Thursday, July 24, 2008

100 Items

A while back, I heard about the 100 Items Movement from Charles and it got my thinking. If I could only have 100 items, what would I keep and what would I give away. (Note: there does seem to be some confusion among participants as to whether the rule is 100 items or 100 KINDS of items. Kind of like at the grocery store when you want to get in the "12 items or less" express lane and you can't decide if your 6 cans of pineapple and 7 other things qualifies or not.)

Of course, now that I prep a move to another continent, such ponderings are no longer idle. I have to figure out really and truly, what do I need?

For example, do I need my completely tacky margarita glasses that came to me courtesy of Honda courtesy of Honda's former boss? They're super tacky, and I never drink margaritas, but see, the thing is, that they're so tacky that they come around to awesome. And what if I got rid of them and could never find similarly awesome/tacky glasses? And what about the Complete Facsimile of William Shakespeare's First Folio? A#1, I'm no longer an actress. A#2, the whole first folio is available online anyway. But, but, but ... it's SHAKESPEARE. How do you GIVE AWAY your SHAKESPEARE?!

Right. Clearly I have issues. 

The truth is, I need very little. I have often thought of my apartment as an expensive storage unit. I'm rarely home, and when I am home, I'm usually sleeping. The rest of the time, I'm either at the computer, watching TV, reading a book, or cooking, in that order. I have a lot of stuff, and most of it just doesn't get touched.

When Annie went on her big trip around the world, I was once again reminded of how little one actually needs. Annie carried a backpack around for six months. For six months, she relied on only the things that fit in said backpack. And you know what? She seemed to survive okay. 

And yet, stuff, as Charles has written, is a signifier. Stuff tells people who we are. When you come into my apartment, you can tell immediately by the five bookshelves that I am a voracious reader. You can tell by the artwork that I like cute vintage prints. You can tell by my DVD collection that I like chick flicks and the TV show Friends. And you can tell by the accent pieces hanging around that I like stuff with an Indian motif. Point is, my apartment says something about me. My stuff is me. I am my stuff.

Back to the 100 items. What would be on my list of necessary items?

1. laptop (love how that comes first?)
2. mattress (love how this only comes AFTER laptop?)
3. camera
4. underwear (clearly my priorities are out of whack)
5. iPod
6. books (cheating since I have probably a couple hundred of these)
7. oh crap. have to include things like toothbrush!
8. this is hard!!
9. copper bottom pot
10. frying pan
11. bowl
12. kettle
13. damnit. forgot about clothes. pants?
14. so guess I need shirts too then.
15. are dresses a need?
16. shoes
17. bras! bras! bras! (ouch)
18. cell phone
19. damn it. forgot about the socks
20. this is impossible!!!

Sigh. As you can tell, it doesn't look like I'll be joining the 100 Items Club anytime soon. Nor the 100 Kinds of Items. But, if you'll excuse me, I do have to go drink a margarita while reading some Shakespeare....


EcoBurban said...

This would be a challenge for anyone, I couldn't imagine how to decide what I will need later. That's what trips me up when decluttering. Well, I don't need this pan TODAY, but what if I want to make muffin tops next week? Then I would NEED that pan!!! I did end up donating the muffin top pan and I haven't missed it yet! Sometimes moving is the best way to clean house. Good luck!

Anonymous said...

There's so much stuff that we have. I resonate with the 100 item challenge namely because I have a lot of books. One of the things that I've noticed myself doing in graduate school is going to the library more because I realize I have a fixed budget. (And I don't want all of the stuff I'm reading permanently on my shelf.) Living simply is hard. Although I find it personally quite telling that my laptop would make that 100 item list.

Joyce said...

Oh, man, we should all have to move every two years no matter what, just to get rid of the clutter! I've lived in my house 24 years and I know it would be nightmare to move long distance, or intercontinentally. Good thing you did that declutter challenge last spring, and that you haven't been buying for a year. Think how much worse it would be if you hadn't done those two things!

Sam said...

When I first heard of the 100 things idea, I was really intrigued. It was the first time the concept of a minimalist lifestyle even occurred to me. We really downsized and moved into a 200 sq foot apartment to see what that would feel like. It was a bit cramped but we didn't miss any of the stuff we got rid of. But it was then I really learned the meaning of dual purpose items. I really like the idea for several reasons: it minimizes time (dusting/storing), money and makes one really appreciate and take care . I've said this before, but Hurricane Katrina really made me evaluate what was considered a need vs. not. I used to collect laughing buddhas and after the hurricane I considered whether it was worth the time and money and effort to maintain the collection when something random could take it all away. Why wait for nature to cause me grief? Sorry for the rambly comment, coffee is taking a while to kick in.

Anonymous said...

oh no, you cannot give away your first folio!!!
moving is so hard, especially when it's to another city... my best friend just moved from toronto to vancouver, and i helped him de-clutter. that was hard, and emotional. i dunno how to help you on that, even though i just did it with him last week... i guess one rule we had was, if you haven't used it in the past 6 months then it's probably ready to go. plus, it feels really liberating to get rid of unecessary things. you'll like it in the end :)

Anonymous said...

You need some underwear, shoes, and a coat. And your laptop. Everything else you'll figure out as you liberating!

I smell a garage sale - do you know anyone in the 'burbs who will let you use his/her driveway? You'll appreciate the money more than anything else in your new (expensive) city.


Anonymous said...

I have been decluttering and decluttering and decluttering, and yet we always have more stuff to get rid of. It's amazing.

I think i have more than 100 canning jars, just to start with. And then the bike tools, and gardening tools...oh dear.

The thing that helped me get rid of books was doing Bookcrossing and seeing that other people were *reading* the books, once I got them off my shelves.

Cath@VWXYNot? said...

Can one of my 100 items be a credit card?

Moving to Vancouver was a great decluttering experience for me too. I came with one suitcase and one backpack, plus my Mum sent me my duvet by surface mail. Of course almost the first thing I did when I arrived was to buy a stereo. My first and second moves within Vancouver could be done in a single car load, but now... well, there's the king size bed for starters!

Jennie said...

You might remember I recently went through this and I was only moving 2000 miles. We got rid of a trunk full of books/DVDs and donated them to the library. I'd say if you have vintage books that you couldn't buy again or rent from the library keep them.
Also when I moved cross country I was able to store a large tupperware full of sentimental stuff, like high school yearbooks, at my mom's house.
To move to london some things may not be worth the money is costs to ship them.
Good luck with this!

Anonymous said...

Yeah, I don't see myself cutting back to 100 things any time soon, either. I do too many crafts. I could probably cut all my non craft related stuff, if I really, really wanted to. Maybe. I don't know. I should try. Later.

Anonymous said...

The thing is: we also relect our environment. I spent 7 months out of a backpack too. And it was awesome. But now we have a house stuffed with kids, a dog, and everything that comes with them. Can I ditch 95% of the stuff and go on the road again? In a heart beat! But we are not doing that any time soon. So we adapt to the lifestyle of a suburban house.

I suppose the question for me is how much I should adapt to my environment. Just 'cuz my neighbors and friends have 5,000 items, I don't have to. Figuring out what the right number for each of us is interesting and challenging.

Best of luck with packing. I'd give away the tacky glasses. The world would never be short of generations of tacky stuff :)

pink dogwood said...

I guess I missed a few of your posts and somehow missed the fact that you are changing continents??? I think that is great - don't be scared. Can't wait to hear about London through your blog.

My brother did something similar. He was a graphics artist in a big law firm in Washington DC and one day he just decided to purse a Masters in Fine Arts in Australia. He had a great 3 years there, but is finally getting homesick and is coming back home next month.

Best wishes to you.

ruchi said...

AUGH! The muffin pan! Would you believe I bought a silicone pan with a gift cert to Crate and Barrel about two years ago and have NEVER used it? Sheesh!!

Academic, yeah, living simply IS hard. Re: the books, I noticed that the originator of the challenge isn't counting his books as items right now. Why is getting rid of the books so difficult?

Joyce, no kidding! I'm so glad I haven't been buying crap all year!!

Beany, yeah. One purpose items, especially kitchen items, are really expendable. What I wish is that apartment complexes would have like a "kitchen" share so you could like have access to a waffle iron the once a year you wanted to make waffles without having to own the waffle iron....

Kimberly, I know! I can't get rid of the first folio! Sigh.

Megan, that's a good idea. I should find someone with a yard. Hmmm, will have to think about that one.

Rosa, ugh, I feel you. Actually, with the books, I donated about 30 to a friend for her school because she told me how excited the kids would be to have the books (chick lit, but at least they are reading.)

CAE, wow! Just a backpack and a suitcase. You travel light!

Jennie, yeah, I actually can probably store some stuff at my mom's house which I will probably do. Don't want to store too much though. We'll see.

Jessica, I know, I would totally say later if I didn't have a deadline!!

Cindy, you are probably right on the tacky glasses. I guess I'll get rid of them. :) But if I can't find new tacky glasses, I'm blaming you!!

Thanks PD! It is scary, but also exciting. We'll see how it goes....

Mad Hatter said...

Moving is definitely the best motivator for getting rid of stuff. But 100 items? Yeesh.... I suppose you could move to a nudist colony and eliminate numbers 4, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, and 19 in one fell swoop! ;-)

Anonymous said...

Invite a friend over and be ruthless! Three boxes: Reference, Required Reading, Other. Take the "reference" - you know what you'll need; store the "required reading," ie the Folio. All the "other" books should go. (Now if only I could take my own advice...)


Charles said...

You're only going to be gone for a year, so you need to give yourself some incentive to return. Don't throw away the margarita glasses, but instead loan each one away to a different friend. Upon your return or visit back to the area, you need to use the reunion of the glasses as a way to have a reunion of your friends. Of course, you'll have to make margaritas.

Anonymous said...

Charles that definately is a great idea....

mollyjade said...

Books are hard. I don't think I could limit myself to 100 books even. I swear I read them all though.

Anonymous said...

I don't know what kind of computer you have - I know Apples can be used with a simple pin converter, but bear in mind that almost nothing you plug in will be usable because the UK is on 240 Volts AC, not 120.

And if you need a friend to help you host a yard sale - I live not too far from you, I think - Studio City.


ruchi said...

MH, haha! Unfortunately (or rather FORTUNATELY) I don't think the university I'm attending is a naked one.

Megan, step away, far far away from the books! :) Heh, no it's a great idea. But I am a very weak person when it comes to my books!!

Charles, that's an awesome idea!! Hmmmm, I'll have to put that to use. :)

Anon, isn't it great how we can all get such cool ideas off of each other. I love teh internets!!

Mollyjade, you are a better person than I. I have about 60 unread books on my shelf. Doesn't stop me from buying more books either.

Dorothy, that is too sweet! Do you really mean it? I might have to hit you up... all my other friends and I live in apartment buildings. :)

Chile said...

Joyce - frequent moving doesn't always do the trick. Since marrying my sweetie, I've moved 12 times in less than the time you've been at your place. Yet, every single time, I have to have a big ass yardsale to get rid of all the crap we manage to accumulate. Plus, interests change so old ones must be culled to make room for the new ones.

And Beany, I'm right there with you. I've got good memories of living in a 250 sq. ft. RV for 2 1/2 years. Unpacking our belongings when we moved was surreal and we got rid of much of the stuff we'd stored.

So, why can I sit here and count 100 items without having to move my head much?! Good luck, Arduous - you're gonna need it!

Anonymous said...

Arduous - yes. I'm one of those gals in the 'burbs with a driveway. I've never hosted a yard sale before, but we need to. I'll email you.

ruchi said...

Chile, thanks! I really am going to need all the luck I can get!!

Dorothy, thanks!! Email is arduousblog (at) gmail.