The symbol is not the dream

When I was young I wanted to drum but I didn’t have encouragement. I remember being told many times to “stop banging” on whatever it was at the moment – a margarine tub, a bucket, or even all of my mom’s pots and pans upended on the floor like a drum kit. They tried to have my dad teach me guitar but my fingers just wouldn’t move right. I joined band and the teacher made me a saxophonist. I even tried learning bass as a teenager. None of that felt right. Part of me always wanted to drum.

Years later I shared this desire with someone very near and dear to me. Another friend had purchased a doumbek and in hushed tones, as if I were embarrassed to admit it, I told her that I had always wanted to do that too. She excitedly told me that I should – but I didn’t right away. Maybe because that friend had just started and I didn’t want to “copy” her. Maybe I was just scared.

A few months later we went to an event put on by a group in the Society for Creative Anachronism. It was called Pennsic and it was incredible. Lots of classes, performances, food, music, parties, great people. And merchants. Several of those merchants sold musical instruments. I decided to splurge and get a doumbek, because who knows if I’d get an opportunity back in Wisconsin. If I had known then what I knew just six months later, I wouldn’t have gotten it – because it was the wrong style for the way I would end up playing. And if I had known then what I knew a 18 months later I would have waited until I got home because not quite 100 miles from my house was a master drum maker.

In that year and a half I purchased five or six drums of varying low to mediocre quality. All but one of those drums has been given away. I purchased two doumbeks from Abdul Hamid Alwan, a wonderful man with a great shop in Milwaukee, WI that sold many, many things. And in the back of that shop were drums.

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The one on the right is the first drum I purchased there. It was great and wonderful and I loved playing it. The drum on the left (with the hard case) is one that Hamid used for a while when he performed. It is a gorgeous drum that I bought to play at my first wedding. That marriage didn’t last long and, while this drum is even nicer to play than the first, I could never really bring myself to play it much.

Anyway, I posted on Facebook that I am selling them. Two drums from a now retired master drum maker whose clients included professional musicians in the Middle East. Both have meant a lot to me. But they deserve to be in homes where they bring music and joy.

But don’t worry, I still have this lovely drum…

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Switcheroo

I haven’t posted in a couple of days because, well, lots of reasons. Busy time at work (month end can be like that). Getting back to roller derby. Morning workouts taking time from writing. But also because I’ve had to shift my method of getting rid of stuff.

One thing I can have problems with is long term time estimation. If there is a long time before something happens then there is always a long time before it happens. At least there is until reality slaps me in the face with a reminder that there is only a short time. That’s what happened here. Jules informed me that we had less than two months until we moved. Not really enough time for me to leisurely filter things out. Nope, I need to “get a wriggle on” as Jules says.

But as I’ve said before, sticking me in a room and telling me to go through everything turns into me working hard for 15-30 minutes, getting overwhelmed, and then being distracted by things. And I can’t rely on Jules to constantly keep me company while I do everything. So I’m trying to come up with ways to do this that minimize the “supervision” I need with this to keep on track. I have some thoughts, but suggestions are always appreciated.

Life gets busy

Things have gotten busy. A bout of food poisoning, a dentist appointment, working late, and a planned trip to watch roller derby. But I am committed to decluttering. Here are the 22 items for the four days, all in one fell swoop.

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There is no one thread behind the books. Some I have other copies of. Some I have as ebooks.  Some I will never read again (or just never read). Here they are clutter, somewhere elae they may be loved.

Gifts

Giving away something that was given to me is difficult. I guess I feel that on some level I am rejecting the gift or the gift giver. But am I really honoring that relationship by letting that potentially well thought out symbol become meaningless background noise? Or worse, am I assigning meaning to a last minute, “Oh shit, I have to get Val something” selection? Either way, the importance is in the relationship, not the token.

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These are from yesterday and today. Each one was a gift.

A flask from the Throttle Rockets, a Rat City Rollergirls home team. Roller derby for those unfamiliar. Jules got this for me early in our relationship. She knew I liked derby and that I needed a flask. This was the only one that she could get that combined both at that time. I have since purchased a larger one that I use more often – this was my “loaner flask”.

A handmade belt from an old SCA friend. I got it at my then local group’s Yule party. I cherished it but never got a chance to wear it.

Two wooden spoon/drumsticks. That’s right. Drumsticks with wooden spoons on the other end. A thoughtful gift, as I like cooking AND drumming. But they don’t work well for either.

A hand held Sudoku game. Kate got me this for Christmas many years ago. And I played it A LOT. However I have gotten out of my Sudoku phase and it has languished for several years.

A biography of Johnny Cash. Another present from Jules, this one from about a year ago. I’ve wanted to read it but just couldn’t. I can’t really explain why. The book (like many others) just feels wrong. Not content but how it feels in my hands. Okay, maybe I can explain why, but not until just now.

Reason behind the actions

This morning I remembered the topic I wanted to write about on Friday. The problem was I didn’t actually remember what I wanted to write. I had the topic but not the details. So I went about my day, keeping the topic in the back of my mind. And this is actually quite apropos to the topic – why am I choosing minimalism?

Minimalism to me seems the best choice for living with intent and meaning. Too much of my life has been chasing money to afford more stuff and a larger place to put the stuff. And then getting myself stuck in bad situations because I can’t afford to do anything else. Or staying home doing nothing because I can’t afford a vacation, or a weekend away, or a day trip, thanks to a large chunk of my income going towards rent, excess services, debt repayment, or more stuff to assuage my overall dissatisfaction. There’s a reason it is called the Rat Race, that unthinking process of work, buy stuff, work.

That’s not what I want to do anymore. I want to do stuff, not own it. I want to be able to go to a roller derby tournament somewhere. I want to take Jules to see the full solar eclipse in 2017. I want to spend a week in a cabin on a storm drenched coast, with the winds howling, a fire roaring, and my dog snuggled next to me. I want to write.

But that is hard to do when all of your money goes to other people for things you don’t need.

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These are the first skates I bought, five years ago, before I started playing roller derby. At the time I knew that I wanted to try playing and knew that I would need skates. So I picked these up at the Oaks Park skate shop. Just a few weeks later I would have to make a choice between joining a roller derby league and buying Devo tickets. I chose derby and that has made all the difference. Three or four months after this I ended up buying better skates. For those keeping track, that means these have been sitting around for four and a half years. No, I’m not going to throw them out. They will go to my league’s loaner gear.

Life happens

I had a great idea for a post yesterday. It was going to be amazing. Then life happened. Had to deal with the old cell phone company about an unexpected charge in the morning. Worked much later than I usually do. Ran out of the limited hours in the day and did not write anything. So not only no post but no decluttering.

Does that mean I get to skip a day? Well, it could. Nothing wrong with that. I don’t have a deadline for this. The only ramification would be that a few things stay around longer. No need to beat myself up over that. But this week I decided to make up for it. Yesterday would have been six items and today is seven items. So I present to you my thirteen items.

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From upper left to lower right:

  • Duffle bag with some brewing gear. I haven’t made mead since moving to Portland.
  • Three packages of metal shot. For the wrist rocket I don’t use.
  • Juggling sticks. They light up and are really neat but I don’t like their feel and balance.
  • Trophy Queen purse. This belonged to Jules but wasn’t her style so she gave it to me. My style has changed.
  • Leather flyswatter. Kind of cool concept but doesn’t work for me. Never used.
  • A bunch of jars I used for infusing vodka and brandy. I used them as recently as last year, but I can buy fruit infused alcohol now.
  • Shelves to a bookcase that fell apart.
  • Makeup case. I’ve had this for years. The entire time it has held jewelry that I’ve never worn.
  • The jewelry I’ve never worn.
  • Three bottles of bubbles. Out of everything I’m moving into declutter, these are the most likely to be taken back. Because my dog sometimes likes to chase bubbles.
  • Belt pouch. This was given to me by a friend because she no longer uses it and I have one in a different color. However this one is too small for me.
  • Arm warmers. I think they’re cashmere. Maybe angora. Again, an old style of mine.
  • A shoulder pouch. It matches the belt pouch I’m keeping, but I don’t like it.

There. Thirteen in one day. Now you may say “Val, it’s easy to get rid of stuff you don’t use!” To which I would reply “If it is so easy then why did I keep them for so many years?”

Keeping going

Some days get busy. Right now my work and sleep schedules mesh in such a way that I have a bit of time before work and a bit of time after work before bed. I don’t have a huge window for cleaning out the bedroom and the closet. But I have told myself that the effort will be worth it. After all, if I’m not the kind of person who can do it all at once then I have to be the kind to do it a bit at a time, like sharpening a bird’s beak on Diamond Mountain.

As I mentioned before, decluttering does not means getting rid of large, meaningful things. In fact I’m likely to be getting rid of small things or stuff that just happened and never got cleaned up, especially later in the week.

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Two pairs of shoes, one of which looked good but was too small and never got worn, one of which I wore five to seven years ago. A pile of old socks that needs a new home. A plastic machete purchased for a costume I never finished and can’t remember. Old throwing knives I purchased used as a starter set years ago when I had time and space to practice.