What are you saving it for?

You would never ever see a scattered pile of books (unorganized!) in my house.

You would never ever see a pile of books like this in my house. 

With the exception of books, I don’t keep things.

I can’t do, can’t deal with, clutter.

If I open the dreaded junk drawer in the kitchen and it’s looking full — and what junk drawer doesn’t look full? — I have to stifle the urge to drag over the trash bin and toss every last item out.  Out out out!

I don’t like knick-knacks, collections, souvenirs, trifles, sentimental doodads that that other people (normal people?) save all their lives.  I can’t work at a messy desk and, god almighty, I can’t stand piles of sweaters or jeans or socks or too many people or too much food on a table or too much “stuff” in one place.

If you really want to punish me, all you need do is plop me down with a weekend marathon of the show “Hoarders” or make me go to Costco or Walmart … … on a Saturday.

And yet.

There’s an irony here.  I don’t keep things, but I do save them.  I was talking with a friend the other day about how we — how I — “save” clothes.  How, if I have 4 sweaters in my closet, I’ll wear the same one over and over so other 3 will be clean and ready if and when I ever need them.  If I delete a paragraph, or a page, or an entire chapter from my book, I save it.  What if I need it later and it’s … holy all hell on earth … gone??


Are you a saver?

19 thoughts on “What are you saving it for?

  1. jpon

    That’s scary… mostly because I do the same thing with clothes and with writing. My hard drive is full of files like “possibly useable from version 5.” Because you just never know. It might fit in somewhere.

    1. Teri Post author

      I would love to break this habit, the one of saving every spare paragraph. I permanently delete a lot more than I used to, but it pains me every single time. The what ifs…

  2. Josey

    my little brother used to save everything. ink pens, used tickets, wine corks he’d find in my room. “i collect those,” he would tell me when he was little, like five or six. “i collect those.” it was a joke between my husband and me when he would stay with us. he’d find an old magazine or something of my husbands and ask if he could have it. “sure,” we would say, “do you collect those now?”

    this is all that came to mind. i got a text from my brother saying he was going to be in texas for the next two months on work, and will be interviewing for a position there while he’s gone.

    my family continues to splinter. sorry to go so dark. i’m actually not in a bad place over it–i’m excited for him.

    shit, what did you ask? am i a savior? (ha ha!!)

    1. Teri Post author

      This was not the least bit dark, Josey. I remember a time when I was little and I wanted to collect spoons — you know, those souvenir spoons you get when you fall into a tourist trap. I wanted to be able to prove that I’d been to Meramec Caverns and Kentucky Lake.

  3. Paul Lamb

    I certainly do save deleted material from my stories. It made some kind of sense at the time I wrote it, and I worry that I may need that sense (or sentence) later. Somewhere I have a box of my early short stories (on paper) that I’m sure would make me cringe now, but for some reason I feel it is important to keep them.

    For most other parts of my life, I like to travel light. I’m saving all of the bibs from my runs, but I just gave away three pairs of my old running shoes. My closet is lean (though my dresser is rapidly filling up with shirts from my runs). I think a Buddhist would say that we are all shackled to the possessions we have in life, and that makes a kind of sense to me.

    Alas, I don’t live by myself. My wife is a keeper of things. Every single scrap in her life has some sentimental value, and parting with anything is fraught with emotions.

    1. independentclause

      Other people always complicate things. I am a bit of a saver but my spouse is a major saver. I will say, however, he’s gotten better about throwing/giving things away over the years. There are times he will hand an item to me and say “do something with this,” and I’ve come to learn this means “throw it away, but don’t tell me about it, I can’t bear to do it myself.”

    2. Teri Post author

      My husband is, thankfully, a saver of just about everything. Without him I’d probably be living in a spare room with comfy cot and I wouldn’t have things like Christmas decorations made by our kids or my mother.

      And speaking of my mother, she only saved what was truly important to her, and all of her things are, a decade after her death, still being held prisoner in her husband’s house. I’d save it all if I could get it out of there.

  4. independentclause

    I use Scrivener (unpaid plug for an amazing and cheap word processing program that allows you to compose your book nonlinearly, unlike, say, Word), and in every draft of the manuscript I have a file that is called “Abandoned,” and more recently “Dead Sentence Office.” Almost nothing gets deleted for good.

    1. Teri Post author

      I, too, and thankful for Scrivener and how it saves what I’m writing every few seconds. Sometimes I think saving unusable scenes and chapters is nothing more than a security blanket. How rarely I ever really go back and find something I can use.

  5. Lyra

    Yep, saver. I have no problem giving things away, I just hate throwing things in the trash. I have this unhealthy obsession with need, something I don’t need, someone else may. And landfills. I can’t wrap my head around the immensity of them and that there are more of us producing more garbage with a finite amount of room in which to store it. I don’t know why we’re still producing things that have a disintegration rate of plutonium. I say this with Christmas around the corner and plastic kid toys filling my house…

    1. Teri Post author

      I’m glad I’m not the only with a pocketful of contradictions. 😉 I must say I’m thankful now that my kids are grown and we no longer buy xmas presents AT ALL. I used to think I hated the holidays, but I what I realize now is that I just hated the shopping.

  6. Suzy Vitello

    I am a saver of sentimental crap (having to do with the kids), and old manuscripts. Other than that, I’m a fan of purging and tossing.

    The killing of darlings in manuscripts has gotten much easier, however.

    1. Teri Post author

      I wish I were more sentimental. Kind of like I wish I were a leggy blonde who could eat pizza and mashed potatoes and Mexican food everyday and yet have trouble keeping weight on. A girl can dream.

  7. Averil Dean

    No, I’m a slash-and-burner. But in my house at least I’m trying to reinvent myself as someone who loves a busy, colorful space. Because I do, when I walk into one and it works. I envy the way people surround themselves with things they enjoy. But I can’t seem to get my own stuff together that way and really embrace the excess. Except with books, in which case I’m doing just fine.

    1. Teri Post author

      We are now so over-the-limit in books that we’re storing some in the garage. The. Garage. I can’t even believe it, and yet we continue to get boxes of more books dropped on the doorstep weekly.

      And speaking of color, I was looking at Lyra’s photos the other day with her newly-painted blue kitchen. Love it!!

  8. girl in the hat

    I’m definitely not a saver. I’m not a hoarder either (although I love, love to watch the show). I take great satisfaction in not buying things. I love to shop but a good day shopping is when I don’t spend a penny. I have a bag by the door where I collect the things I’ll donate to the thrift store and it fills fast.

    The exceptions: Books, shoes, and necklaces.

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