A•Musings from The House of Stuff

May 14, 2010

It’s good to be a seeker, but sooner or later you have to be a finder. And then it is well to give what you have found, a gift into the world of whoever will accept it.
• Jonathan Livingston Seagull (Richard Bach)

Orville Wright wrote numbers on the eggs his hens laid so he could eat them in order. I read this somewhere and wrote it down. I collect such bits of strangeness. I collect lots of things, but those that fascinate me the most on my sliding scale of attraction are oddities, those small reminders of the idiosyncrastic sea I swim in daily.

You can never have too many books.

To discover what normal means, you have to surf a tide of weirdness.
• Charlotte Rampling

Rampling is right. There are waves of weirdness to be surfed, but many people do not see them. They float contentedly in their boats of normalcy and do not know that the depths hide unimagined delights. Or they see those things and find them ugly. Ignore them. Despise them. I understand this. I have my own contemptuous moments, although there aren’t very many of them. I actually like accordion music and am entranced by many things that repel those of you with good taste.

I've been good. Can I go out and play?

Junk is the ideal product. . .the ultimate merchandise. No sales talk necessary. The client will crawl through a sewer and beg to buy.
• William S. Burroughs

As much as I love awful stuff—quite possibly the junk of which Burroughs speaks—I do not purchase most of it. Take Shoedini, for example. As delightful as it would be to have a shoehorn with a handle long enough to prevent the backbreaking work of putting on my loafers and saddle oxfords and get a free shoe polisher that never needs polish to boot, I do not bite. Not even when offered a second one absolutely free (just pay shipping and handling).

As I said, you can never have too many books.

Come good times or bad, there is always a market for things nobody needs.
•Kin Hubbard

So true. This is actually a much deeper statement than it might appear to be. Think about it. How much of what you purchase represents things you actually need? How much represents choices that could be filled by other cheaper and less tasty items, for example. Food for thought. (Second pun alert. Just FYI.)

So that’s the question today: What’s your list of absolute necessities?

A little nonsense now and then is relished by the wisest men.
• Gene Wilder as Willie Wonka



  1. At this moment, most of my worldly possessions are in storage in another state. I brought with me only the “necessities” in the interest of space and practicality in general. I recently visited my stuff in storage to retrieve a few more “necessities” and was struck by how much I have missed my stuff. None of it is worth a plug nickel by society’s standards of valuable items, but it’s mine, and I like it, and I miss having it around me. Is it necessary? No, obviously not, since I have lived without it for the last six months. But I felt grounded by it, standing there sweating in my storage shed, surrounded by items that remind me of my taste, what I like, my history, where things came from and when. Maybe those things are not, strictly speaking, necessary, in the grand scheme of things, but I felt like I was being reminded of who I am by my silly stuff. I suddenly understood with new clarity those people so often pitifully exploited on the news, shifting through the ashes or the rubble of their former homes, looking for something, anything, that reminds them of who they are. Sometimes looking in a mirror is just not enough.

    • I so loved reading what you wrote. It resonates with me. My stuff is home. When I was a child, we moved many times. I went to ten schools, including four high schools in three states, but my room was a familiar haven–an explosion of my favorite things– wherever we lived. We rented for two decades until we bought a home a year and a half ago and each time we had to move, home was recreated in a new space. Others may simplify their lives, but even when my stuff was in storage (and some of it still is!), I was comforted by knowing that it was waiting for me. My children, now grown, look for their favorite things as they visit our new spaces and feel at home among familiar things even if they’re in unfamiliar spaces. W-OZ

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