Casting Out the Nostalgic Possessions When You Move


A few weeks ago my husband and I moved into our first house. And what most people tell you, besides their realtor, is purge, purge, purge. Feng Shui enthusiasts say “don’t move dead weight into a new home; it throws off the Chi.” Some moving companies charge by weight, some by pieces. By that rationale, too much stuff throws hard earned money into the fire.

So I plunged into the purge of my life’s possessions prior to the move. During this time I was asked, countless times by many loving yet seemingly uncaring helpers, a series of questions:

  • “Do you still want this?”
  • “Throw away, or give away?”
  • “Are you really going to use this again?”
  • “Need it? Love it? [Does it make you] Happy?”

Being brutally honest with myself and my possessions was one of the toughest things I’ve had to do as an adult. I managed to give or throw away things that mean little to my everyday life; toys my nieces and nephews gave me as children; files; old make-up; tchotchkes I’ve collected from every stage of life; clothes that no longer fit. And the purge continues even after the move, as I’ve learned 4 weeks later.

My family liked making popcorn as an after-dinner treat. Different methods of production kept things exciting, at least for me.

The Methods

The kettle pot cooked popcorn in the ugliest, beat up, and scorched aluminum pot known to man made the best. The lid stuck to the shape of the pot in just the right way until a cloud of popcorn raised it off. A tablespoon of butter, a 1/4 cup of vegetable oil, and a pinch of salt or two, cooked over the range makes the greatest popcorn ever tasted.

When we went to the beach, or pseudo-camping, we’d bring JiffyPop. The mixture of heat, hot air, and foil blew my young mind while the wire handle made my hand cramp and left a U-shaped imprint. In the moment, it was my own exclusive science experiment with a delicious outcome.

Then there was what we called the “air-pop,” an electrical popcorn popper with a “removable butter melter that doubles as a handy measuring cup,” and a clear chute that directed popped kernels into your bowl. It also bragged fewer calories if you didn’t use butter. And I could make it without parental supervision.

The Madness

Somehow I managed to keep the original box it came in. Standard white, corrugated cardboard with technical features printed on 2 sides with the other two sides pasted with glorious glossy color pictures.


Someone recently broke the box down for recycle. Its glue split and torn. Corrugation that hadn’t seen daylight in 30 years, exposed to the elements. I was crushed. Do I still have the popcorn maker? Yes, and it still works just fine. My husband offered to tape it back up for me. Not the point! Firstly, I shouldn’t be keeping a stupid box because I feel some way about it. Secondly, the glue on that box held out for 30 years! That alone impresses me the most. An empty piece of cardboard destined for the garbage and I can’t bring myself to take it there. Why? I’m not a hoarder. Not yet, anyway. So what keeps me from purging a cardboard box??

Everyone knows the sensation of walking down the hall in elementary school and smelling that amazing butter popcorn from the elusive teachers lounge. The phantom popcorn could never be directly linked to the teachers lounge, should you dare to enter, but the smell lingered nonetheless taunting you.

When we brought that piece of popcorn gadgetry home from David Weis three decades ago, I was through the moon. Now my family had it! We had the popcorn maker that made that smell from the teacher’s lounge! We were up and coming! We were on our way to big things!

Of course all of this rationalization is as completely ridiculous as keeping the box in my possession.

So I present to you my final purge before I take this box out to the recycle:

For thirty years this box maintained the memory of bringing our family together. No one nagged, yelled, teased, or argued. They just shoved popcorn in their mouths and watched the television, enjoying familial silence. But we did this as a family, and less and less as time moves on do we shove popcorn in our mouths together in the same room. Less and less are we given opportunities to enjoy each other as a family. There’s no time. There are prior engagements. We kids have families and obligations of our own preventing us from spending the time we thought would last forever. Time we took for granted.

Purging your possessions resembles ripping off lots of bandages; the pain is finite, and wounds heal. My advice to those purging for a move: You don’t have to get rid of everything, just the things that no longer serve useful purpose in your life. The quicker you rip the bandage off, the easier it gets and you will feel better. #adulting



What’s In A Name?


An old friend recently contacted me and asked my advice on titles for her and her husband’s first book. Having finished the book for the most part, they remain at odds about the titles.

And she, being the sweet and fair person she is, provided me with their four options, never once divulging who liked which best. Her fear, I suspect, being that I would naturally lean my bias towards her favorites rather than his. She’d be correct. While I love them both, and I love him for loving her, I’ve known her since our awkward teen years. There’s a bond with close friends like her that trumps unbiased thinking every time.

And I, being the writer and closet Peggy Olsen that I am, ignored all of them. Ignored might be too strong a word. We’ll say I made a pot luck dinner out of two. It’s not to say the titles were bad but I was given parameters. If I were shopping to find a gift for a young adult fresh out of college, or was one leaving college to join the workforce, which title would I be more likely to buy? None. The titles were all too nice and calm.

No, this title needs a punch! People need to know they, or their college-educated loved ones could be doomed to a life of serving the masses, just barely caring enough to ask if they want fries with that. I am speaking from personal experience. The tools I was given weren’t enough. What good jobs does a BA in English afford me? At the point of my graduation and for years later, no one had any answers or direction to give me, so I settled for the food service industry.

That being said, this is now personal, and there are thousands of job interview books out there, not to mention articles on the web. What makes this book different? This proverbial rose needs to smell better than the rest of them and a good title can do just that. I recently purchased a book by Bruce Weinstein, The Good Ones; Ten Crucial Qualities of High-Character Employees. I bought it because, as a manager I need more of “the good ones” in my employ, and this title makes me think I can find them with information contained therein.

So what goes into making a pithy title? What would make me want to buy this book just by looking at the title?  To me it seems a good title for a self-help book fosters a need, makes excellent word choices, and displays controlled confidence.

I created a need by adding the word “essential.” “Essential” tells me I need it. Someone thinks I need this book.

I took out the word “handbook,” and replaced it with “guidebook.” The word “handbook” sounds like a pamphlet or leaflet. I don’t spend money on pamphlets or leaflets, I throw them out. A “guide” takes me on a tour and and shows me things I wouldn’t have known were there.

Lastly, I simplified the final phrase, ultimately suggesting the title:

“The Essential Interview Guidebook: What College Doesn’t Teach You About Joining The Workforce.”

It’s simple, it punches, it tells me I need it, it sounds like pretty important knowledge to have at my disposal, and it almost seems like someone, other than my mother, wants me to succeed.

In the end, the decision is theirs to name their book whatever they think works best. It is a decision I appreciate, and I hope the book goes on to make a difference in reader’s lives. For myself I just appreciate the opportunity for inspiration and to make this blog my first. Who knows? Maybe I’ll write my own title one day and they can blog about me.