But I love stuff. Weird stuff, mostly. Like dinosaur bones and Zuni fetishes and watercolor paintings of Lucky Dog vendors in the French Quarter. Sometimes stuff just speaks to me and sometimes I say “Stuff, I don’t need you.” But other times, I see something and there’s a story hiding in it. Maybe it’s a whole novel, maybe it’s just that crucial plot point that has been eluding me for weeks, but if it’s in that thing and that thing is on eBay, well, I have to buy it.
Hence the state of the spare bedroom.
So I’ve spent the week trying to turn the tide before I find myself with a starring role on A & E.
It’s like an archeological dig of my own life. Sort of the geology of Robin. Things have gathered into time periods, like strata in a rock formation. Here is the year I was obsessed with Pokemon. I really wanted to be an animator until I realized that I didn’t have the temperament for it. I could draw the pictures, I just couldn’t draw the same pictures over and over. Anyway, certain cartoons grab me now and then, seducing me with the design of their characters. Pikachu had his turn. It’s over.
Into the donation box.
Onto the Tasmanian tigers. Cool, sad, extinct. And yet very popular now they are all dead. Sort of like the California grizzly. You can find all kinds of Tasmanian tiger stuff. Books, stuffed animals, license plates. Anyway, I wrote a story about one. It was kind of tragic. I bought many things. Also kind of tragic.
Yes, I have a license plate. No, I’m not getting rid of it.
But the newspaper clippings can go.
I’m making headway. I’ve sorted the books into two boxes, the keepers and the goers. I’ve made it through the sack of old sneakers. I’ve tossed out three trash bags of stuff.
So into the next plastic grocery bag, assuming it is just more receipts to be shredded. I think about half these plastic bags are full of stuff to be shredded. The shredder can only handle about 12 sheets of paper before it jams and needs major maintenance so the shredding does pile up. Anyway, another boring bag.
Only it wasn’t.
Because the problem with cleaning out the spare room is that it is a minefield. Boring, boring, boring, devastating.
So the bag was full of mail. From the year my mom died. And the first thing I pulled out was a sympathy card signed by all my closest friends.
Now this is usually the point where I stop cleaning. I leave the room and don’t come back. But I can’t do that. I always do that and that is why I have a room full of stuff.
But I need a breather first. Watch some Olympics, make some brownies, revel in the warm gooey mixture of melted butter, cocoa powder and sugar for a few moments as I talk myself into getting back to work.
One card, I can handle one card.
I go back.
To a different spot.
I open a tub. It’s full of rejected stories, still in their manila envelopes, rejection letters intact.
I need another brownie.