All of you with clean, uncluttered homes, I salute and envy you. How do you do it? In my time on this earth, I’ve accumulated so much STUFF that I don’t know what to do with it anymore. Some of it is personal and nostalgic, some useful, some decorative, but there’s an awful lot of it that has become more or less obsolete but still sits in my home weighed down by my emotional attachment. Here are some of the dumbest examples:

1.  My CD collection

This is the biggest, but not the dumbest (wait’ll you see item #2). I still remember the first CD I ever bought, even before I had my first CD player. At the time I was worried about all the money I was going to spend replacing all my vinyl (which I still own, alas), but I don’t think it was a bad call: I got years of enjoyment out of them. And at least I pitched all my cassettes. 

It’s 2021. I subscribe to a streaming music service, and those CDs are just here for me to gaze upon.  What am I supposed to do with them? I don’t think you can even donate them anymore, because nobody wants them. 

But I can’t throw away the beloved albums of my favorite musicians, the ones I raced to the store to get on record release day. As someone who used to spend happy hours prowling around NYC’s record & CD stores, this feels like blasphemy.

2.  Old laptops, especially my last one that I really loved

Am I the only one who gets emotionally attached to laptops? They support me in hard times, both emotionally and financially. They are a source of inspiration and distraction whenever I need it, they’ve enabled me to earn a living, and I’ve developed personal relationships with each and every one. 

When I have to replace them for whatever reason, it wrecks me. And even when I’ve wiped the hard drives and moved on, I stare at the last laptop with love and longing, overwhelmed by memories. I think it would be nice if one of the kids wanted them, but the last thing a kid wants in a hand-me-down is a computer, they’re playing online video games! My old laptop is of no use to them. Even adults tell me that old computers are useless. Shut up, I love them. 

3.  Shoes I loved, even though they’re ruined

When I scored my first senior-level job, I immediately started fretting about my wardrobe. I’ve never been a good shopper, I don’t like dressing up, and most of all, I don’t relate to women’s shoes. Heels are a no, because ouch. Flats? Also a no, mostly because I’m one of those people who’s cold all the time and nothing drains the heat out of your body faster than exposed feet, even if it’s just the tops of them.

My solution came from a coworker and former boss who understood that being in the media industry gave me a little leeway. He told me that since I wanted to wear sneakers all the time, I should pick up some really cool stylish ones, and make that my “thing.” Brilliant! I’m now the proud owner of a lot of really great and unique sneakers. When I’m out in the world, I get compliments on them regularly.

But a lot of time has passed since I started, and some of those gorgeous shoes have lost their luster. They’re frayed, dulled, or just beaten down to the point that they don’t look great anymore. They’re not great for walking in either, thanks to the rips and tears brought on by the rigors of everyday life. 

My red sparkle Converse are just sad now, along with my paisley Pumas and my crazy striped Osirus kicks Do people still say kicks?. Every time I try to pitch them, I end up caressing them gently and lovingly and putting them back. They’re too cool to part with.

4.  Stupid promotional items I got for free

There are some that are practical AND represent pop culture I love. A Food Network lunchbox here, a set of Star Trek salt & pepper shakers there. But I also have all kinds of pointless items that seem weird enough to hold onto, and the absolute weirdest has to be a set of Kirstie Alley nesting dolls. I don’t even LIKE Kirstie Alley. 

5.  Outdated reference books

But they’re so cool! Oh wait, I think I said that about the shoes.

In a world where information is available after typing just a word or two into a search engine, where updates are frequent, and where more difficult to find answers can be crowdsourced, having thick, heavy reference books seems pointless. 

Remember having a set of encyclopedias in your house or at your school library? Can you imagine such a thing now? I have reference books on the Oscars, Halliwell’s Film Guide, a Rolling Stones discography book, the New York Public Library Desk reference from who knows when… what am I supposed to do, just throw them away?

Spoiler, the answer is yes. But I’m keeping my two People’s Almanacs, because it doesn’t matter how outdated they are, they’re still fun to read. And stay away from my Star Trek books.

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About Laurie Ulster

A transplanted Canadian living in New York, Laurie Ulster is a freelance writer and a TV producer who somehow survived her very confusing adolescence as the lone female Star Trek fan in middle school. She writes about pop culture, lifestyle topics, feminism, food, and other topics for print, digital, podcasts, and TV.

View all posts by Laurie Ulster

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