Friday, August 6, 2010

The Cost of Stuff

My parents are visiting this weekend, and I'm having a great time. Not getting much cleaned, but since I've pretty much done everything Ally asked me to do this week, I've got a couple of days slack. I'm managing (by the skin of my teeth some days, but I'm managing) not to backslide and make a mess of what I've previously cleaned. My bedroom's slightly messy right now, but it's nothing that five minutes' work won't right, and I did get the sheets changed. The dishes are done and mostly remain so, the bathroom vanity is still neat and tidy. So I guess I'm doing okay.

But it's hard to keep paring things down, because people just seem to want to keep giving me stuff. Not a lot this week, or any week for that matter, but if what comes in is more than what goes out, I'll have a problem in short order.

Case in point: I have enough mugs and cups. More than enough mugs and cups, actually, seeing as I have about twenty or so for my household of one person and one cat. Even counting the fact that the kids are over pretty much every day, I have more than enough mugs and cups.

And now I have one more. Because my mom is clearing out her cupboard, and there was this mug with my name on it, and she thought I should have it. To give her credit, I'm about the only person she knows who she could give it too--my name isn't that common. So I have another mug. And a bunch of file folders from the church, and two videos for my son and those boxes of wool for my daughter. So in order for things to get better, I have to get rid of some stuff if I want to keep the new stuff I've got.

Because even though this stuff was free, it's really not free at all.

There's the cost of having a two-bedroom three-story townhouse for one person, one cat, and the stuff.

There's the psychic cost of living in a big mess.

There's the monetary cost when the stuff expands to cover all available space, and I can't find that bill and I forget that I have that bill and cheques bounce.

There's the cost of the time it takes to either find a place for it or give it away if I decide I eventually don't want it.

Stuff costs, even when it's free.

The file folders, I need. I'll make room for them by getting rid of a lot of the paper I don't need. Luckily, this can go to the recycling bin at the church, and our mission fund will get money for it.

The videos won't even play at my house--I don't have a VHS player any more. They went home with my son. (To be fair, my mom asked me before she brought these. My son does enjoy James Bond.)

The wool has been sorted. What Ally didn't need is already at the thrift shop, and what she wanted to keep is sitting in her dad's living room, and is not my problem any more.

But that mug...

On the one hand, it's pretty. Nice flowers and stuff. And it does have my name on it, so everyone will know it's mine.

On the other hand, I know what my name is, and haven't managed to forget that fact in almost fifty years. Not sure I need a reminder, though I may in the future.

On the other hand (not that I have three hands, but we're speaking metaphorically here), I have a job interview on Thursday, and having a mug with your name on it at work is a distinctly good thing, if your name isn't the same as everyone else's there. And I did give two cups away to Bill just this week, so the net loss is one cup.


I think I'll keep it, and if I'm so lucky to get a job with my own office (fingers and toes are crossed at this point), I'll bring it to work with me.

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