Dominate the Clutter

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— Call it nomadic neurosis. About twice a year, my belongings begin to roll in on me like the tide against a seawall and it becomes time to purge some material flab.

I've been thinking about having a garage sale where anyone who does not have enough stuff can follow scribbled signs to my card table of belongings.

For a sweaty handful of change, you can buy my books and my clothes and "Badfinger" on vinyl.

Or perhaps I will pile my belongings in a gold spray-painted shopping cart, as I have in the past, and peddle them gypsy-style down the streets of Steamboat.

It doesn't matter how I get rid of it all, it just has to go.

There is nothing I do better than throwing things away.

My dominance of clutter is so complete that I have always imagined opening a business. For 'X' dollars an hour, I can be hired as a Minimalism Consultant.

Minimalism is the art of knowing when to stop. Minimalists do not cover their walls with dried flowers hot glued to wooden spoons. Minimalists do not have drawers full of rubber bands, paper clips and dusty nickels.

Since I have yet to file for a business license, today I offer a first-time-free Minimalism Consultation.

Start with your garage.

In this gear-infested town, the opening of any garage door reveals 18 bikes -- one for every road grade and mental state -- three kayaks, a crusty, cracking dry top and a history-of-skiing museum encapsulated in decades worth of the hottest new skis.

Under my supervision, such a garage would be cleaned out with a fire hose, its contents washed into the street for trash pickup.

The flesh is weak at the beginning of each season. We begin new sports and buy all the best and matching paraphernalia, only to bore of it three months later, leaving it as ballast to hold the house down.

Nice monoski. Get rid of it.

Now, turn your attention to your bookshelf.

I have never read a book twice, so I am well aware that book collecting is the highest form of pretension. Like most possessions, people collect books less for themselves and more for the eyes of others.

I admit, if there is anything worth collecting, it is books, but as a minimalist, you must prune your collection.

First, get rid of all the vacation fodder, the easy-read paperbacks. Next, remove the Hermann Hesse, the "Monkey Wrench Gang" and any Jack Kerouac.

Keep J.D. Salinger.

Get rid of Henry Miller. The obscure, special-order Bataille books can stay. Kurt Vonnegut can go. It's not that Vonnegut is a bad writer. He's great. But you can pick up his books at every library sale and used bookstore in the nation.

It's like keeping an album in your collection even though you haven't listened to it since high school.

Now, on to your closet.

I'm the wrong person to ask about clothes.

I believe in uniforms. If I could wear the same thing for the rest of my life, I would.

As for people who enjoy the drudgery of dressing themselves day after day in a never-ending combination of shirts and pants, I give you these simple guidelines for cleaning out your closet.

If it has shoulder pads, get rid of it.

In fact, if you can spot the style in any Molly Ringwald movie, cut it up for cleaning rags.

If you wore it to the prom, get rid of it.

A clean closet, a clear mind.

Enough free advice. To have me gore and gut your life of all its meaningless possessions for a nominal fee, I'll be placing an ad in the yellow pages.

But first, I have some things of my own to throw away.

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