Saturday, January 29, 2011

Clean Sweep

The blessing and the curse of my impending transatlantic move is that I have to go through everything I have accumulated since I moved to Wisconsin in fall 2004. While I’ve been here I’ve moved several times—to different dorm rooms, to and from NJ for long summer breaks, to Ripon, Wisconsin for my first AmeriCorps*VISTA term, and then to Madison. (I spent three weeks in a cooperative house, too, so I’ve even moved within Madison!)

And yet, kipple piled up.

I am a pack-rat, especially when it comes to paper. I will never throw out a hand-written letter sent to me; movie stubs are hard for me to dispose of, and I feel the urge to collect every free/promotional postcard I see. This is a real problem if you hang out at cafes.

A very small sampling of the paper I will never let go:

I swear I’m not a bag lady, but I have been holding onto clothes for far too long, too.

Lame Excuse #1: VISTAs earn a “poverty wage” as a monthly stipend so we can feel solidarity with the low-income population our volunteer work serves. I was a college student for four years, then I was a professional volunteer for two. There’s a culture of thrift attached to both those experiences, and old habits die hard.

Lame Excuse #2: I’m trying to predict life in Cape Town—I won’t need cold-weather clothes, or at least the kind that get me through a Wisconsin winter. I am DETERMINED to pack light. I don’t want to buy anything new, so I’ve been wearing things past their expiration date. (All my clothes are from thrift stores anyway, so it skews the perspective.) I have been planning to ditch the old clothes—I promise!—before the move.

Lame Excuse #3: Nannying has made my heart happy, but the truth is, babies spit up on me 40 hours a week. At work, my clothes are really only poo-shields, so I’m not exactly inspired to add anything to my wardrobe.

I hereby swear to toss out anything in this condition, STAT:


Whoops! That is not a pocket!


These Freecycled pants are now missing a button and a hook.

A toast to new beginnings! And to new pants!


  1. Yep, you know you're thrifty when a purchase from Vinnie's feels shiny and new! (I'm currently very proud of my Gap Cords that I got on half off day, $4 or so)

  2. True story! Thrift stores have higher standards than I do--I wear stuff that's so beat up, Vinny's wouldn't sell it :D

  3. I see a very familiar peacock feather. :)))
    Will comment on more recent posts soon my love. <3