The Joys of Owning Less “Stuff”

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Bought a couple new computer games a few days ago.  So I have been spending my time trying to figure those out.  I bought those games as online downloads.  So I don’t need actual CDs for the games anymore.  With as fast as new Windows programs come out anymore, I’ve been burned a few times when my old games wouldn’t run on my newer programs.  I’ve decided I’m just going to subscribe to online gaming forums and just buy my games as downloads and let the forums do the dirty work.  Seems to me that eventually I may not have to own much of anything besides some furniture, some clothes, a couple computers, a smart phone, etc.  I am definitely looking forward to when driverless cars go mainstream and I don’t even need to own a car anymore.  Seems to me that by the time I get to be in my late 60s (my parents age) I just won’t have to own much of anything if everything keeps getting digitized.  I can dream, can’t I?

I’m still trying to simplify my life.  I have pretty well adapted to minimalism.  But sometimes I still hold onto books even though 80 percent of what I read anymore is online articles and audiobooks.  Even these I’ll probably give away if I end up moving. Ideally I’d like to get down to where I could throw everything I own into my car and be on the move within an afternoon if need be.  As far as a bed or shelves are concerned, I can pick up different ones for cheap at Wal Mart or Salvation Army.  I have never been nostalgic about furniture or most of my possessions.

I really don’t mind not owning much.  I could never be a hoarder.  And from what I’ve seen, more and more people my age and younger are becoming like this all the time.  I imagine some people are worried about the Millennial generations being chronic renters and that it might be bad for the economy.  But, who wants to sign a 30 year mortgage on a house when a job could be outsourced or automated at a moment’s notice?  My brother owns a cool house in a good neighborhood, but he’d be in trouble if he got laid off from his company and had to sell his house, take his four kids out of school, and drag the entire family across country to find a similar job.  Even my friends and relatives that have kids have fewer kids than their parents and grandparents had.  My generation may not be putting down physical community roots as much as previous generations.  But humans have traditionally been a nomadic species, going wherever there was better hunting or farmland.  I don’t expect this to change.  But thanks to the boom in communications tech, it is so much easier to stay in touch even if you are on the other side of the planet.

It’s amazing just in my own life how much “stuff” I don’t have to own now compared to fifteen years ago.  I used to own over one hundred music CDs, dozens of DVDs, several shelves of books, etc.  Now I have access to a much larger stash of music for 10 dollars a month through Spotify.  I have a larger book collection now even though over 90 percent of my books are now e files that I got for free.  I have access to pretty much every movie I could ever want through Netflix, amazon, youtube, etc.  I don’t need an address book as long as I have a Facebook account.  I buy most of my clothing online anymore.  Even though it costs a little more this way, I can find exactly what I want as long as I’m willing to look.  I’m no longer at the mercy of Wal Mart, K Mart, JC Penney, etc.  I literally haven’t been to Wal Mart since last fall because I can shop from home on my computer anymore.  And I love it.  About the only things I don’t buy online now are groceries, gas for my car, and my prescription medications.  Even with my medications, the only time I actually deal with a human is when I go to physically pick my stuff up.  Who knows what the next fifteen years will bring?  I can hardly wait to find out.

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Cleaning My Apartment, Minimalism, and Tying Up Loose Ends

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Spent the last few days cleaning my apartment and rearranging for when the new carpet is getting installed.  My landlady talked about painting the walls of my apartment while they were at it.  So my apartment is going to be getting some much needed updating pretty soon.  I may have to be out of my apartment for a few days while the work is going on.  But I’m glad that this is going to get done finally.  I’ve been in the same apartment for ten years without any major updates.  This job is going much easier ever since I became a minimalist.

I cleaned up some files on my computer while I was cleaning my apartment.  I got rid of a bunch of my e-clutter and free e-books I was never going to read.  So many books but so little time.  I had to update some programs on my iPod.  So I now have some free space on it and am listening to more music now.  Music has traditionally been therapeutic for me.  But I had gotten out of the habit of listening during the last couple years.  I no longer have any music CDs as it is all on e-files now.  I haven’t bought even e-file music for almost a year.  For the most part anymore when I want to listen to music I use free services like Pandora or You Tube.  It still amazes me how much cool stuff can be found online as long as you are willing to look.  I don’t even have DVDs anymore.  I get all my movie viewing on Netflix and Amazon.  Anymore I have adopted the attitude of let the computer hold my “stuff.”  I have grown to hate clutter as much as I hate cleaning.  And I can reduce clutter by reducing how many things I actually own.  With the exception of my two couches, my dresser, my bookshelf, and my bed, everything I own I can get into my four door sedan within a couple hours.  I am definitely not a hoarder.  With a one bedroom apartment I can’t afford to be.

Not having visual clutter in my apartment does a great deal for reliving stress.  I usually don’t have to clean very often simply because I don’t have much to clutter my place.  It’s great feeling.

 

Mid Winter Cleaning

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Since I’m feeling ambitious with more consistent sleep, I’ve decided to clean my apartment and get rid of some clutter.  I went somewhat minimalist a year ago, so there wasn’t as much clutter to get rid of this year.  After dusting what furniture I still have (I have decluttered enough I now need only one bookshelf, a tv stand, a couch, a chair, and an all purpose large table in my living room) I vacuumed the place entirely at least three times.  I have that lovely light beige carpet that shows dirt and dust real bad.  It’s a pain to keep clean.  Still have to work on my small kitchen.  I’m doing all of this cleaning now because our apartment complex is having a Housing and Urban Development (HUD) inspection next month.  In case HUD decides to check random rooms, the management here is inspecting all apartments in two weeks.  We had a preliminary inspection before Christmas.  All I really had was minor issues that could be remedied within a few hours of cleaning.  Just because I’m a bachelor doesn’t mean my place is as filthy as a Neanderthal cave.

With paranoid schizophrenia I am naturally a little concerned about letting people I don’t associate with regularly just look around my apartment.  With our preliminary inspection last month I didn’t know what our new manager would be looking for.  It usually takes one annual inspection before I know what a manager will and will not look for.  A previous manager didn’t like that I had “too many electrical cords” on my floor.  But they weren’t tripping hazards.  Another didn’t like that I had my couch against my living room window. Claimed it was a hazard in case the fire department had to come through my window. Another was a stickler about dust and carpet cleanliness.  I got hammered on the carpet because the carpet is probably thirty years old and has needed replaced as long as I’ve lived here.  Not even a Rug Doctor can save carpet that old.

It’s always been nit picking and moving the goal every time a new manager comes in.  I’ve always been annoyed by subjective standards that aren’t quantifiable.  That’s why while I liked doing one act plays and speech in high school, I didn’t care for the competitive end of it.  Seems to me the difference between bringing home first place and finishing dead last is the judges more than the actors or speakers.  One time my brother and his best friend did a humorous duet skit that was unbelievably funny. But they were doxxed by one judge at districts and denied a shot at the state tournament because one judge didn’t like that they made a passing reference to homosexuality.  But this was twenty years ago.  As far as speech and acting went, if my audience went home enlightened and entertained I felt I did my job. I never cared about any judge whose opinions and motives I can’t even guess.

I’m not worried at all about these inspections anymore.  The first couple years I lived here I was.  I was paranoid enough back then I thought I was on the edge of getting evicted at any time.  I didn’t know the rules to the game of living in low income housing and disability insurance I do now.  I have been around long enough to see that the only sure ways to get evicted in low income housing is to not pay your rent, break the law, or keep a house so awful it’s a health hazard.  So annual inspection one of those things that it’s just a minor inconvenience to be endured for a short time.  But that’s pretty much the sum of my last few days.

 

Minimalism and The Schizophrenic Mind

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Years ago at one of my first jobs my supervisor made a remark about how disorganized my work space was.  I replied something to the effect “My work space is immaculate compared to Einstein’s.”  My supervisor replied “Can you imagine how much more he would have accomplished if he was half way decluttered?”  My boss had a point.

I am not a neat freak by nature, but I haven’t let my apartment get college frat house cluttered for several years. I found a middle ground.  If I say so myself, my place looks pretty good compared to some of the bachelor (and even bachelorette) pads I’ve seen.  Since I live in a complex with dozens of units, there is a minimum standard I have to keep at all times.  I’m not about to get evicted over something preventable.

One thing I have noticed since I became serious about health and exercise is that every aspect of my life has improved.  Everything from my finances, my appearance, my mental stability, and the cleanliness of my apartment have improved.  I have achieved a cleaner apartment through practicing minimalism.  Minimalism is really just getting rid of clutter and things I don’t absolutely need.  Last summer I took an inventory of everything I had in my apartment and looked at everything I hadn’t used in the last twelve months.  If it had been longer than that since it was used, it immediately went away.  It may have been given away to neighbors or it may have gone to Salvation Army, but it was gone.

I got rid of a lot of clutter immediately.  Books I hadn’t read, clothes I hadn’t worn, DVDs I could watch on Netflix or Youtube, CDs were backed up on my computer and thumb drives (I literally do not own any music CDs), decorations for holidays, all furniture except a dresser, a night stand, a couple chairs, a couple small couches, and light weight computer desk were gotten rid of.  Most of my ‘stuff’ was given away.  Some things like worn out shoes, flip flops, and socks went to the dumpster.  After this first round, my books with sentimental value, my classic literature books, and history books were kept on two tall book shelves.  I have gotten to where most of my reading materials are on my iBooks files.  I do have a short book shelf that serves as a stand for my printer and computer programs.

The second wave of the minimalist project involved giving away all canned food in my pantries I wasn’t going to eat.  I will not buy anything I know I won’t eat.  I don’t care if it is on sale.  I’ll pay a little extra if I know it will be eaten.  I had to get rid of most of my old clothing as I had lost a lot of weight.  I now have only ten shirts, three pairs of gym shorts, a couple pairs of sweat pants, a couple pairs of jeans, a couple dress shirts, a couple winter coats, and a couple light fleece coats for clothing.  That’s about it.  I also have only four pairs of shoes, a couple walking shoes, a pair of dress shoes, and a pair of steel toed boots.  I own four lamps.  Put in brighter energy saver bulbs and use more natural sunlight.  I got rid of most of my dishes.  I literally have maybe three plates, three bowls, four cups, and a half dozen spoons, forks, and knives.  I don’t even have a toaster or electric skillet.  If I want toast and pancakes, I go to the all night diner.

This sounds drastic, but it has simplified my apartment and my life. It has led to less stress, less anxiety, more peace, more contentment, and even better finances.  I no longer feel a need to buy stuff I don’t need to impress anyone.  No need to keep up with the neighbors.  The neighbors are probably more broke than I am even if they make more.  It’s because I don’t buy anything I don’t absolutely need.

I’m not done even yet.  I would like to eventually get all my books to fit onto one book shelf and get rid of the other shelf.  For those wondering how I entertain guests, there are literally dozens of restaurants, sports bars, parks, etc. in my small town that have furniture, food, HD televisions, and wifi.  I got to where I saw no point in having things I would use only a few times.

One thing I didn’t minimize was my emergency preparedness materials.  I still have first aid kits, flash lights, a crank up radio, etc.  If we get snowed in or flooded in for a few days I’m the guy who remembered toe nail clippers and a Swiss Army Knife.  Some things I don’t shirk on.

My mental well being and money situation really improved once I got rid of most of my clutter and quit looking for contentment in owning things.  It is such a good feeling to see how little clutter I have in my closets and on my floors now.  It’s a good feeling to have some emergency money.  It all gives peace of mind to an otherwise anxious and distressed schizophrenic brain.  If I can’t be organized in my mind, I’ll do it in my outer surroundings.