Monday, November 14, 2011

An Acr0nymism

That is not to be confused with Anachronism.

An Acr0nymism is what I call a behavior or character trait that seems to be unique - one that's typically eccentric - to Acr0nym, my BFF and additional non-husband (yes, apparently you can have more than one least, if you're me).

Like...OK, Acr0nym? Is a HUGE fan of Alton Brown, that cooking guy. And any time any conversation turns toward the subject of cooking, Acr0nym nearly always manages to work Alton into the conversation. I suspect ACr0nym knows of every recipe Alton Brown has ever published or stamped with his approval. This is handy. It's also creepy. It is an Acr0nymism.

Acr0nym has single-handedly rendered Google obsolete in my life. All I have to say to him is, "I wonder how someone might do [insert thing here]" and, before I can even finish my thought, he's sent me the link on how to do [insert thing here]. How many non-husbands do you know that can A) read your mind and B) have a link at the fore? Not many, I can tell you from experience.

Acr0nym, and his brain, is just...awesome! (Which is, in large part, why I asked for his head and brain upon his untimely death.)

But Acr0nym also that are not unique to him - not by a long shot. Because Acr0nym isn't just a collector of information. No, no. He's also a collector of stuff.

An example of Acr0nym's stuff organized neatly.

Even more stuff.

If you're wondering, these (multiple) type cases are hanging on one of the walls in his room displaying coins, mystery box toys, and acorn (more widely known as bubblegum) machine prizes he's collected.

(Oh lord, I spot empty spaces.)

Now, if it just stopped at the toys, that probably wouldn't be a big deal. But Acr0nym has so many varied interests beyond recipes and toys! He is a consummate collector of, well, everything!


His organized pen collection (this isn't even a 10th of it):

Acr0nym's pens and bottles of ink. These are just what's displayed.
And here's the relatively unorganized collection of blank paper (ignore Ayn Rand on the shelf):

Paper, paper, and even more paper!

 We haven't even begun to touch on it. There are also the flashlights, the knives, the kitchen single-purpose gadgets, the books, the movies, the hard drive space (16 TERABYTES and counting!), the random cables that connect to...I don't even know what. If it's collectible? Acr0nym has a collection of it (except, apparently, cats).

And most of it is stacked, stored, and stuffed into the nooks and crannies of both his brain and his house.

Now, please do not misunderstand me. Acr0nym is not a hoarder as you might see on any of those hoarder television shows (of which I've seen exactly none). He has only one cat for instance and, if you don't know where to look, you wouldn't know there's anything amiss. I've seen him use his trash can a number of times and you can easily navigate through his home. So I know he knows how to make decisions about what's valuable and what's not.

The problem is that much of what he's accumulated does have someone. It's just not mostly of value to him. That's a problem not unique to him. That's a problem I'd guess most of you have.

That's how I, the aspiring minimalist, see it anyhow.

Anyway, a couple months' back, Acr0nym started talking to me about wanting to undertake a de-cluttering project. Perhaps it came to his attention when he thought he might have to move to San Francisco - when the idea of packing and moving became particularly daunting. More likely though, he'd been stewing about all his stuff for some time and just hadn't mentioned it because Acr0nym does not like change (of the life variety or the U.S. Mint variety...unless it's of the quarter change kind...the kind that works in acorn machines).

When he started talking about this project to me, I encouraged him at every turn...gently. When he started sending me random links to organizing, de-cluttering, and minimalist websites, I didn't say much of anything except, "Wow! That's really cool!" I didn't want to deter him in any way. See how quietly encouraging I am?

It was still a surprise to me, about a month ago, when he asked me to come up one Sunday and keep him company while he sorted through some "stuff". I didn't hesitate. I said, "Of course!"

It turns out, he'd decided he could stay on task if someone else was there to keep him focused. It'd come out later that he'd be better able to decide to keep, throw away, donate, or sell if someone else was there who might pass judgment on the keep pile.

So...every Sunday for the last 4 Sundays, I've made my way to Acr0nym's house. He requires little more from me than just sitting there. He usually feeds me tasty food, good wine, and television - something I don't get at home - while he sorts, throws away, keeps, or puts in a box to give his mom - a professional seller of secondhand goods.

He's doing unbelievably well!

But there are several more miles and many Sundays to go as was evident by the sight that I was beholden to this past Sunday when he'd emptied out the cupboard under the stairs...

A buncha stuff!
More stuff!

Look! Some stuff!
OMG! Seriously, more stuff.

If it were me, I'd toss - in some capacity - 85% of it. But that's because I've learned to be ruthless with myself and my material goods. For him, I'm proud of him when he can whittle down what he is able to discard 25- 30% of what's there. I figure that, once he's started, he'll be able to be more and more ruthless with himself until nearly all of it is gone.

So far, he's doing very well.

He's still got a ways to go. But I'll dedicate a month of Sunday afternoons to him if it'll mean he'll emerge out from under all the weight of the stuff he's been carrying around.

It has me thinking though...

Why do we collect stuff? Even me, the aspiring minimalist, collects stuff. I hesitate to say hoard but I do hoard...crackers, cheese, wine, and blog entries. I collect books - used books - with long-forgotten inscriptions in matter the book.

What do you collect? What do you hoard? What do you want to get out from underneath? I know Acr0nym isn't the only one. I know I'm not. What is it you keep close, knowing it's not necessary? Why is the stuff we collect important, seemingly necessary when, in actuality, it's just more stuff?


Teresa said...

Teddy Bears......and crayolas......and office supplies.......that's for starters.

Just Jane said...

Yeah but you collect various incarnates of the infamous Jo Jo Bob. That's not stuff! That's...JO JO BOB!

Anonymous said...

Dust. I collect dust. And a few other things.

Teresa said...

Jo Jo Bob...........yeah...good ole Jo Jo Bob. Would you believe, he's been retired and put away.......for Matthew once he gets a little older?

Just Jane said...

Anonymous: I've got plenty of THAT too.

Teresa: I can believe it. I think that's a lovely thing to do.

Gaelyn said...

I recently discovered my mother was a hoarder. She didn't own just one of anything and never threw away a plastic container. Now I know where I get it but thank goodness I'm not as OCD. Plus living in an RV reduces space to store, hoard or display (see yesterday's post). Yet I love to go to yard sales, used to sell at fleamarkets, and it's Really hard not to buy. There are several things I collect. Including rocks which I now mostly high-grade and leave at my winter parking spot. I reduce about every six months. Gets so the stuff owns me. Nice job helping your BFF. It's so freeing!

alienbody said...

Glass jars. I love them. I fantasize about re-using, reducing carbon foot print, yada yada yada. Mostly they sit in my pantry. Magazines, because I SWEAR I'll read them, I SWEAR! Books, even books I don't want to read - I just have trouble getting rid of them (but force myself to).

Lucy said...

Gosh, I have to admit I am pretty good at tossing things, I mean I tossed my wedding dress when it turned out it was not packed correctly and therefore it was stained beyond help. But, I do like Precious Moments and I have a lot of them and I have to say whenever we go to move I will find stuff and think,"Why did I put that in a box?"
I think it is great you are supporting your friend. He definitely has a lot of stuff and I would feel so 'closed in' around all that stuff, it would be hard for me to sit there without wanting to go, "Toss this, toss that" but I know that would send him into overdrive and that is the last thing he needs!!

Michael said...

I collect George Pelecanos books and that's about it and I'm thinking of stopping that now that I have an ereader. Having too much stuff actually starts to make me feel nervous. Acr0nym's stuff looks cool though (especially the giant bowling ball and the spaceship thing) and I bet he'd be a great next door neighbor to have.