Things and Stuff

A few years ago, I went to a training by a lady named Ruby Payne.  She is reportedly an expert in studying the poor class and gives insight to understanding  poverty.  When I first took this class I was a fairly new teacher and I remember being fascinated by what I learned.  I wanted to share it, so I excitedly told my dad I had been to this great training, and had learned this fabulous stuff from an expert in poverty.  His response was, “You’re pretty much an expert in poverty too, ain’t ya?”   He’d lived it himself, and really didn’t care what she had to say.

In Ruby Payne’s book, she has a short test to take.  You check things off that you can do, for example, open a checking account, order from a French menu, bail someone out of jail.  Then you tally up your checkmarks, and you discover which social class you could survive in:  poverty, middle class, or wealthy.   

Among the items I checked that I was able to do was “move in half a day.”

I must confess, I could no longer check that one.  Back when I took the test, I practically owned nothing.   I was a single gal, living in a one bedroom house and had to hang my clothes on a line to dry.  It would’ve been easy with a few friends and a couple truckloads to get all my possessions out of one house and into another in a very short amount of time. 

Not now.

We started the moving process five weeks ago.  A matter of fact, I was in the throes of packing my kitchen cabinets the day I received the phone call telling me my dad had died.  Boxes of plates and dishes sat abandoned for a week while we dealt with the stuff one must deal with to bury a loved one.  When we returned from Oklahoma, I resumed life and work, and the following week we began moving.  There are still boxes to unpack at my new house, boxes to load at my old house, and dumpsters to fill down my alley.

Today I had a garage sale.  I have too much stuff.  Don’t we all?  Aren’t we just a bunch of spoiled rotten Americans? 

Here’s a little trivia to gnaw on.

The average size American home in 1950 was 983 square feet compared to  2,349 square feet in 2006.  Interesting?   Yes, I think so.

My garage sale turned out pretty good for me, but I had some tough decisions to make while preparing for it.  Should it stay or should it go?  After all, we have moved to a smaller home with practically no storage at all.  So I had to say good-bye to some old “friends”.

It seems that I get sentimentally attached to my stuff.  I had a little pink tea set that my oldest brother bought me probably 12 years ago.  I’ve held onto it because it’s one of the few things I’ve received from him.  But as I was sorting through my crap and dealing with the mental banter of keep it, sell it, keep it, sell it, keep it, sell it; these thoughts occurred to me:  1) My brother doesn’t remember giving this to me.  2) He didn’t even purchase it himself  3) He gave my sister or my mom  20 bucks in an airport once and said “Buy Angel something.”  4) It was probably the only thing in the airport gift shop under 20 bucks 5) Look how dusty it is, it’s just something else to clean.

Those thoughts made my decision much easier. I put it in the garage sale,  but I didn’t sell it.  Actually I gave it away to my realtor aunt who dropped by to put a for sale sign in the yard.  She said when she got home she would put my name on the bottom of it so I could have it back someday!!


I hope she at least dusts it first.


  1. RB says:

    Loved the story. I love the little tea set and it washed up so pretty. I love tea sets. Thanks Ang. Love you. AB


  2. Lenore Diane says:

    Ah stuff. I know this well. The funny thing? I’m fairly certain the five reasons leading down the path of letting go could be used for just about anything and everything. Aside from Grandma’s china and Grandpa’s grandfather clock, of course.


  3. Donna H says:

    Oh my goodness, Angel .. Sometimes I can’t even believe things that happen! Just yesterday, I was cleaning out under my stairway (the deep dark hole), you know, the place they suggest you go when a tornado is swooping over you, and after all, it is almost that season here in Nebraska and I live in “tornado alley”. uumm, oh yeah, i was cleaning and preparing for a garage sale, and as I unpacked one of the plastic containers, at the bottom I found this box with (are you ready??) A TEA SET! It is the coolest little tea set ever, and was used as a prop in a movie that was shot here in Omaha, with Jack Nicholson and Kathy Bates, (don’t even remember the name of the movie …HELP), and a friend and I went to the sale of all the props and “junk” they get rid of after the movie has been finished. Had to have that tea set! I never did put it out on display or nothing and all these years it’s been packed away. So there I stood and I did exactly what you did, “sell it, keep it”and after about wasting 15 minutes trying to decide, Lord help me, but I put it back in the Save box!!! What am I thinking!! Who even cares that it was in a movie! It was probably on a shelf somewhere and nobody even saw it in the movie!!! I’m thinking about sending it on down to you as a little housewarming gift, since you are probably already missing your set and it’s about the right size for you to have a tea party for your “lil’ peeps”, being the terrific momma you are and all 🙂 Anyway, I so get what you are saying about “stuff” and I’ve been in my same house for 40 years!! Can you imagine my agony of getting rid of some of my precious moma’s things, when I have this much trouble with a tea set with absolutely NO personal connection!!! Pray for me, please as I go through this process in preparing for my garage sale and I’ll do the same for you as you move into your new home! P.s. I loved what your daddy said when you told him about the poverty training! What a terrific guy he must have been! Until next time …. Donna H.


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