Is Black Friday compatible with minimalism? (Minimalism, post 13.)

November was a giant black hole in another dimension, and everything fell into it. This is the last week of the month; I thought I’d be back in the gym this week, but shenanigans have ensued since my last post, so I’m still here… until Saturday. I will go back to the gym on Saturday. THIS Saturday. December 1st. My last workout at the gym was on November 3rd. I missed a whole month. See? Black Hole.

Meanwhile, I found out that when Black Friday comes along in the midst of black hole induced cabin fever, one’s minimalism efforts face a challenge. At the height of my gift-shopping adventure, my minimalism efforts for myself were challenged… but not destroyed.

Replacing things rather than piling things onto existing things works. I’m donating more than I’m buying because getting rid of one thing motivates me to give away more. It doesn’t work the other way around – buying something doesn’t motivate me to buy more things. (I look for specific items rather than browse.) Despite my online Black Friday activities, I now own less than I did before Black Friday. Black Friday can be compatible with minimalism!

I just dig a bargain. Outrageous bargains give permission for seasonal recklessness, and I love some occasional recklessness. I love The Body Shop with its amazing vegan/cruelty-free fragrant bath and skincare products. What can I say? I didn’t ask to be a Capricorn with an Aries moon and Taurus rising.

Also, it’s not my fault that The Body Shop created not one, but three limited edition holiday scents this year. I have to try them all, right? So I can know which one(s) to stockpile for the coming year?

In other minimalism updates news, I’m still seriously thinking of doing the unthinkable: getting rid of books. Maybe not all of them, but many of them. A lot of them. I’m overrun with books. A significant pruning is in order. Considering letting go of my books has me thinking about asking Santa for a Kindle, and this is also unthinkable. Who am I anymore?!

Could this be my mid-life crisis? Swapping out paper books for a sliver of aluminum that will confine every book I read? The idea of it makes my blood run cold. You know how a part of the cigarette addiction is behavioral/physical… the need to hold a cigarette between your fingers? I still remember the torture of that from when I quit smoking 25 years ago. I can feel it coming back when I think about no longer physically turning pages when reading a book. The feel of the paper. The cracking of the spine. The dog-earing. The flipping through. The tossing aside when I hate the ending. I love books. I feel an anxiety attack coming on just writing this.

Nah. I probably won’t do it…

 

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Not decorating is the new decorating. (Minimalism, post 13.)

I’ve always loved decorating my living spaces. I have a new décor aesthetic now, which I’m quite enjoying. It’s called “Not Decorating.”

There’s a wealth of beauty in “nothing.”

My office is alive with plants and not much else as you look around. Save for a few around my desk, my books are behind closet doors and stashed on shelves in other rooms.

Speaking of books, another update from the minimalism files: I did what I insisted I couldn’t do. I filled a laundry basket with books to be donated. (The laundry basket’s also going. It’s broken, but still serviceable. We finally got a new one.)

I finally had to do it, guys, and by the time I got to this point, it wasn’t that hard. The more stuff I gave away in my minimalism journey, the more the books were crowding me out. I cleared half of the shelf of books in my office closet. The other half remains full, and all of the bookcases in the house are still jam-packed. It’s a start. It’s more than I’d thought I’d do, at any rate.

Interesting how getting rid of things creates the illusion that what’s left takes up more space…

Shocker 2: I gleaned my t-shirt collection again and ended up setting aside almost 50%. This is where you wonder who I am and where is Kristi.

Our second big sweep has begun! My next minimalism update will include pics.

Happy Friday Eve, all.

 

 

Blind data. (Minimalism, post 12.)

Prompted by the recent demise (my fault) of my laptop and the subsequent acquisition of a new one, I’ve turned my minimalism efforts toward my electronic files… a necessary undertaking I’d been putting off. Can you imagine a task more tedious than going through archived files on various flash drives? I mean, there’s a tedium level of minimalism high up on the scale, and the electronic stuff is definitely on that level, as far as I’m concerned.

I’ve been combing through these four flash drives for a week now, and I’m still doing it, a little each day, looking through and comparing files and deciding what to keep and what to merge… until my eyes bleed. Not only is it bad because it’s taking up space, but also because when I want to find something on the drives, I can’t, or it’s difficult because I have to sift through piles of crap.

I don’t remember what I named something. I don’t remember when I took it or put it there. I don’t remember what folder it’s in or what drive it’s on. I have flash drives bloated with redundant files, files within folders nested in folders nested in more folders. Every time I got a new laptop, I transferred files onto different drives without thinking about it, because I was always in a hurry, and general wisdom says keep all of your files. It’s wisdom that comes from the umbrella mentality of always back up your hard drive so you don’t lose anything. We’re taught to be obsessed with backing everything up, so we end up backing up stuff we don’t need.

If there’s one area in my life in dire need of minimalization, it’s this, because electronic clutter is still clutter, and it’s the worst. It’s the most. I have more clutter on flash drives than anywhere else.

I have duplicate files. I have different versions of the same document. I have files that have overlapped from hard drive to hard drive. Since I’ve also gone back and forth between flash drives over the years, it’s not clear what files came from what laptop, though I’ve tried to keep things findable and organized.

Not only is this minimalism task tedious, but it’s maybe the most difficult in terms of letting go, emotionally. It’s one thing to make a decision whether or not to keep an article of clothing with sentimental value attached, and it’s another to look at a scanned picture of, say, a family reunion and decide whether I want to keep it: Why would I want to keep this picture? Do I need it? Does it bring me joy? Does it still matter or really matter? Am I going to want it one day and regret that I don’t have it?

Hundreds of image files piled up all over the place. What makes me crazy is the idea that having come from a pre-digital era, I know that I wouldn’t have all these pics if the digital era hadn’t been invented. When we all used manual cameras and took our pictures to be manually developed, did we take a hundred pics a days? When our primary concern was Kodak or Fuji, did we collect receptacles in which to store all of our developed pictures? Unless we were photographers, most of us did not. We did not cart around boxes bursting with 15 years’ worth of albums and loose paper pictures.

Our technological advances have enabled us to hoard, and it goes unnoticed because you don’t have to a clear a path to walk through the house when what you’re hoarding is electronic files; authorities are not going to bust into your house and report you to the producers of Hoarders.

Living in the digital age doesn’t mean I have to sentence myself to a lifetime of carrying around every single image and document and version of my three resumes (one with administrative experience, one with writing and editing, and one with combined admin and writing/editing, many of which I’d organized differently for the application of different sorts of positions).

All of this to say, I’ve been sitting on a list of the minimalism tasks I want to begin in the near future, but I’m starting this one now. When I got this new laptop, I sat and looked at my flash drives and sighed. I did not wish to clog up yet another hard drive with unnecessary files, only to transfer all of them plus additional hundreds of accumulated files when I get my next laptop.

It’s been chugging along. I’ve trimmed things down considerably. I’m not done, but I will be soon. I’m not finished yet, but I’ve learned. I’m not allowing this to happen again!

UFC-inspired minimalism musings and The Body Shop lipstick review! (Minimalism, post 11.)

Minimalism paradox of materialism: when you’re so bored with everything, you want nothing. This is a new mindset for me, one that developed naturally as I began to settle into minimalism. It used to be that if I grew bored with something, I would want something else, or I would think of something else. Now, it’s just good-bye when I’m no longer enamored with that thing.

I do differentiate between replacing something because 1.) I’m bored (“I need something different”); 2). there’s something else that I want (“something has to go”); and 3). there’s necessity… something happened to my old one, or I have to get one because I need it and I don’t already have one. With minimalism, my inclination toward #1 has melted away.

Then there are special cases of I just want that thing, like last Saturday when I bought a new t-shirt and it didn’t replace a damn thing. UFC Fight Night came to Phoenix (specifically, to Glendale). We went, and we were confronted with once-in-a-lifetime merch. It was a t-shirt that had to happen. It’s one of those shirts that if I’m still alive 30 years from now, I’ll come across it and bemoan that it’s full of holes and falling apart. The shirt will go on into infinity. Good memories will wear the shirt more than I ever could.

Come to think of it, though, I do have a thing for souvenir merch. I always get a t-shirt when we go to concerts and whatnot. We don’t go to them so often that I’ve had the opportunity to consider it since moving my mindset into minimalism. I’ve had the opportunity now. I bet the UFC has no idea that it can inspire people to think about minimalism.

Speaking of Saturday’s UFC Fight Night case and purchases made to fill an empty space (this one would be the red lipstick space): I wore one of my new The Body Shop lipsticks to those UFC fights, and I wanted to report on how it held up, because that was a long night. This is my public service announcement to you lipstick-wearing individuals: The Body Shop’s Colour Crush lipsticks kick ass. I give this product five out of five stars.

I was impressed by how well the lipstick held up after eight hours of wear. The color stayed vibrant even after chewing gum, eating a protein bar, drinking water, and applying lip balm over the lipstick several times. (Granted, a protein bar is not a good indicator of how well the lipstick would wear while eating an actual meal.) I took some selfies in the car on the way home, in three different lights, as lighting fluctuates on the freeway. As usual, I didn’t filter these pics, neither did I use a lip-liner. The color-saturation shown here is authentic, and the color is visible even in the darkest light. It didn’t bleed onto my face in the absence of lip-liner, either. This is The Body Shop’s Colour Crush lipstick in 125 (“Crazy Sexy Crimson”):

 

The Body Shop Colour Crush lipstick in 125 (“Crazy Sexy Crimson”) – 8 hrs later

 

No retouches after eight hours! Callaghan’s surprise was real, too, and he expressed it even though I didn’t ask him about it. We got home and he said, “Did you put on more lipstick?” and I said, “No,” and he said, “Wow that stays on!” Yes, it does… especially surprising because the lipstick is so weightless and moisturizing. I added to the moisture with lip balm, as I’d said; you’d think that several applications of lip balm over lipstick would cause the color to fade and bleed. That did not occur.

The next time I purchase this lip product, it will be a minimalism-considered replacement. I would love to get another UFC souvenir t-shirt, too, but that’s much less likely to happen.

Getting rid of music? (Minimalism, post 10.)

After I last talked to you on Thursday, I went on an unexpected minimalism sweep, and I mean a major one this time… maybe the second-biggest anti-haul since my initial one. Three days of on-and-off plundering later, I took the spoils to be donated.

[Sidenote and speaking of my last post: I read it again later that day (the Geronimo post), and I found a typo (a missing ‘s’, I believe). I went in and fixed it. Please do let me know if you see typos or other errors in my writing! Don’t be shy. It’s like if I have something green stuck in my teeth, I’d rather someone point it out to me than allow me to go around talking to another hundred+ people like that. Haha.]

I didn’t plan this latest minimalism undertaking. You know… accomplishment in itself feels amazing, but unexpected accomplishment adds an extra kick of satisfaction. This time, I had no mercy. I slashed my sock drawer in half, when up until now I’d maintained that I wouldn’t go there. This progress suggests that my next major sweep might very well include – gasp – books. Could I possibly get to a point where I can decide which books to donate?

While going through the closet in the guest bedroom, I re-encountered my collection of music books, which largely define my childhood. I found Hannon and Czerny exercise books; instructional book series; rhythm and timing workbooks; collections of works by specific composers; collections of popular hit music from the 70’s and 80’s; loads of sheet music (popular, classical, and the blues); holiday music of several different cultures; and my practice notebooks going back to my very first day of piano lessons. Even my violin instructional book is in there! I took violin for six months before my school lost the program and the lessons stopped. My parents got a piano, and I picked up my music studies from there. I was a lucky kid. An excellent piano teacher came to the house once a week for the next nine years; she basically watched me grow up.

My first piano lesson was on November 14, 1978. It’s written on the first page of my first lesson notebook. Just the sight of my teacher’s handwriting brings back memories. The date of each lesson. Reminders to trim my nails (at the top of each entry, sometimes in all caps and with multiple exclamation points – my piano teacher invented screaming in all caps). The practice time charts she drew every week (for me to write in the time I’d spent practicing each day. “30 minutes minimum!!”) And her assignments for the week, numbered in order of priority.

There’s no reason to keep the music with me, but trashing it is unthinkable… at the moment, at least. There was nothing to decide on Saturday. Instead, I sat down and spent some time looking through the material. I’m not even sure that some of it still exists. For instance, are Wesley Schaum rhythm and timing workbooks still in print? Do music students learn rhythm and timing from them anymore? The Schaum workbooks I have were published in 1969 and 1970. They cost $3.00 each.

The memories of this homework, guys. Book Three, Lesson 15: Counting with Ties and Slurs. “On the staffs below, some of the measure bar lines are missing. Draw in bar lines where necessary to make the proper number of counts in each measure. Then write in the counting on the dotted lines (include the word ‘and’ where necessary).”

 

From Wesley Schaum’s Rhythm Workbook, Book Three.

 

It’s also interesting to see the evolution of my penmanship in the way I wrote my name at the top of each page. (By the way, is penmanship even a part of grade-school curriculum anymore?)

It’s possible that I’ll be back one day to report that I’ve thinned my bookshelves, but it may be longer than that before I start dismantling my music collection. Most of it would have to go into the recycling. Stuff like my completed rhythm and timing workbooks? Useless to others. I’m not sure that anyone would want my sheet music with my teacher’s comments in the margins, either, not to mention the stickers I’d chosen for each piece I’d mastered. That was an interesting evolution to observe, too, how the award stickers got less and less babyish as time went on.

I don’t know. I might do this dirty work one day, or it might be up to someone else to dump the music after I die. It’s hard to imagine minimalizing music when it’s printed on paper. Paper is not technology that becomes obsolete.

More letting in, more letting go. (Minimalism, post 9.)

I was telling a friend the other day that since I’ve embarked on minimalism, my emotional crisis impulse is to raid my closet to see what else I can get rid of.

The rest of the time, I’m still trying to be conscientious when it comes to purchasing.

There’s purchasing that adds to your things for no reason (want), there’s purchasing that adds to your things for a valid reason (need), and there’s purchasing in order to replace things that need to be replaced.

I have a problem replacing things that need to be replaced (not products I’ve used up – that’s a different kind of replacement), as you may remember from my post about a sweater I wore until it fell apart, and another one about my disintegrating t-shirt from the 80’s.

It was this problem that largely steered me into minimalism. I didn’t feel good being so attached to things that I couldn’t bear to part with them. It’s not healthy to love an article of clothing so much that I wear it to death but continue wearing it because I can’t let it go. You can’t be truly selfless if you’re held back by material attachments. Not to mention, material things shouldn’t matter so much that I go around looking like I rose from the dead wearing what I wore when I was buried.

I recently had to say good-bye to my house slippers and my favorite jacket. It’d become uncomfortable to walk in the slippers with their soles torn up into a lumpy mess. And the jacket? Its day of reckoning was the day I put it on over a bralette and found large flakes of dead jacket all over my collarbones and upper chest when I took it off.

 

Jacket and slippers looking not too bad on the surface.

 

These look okay, right? But get up close at certain angles, and it’s apparent that the jacket’s long gone. Turn the slippers over, and it’s apparent that I’m a crazy person for continuing to wear them.

(Don’t say I didn’t warn you)

 

No comment necessary.

 

Those slippers!! They do look fine when they’re on, went the reasoning of my denial. The top and the insides are still in good condition! They look pretty good! It’s just the soles (only the most important part) that wore away into pieces.

I admit that I entertained the idea of duct tape for the slipper soles.

The slippers were cheap and flimsy, but I wore them year-round for almost two years, regardless of the heat. The fake leather jacket was also cheap and flimsy, and it actual did very well in lasting as long as it did. I bought it at Charlotte Russe in 2008, and I wore it relentlessly for the next 10 years, even in the summer. AZ air conditioning is no joke. You could get frostbite in such conditions.

So I picked up replacement slippers at Ross, and I found, on the Charlotte Russe website, an updated version of the same jacket! It’ll be just as cheap and flimsy, but I know it’ll be good for 10 years.

As for repurchasing things I’d used up: I got off my ass to do that the other night (I’d already filled my cart at The Body Shop, but I’d been sitting on it. It took a mental health mini-crisis to prod me into checking out). What also happened, though, was three lipsticks made their way into the cart that night. I’d been thinking of trying lip colors outside of my comfort zone, but I’d be lying if I said that my obsession with Krysten Ritter’s lips in Jessica Jones had nothing to do with it. Being obsessed with Krysten Ritter’s lips is not a good reason to buy lipsticks, I’m aware.

All in all, I’m pleased with my ongoing efforts to minimize around here. It’s become second-nature to get rid of things. Raiding my closet to purge when I’m upset? I’m happy with that.

 

Keeping history. (Minimalism, post 8.)

In terms of minimalism, I’ve been thinking about the difference between historical value and sentimental value in objects. I’ve been focusing on sentimental value – I’m enjoying lightening my life, but practicing the discipline of physical non-attachment to things is the real spiritual “work” behind minimalism for me.

Parting with items of historical value, though, is something that I don’t consider, apparently. (Luckily, we don’t have too much in the way of such objects!)

This train of thought began when I was getting ready one morning and my eyes fell upon an object that I’d found in a box of things. I’d set the knick-knack on my dresser without a second thought. I didn’t ask myself whether I wanted it, or whether I needed it, or whether it filled me with an overwhelming sense of happiness. I just set it out and forgot about it.

I only thought about it when I really saw it that morning. I saw an object of historical significance, made in a place that doesn’t exist anymore. It’s a relic from a past era; somehow, that saves it from minimalism… in my version of the practice, at least.

 

“Made in USSR”

 

My first minimalism sweep included objects that brought me great joy at one time, some that I still liked, even. It felt good to part with them. I’m just not keen on getting rid of something that says “Made in (insert name of place that no longer exists)” on the label. For me, sentimental attachment to objects is one thing. Desire to remember history is another.