 years (it still has a working disk drive, too), and it did lead me down my current life path. Oh, so many painful decisions to make....

As an aside, I just wanted to thank the hundred-plus people who left me comments or sent me email to congratulate me on the new son and job. All those wonderful words of encouragement truly mean a lot to us, and our deepest appreciation goes out to all our newfound friends.

This is Doug, signing off for a week or two. The very able Innowen and Sardonios will take over the reins for the interim, and certainly deserve my heartfelt thanks (and yours) for their continuing efforts on the site. Please take care of yourselves, folks, and of each other.

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The personal time capsule...

You're probably on your way but one thing I will do is create my own sort of time capsule. I'll use a sturdy plastic or cardboard box and put all of those mementos of things that I can't bring myself to discard yet into the container, usually along some sort of theme. Then I store the box for another day and discard the other things that have no real historical value to me. Someday those things in the boxes may be worth selling, auctioning, or finally discarding.

I also have my own "Computer Museum" but no place to put them all. So they sit in boxes or wherever waiting patiently. :)

like oral surgery...

... painful but has to be done sometimes.

It's liberating, in some ways, to go through these mass purges. Although I should feel ashamed that I am dumping 30 gallons of trash containing years of accumulated ephemera (it's not easy being green), seeing all that empty space in my basement or closet or desk drawer more than makes up for it. My wife (a fly lady afficionado) and I used to have a habit of regularly purging, going room by room and finding 23 things to trash or give away. We've been out of the habit for a year or two and our junk drawers, basement, and closets give testimony to our negligence.

But at least I have lost the pack-rat mentality. That is, I am better about the stuff coming in, even if I sometimes fail on the elimination side. It's funny. From time to time my mom, a pack-rat in denial, will tell me that she found some box of nick-nacks from when I was in 8th grade or something, and do I want it? It always seems to disappoint her when I say that I don't.

Always travel lightly.

Vestiges -!!

The trick and I do not profess to have mastered it is to retain some if not all of that that will/would be of genuine interest/value to the we can't see into the future, we keep too much a lot of which subsequently turns out to be junk!!!

Bon Voyage


Keep the memory, ditch the memory jogger

In one of the uncluttering books I've read, it said a big reason people keep 'stuff' is that it will later remind them of important/happy times in their lives. They suggested that instead of keep whatever the item is, instead you keep a photograph of it PLUS actually write down what the memory is.

For example, if you are keeping an old bamboo fishing pole because Grandpa used to take you fishing on Saturdays and these were happy bonding times, then take a photo of the rod, and one of your grandpa, and write down an account of one of your fishing trips, or the things that grandpa always said, whatever.

Then you keep all these pages in a special memory album that you can flip through -- you won't have written down EVERY memory of your fishing trips, but that page with the two photos and the account will serve to call to mind the rest just as well as the fishing pole did.

I think it's good advice. I've done it in the case of some 'stuff' I'd hauled around through 3 moves, and it genuinely made it easy to let go of the objects without feeling I was losing part of my past.

Excellent advice

I have seen similar advice in other places. If we keep something that has meaning to us, we should honor it appropriately. If we have a box of old family photographs that we don't want to throw out, we should put them in a photo album or display them.

My wife has a doll collection that should be on display instead of cooped up in its little boxes, and we plan to do that when we finish our new house. Her dolls go on display, and so do my fountain pens. :)

Do you procrastinate?