100 Perfect Things

One of the more controversial steps I am taking in my insane quest to die under a palm tree is to pare down my belongings to 100 things. I am not the originator of this idea, nor am I the first person to do it. I’m pretty sure that this guy named Dave came up with it, but I think it’s a pretty swell plan.

Has anyone seen my keys?

My life has about three nexuses of stuff that are actually important to me. My desk at home contains the things I use the most. In the event that my house caught fire and was going to burn down to the ground, if I could just get my desk out, I’d be fine. My desk has my computer, my USB sticks, my Ukulele, my phone, my nook, a flashlight, my allergy medication, my change box and other assorted miscellany. My bedroom closet has my clothes in it. My medicine cabinet contains my toiletries.

Then, there is the rest of my house: a wasteland of shit. No, not a wasteland–an ocean. Useless crap ebbing and flowing around my house and my life. “Cleaning” is the word I use for taking that crap and moving it from one place it doesn’t belong to some other place it doesn’t belong. I do this because a lot of it doesn’t belong anywhere. Some of the things I own are “decorative.” Decorative items are items that take up space on flat surfaces–surfaces that could house items that actually have some sort of useful function. As if space weren’t at a premium. As if with this surplus of shit, I can afford to just have a bunch of stuff that doesn’t do anything but sit around, take up space and look awesome.

There are two common questions about the 100 Thing Challenge that everyone who takes it must answer for themselves: what is a “thing,” and what are “my things?”

Hey, I may need that blue rabbit later.

One guy who says that he made it down to 50 “things” is counting all of his socks as one “thing.” I’m not doing that. I’m trying to sort of abstractly but fairly strictly balance a “thing” between a single unit of useful stuff (e.g. one pair of socks, or “my computer,” which consists of my computer, keyboard, monitor and other necessary accessories,) and a single unit of shit that I have to deal with owning. Rather counter-intuitively, between a pair of socks and my computer, counting the pair of socks as a single item is cheating more than the computer is by these definitions. The computer sits there. It’s always hooked up, stationary and useful as a unit. Socks, on the other hand, are none of these things. Those god damn things are everywhere.

The second question, “what are my things,” is a little harder to define in my opinion. Many things in this house are communal in nature. Kitchenware, for instance. I feel no desire to include spatulas among my personal effects, though eventually I would like to pare down these communal items as well. I have elected to include several of these communal items among my personal items, though. I am including a set of personal dishware in my list of 100 things to cut down on the dish clutter in our house.

At heart, I’m a conflicted being. I am a collector, I admit it. I also suffer from But-What-If-I-Need-It-Later syndrome. On the other hand, I’ve no problem sorting out what has utility and what does not or what I use and what I do not use. I’ve read articles about the 100 Thing Challenge that suggest that a person take a month or two to sort out the things they want to keep from the things that they want to get rid of. I made the following list in about twenty minutes.

Total 95
# Things
1 Computer
1 Phone
1 Nook
1 Laptop
2 USB sticks
1 MicroSD Card and Adapter
1 printer/scanner
1 canned air

7 pairs of socks
3 pairs of jeans
5 underwear
1 scarf
10 T shirts
2 hoody
2 pairs of shorts
1 swim trunks
2 coats
1 flipflops
1 boots
1 clogs
3 hats
1 Wallet
2 Sweatpants
1 Longjohn bottom
1 Longjohn top
2 Button up shirts
1 Bandanna

1 razor
2 electric razor
1 deodorant
1 hair wax
1 toothpick
1 ear cleaner
1 tooth brush
1 towel
1 Shampoo

1 knife
1 fork
1 spoon
1 bowl
1 plate
1 glass
1 Coffee People coffee mug

1 ukulele
1 backpack
1 bag
1 pocket knife
2 pens
1 umbrella
1 Kukri
2 Pillows

1 Stuffed bunny
1 change box/cup/container
1 Framed Chat Noir poster
1 Grand-ma's Coo-coo clock

1 Bike
1 Skateboard

1 wedding ring
5 Books


Now, here is the rather anti-climactic twist I am adding to the equation. Because I am only going to own 100 things, I am treating myself to some new stuff.

Whenever I buy a new gadget, I am very methodical about how I do it. I have always had a limited budget for new toys, so I make sure that every single one I buy is perfect. My computer, I built myself. I picked every single part to maximize the effect of my buying power. No bits I didn’t need, but nothing too over-the-top. I made sure I bought as many items on sale as I could manage. In the end, I saved hundreds of dollars and got myself a computer that was way better than the price I paid for it.

So, I figure why make every item I own the same way? Why not have 10 pairs of perfect socks? Why not have two really awesome pens? So, I’m going to do some research and catalog my “perfect things” as I find them. Many of the things I already own will be going on this list, but I can’t help but feeling that my list of personal effects could use some sprucing up.

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