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Posts Tagged ‘EBay’

The Storage Locker's Revenge (i.e. The Price Of Laziness And Ambivalence?) About $20,000

In behavior on April 4, 2010 at 1:41 pm
School lockers found in National University of...

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Storage locker clean-up, scene two. Another six non-stop hours of going through boxes stacked to the ceiling. We’re almost done!

Next week we’ll have the remainders — which we have promised ourselves we will go through again soon and purge even further — into a space 5 by 7 by 10, at $100 a month, not the $250 a month we have been paying for a decade for a large room full of…

Stuff.

That means we’ve blown about $20,000, a sum that makes me embarrassed to even write it publicly, over the past decade on storing a bunch of things, none of which is worth even $2,000 apiece.

Some of it we have been very happy to re-discover, from the camo-colored Kevlar vest my partner wore while covering the aftermath of the Bosnian war as a photographer and my vintage paisley shawls and quilts to his kindergarten graduation certificate, signed by by mom, his teacher, who died in the 1980s.

I know now why so many of us put off going through our accumulated stuff. It’s tiring, boring, demands snap decisions and can be emotionally a little painful. I found dozens of photos of myself, younger, thinner, in jobs I loved, long-gone. My wedding invitation and album (divorced in 1994.) Photos of five ex’es, including the husband.

Although it was fun to see I’d kept a picture of Nigel, the impossibly blue-eyed Welsh engineer from Khartoum I met on a flight from Dublin to Bristol on Christmas Eve. We were both heading home to see our mothers — but sneaked away for a brief tour of Wales, covered in thick fog. It was one of those flings where you realize there’s a lot more there than you’d thought — and you have large continents and oceans between you. There was no Internet then or Skype, so I still have some of his postcards.

I am delighted to have re-discovered some childhood images, and to find several work-related items just at the moment I most need them.

It also feels good to lighten up. We’ll save $150 a month by renting a smaller space.

Too many recent obituaries, like that of screenwriter David Mills, working on the new HBO series Treme in New Orleans, who died last week on-set of a brain aneurysm — at the age of 48 — remind us death can claim us anytime, anywhere, whether or not you’ve written (or re-written) your will or  cleaned out your basement, attic and/or storage locker(s.)

Too many friends of mine have found themselves overwhelmed physically and emotionally trying to clean out the accumulated detritus of a parent’s life and home. What matters? What’s important and to whom? What’s of any financial value — and then what? (My father, recently, finally asked me which of his artworks I really hope to inherit. Fingers crossed.)

A few tips to help you get started and stay the course:

1) take lots of packing tape 2) fresh, clean, new boxes into which to repack; small enough you can easily lift them 3) lots of blank paper and tape and a Sharpie to label every box with its specific contents and the date you closed it 4) tape measure 4) ladder 5) folding chair — it’s a long day and sitting really helps! 6) a camera to photograph anything of value you may want to sell on Ebay or craigslist or send to auction 7) food, water, a thermos of coffee — no leaving! 8) a radio 9) bandaids — paper cuts were common as we shoved tons of old paperwork into garbage bags 10) a box-cutter or small, sharp knife for opening boxes and cutting tape 11) bubble wrap to cushion delicate or breakable items you decide to keep — we encountered a lot of broken glass from several framed pictures, one of which cut my finger 12) Kleenex and paper towel; my allergy to dust and mold kicked in a little after going through so much stuff.

Then, a really good lunch or dinner out — some motivating treat or reward that doesn’t need to be stored!

There may be, as there was for us, some sharp words over why that battered frying pan or framed print are must-keepers as you jockey for every inch of remaining space. Teachable moment!

We have no kids or close younger relatives, so no one will want our memorabilia. To them — as it really is to us if we admit it — it’s just stuff.

The Stuff We Inherit, From Chairs To Pistols — Then What?

In antiques, design on March 25, 2010 at 6:34 pm
Image representing eBay as depicted in CrunchBase

One solution...Image via CrunchBase

What do you with your family’s stuff if you inherit some decent things and have to go through it all?

Sell it — on Ebay? Craigslist?  At auction? Donate it to Goodwill?

An intriguing new book, “Objects of Our Affection: Uncovering My Family’s past, One Chair, Pistol and Pickle Fork at a Time”, delves into the subject. Lisa Tracy, a journalist, auctioned off many of these objects in 2003.

From The New York Times:

She still regrets aspects of the sale; prices were mostly a few hundred dollars. During the auction, she had hoped to tell buyers about the back stories: how her grandparents entertained on the Canton rose-medallion plates and collected wooden chests while posted with the American military in China and the Philippines, and how the protruding hardware on one trunk always snagged the clothing of anyone walking past.

But as Ms. Tracy approached successful bidders in the parking lot after the sale, they brushed her off politely. “I was so dashed by that,” she said during a recent interview at a Manhattan coffee shop. “But I realized people wanted to start investing their own stories in the pieces, about how they got it at this auction.”

Her book is part of a minitrend of literary memoirs based on longtime possessions. Last year the antiques restorer Maryalice Huggins’s “Aesop’s Mirror: A Love Story” (Farrar, Straus & Giroux) described her inconclusive research into the origins of a gilded mirror dripping with high-relief fruit. In August Farrar, Straus will publish the British ceramist Edmund de Waal’s “Hare With Amber Eyes: A Family’s Century of Art and Loss,” about his inherited collection of some 360 Japanese ivory carvings that were smuggled to safety during the Holocaust.

From Random House’s website:

After their mother’s death, Lisa Tracy and her sister, Jeanne, are left to contend with several households’ worth of furniture and memorabilia, much of it accumulated during their family’s many decades of military service in far-flung outposts from the American frontier to the World War Two–era Pacific. In this engaging and deeply moving book, Tracy chronicles the wondrous interior life of those possessions and discovers that the roots of our passion for acquisition often lie not in shallow materialism but in our desire to possess the most treasured commodity of all: a connection to the past.

What starts as an exercise in information gathering designed to boost the estate’s resale value at auction evolves into a quest that takes Lisa Tracy from her New Jersey home to the Philippines and, ultimately, back to the town where she grew up. These travels open her eyes to a rich family history characterized by duty, hardship, honor, and devotion—qualities embodied in the very items she intends to sell. Here is an inventory unlike any other: silver gewgaws, dueling pistols that once belonged to Aaron Burr (no, not those pistols), a stately storage chest from Boxer Rebellion–era China, providentially recovered family documents, even a chair in which George Washington may or may not have sat—each piece cherished and passed down to Lisa’s generation as an emblem of who her forebears were, what they had done, and where they had been. Each is cataloged here with all the richness and intimacy that only a family member could bring to the endeavor.

As someone unreasonably passionate about antiques, I get it. I love feeling connected to the past whenever I use my brass push-up candlesticks or sit on my 19th-century rush-seated painted chairs or use my 18th. century teapot — $3.50 in an upstate junk shop. I wear antique shawls and, as I write, a pair of green glass Deco-era drop earrings I found in an L.A. flea market for $40. My computer desk is covered with pale green ticking bought in the Paris flea market.

Worn and beautiful, well-made old things comfort and soothe me in a way no slick, shiny modern thing (OK, except my Itouch and Mac) can match.

I bought all of it.

We have very few inherited pieces, for a variety of reasons.

What objects have you inherited that you cherish — or couldn’t wait to dump?

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