Sunday, March 25, 2012

Money, Books, Clutter and Depression

In a way I'm thankful the Brisbane trip was so expensive, because there were so many books I wanted in the GOMA and QAG museum shops and the State Library bookshop. (Minor inconvenience: these art books weighed a ton, and I went on the cheap fare that allowed me 7kg of carry on bag only, remember?) My apartment was half a block away from what looked like a big used book shop, but I only took photo of the place. I felt virtuous not wasting money when I'm trying hard to cull stuff.

You may find this unimaginable, but I was not always a hoarder. In fact, I grew up with a fabric- and yarn-obsessed mother, so for a long time I didn't need to stock. Now, there is a different story in her case; she grew up in a large household during the war and from memory several of their houses, consecutively not simultaneously, got bombed and burned. She watched her mother trade precious kimono with food, and then her mother died shortly after the war ended, and Mom effectively became the female head of a large household, with a small staff, as I understand. When I was a kid, she bought stuff in bulk if she could, fabric by the bolt, when bulk buying wasn't so widespread in Japan.

Books were the only thing I collected, but at least until I got married I read everything I bought before I bought more. Then came two significant changes in my life: around '92 Japan went into the recession that continues to this day and the first think I noticed was books began to go out of print. Up until then, in Japan, most books I would have been interested in never went out of print, and there was a good change larger stores had them on their shelves on any given day. in '94 we moved to New Zealand, and never mind stock, there just weren't the big bookstores.

When I started to weave, I had to oder everything from far away, like Ashburton, or the USA. After we moved to Nelson, there was one weaving store, in Picton about 90 minutes away, but this closed soon after. And because I live at the bottom of the plant and shipping/posting cost so much, I tended to order a few extra cones/books just in case. As a beginner, I could justify needing a little extra for practice, or reading them as I progressed and understood more. At that point, it wasn't a problem.

And then early this century, I was diagnosed with mild to moderate depression with a large side order of anxiety. (One psychologists, who spent the longest time investigating my various complaints, thinks anxiety is a bigger problem in my case.)

Whatever the causes, I started buying things. Not a lot, per se, but often. I also became a bargain hunter and started to buy things I don't use, just in case. And I couldn't keep an inventory of similar things I already had. And I was aware culling, at this point, was a bad idea because I was unable to make decisions of any kind, including with what to part.

It started with weaving books and yarns, but extended to other books, art supplies, fabric, spices/herbs/sauces, household cleaning products, aromatic oils, body soaps and moisturizers. Plus, I helped Mom clean out her stash big time twice, I salvaged large amount, including sending back NZ yarns she brought home on her numerous trips here.

I was aware I was buying, but I wasn't aware I had a psychological need for it; I was saving them for when I resumed normal, productive life. I was aware, too, my things were taking up a lot of space, but I kept everything, waiting for the day my head came right, so I can declutter "correctly".

About the time we repainted the stash room in mid-2009, I got tired of things taking up space and I could see the buying had gotten out of hand, and I've been trying to declutter ever since. That I can even think and talk about this is a sign my head's been in a good place for the last 12-18 months; whatever panic attack or doubts I feel have been mostly normal ups and downs or short-lived.

Household cleaning products were first to go; not thrown out, but from time to time I'd engage in intensive cleaning even while I was sick. We gradually reduced the types of products I buy and switched everything to supposedly "green" products. The many, lovely, un-cheap body soaps and spices/herbs/sauces we just used, and only two hideously hot sauces remain from those days, though they are nice and we dip into them occasionally. Fabric, some books and some yarns have been donated to charity or given to friends. But there is still so much more, not just stuff, but cardboard boxes holding stuff, which we no longer see because they have been there for a while.

There were two triggers for writing this post, one being about a month ago I noticed there were gaps in the linen closet and I could see how few aromatic oils and moisturizers I had. (Still many, but that's relative.) The other was just last week I had thought my yarn stash looks so much better than before, until I went downstairs and remembered I had transported about a quarter of the stash there while I worked on relevant projects. I burst out laughing because my yarn stash is still very, very big. I can keep weaving a variety of things for eight to ten years without buying another ball, I figured.

Books I want to read before I cull, because I do buy interesting books. Yarns, as long as I am able, I'm weaving with them, because I kept only nice yarns. 

But the point is, I can think about this, and talk about this, without crawling into another dark hole. And that's a good thing, a big change.

I did buy one book on Matisse in Brisbane, but it was so heavy I had to post it home.


  1. Though the circumstances of writing this post. I'm really glad to hear that you're better. And that you have people in your life to help you.
    I have anxiety and depression as well. Some days it creeps back. You're an inspiration.
    - a fan

  2. Oh, Teana, we are but two snails crossing paths in the huge garden that is this world. We may journey together awhile, our paths may cross frequently for a short time, or not so but several times in our journey to the other side of the garden. Whatever the case, happy slithering/gliding.


  3. You are a treasure, I always look forward to Megweaves on my Facebook page. I love your writing...a memoir would be great! Thanks for being on this planet at the same time as me.

  4. Thank you, Storyteller. Glad to be of service. Because, you would know, if you can't laugh at your own life, there's only crying left. But seriously, my life is pretty hilarious on the whole, and what people don't get is, I don't always exaggerate!


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