The Minimalist in Training

Last April, as I stuffed my clothes back into a cardboard moving box for the fourth time in three years, I had something of a revelation. I hadn’t worn most of what I was stuffing in the box. I didn’t like most of what I’d stuffed into the box. And most of what I’d stuffed into a box didn’t even fit me.

[Insert mini blog post: ‘On becoming my mother, part 3’.

In addition to adopting my mom’s habit of finding something she likes in a store, and walking around with it for 20 or 40 minutes before ultimately returning it to the rack rather than purchasing it, I seem to have acquired her ever-lengthening arms as well.

Her main criticism of almost every article of clothing she tries on? ‘It’s too short in the arms.’ And now, in the sunset days of my 30s, I find the sleeves on my shirts all end well above my wrist bones, and the shirts barely cover my long-torsoed navel. And, while I’m at it, how did I end up with a set of shoulders that rivals that of most linebackers?

The other day, I actually contemplated buying my clothes from the men’s section.]

So as I was stuffing my ill-fitting, unworn clothes into a moving box, I briefly considered dumping said clothes into a bag and dropping it off at Goodwill, instead. And then I talked myself out of such impulsivity, because ‘what would I wear?’

How on earth would I do the school pick-up and grocery run if I donated that 3-sizes-too-big Banana Republic wool dress with spaghetti straps I’d bought on super-sale in 2000 with the vague ‘intention’ of ‘having it altered?’

Quelle horreur, so I stuffed my clothes in a box instead. And I moved them to yet another house. And one year later.I donated them to Goodwill. [Nearly] all of them.

The cashmere sweaters that I’d laundered instead of dry-cleaned, which consequently refused to skim my ever-lengthening wrist bones and navel. The black JCrew stretchy dress I wore once and kept for 17 years ‘just in case’. ‘The high-heeled shoes (most of them handed ‘up’ from my younger sister) that I hadn’t reached for since 2007.

I filled 3 very large bags and drove them to Goodwill. Eventually. And, once winter was officially over [as in, a few days ago] I stuffed two more enormous bags with unworn or ill-fitting shoes, jackets, snowpants, and the like.

These days, I’m on a mission to get rid of everything we own. I’m like a slightly aggressive waitress in a chain restaurant: barely asking ‘are you still workin’ on that?’ before whisking away my family’s [proverbial] plates. Here today, gone tomorrow has a whole new meaning in 2013. And really, other than the pair of ecru-colored Converse sneakers I donated despite the fact that I actually wore and liked them, I have zero regrets about my pared down wardrobe.

A week or so ago, I turned my attention to the buckets of hand-me-down clothes in the boys’ closet. In addition to making sure the clothes were still wearable (i.e. without holes or stains), I added another criterion that only mothers of same-gendered children will understand: ‘Do I WANT to see this again?’ As in, do I want yet another child to wear this [awful] shirt [that I cannot stand the sight of].

In 2013, the answer is No.

Perhaps you’ve seen that ‘Golden Boy’ episode from Seinfeld? I live in a house of Golden Boys. Truly, I’ve given up on separating the professor from his faded and overly worn t-shirt collection: the Commodore 64, the Bruce Lee, the B.A from A-Team and the 20 years-old ‘Ball Above All’ shirt courtesy of our alma mater. Instead, I’m focusing on his offspring, where I might still have a chance to affect change.

The Gort has a maroon and grey striped shirt that, despite the plethora of other, suitable shirts in his drawer, he wears at least three times a week. This particular Golden Boy has magical properties, in that it seems to grow with the Gort. Because he’s been wearing it weekly for the last two or three years and it still seems to fit him.


Dismissed! [Well, actually, I put it in a special ‘holding cell’ in the back of his closet in case he suddenly realized this shirt was missing and it turned into a major ‘thing’. But I wanted to send it to Goodwill.]

And the Hen, he has been very fond of a grey striped shirt handed down to him from his older brother. Not only was he wearing it more often than he should, but he also took to sucking on its sleeves. A habit which was both unattractive and destructive, as the sleeves actually became frayed at the ends. [Observe darkened sleeve in picture below.]DSC_1260

Dismissed! [Though, admittedly, to the garbage rather than Goodwill. I’m sure they don’t need shirts with frayed, gross sleeves, either. ]

Whilst editing the boys’ closet and drawers, I found something that made me laugh. Hard. It was an unlined notebook on their shared dresser. I flipped through the pages to determine if it could be thrown away, but instead I found this:


A Johnson boys’ joke page complete with points column; to tally the points awarded to each joke, of course. [To aid in determining which boy is the funniest?]

The Gort’s contribution: ‘What’s a Ninja’s favorite drink? Kara-tea’ (2 points)

The Hen’s contribution: ‘What type of cheese is not yours? Nacho cheese’ (2 points)

I kept the notebook.

5 thoughts on “The Minimalist in Training

  1. Love the joke page. About the arm issue–I’ve lost an inch in height due to old age but the arms keep getting longer and longer. Just thought I’d warn you.


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