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Monday June 13, 2005 // By Sandy


Someone asked me, after I told her about our weekend garage sale, if it seemed like our home felt ten pounds lighter. While I admire the thought of likening this purge to a massive, uh, dump-taking, the sad truth is that it does not. There may be a few more square feet of free floor space than before, and some closet shelves less occupied, but overall, we are still overrun with an abundance of crap. I swear, we got rid of tons, but coming back inside Sunday evening after it was all done, the reality hit us: we can still get rid of more.

Once you get into it, the purge mentality is intoxicating. There’s this show on TV called Clean Sweep, where the premise is that instead of going through your possessions and removing the stuff you think you don’t need, instead you move EVERYTHING outside onto your lawn, and only bring back inside the stuff you really can’t live without. We didn’t have the time or patience for such an exercise, but I tried to apply the same mentality to our purge. With every item I found, I’d ask myself, “Would my life be worsened without this in it?” If the answer was “No,” into the garage it went.

I like to think this method was foolproof, but it wasn’t. I would sometimes loosen my definition of “worsened” to take on a meaning more like “less fun” or “less nifty”. Now I look around, and while I see fewer books and more room in our dresser, I still see a decrepit box of Perquackey, still never played. Necessary? No. Nifty? Hell yeah.


We made about $270 on our sale, plus about $50 in tax deductions from the leftover items that got sent to Howard Brown. (Once those things left the house, there was no way any of them were coming back in.) People seem to think this is a pretty good take for a weekend, but then that recessive entrepreneurial gene I get from my dad kicks in and wonders how much more we could have made if we priced everything just a bit higher. For example, we sold all our clothes for $1-2 per item. That seemed reasonable until Sarah went around the neighborhood herself and bought a pair of jeans for $5. If there are suckers buyers in this neighborhood who’ll pay $5 for jeans, what were we doing selling them for 60% less?

Last night we brainstormed for an appropriate way to spent our earnings. Something that would help us sustain this upgraded state of cleanliness. Our decision: a maid. We’ve been thinking about this for a while, wondering if we’re ready to admit we’re the kind of people who hire help. (It’s right there in the name: we hire help, because we are without it. We are helpless. Yeesh.) But from a cost-benefit viewpoint, it makes perfect sense. The time spent on cleaning has gotten long enough that we’d be happy to pay to have that time back. To say nothing of the improvement in quality we’d gain from having a professional do it. There’s no shame in that.

Meanwhile, we continue to purge. No new books come into our house without the promise to remove the same number from our shelves. Same with clothes, cookbooks and kitchen tools. Hopefully, by the time of next year’s garage sale, we’ll be in such an anorexic state that we’ll be able to skip the selling and spend the weekend doing something more fun… like garage sale shopping.

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