Contest, Real Life

Trash Day

I’ve been throwing out a lot of stuff lately, and I like it.

If you’ve been following the New House Saga, you know that I’m downsizing dramatically.  I’ve already done a good bit of offloading over the past year. Presently my personal STUFF is contained to one office and one bedroom. So half my work is done, right?

Or so I thought.  Once I started actually taking inventory and packing stuff up, I discovered I wasn’t nearly so downsized as I thought.  For one thing, STUFF expands. It goes from this:

Tidy Shelves

To this:

Messy Books

So there’s books coming off the shelves like clowns coming out of a circus car.  THEN I got to the garage and attic and I found that I was holding onto baggage I didn’t even realize.  (Yes, there’s a big anvil of a metaphor there.)

There were boxes I hadn’t opened since I moved here. College textbooks for me, my mom AND my dad.  Collectibles and action figures.  Tee-shirts from shows I’d been in and so much sheet music and so many scripts. Shows I’d done, things I’d auditioned for and didn’t get the part….

I found a box of my parent’s albums.  I understand that some vinyl goes for decent money these days, but I highly doubt anyone is going to want an LP of Roger Miller’s Greatest Hits or the soundtrack to “Dark Shadows”–the original one. It’s nice to know my parents were nerds, too.

Here’s what else I discovered. If you put stuff out by your curb the afternoon before trash pickup day?  PEOPLE COME TAKE IT.   How genius is that?  I offloaded a faux christmas tree (pre-wired with lights), a tea-cart with a broken wheel, a dozen or so terra cotta pots, a queen-sized bed frame, a director’s chair with no seat, but not the stacks of textbooks on pre-natal care or fluid dynamics or speech development in hearing impaired infants.

Which is all perfectly good for some people, but I would never take something from someone’s trash. Or so I thought until last trash day, when I discovered that a new neighbor had a GIANT BOX OF BOXES set out by his curb.

Curb Shopping



My biggest discovery, though, is that it’s a lot easier to get rid of stuff when you realize it’s actually going to cost you to keep it.  You have to spend time packing it, you have to pay a mover, you have to give up useful space for those boxes.

And that’s the point of this metaphor, I guess. I’ve always been someone who holds onto things, but this time, this move, I’m not having a problem being ruthless.

It’s liberating to realize you are not the product of your possessions. It’s not the things that make you remember the people you love. It isn’t your stuff that makes you who you are. Getting rid of things I once loved–or even things I still love but can’t keep–doesn’t change my past or the memories that made me into the person I am.

Here endeth the metaphor.

In keeping with the theme–and the fact I’ll have no garage soon–I’m giving away copies of my books!  Comment by Friday for a chance to win a UK edition of Spirit and Dust.

What’s the hardest thing you’ve ever had to throw away?  What are you convinced you could never part with? Have you ever picked up something from someone else’s trash? (I won’t judge you, I promise.)


10 thoughts on “Trash Day”

  1. My husband’s an engineer and picks up stuff from people’s trash all the time. As long as it looks like it’s made from aluminum and he can melt it in his homemade furnace in the back yard, he snatches it!
    Though I guess I can’t complain. He did use the screen from someone’s old screen door to make me a bigger, better earring holder last week, so that was pretty awesome! 🙂


  2. Is that why they are called pick up trucks? You can just pull over anytime and pick stuff up?

    If I drove by the Ark of the Covenant in my car, all I’d be able to do is stop and take a few neat pictures with my phone!

    Good luck with the move. Are you staying in the area, and still going to be part of the D/FW Writer’s Group?


  3. I think the hardest thing I had to throw away was my stuffed animals. It happened years ago but I remember them being all ratty and thoroughly loved and my mom saying, “Okay, these have to go.” She was right of course but I still like to cling onto stuff. Anyway, I’m past that (hopefully). But yeah, if something is lying on the curb that I can use I’ll take it! Reuse and recycle right?

    Btw, I adored Texas Gothic, it completely enchanted me.


  4. We are moving in a month. We are not necessarily downsizing, but the space is different. We are going through all our stuff now, and getting rid of things. It’s hard because my kids are only 7,5, and 2 1/2, so they don’t want to get rid of anything. My husband is a bit gung ho to toss stuff, and I’m a bit in the middle.

    What amazes me is how much stuff five people can accumulate. Ultimately for me the goal is to pare down our stuff to less than we have now. (For instance, it’s time to get rid of all the baby stuff.)

    Good luck with your move!


  5. My youngest son dumpster dives and turns his finds into art. His room is so crowded with ‘treasure’ it reminds me of the front yard on Sanford and Son. In fact, his allowance is currently at risk if he doesn’t do some cleaning.

    Now, about that Dark Shadows LP. I could be convinced to take it off your hands one Wednesday at the Workshop (hint, hint). Growing up, I loved that show.



  6. My parents, aunts, and extended family are dead, so parting with their thins is very hard. It doesn’t bother my husband and he is always pushing me to part with my family items. I’m down to very little, we are moving to a new house and so I’m having to decide all over again-unfortunately, I am finding it hard, but as the three weeks I have left here speed on by it will get easier, I’m sure. I haven’t taken anything from the trash, but its a way of life in Germany.


    1. Joy, I hear you on the family things. It’s much easier for me to part with my things than my dad’s. I’ve donated boxes and boxes of my “keeper” books (ones I can now get in e-book, of course), but I am keeping a whole shelf of HIS books. I give away the newer tools and keep his old ones! (Of course, his are SOLID and I could defend the house with the crescent wrench. Miss Clement-Moore in the Library with the Wrench.)

      *hugs* and good luck.


  7. Oh, free Rosemary Clement Moore books, yes please! I’m a teen librarian in Plano and just finished Texas Gothic. I am also in love with Amy Goodnight; can’t wait to read more of your material. I hope I didn’t miss the giveaway. 🙂


Comments are closed.