Sunday, June 21, 2015

Chic Canadian minimalism

Greetings from Day # who even knows at this point of moving to Canada. A variety of steps are involved, considering that a) it's another country, and b) the move involves flying with a dog. There's also the slight possibility we'll arrive two weeks before our mattress does, and the question of where to buy an air mattress in Toronto is surprisingly un-Googleable.

But the main thing has been just sorting through all our... stuff. What sort of stuff? Every sort of stuff that we own for no obvious purpose, and clearly shouldn't move. For several uninteresting reasons, we brought over a ton the last time we moved, by which I mean, the usual sorting-through of knick-knacks, papers, and stained t-shirts happened, but not sufficiently. And then there was the brief blip of living in (what seems to me to be) an enormous apartment. The last week or so has been spent figuring out where or how to recycle or donate, whom to give or sell, all manner of stuff. (Word to the wise: Staples of all places will take your broken blender, whereas a long-since-unused microwave needs to go on a special day to the county dump.)

It's not so much that we were keeping things for sentimental purposes (well, some) as that the huge apartment meant not having to make a decision about anything either way. Not sure what to do with whichever thing? The study! The study was always the answer, and thus not especially useful for... study. It discreetly kept the broken hair iron, the broken blender, the broken cellphone, and so much more. But the rest of the apartment always looked reasonable.

In any case, there's no The Study where we're moving to, which is probably for the best. As someone who defies the laws of human nature by feeling calmer in a busy city and more comfortable in a small apartment, I'm happy with this development. As for the one really unwieldy bit of stuff - the car - that I'd thought I'd be sad to part with, but as the day of carlessness approaches, I'm actually quite OK with it. The lower danger of stuff-accumulation is just a side benefit.

Cue the discussion, I suppose, of KonMari, of snobbish minimalism, and of the fact that too much stuff is (if that's even still a thing) a first-world problem. It means some combination of that you have/once had disposable income, or people with disposable income who care enough about you to give you gifts. Except in the age of cheap crap and credit cards, it doesn't necessarily mean anything of the kind. I mean, always a little bit. To be swimming in a sea of broken appliances and old newspapers, you probably once had working appliances and that day's newspaper. But if you are (ahem) a woman with oh so many pairs of shoes, of which most turn out to be unwearably worn-out ballet flats, loafers, and others that wouldn't be repairable even if shoe repair were a thing where you lived, you sort of do and don't actually own a lot of shoes.

Too-much-stuff seems like such a non-problem, and yet even if it's objectively not the biggest thing you've ever had to deal with, it's daunting. There was this sort of streamlining, out-with-the-old satisfaction getting me through the first few rounds of this, but you can only Google 'how to dispose of...' so many times before you start thinking those people whose only kitchen implements are a knife and a saucepan have the right idea.

What I'm saying, I suppose, is that there's a paring-down that isn't quite at the level of throwing out everything that doesn't "spark joy," but that does involve tossing some things that aren't necessarily garbage.

But still there is guilt. There is frozen mango that's going in the trash, as well as more nearly-full spice containers than I care to discuss. (I'm sure I had a reason for buying marjoram however many years ago, but I now couldn't even begin to guess what it tastes like.) After a truly vile pantry use-up lunch yesterday, a "soup" of sorts that may have ended up wasting more fresh ingredients than properly using up pantry ones, I've come to terms with the fact that moving to another country means the time does eventually come to stop agonizing and start just throwing things out.


Maya Resnikoff said...

I use marjoram a lot- although it isn't one of the "Italian spice mix" spices, it goes well with them. I throw it into chicken soup (along with dill), or that sort of thing- it's sort of my general "just a little more dimension" spice. I don't know if that's helpful or not.

Best of luck with your clearing-out and move!

Phoebe said...

Thanks Maya!

Jennifer said...

If you're looking for a place to donate, I highly recommend Big Brothers, Big Sisters. They'll pick up from in front of your house/apartment and they take much more than just clothes.

Allison said...

For an air mattress, try Canadian Tire. It's a hardware + tire store but it'll have some camping supplies. And there are usually some small ones in a city that don't necessitate going to a big box store.

Otherwise, MEC for fancy ones which is a better REI.

Phoebe said...


Oof, I should have posted this earlier! Would have saved a number of trips to the thrift store. (Which did, happily, also accept more than clothes.)


Thank you - you just solved the problem!