Thursday Born

The everyday life of a medical student (who was born on a Thursday).

Slowly Embracing Minimalism

with 12 comments

My default is not to throw things away. However, after eight years of accumulating items and moving with them from dorm room to dorm room and facing a self-financed cross country move, I finally realized that many of my material possessions were unnecessary burdens and not worth the time to pack or the money to ship. So before I moved for medical school I spent a lot of time going through my possessions and a fairly large amount of items were culled. Even though I won’t be moving again for about three more years, I’m trying to keep my volume of possessions relatively low. It’s nice having all the space I do and the only way to keep this space is to constantly edit what gets to stay.

This precarious stack of printed materials is the majority of books and notes from my entire first year of med school. It’s about mid-thigh high. I opted out from receiving the printed powerpoint slides for many of the classes, and I either didn’t buy some of the textbooks, or have already sold them back, so this is quite a bit shorter than the stack a number of my classmates would have. I think the textbooks will get to back on my shelves, but a lot of the other material (like the course packets) I have duplicated as computer files, so I guess they’ll get recycled? I might let my tests stick around for a year or so, but I really doubt I’ll ever refer back to them. Maybe I’ll go ahead and recycle those now too.

Now this is a pile of items that has taken me many, many years to let go of (just ask my mother. She’s been baffled as to why I refused to give them away even as a teenager, but bless her heart, she’s left them alone all these years).  I’m now at the point where a photo of an item is (almost) enough of a sentimental reminder for me for items that I have little day to day use for. These are about half of my remaining stuffed animals, and they’re destined to be donated now that I’ve gotten around to giving them a final wash (and one or two need to be mended) and I’ve taken a picture of them. I still need to go through the pile that went through college with me and see if I’m ready to let go of any of them too. I’m really fond my two desk dragons because they’re actually really well made and quite lovely, and my white stuffed cat that I’ve owned since I was a baby (I actually have no idea who gave it to me; was it my parents? Was it a gift from someone else?), and the husky that my boyfriend gave me before we started dating. There’s some other plushies (gifts I received in college) that I already know won’t stick around for years and years, but it feels too soon to give them up. Maybe next time I move? Since I got these as an adult they were never played with and are in great shape, so maybe I’ll just re-gift them to the upcoming generation of family members…

And of course, clothes. I’m editing my wardrobe to lean toward overall containing more “professional attire” than casual every day clothing, because honestly, I only have a year left of getting to wear t-shirts and jeans every day, followed by decades of scrubs and/or professional clothing. So out with the random clothes from Urban Outfitters, and in with the blouses and the slacks. Someday I’ll need to make a t-shirt quilt, because I have a lot of random t-shirts that already only get worn at home but that are memorabilia that I don’t want to donate (or just take a picture of). Making a quilt out of them seems like a fitting solution. =)

I’m dating a pack rat and living with one, so this isn’t easy. To be fair though, my boyfriend’s also working on letting go of things too, and we’ve been pretty good at not gifting items that generate/become clutter. It’s really freeing, taking pictures of things and then giving up the item. I’ll never be a “all my possessions fit in a backpack” person, but  I hope to be the sort of person whose car fits in their garage, if I ever have a car and a garage that I would like to put said car in.

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Written by Aba

June 8, 2010 at 4:47 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

12 Responses

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  1. Geeze. Thanks. I can give up things, i swear! I threw out two circle chairs in my life and i toss all things that aren’t really fixable. i threw out my old speakers, right? and a mug once b/c it broke. and and um… yeah. -_-; and i gave a bookshelf to roro

    Hao

    June 8, 2010 at 5:21 pm

    • You’re also the one who walked into my room when I was taking pictures of the stuffed animals I was going to give away and was all “But they’re so cute!” =P

      Aba

      June 11, 2010 at 10:24 am

      • well, yes. but to me stuffed animals are almost people/pets. they’re the closest to pets i have and it’s like giving up your beloved puppy or kitty for no reason other than clutter. :/

        well, i guess people do do that. -_-; if i ever get kitties, they will be spayed and what not.

        Hao

        June 11, 2010 at 1:20 pm

      • Hrm. I find seeing stuffed animals as that almost sentient and worthy of …respect? consideration? vaguely disquieting, somehow (which I guess is how the idea of giving them away feels to you). I did have lots of real pets growing up, so stuffed animals were always very tangibly Not Real and not only that, but the live pets eventually die(d), so I’m very used to having to say goodbye, and that feels more natural and right.

        Aba

        June 11, 2010 at 1:35 pm

      • i think accidentally loosing stuffed animals is like a pet dying. i go through panic and try to find them phase, then accepting, and then sometimes replacing.

        i wonder if i’m like this b/c i’ve never had a real pet before. :/

        Hao

        June 11, 2010 at 4:58 pm

      • Not having had a pet before is probably a factor, but also probably not the only reason. Some people just get more attached to things in general.

        Aba

        June 11, 2010 at 7:55 pm

  2. I read once that ancient Indian scholars would commit entire passages of texts to memory because they didn’t think that having them on paper copies was a good safeguard.

    What I’m basically trying to say is: YOU’VE MEMORIZED ALL THE MATERIAL FOR YOUR FIRST YEAR CLASSES, RIGHT?

    I’m kind of wondering whether I should do something like this soon. I do have some stuff that I think would benefit from being donated, although after watching Toy Story, I get really sad about giving away my stuff.

    Carlos

    June 9, 2010 at 4:16 pm

    • I’ve memorized enough? =D

      I’ve never seen any of the Toy Story movies. Way to spoil the plot! (I’ve seen the trailers though so that was totally not a spoiler).

      Aba

      June 11, 2010 at 10:26 am

  3. Kelley and I have been downsizing for the past 6 months. Might steal your t-shirt quilt idea. 🙂

    Edjah Nduom

    June 10, 2010 at 12:06 am

    • I was really happy when I first came across that idea. All these school shirts rarely fit me anyway! They never order them small enough and even when they do, they never order enough of the smaller ones.

      Aba

      June 11, 2010 at 10:29 am

      • REMEMBER, we have a SEWING MACHINE in our apt! 😀 under my piles and piles of artsy stuff in my room….

        Hao

        June 11, 2010 at 1:21 pm

      • Yup. If I get around to making my t-shirt quilt before I’m done with med school, I’ll be using your sewing machine.

        Aba

        June 11, 2010 at 1:31 pm


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