Sunday, April 24, 2005

Happy To Be Home

It's with such pleasure that I've been puttering around the house this weekend. It is a tremendous relief to be at home and not on the road. I've been wrapping some presents for friend's birthdays (one of my favorite things to do), and doing laundry and other cleaning. I've also been trying to catch up on personal correspondence, and attempting to *not* check work e-mail.

One thing I can say about my life in the States, especially when I lived in my condo in Portland, is that I'm not a clutter person. It's not that I'm some great anti-consumerist; I wish that was true about me, but I'm just a girl who loves a great pair of shoes sometimes. But I do keep control of the clutter and found myself constantly donating old clothes to local charities back then, taking old books to Powell's to sell back, giving things away to friends. I have issues with owning too much crap.

All of that to say that I experienced a wave of horror and shame this weekend as I was cleaning and sorting and organizing. This has happened once before since moving to Japan, just a few months ago, when I was doing the same type of weekend cleaning. Here is something about me: I have a little paper/stationery habit that I feed often, and I like books. Ok, I LOVE books. Books, books, books. I don't really collect anything and I'm not really a clothes horse. I keep very specific personal files about my finances and employment. I keep almost all paper correspondence with family and friends. I have lots of music CDs and a few small boxes of travel souvenirs from my globetrotting days.

It all seems fairly normal, but as I was sorting and cleaning this weekend, I was really hit with disgust at the amount of crap that I have. I keep everything in labeled boxes (I know, it's an illness), and I was noticing that I have boxes that I don't open for a year. How vital is something if I don't use it or look at it for a year? Maybe a small part of it is my situation -- if I want the specific Curel lotion that I like then I have to order 12 bottles at once and keep them in my cupboard. Take that and multiply it for each type of product you use during a day. But I just feel bogged down that I own so much crap right now. I left most of my furniture and 1/2 of my crap in storage in Portland when I moved to Japan, and since then I've acquired enough stuff to furnish (albeit quite sparsely) a 5-bedroom house here. I feel guilty and kind of yucky. I think part of it is just the chaos that comes from living overseas and knowing that it's a temporary situation -- I don't really have roots. And I often long for the condo days -- why did I sell that thing? Another issue is that it's so damn hard to throw anything away over here and almost impossible to recycle -- that's a whole 'nother post about the 13 separate categories that I use to separate garbage. (Actually, that's probably a large part of my issue, but please do not get me started on that right now.) But I have been feeling overwhelmed with the stuff-age. Know what I mean?

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