The Accumulated Madness of Stationary Life

I’VE BEEN BUSY LATELY. It hasn’t been with the “ordinary” business that so often consumes my time and gives me a ready excuse to forego posting (I’ll just come right out and say it – TDT has done a shabby job of being “daily” lately), but instead with something a bit more basic, more necessary, more exciting: I’ve been cleaning out my apartment.

Actually, it’s been less like cleaning, and more like dredging – raking out the dirt of stationary life. Closer, perhaps, to the Korean word daechongso (대청소) which in context is akin to our “spring cleaning,” but literally means “great cleaning.” Indeed, a great cleaning it has been.

If my sudden passion for organization seems strange, allow me to explain: it isn’t the cleaning, per se, but rather what the cleaning is in preparation for – the two most significant moves of my life.

In a couple weeks, I will move in with my fiancee. In several months, I will move across the Pacific, back to Korea. And so now I am paring down my belongings, tossing into boxes the books, clothes, and random items that I no longer use; Goodwill is their destination. I hold the ambitious goal of ultimately whittling down all my possessions so that they will fit into a solitary backpack.

(And a very large duffle bag.)

Travelers often wax poetic about the sense of freedom they feel owning little – what is less written about is the harried, ridiculous process of cleaning house. In the past few days I have thrown out punctured tubes for bicycle tires, syllabi from classes I took my junior year, nubby art erasers that somehow made it here from high school, phone bills from long ago (I paid those, right?), floppy disks, and a Jamiroquai CD.

The most painful item to give up was the ratty pair shoes I wore when I was in China – they were bright green Adidas Dragons, and because of their history I nicknamed them “the Jade Dragons.” Those soles had walked a good chunk of the Great Wall, and had pedaled me around Beijing. As I stood over the trashcan internally debating, I thought, “but what am I gonna do…carry these around forever?” Keep the memory but lose the material; I tossed them.

I’m still in the midst of doing the craigslist thing, trying to sublet my place so I won’t be paying out the wahoo for a room I don’t live in (I’m also throwing in a couch and coffee table…and whatever else I can leave in the cupboards without the new resident noticing). A gaggle of belongings are still waiting to be sorted through, though I’m leaning more and more towards throwing it all away and then just seeing what I miss.

…Or perhaps just getting another duffle bag.

(Updated 12.25.2007)


2 Responses to “The Accumulated Madness of Stationary Life”

  1. 1 Kango Suz December 26, 2007 at 4:27 pm

    Congratulations on preparing for your move. I find that one of the resultant problems of travel is that even though we may start out with such a relieved sense of having so little, we end up with things (like your Jade Dragons) which we then feel we need to keep forever. Let us not even start in on our pictures.

    If only the memories could be enough, but I fear my instinct to be a materialistic person will continue to accumulate things no matter how often I purge.

  2. 2 jared December 27, 2007 at 1:58 pm

    congratulations, mr. engaged. and congrats once again to both of you. i really like the title of this post. grappling with possessions is something i’ve done myself and i still haven’t come to a solution. certain things we need, certain things make us happy, certain things we might use for reference in our daily lives, certain things we may want for fixing other things… and next thing you know you’ve got a packed apartment of these certain things. hope all is well with you.

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