July is Journaling Month Part 15: Stuff Part 2

24 Jul


The Collyer Brothers’ man cave.


Did you ever hear of the famous Collyer brothers? They were New York city hoarders of the first order. Sadly, they got crushed by their own belongings. I am not exactly spartan in my aesthetic and I know I have crap to throw away, and when I really need to pump myself up, there’s nothing like watching an episode of Hoarders. Really? You neeeeeeeeed that 20 year old sample of skin lotion? That doll’s head? That broken shopping cart on top of a piano? Only then, armed with the feeling of superiority to SOMEONE do I have the intestinal fortitude to wade through formerly precious papers and ancient medicines and semi-leaking old shampoo bottles and half used notebooks where my child has drawn entertaining doodles of turtles with turbo jets, flying pencils, and other magical items.

But meanwhile, there’s the other level of stuff–the stuff that’s kind of reasonable but it’s annoying right now. Like a snowblower, for instance. Impossible to imagine it’s ever going to be useful. But presumably it will. (I mean, maybe not in Miami, but . . . )

So, to start, here is MY list of 25 things:



  1. My great grandmother’s engagement ring.
  2. A black shirt with polka dots and a peplum.
  3. About four copies of the book The Road Less Traveled by M. Scott Peck even though I later found out he was a big hypocritical adulterer.
  4. A scrumptious leather couch everyone loves sitting on.
  5. A huge wicker basket full of semi-sorted papers.
  6. Four unopened jars of nutella.
  7. A red and black wallet my husband gave me.
  8. A large brimmed hat, SPF 50, which I wear all the time.
  9. A lot of black sweaters. But where are they when I want them?

10. A very old jar of asafoetida (an Indian spice, also known as hing, now known as “ancient powder with no flavor”).

11. A crockpot that I actually use. Now I’m making baked beans in it and I think they’re going to rot before anybody eats them. .

12. A yogurt maker I occasionally use.

13. Scarves my mom bought in Italy last year.

14. A GPS system my son bought me for Christmakkah.

15. Socks with teacups on them.

16. Copies of books I wrote.

17. A picture of my parents with my sister and me (Dad with a crewcut, Mom with red lipstick, her pocketbook on her arm, little girls with pixie cuts), that is so perfect I call it the “CIA Family Photo.”

18. An extremely patient cat named Thelonius Monk who is always doing just what you want him to do the minute you want him to do it, provided that what you want is for him to sleep in a picturesque manner.

19. A picture my younger son drew of a little turtle on the back of a large turtle for mother’s day this year. Because that’s how little turtles travel.

20. My house, which I love.

21. Large boxes with old letters—including letters from old friends and love letters from my husband from the years when we lived far apart.

22. My Book House Books, a set of old books of legends that I read voraciously when I was young, and which once belonged to my father. I still read them.

23. Daffodils and crocuses that bloom each spring from a giant basket of flowers my sister gave me when she was worried about my health.

24. An annoyingly non-functional can opener.

25. A blanket my mother knit me.



I could definitely go on. We have knives, forks, a toaster oven, a real oven, a freezer, two refrigerators, two cars, pictures on the wall, Cds, beds, curtains, food, a bottle opener from India, cans of tomatoes, watercolor paint, and so many more things. I think this is an exercise that a person could do a number of times. I think I will do it again. But I wanted to stop and pause about the meaning and the feeling of these objects, of the memories they evoked. It interests me that so many of these objects evoke love to me. Love and history. I see my ring every day, on my hand, and I know that in my blood is a Scottish lady I never met. I know that I read books that my father probably sat down and read, cross-legged on the floor or stretched on his bed, as a little boy. That my sister gave me a basket of flowers that were so immense and extravagant that I could feel her love and worry  mingled together, and that they were almost an offering to the gods on behalf of me as well as a present to me. I think of my son, earning all of his own money, but still buying me an extravagant present to keep me safe. Of how much I love tea and my teacup socks make me happy. Of how sometimes I like to cook big meals for my family and use that stupid can opener because it works slightly better than the other horrible can opener to open cans of crushed tomatoes. Because I want to nurture them, and have family dinner every day, the way my family always did. Of how our friend Meera taught us to cook Indian food. Of all the letters that we used to write before email.


Oh, I feel so full of love, just thinking of what these objects represent. So today’s challenge is:


Prompt 3: Write a memory of someone you care about. What is an experience you shared? How did it show that person’s personality? If you can use sensory details, such as what they wear, sound like, characteristics about how they move, all the better.

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