Old School



Urgency Day 1

500 Things Item 499: My Old Cork Bulletin Board

  • History: Purchased for my first dorm room
  • Value: The original changing picture frame, and no batteries req.
  • Parting pain: None
  • Unpossessing: Donated to Sam’s first dorm room

Picture a Venn Diagram: 2 College Packing Lists.

Mine, c. 1980:

  • Iron and ironing board
  • Albums and stereo
  • Black and white TV
  • Coordinating-roommate linens
  • Popcorn popper
  • Quarters for laundry
  • Leotards, tights, ballet slippers

His, August 23, 2011:

  • Laptop computer
  • iPod and cell phone
  • Hard drive from his Xbox
  • Uncoordinated linens
  • Energy bars
  • A loaded V-card for all campus purchases
  • 3 guitars and an amp

And the teeny tiny overlap in the middle?

  • My old cork bulletin board.

Dry erase boards are fine for jotting smudgy notes, and cell phones simplify… well… everything. But you still want a place to hang some tangible mementos— tickets from a concert, a card from home, a scrap of paper on which you and your friends scribbled the most mind-blowing, reality-crushing, paradigm-shifting idea ever. If only you could decipher the handwriting.

An old-school cork bulletin board is a place where those bits of flotsam and jetsam can effortlessly accumulate. By May, it will form a time capsule of a year in a life. It’s the very same surface on which my new life accumulated 30 years ago, but his will certainly hold fewer pictures of Mikhail Baryshnikov and more… who?  More what?

I could guess Muse and Foos and Green Day. I could guess Zelda and Pullman and Vonnegut. Sure, maybe, for awhile. But this is his past. Starting tomorrow, he will be creating a new past.

I know I said I wouldn’t count things Sam takes to college as part of my 500 Things Project. I also said I would never say, “Because I said so,” or “Turn that music down!” or “You’ll thank me later.” Motherhood changes everything. Every. Thing.

There is no other thing of mine that will reside in his new home.

Nothing, and everything.

old school


tackling problems

Urgency Day 184

500 Things Items #313-14: Boxes of Fishing Tackle

  • History: Left behind by fishing family
  • Value: I prefer crabbing to fishing
  • Parting Pain: Shipping fees
  • Un-possessing: Shipping back to fishing family

When Neil Armstrong took his small step/giant leap onto the lunar surface, my grandfather fretted.

“They better not mess with that Moon.”

It wasn’t that my grandfather doubted that people had landed on the Moon. From his perspective, it was far worse. Contrary to what conspiracy theorists spin, he knew we actually had, with little more than slide rulers and gumption, sent humans to the Earth’s moon. But Granddaddy was a fisherman. The Moon matters to fisher folk.

Don’t mess with stuff that matters.

Yesterday, I got a lovely message from one of my best friend’s mom. Brigid told me she admired my project and wished she had the “gumption” to downsize. But emotional attachments to her things were preventing her from decluttering.

Gumption: That’s a great word I hadn’t heard in a while.

There’s an implication of spunkiness in the word gumption that I would enjoy being associated with. My decluttering efforts contain an undeniable element of calculation and hardheartedness.  I wrestle with that. When your project includes downsizing:

  • A miniature replica of your dead dog given to your husband by his also-passed mother;
  • Your own mother’s second wedding frock;
  • Your child’s toys (especially anything cuddly with glassy eyes that look at you beseechingly);
  • Copious artifacts from the glory days of high-impact entertaining with friends;
  • And,  apparently, ANY book:

well, you seem to be open to accusations of ruthlessness. But spunkiness! Spunkiness seems to fly in the face of ruthlessness. Would you accuse spunky Laura Ingalls of being ruthless? Anne of Green Gables? Eilonwy?

Spunk matters. Stuff doesn’t.

That’s my message. I want to be the spunky heroine of my own story. Spunky heroines travel light and get the job done. They are resourceful in a pinch, sensible, and not afraid to speak their minds. They know what matters.

Gumption. Spunk. Adventures to the Moon.

That’s what I want.

I’m working on the traveling light.

Happy New Year, to one and all!

I’m sending you a quick note about a tiny improvement I’ve made to this site.

Starting today, you can also type in 500thingsproject.com as the blog address and be directed here! So, if you are ever kind enough to share my blogging efforts with others, there’s no more tedious spelling t-h-i-b-e-a-u-l-t.

This is especially appreciated at happy hour. Yippee.

Either address works:

  • sthibeault.wordpress.com

  • 500thingsproject.com

It’s just a convenience for me, you know, in my first step toward Bold New Endeavors.

Why am I hearing one of my favorite animated bits right now?

Pinky:     “Gee, Brain, what do you want to do tonight?”
The Brain: “The same thing we do every night, Pinky—try to take over the world!”

More to come. Thank you so much for your support.

gotta love a genuis who uses a #2

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