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Tuesday, April 7, 2009

My Burden: Four Hundred Books

First, some random musings. I am definitely learning humility in the blogosphere. I wrote what I thought was a funny post (at least the title was funny) and only got TWO comments. Perhaps people thought my title--"Prophylactic Shopping"--indicated an, errr, erotic subject matter. Not at all. The primary definition of prophylactic is protective.To wit:

Greek prophylaktikos, from prophylassein to be on guard, from pro- before + phylassein to guard, from phylak-, phylax guard

1 : guarding from or preventing the spread or occurrence of disease or infection
2 : tending to prevent or ward off : preventive

Plus, I need to apologize for my erratic (again, NOT erotic) posting. I'm getting into the end-of-semester slump. I should revive over spring break.

Now, to my burden topic. Even though I mostly write on frugality, my real problem is clutter. I am perfectly happy to blab at length about all the little money saving tricks that I engage in. However, I get heart palpitations just thinking about posting photos of some of my clutter spots.

It is interesting that some of the greatest successes in personal finance blogging are people who had to--with great difficulty--pull themselves out of debt. Similarly, the people who are best at helping clutterbugs like me are the people who had the same problem. So the sisters who wrote Sidetracked Home Executives were lifesavers for me. They were also the inspiration for the hugely successful Flylady.

Since my problem is on-going AND I will be having in-laws coming in a few weeks for a several-night stay, the motivation is high. I also am blessed with a functional back-building of about 300 square feet. When we bought the house, this was the owner's junk room. We didn't have any junk to put in it at the time, but, over the years, it has filled right up.

Many years ago, my son decided he wanted the space for his friends. We cleaned it up. He had a party complete with a black-light. Then it was abandoned and it filled up again.

Daughter decided she wanted it for her friends. We cleaned it up and she didn't even have a party. Filled up again.

Now, Mr. FS decided he wants the space for a study. What a great idea! Then we can use his current space for the television, which now resides in a closet. What is in the little house now are books books books. Some used to be for sale on Amazon, but are no longer worth enough to bother selling. Some are swappers for Most are bedraggled.

We consolidated all the books and discovered that we are using 300 square feet for about 600 books, 400 of which are nothing special or formerly special. Other stuff includes mailing supplies, linens the kids take to camp when they work there, and . . . the embarrassment continues. When you count up what stands between you and what you want, often the barrier is just pitiful.While searching for some inspiration/motivation last night, I came upon Julie Morgenstern's newish book. She wrote an organizing book a few years ago that was a huge best-seller; it was also completely useless for me.

Her new book is on hold for me at the library. But I glanced at it on googlebooks. She has her readers count up their burdens.

I love this word! If you've read Pilgrim's Progress, you may recall that the pilgrim, whose name is Christian (not a very subtle allegory!), journeys with his burden. He loses his burden only when he reaches heaven.

If you've read Little Women, you may recall that Jo and her sisters play Pilgrim's Progress. They wear little backpacks, climb up the stairs, and take off their burdens when they get to the attic.

So far, I've bagged up and donated about 200 books (that was before the 400 number). Now I have 400 to go. For a book-lover like me who wants to give every book a home, this is very painful. But I will not sink into the Slough of Despond (another Pilgrim's Progess reference). No, I will hurry back out and fill up ONE MORE BAG.

Stay tuned. What is your burden, Dear Readers?


Midlife, menopause, mistakes and random stuff... said...

Way to go Frugal Scholar!!
I love both Pilgrim's Progress AND Little Women.......two of my very all time favorites. If I loved closer to you, I'd run by your house to pick up a few of those tomes. I'll bet that you've got some really great reads :)
The in-laws are that a good thing or a bad thing??
Neither Prince nor I have living parent's but my ex's mother????
Whe I wanted to talk to her, I'd just draw a pentagram on the floor.
I'm just sayin :).........

Steady On
Reggie Girl

Steady On
Reggie Girl

Duchesse said...

My burden is my sons'... stuff. They leave home, I think, by end of this year. Supposedly. When I have insomnia I redecorate their rooms, now full of boyhood through adolescence through young adult stuff.

Just keep focused on that room,the one that will emerge. Rooms not inhabited just become giant storage units. And on that - do NOT ever rent a storage unit. Clutter-enabilng kiss of death.

Mervat said...

My burden is also too many books! I also want to hold onto all of them and I keep adding to the collection. I feel your pain to say the least!

Duchesse said...

The only books I keep now are the ones I've used professionally in the last 5 years, or sentimental ones, like my son's favourite bedtime stories. It is no longer necessary to keep every book related to my field "in case", the entire works of Ian Rankin, or "East of Eden". I can find them if I have to have them.

The 200+ art and coffee table books have gone to my sons' high school and college.

Still have filled every bookshelf. But now it is book in, book out.

materfamilias said...

De-lurking to say I chuckled at your reference to the potentially-racy title and the surprisingly-low ratio of comments on that post. I recently made the most explicit comment ever (in two years of blogging) to my sex life in a post answering some meme questions -- and garnered no comments at all responding to the "sexual content." While the content was relatively tame -- honest! -- I'm left to wonder if readers either didn't notice (!) or were simply too polite (or too discomfited) to respond to my gaucherie!
I enjoy your blog and enjoy your comments over at Duchesse's.

Frugal Scholar said...

@Reggie--I'm sure you can find just as good books at the Friends of Library Sale (if your town has one). In-laws are Mr. DF's brother and sister-in-law. Very nice people. They will be going to Jazz Fest.

Duchesse--I can't blame my family members. I am the problem here. I am working at it.

Mervat--Thanks for coming by. I've read your comments elsewhere and will stop by and visit you.

mater--I've been lurking too. Love your blog and will leave comments, I promise. We have a lot in common.