Selling My Crap on eBay: a 21-Day Salute™

a room divider filled with tchotchkes Way, way back in 2000-01, a guy named John Freyer sold (almost) all of his worldly possessions on eBay.

As described on the site dedicated to the project, a site which, along with everything else, he ultimately divested himself of, he did it more as a social experiment than a money-making venture, to "[explore] our relationship to the objects around us, their role in the concept of identity, as well as the emerging commercial systems of the Internet." Which is a slightly fancy/academic way of saying he used the Internet to look at how we relate to the stuff of real life, and the stuff of real life to examine how we interact because of the Internet. Which is really, you know, totally awesome.

I remember reading about Freyer back in 2002, just before the book came out, and thinking how cool and brave and interesting it was that someone could even think up an idea like that, much less do it. A life full of interesting, self-generated projects, not to mention a life without stuff! A life where, as Freyer did for several months after selling off the stuff, one traveled around the country, meeting the people who'd purchased one's stuff, turning strangers into friends! It was a crazy life; maybe even a beautiful one, but it was a life for someone else, not an introverted, middle-aged  lady who was so afraid of ending up old, sick and alone, pushing all of her belongings in a shopping cart that she would most likely have dropped dead of fright had she known about the colossal, colonic spitball the universe was about to lob at her.

For the most part, I'm still afraid of all that stuff; I'm just more afraid of the stuff that buffers the fears than I am of the fear itself. That's the real gift of going eyeball-to-eyeball with death, as far as I can tell. You finally see that your stuff is not going to save you, not the defenses you've built up, not the totems you've surrounded yourself with, not any of it. It's just stuff. Some of it is really useful. Some of it is not. Some of it is useful for a while, then not.

My stuff saved me for a long time, so I saved it right back. From coping mechanisms that got me through some emotionally unstable early years to eclectic but beautiful furnishings that made my home, my life, my body feel like mine, I hung onto them. But just as some of those early coping mechanisms started to get in the way of me leading what I suppose we must resign ourselves to calling an authentic life, the physical objects became something that hemmed me in, that tripped me up. They kept my mind fuzzy with worry and to-do lists, how will I clean this? where shall I store this? is this the perfect reflection of me?, when I wanted that headspace for other things now, like figuring out what I was supposed to do with the rest of my life. I had no idea what it was, and since foraging around for answers didn't seem to be working, I figured maybe it was time to do things the Michelangelo way: chip away at the bastard until the beautiful truth within revealed itself. Besides, my sister and I are the end of the line, and I just couldn't leave her with the mountain of crap our forebears had left us.

So roughly a year ago, I started pitching stuff in earnest. I still acquired things, but mostly on a catch-and-release program, especially when it came to books. I met Brooks, who helped me dislodge some of my more trenchant physical clutter. The Specter of Wayne and Google Wave with Dave helped me to illuminate and shed some of my darker emotional clutter. Finally, in March, a breakthrough: I learned that more than anything, I wanted to write and talk. I've been sort of stuck there since, but at least I knew enough to clear out what wasn't supporting those two things. At least that was something to move toward.

I'm getting down to it now. Putting aside digital clutter (a silent, lurking beast in its own right), I've identified what I really love and need RIGHT NOW. It's time to let go of the rest.

Which is why I'm selling a bunch of my crap on eBay. Nothing as exotic as opened boxes of cereal and pushpins, like Mr. Freyer, but crap that may be fun or useful or interesting for someone else to own. (Although hey, a half a box of corn flakes might be cool, with the right story.) Semi-nice (or fun/interesting/useful) crap. Crap I'm still close enough to that I'd like to find it good homes, or at least share a story about before releasing it into the universe.

So for the next 20 days, I'll tell those stories on the blog, posting photos and background on each item here first. If you have a burning desire to own one of these items, you can contact my adroit 'tater in the sales & fulfillment dept., who will wait five days from the time of each post before listing them on eBay, so you can have first crack at it, or forward it to your friend, The Avid Collectrix of Dainty Ladies' Hankies (or Other Random Item), that she might.

I think it will be fun. If I'm lucky, I'll also net a few bucks to offset the frighteningly high "ordinary upkeep" charge I just made on behalf of my beloved Corolla, Betty.

But as always, it is mostly about the journey. And with that, away we go...

xxx c