July 12, 2008 at 7:36 am | Posted in Book Blather | Leave a comment

(April 29, 2008)

So I’ve been scanning my local FreeCycle group’s messages every day for the last couple weeks.  I’m having mixed results with it.  Out of six requests I’ve tried to fill, two have been picked up, one is pending, one no-showed and said “I’ll call you,” one blew me off and only admitted it when I sent a follow-up message, and the last one evidently came to the wrong address but never followed up with me.  Maybe by the end of this week I’ll find that 5 of 6 have been successful, but so far only one transaction has worked totally smoothly.  (The second pick-up forgot half the lot and had to come back for it the next day).

I have to laugh, because I was originally worried that I might be passing up an opportunity to make a bunch of money off eBay.  Now I’m glad I saved myself the hassle, considering I can’t even give my stuff away…

I just read a book called All My Life for Sale.  The author, an artist and grad student named John Freyer, decided to sell all his stuff back in 2001 so he could start over and move to New York.  He sold his spare car key, his winter jacket, half a box of taco shells, his power bill, a canister full of coins (for $2), the wrapped Christmas gifts he’d bought his family – even his sideburns!  The person who bought his glasses (yes, the ones he needs to see) refused to pay him the money so that he would be able to keep wearing them.  The irony of all this is that at the end of the project, Freyer decided not to move to New York after all.  I find this fascinating because the guy was willing to let his friends decide what to sell, and then actually went through with it, regardless of how emotionally attached he was to the object or how much he actually “needed” it – like the half a roll of toilet paper from his own bathroom.

Oh, and get this – he sold the rights to “be him” for his birthday party, including having the birthday song sung to him and receiving all cards and gifts.  A guy bought this “item” for $1.25, and actually wound up becoming friends with Freyer’s friends.

At least two other people have done similar stunts.  One, Michael Mandiberg, was a little more pragmatic.  He listed everything he owned, including his wallet and ID, but he priced the items according to how much they were worth to him.  (The wallet was listed at $7000).  [] The second one you may have read about recently:  Ian Usher, the Australian who was recently devastated by his divorce.  He is auctioning all his stuff, a two-week trial at his old job, and introductions to his friends on June 22 this year.  What’s interesting about this is that his employer and his friends signed on to the project. []  It’s like reincarnation, only in the same lifetime.

I started clutter clearing in 1994, when I got a copy of Simplify Your Life from my book club.  The idea that I didn’t have to keep every item that came my way utterly transformed me.  In weeks I had unloaded literally truckloads of stuff, none of which I have ever missed since.  I went through another round of this in 1999 when I discovered Clear Your Clutter with Feng Shui, and, as soon as I was done, my husband asked for a divorce.  So there went another 250 pounds of clutter right there!  Naturally I also got rid of a bunch of things when I moved into the dorms, and then again when I relocated to California.  It’s odd that I still have anything left, but it seems clutter has a way of sneaking up on a person.

I’m intrigued rather than unnerved when I think of Ian Usher’s upcoming life sale.  But then, who wouldn’t want to move to Australia, meet new people, and work in a rug store?  My life, on the other hand, probably wouldn’t have too many takers – if you can consider my freecycling experience any form of proof.


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