Stuff taken from Oma's house today (just for me):
- a queen-sized red comforter for my bed at home
- a fountain pen, without ink
- a map of the world
- a drawing-compass set
- a dead scrub-jay
- a ball of general-purpose string which we will actually use; we had some string like it once and we used it all and between then and now we didn't have any good string in the house
- a ceramic bell sort of thing Oma made once, I don't know, the problem with everything Oma ever made is that it has no value to me other than Oma-made-this value - it's not useful or pretty or anything....
- not any yarn or any craft supplies at all, although there were many there to be tempting
- a macrame plant-holder my mother made when she was young, because I've actually been wanting a way to hold a plant out of the cat's chewing reach
- probably at least something else I'm not remembering
Claimed and set aside but not taken yet:
- several books, I don't know what all titles
- an Indonesian shadow puppet
- a spinning wheel that I want to turn into a hat rack somehow... still not sure how that's going to work, but I really don't want a spinning wheel lying around if it's not a hat rack also
- a few souvenirs Oma collected on her travels, not sure exactly which ones I'll be keeping....
- a big fancy clock thing that doesn't run, but probably only because it's out of battery... even if it's not just the battery, I can easily replace the whole clock mechanism
How I am going to avoid ending up just like Oma:
- Die before age eighty. If still alive at eighty-one, suicide. Eighty years is plenty, life just sucks after that, with no possibility of improvement. Oma was at least functional until at least seventy-eight. Then she completely fell apart.
- Get a fantastic wizard staff to use as a walking-stick, take frequent walks with it, both to get some exercise and to show off the stick. This is the best way to avoid being like Oma who thought she could walk but really couldn't and refused to use a walker or anything even though she fell down all the time.
- Wear diapers after the very first incident. Sorry, but old people need diapers. And if I don't swear to myself to start using them after the very first incident, I know I'll end up like Oma accidentally peeing all over the furniture. I'm not going to let that happen to myself.
- Sadly, I currently see nothing I can do about ending up with Oma's eating habits. The eating habits that involve keeping twelve-year-old mustard in the refrigerator and eating anything no matter how long it's been out. I'm not that bad yet, but I'm much more inclined to trust food than anyone else in my family is. I'll trust anything that doesn't look, smell, or taste detectably off. If a piece of bread just has a little spot of mold on it, I'll break the spot off and eat the rest of the bread.
- Don't take life-preserving medications after the age of... oh, seventy, at the oldest. Got to increase those chances of dying comfortably before eighty. Comfort-preserving medications are okay. If someone recommends antidepressants, take them. Oma was depressed for no-one-even-knows-how-long and she's finally a pleasant person after going off all life-preserving drugs and going on an antidepressant, and she always denied that she needed them.
- Never live alone in a house. I share Oma's mild hoarding tendencies - I wouldn't call either of us a hoarder, but we do have some tendencies in that direction - and having less space in which to keep stuff will force me to have less stuff. All the mementos and craft supplies and records and archives we found in Oma's house today - they're exactly the kind of things I would keep. It was hard for me to throw out the collection of National Geographic dating back to 1959 - it's such a pretty magazine, so informative; I still have every issue I got since Oma subscribed me in 2008. That's not too many. But I don't know when it will be. I don't know when I need to start getting rid of them. If I don't have a closet or a garage or an attic to put them in, the answer is easy - when they no longer fit on the bookcase with all the books. And that is why I need to not have a garage or an attic, and need to limit the closet to what's used on a regular basis, like clothes. And that's just one hoarded thing as an example.
And I'm good at living in small quarters - three of us in this tiny dorm room (well, usually just two - Zephyr's never here anymore, but all her possessions are) and it doesn't seem cramped at all. I've loved every one-room loft apartment I've ever seen (although, I admit, I've only seen maybe two or three of them). I need a dwelling with no storage space: every memento on display or else in an album on the bookshelf - lots of bookshelves, necessarily, and skull-shelves and other shelves, but nothing stored away, everything hung on the wall or else don't keep it. A wardrobe or a small closet for clothes, a few drawers and maybe cabinets in the kitchen area, but otherwise, no storage. That'll work, as I know diligence and will and determinedly getting rid of stuff won't.
Also, don't be the first or the last owner of durable goods. Buy secondhand, donate or sell or give away discards. This doesn't have anything to do with not ending up like Oma, I just think it'll help me with not-keeping-stuff if I know that someone else had it before me, I got it cheap, and someone else can have it after.
Maybe a house (or at least larger apartment) is okay if it's with somebody else. 'Cause I do want to have a partner and kids and such someday, and that might not be easy in a one-room domicile. But Oma's a widow, and she's been living alone in her big house since my mom moved out thirty years ago. And being alone for that long generated its own slew of problems - I don't know how to avoid that if I end up alone - but the size of the house itself has also been bad for her. So if I'm living alone, it's going to be in a tiny apartment.
- Have a pet. Always have a pet. Doesn't matter whether it's a dog or a cat or a parrot or a skunk or what. Fish, rodents, and non-avian reptiles (birds are reptiles, did you know that?) don't count. Must be a pet capable of returning affection. Oma never had one of these in her thirty years of loneliness; the television and phone calls with her children were her only regular companionship. I won't let this happen to me. Even if my constant companion is a cat, it will keep me healthier than Oma.
Today I heard my aunt say that Oma was the way she was because she lived during the war, and never got over it. That's the excuse everyone uses, I think. Old people save everything because during the war no one could afford to be even the slightest bit wasteful. My aunt said that Oma used to teach her kids to reuse wrapping paper.
I never suffered shortage or want at all, and no one ever taught me to reuse wrapping paper. But I do it anyway. I do.
I probably make myself seem awfully neurotic in this journal. I don't seem that crazy in real life. But the tendencies are definitely there - not proper neuroses, at least not yet, just tendencies. I'm just like Oma, only saner by virtue of being sixty-some years younger. And this journal is a promise I'm making to myself, and an order I'm giving myself: Don't end up like Oma. Do these things and don't end up like Oma.