Tag Archives: repurpose


D. left yesterday for a month-long trip to the U.S. to finish up his citizenship requirements. I have this nagging spring fall cleaning goal of decluttering in his absence. But who am I kidding really? I’m a clutteraholic (see desktop update below, and that’s only the half of it). I forget what I cannot see. I stress when my desk is clean. Really, it induces slight panic and a dizzying sense of being lost.

ImageMaybe I’m exaggerating a little. But my clutter makes me feel at home. It isn’t everywhere in the house. It is contained to my desk and a corner of our kitchen table which is cluttered with S’s amazing artwork and crafts and recent sales fliers. 

The clutter I can’t see, however, is perhaps less necessary for my mental well-being. I hope to sort through some drawers and donate or repurpose some old clothes. I’m not entirely optimistic, but a good purge might do me some good while my heart wants to clasp onto everything in the absence of D.


bus sprawl

Instead of blogging in the past week, I’ve been commuting to my office and preparing for the new semester that is fast coming upon us. This week I witnessed a woman spreading out ads all around her on the bus, possibly sorting, but possibly demonstrating her need for stuff to surround her wherever she goes.

Around the same time I was taking this picture, it was announced that there are an estimated 1 million (plus) hoarders here in Australia, which falls in line with estimates in the US, around 4.5% of the total population. It’s not much of a surprise to me, but hoarding still isn’t as popular a topic on this side of the world.

As I watch popular children’s programing here with my daughter, though, I can see how we are constantly guilted into not wasting material objects. Just a small example, there’s an Aussie-Canadian program called Dirt Girl World with one of the main characters Scrap Boy. It’s all about repurposing stuff. How can we let go of anything when there might be a use for it, or discarding it might hurt the nature around us?

broken symbolism of stuff

Flipping TV channels last night while trying to find that perfect somniferous program to replace Frasier (alas, I cannot), I witnessed Bethenny of Bethenny Ever After deciding she wants to collect snow globes (the nice ones, not the ones you buy in the airport), and the New Adventures of Old Christine‘s old Christine saying how much she loved a ring that she never wore, didn’t fit, and couldn’t find.

In both cases, the items of importance were symbolic. For Bethenny, the snow globes were meant to replace unhappy childhood memories, now that she’s living her dream. Her husband couldn’t reconcile Bethenny’s proclaimed aversion to stuff with her desire to collect globes, but he gave her a break when she pointed out that it wasn’t Gucci bags or something more extravagant. (Come on, Jason, she took you on a private plane and you’re bitching about a $50 snow globe?)

In Christine’s case, the ring was her ex-husband’s mother’s and he wanted to give it to his second wife. Christine felt that giving up the ring was akin to saying the relationship never existed. That’s a point I can understand, but personally don’t subscribe to. Having inherited my father’s wedding band, from second vows with my mother, I don’t see the purpose of holding on to a symbol when the thing it symbolizes is no longer precious. I don’t even know if I still have that ring, but every time I looked at it in the past I was just filled with a sense of frustration. What do I do with that and the family portraits that are nicely framed? Now they represent something that seems either failed or just absent … ancient history. It wouldn’t quite be sane to have a shrine of all these artifacts to failed marriages. At least, it wouldn’t be very healthful for me.

So what do we do with symbolic stuff that no longer represents what it should? Gretchen of the Real Housewives of Orange County took her diamond ring from her first marriage and repurposed it into a custom made ring for her parents’ 40th wedding anniversary. I find that both sweet and creepy, but she did manage to transform something no longer personally valuable to her into a meaningful object for someone she loved.

I sold my first wedding band (original price tag of $18) with a bunch of other trinkets to a man who owns a thrift shop in a neighboring town. I had already forgotten about it until I asked myself just now where that ring went.

even dora’s friends are hoarders

Benny's Treasure

The other night I discovered with our two-year-old that Dora the Explorer is now available on demand. We turned on the “Last Chance” episode, “Benny’s Treasure,” only to discover that Dora’s friend Benny has a serious hoarding problem. He was so excited that it was Junk Day that he spent the entire time sifting through people’s trash to repurpose items, like a curtain that became a princess gown for Dora. I’m not too sure I want my two-year-old to learn to save items from other people’s trash so she can wear them. I have enough trash collecting problems of my own for the moment.