It’s hard to catch any member of my family going on a self-help tear. This is partly because we are already awesome and partly, at least speaking for myself, because I tend to discount advice that might actually be useful on the grounds that it can’t be all that clever if I’m not already doing it.
But this week I’ve been reading a self-improvement book. It looks like a home improvement book, but that’s a disguise. The book is called Apartment Therapy, and it’s written by an interior decorator. Unsurprisingly, he recommends curtains and expensive furniture. That’s not what moved me to action. What got me was the author’s insistence on getting rid of a whole bunch of crap, including stuff you think is important.
It would be easy to dismiss this as new-age Voluntary Simplicity claptrap, except that he’s got a good reason: his own apartment is 250 square feet. I cannot beat this guy, although I guess I could argue that because our apartment is larger than 250 square feet, I have plenty of room for all the stuff he thinks I should get rid of.
Oh, okay, I know he’s right. I know because last year we moved from a larger apartment into a smaller one. We had to move a large number of books, including nearly all of my non-food-related books, into storage. We ripped all of our CDs to iTunes and got rid of them (this was an awesome call and I highly recommend it). Probably we also had to store other stuff I’ve forgotten about. In the ten months since we moved, I have gone looking for a book that was in storage exactly once, and the book was Stanley Park, which is food-related and probably should have gone on the cookbook shelf.
So after reading some Apartment Therapy, I told Laurie we could go ahead and get rid of any of my books that are still packed away. I don’t know what they are and I don’t want to know, because then I might start saying, “You were going to get rid of this? Are you crazy?” where this is something like a book of urban planning essays that I haven’t read since 1994.
The books were easy to let go of, because they were already half-gone, and that’s the A.T. guy’s clever innovation. You’re not getting rid of stuff, you’re just putting it into an “outbox.” It’s a trial separation.
Of course, now I’m wondering if I might be able to do the same with the kitchen. I love the idea of the panini grill, but I’ve actually used it once since the move, I think. And why do we have three one-quart saucepans?
Laurie, if you’re reading, don’t worry–I’m not going to wheelbarrow out the kitchen while your back is turned. And I really do use both of my three-quart saucepans at once sometimes.
How about you, readers? Ever scaled back your pantry? How did it go?