Welcome to the bardak that is my apartment


Mr. B and I are moving to Pentagon City . I’m pretty sad, because I love our apartment and the fact that we were 20 minutes away from DC but could eat breakfast on our balcony facing the woods.We’re moving because it doesn’t serve the right purpose for us anymore.

What I love most about it is that we lived the first two years of married life here, instead of communal-Soviet-style with our parents in the same one-bedroom apartment that was built during the Khruschev administration, like my parents and Mr. B’s parents did.  We lived sans parental interference and, in doing so, established a pretty solid foundation for decision-making in our marriage which will last us for years to come.

What is hard right now, though, is the clutter.  Oh, the clutter.

I knew that we’d be moving eventually, so I tried to keep the apartment as sparse as possible, free of crap.  Unfortunately, I’ve somehow failed, because we’ve been packing for two days now, mercilessly throwing stuff away left and right, with no end in sight.

“We’re hoarders,” Mr. B said.

Hoarders who still own unusually large bears named Luke that they’ve had since they were 11. Also paintings that they bought at flea markets for $5 and can’t get rid of.

The hardest thing for me is to let go of  are things I’m emotionally attached to, or things that people have given me as presents that I HATE, but that I can’t throw away because, what if they ask about them?

On the one hand, I’m extremely flexible (because if I wasn’t, I would probably be going insane over the fact that we have spent maybe a total of 10-15 weekends in DC over the past two years in our traverse between my parents and Mr. B’s. )  This is probably because I have Mongol blood.  But, on the other, how can I ever, ever, ever give up any of my books?

Tips? Thoughts? Sanity?




23 thoughts on “Welcome to the bardak that is my apartment

  1. Oh I know exactly what you mean! When we moved here last summer, we had been in our previous flat for 5 years. I’d always anticipated we’d move sooner or later, so kept everything -as you say – sparse. Or so I thought. I never wanted to own masses of furniture, but instead we had 30 cartons of books to pack, and such an enormous amount of clutter that I still shuddder to think about it all. Eventually, most of ithad to go into storeage. Hello clutter – see you at our next move! Good luck and keep us posted how it all goes!

    1. Don’t you hate how stuff just builds up? The books are always the worst. We are already at 5 boxes and not even close to done. Gah!

  2. i feel your pain. i have to declutter in order to move to the States. except I have 16 years worth of my clutter, and 15 years worth of kids clutter x 4. You just have to be ruthless. it’s painful, but if you don’t use it / haven’t seen it / didn’t wear it / didn’t read it in 1 year….bye bye….

  3. If you haven’t looked at the books (or things) in the past two years or so, you will not miss it. Honestly. Save one or two things as a memory of a person/event, and move on to the rest. You’ll build up enough new clutter in the next house to forget all about this clutter.

    1. It is SO hard for me to get rid of books even if I haven’t read them in a year. For instance, I have The Good Earth by Pearl S. Buck, which I haven’t read since high school, but is a literary masterpiece. What if I want to read it later? What if Mr. B wants to read it? It’s impossible for me to put it on the donate pile :(

      1. I have boxes and boxes of books. In an effort to save some money, I haven’t bought books in more than 2 years. And I’ve sold some of the ones that I only read when there really isn’t anything else to read. And even The Good Earth is available in the library.

  4. I’m in the same boat!

    It actually physically hurt me yesterday to throw away a BROKEN cart (like one of those urban shopping ones). Even though it was broken, I kept thinking about how much effort my mother had taken to get it to me — first calling different stores to see if they carried it, then driving an hour away to pick it up, then shipping it to me… Talk about an emotional attachment!

    On the flip side, I’ve really enjoyed selling my old things. The feeling of getting those twenties is pretty nice weighed against getting rid of things I no longer need and will not miss. :)


    1. Oh, I completely agree with you! Anything that we’ve been given for a wedding present that we don’t use or is broken, it’s physically impossible to throw out. For instance, we have this towel warmer that we requested and it doesn’t work. But Mr. B’s aunt bought it for us, so how can we possibly let it go? It’s in the trash now, but it was very hard to do.

  5. I feel your pain about the books. I’m going through that right now as I prepare to move next weekend. Granted, a lot of the books I ended up giving away were ones that I hadn’t read in years that held no sentimental value to me, but it still felt like I was giving away a tiny part of myself because I like to really get into what I am reading. Maybe thinking of it as a good thing will help? I donated my big box of old books to a local shelter ad also to an organization that sends care packages overseas.

    Good luck with the move!

    1. That’s so cool, where are you moving to? I always admire people who can get rid of books, even though I know it’s hard for you to also part with them :)

  6. Haha – we are moving too! But I am totally excited because we’re moving from the suburbs to the district. Like you, we have tons of clutter, but I’m looking at it as an opportunity to get rid of as much stuff as possible. (like you, I also have an oversized teddy bear – ??)

    As for the books, if you decide you can part with them, check out bookmooch.com or paperbackswap.com. Both let you “mooch” books for free from others. All you have to pay is the postage when someone “mooches” a book from you. I’ve already unloaded some books this way and will be replacing them with new ones after the move!

    Good luck!

    1. Both of those are really cool ideas. I’ll have to check it out. But I hate not owning books. It’s my big thing. As much as I declutter, I just can’t get rid of my oversize Hitchiker’s Guide to the Galaxy or my Odessy, which I haven’t picked up in years.

      1. Speaking as someone who has moved way too often, the good thing about books is that they at least pack easily into nice neat boxes, unlike clothes which get crammed haphazardly into suitcases. And if I find out you got rid of your oversize Hitchhiker’s Guide, I will never *ever* forgive you. That’s even more unforgivable than dissing Casablanca.

  7. Yalla Balagan!

    I feel for you deeply. After 3 years in our current apartment, some of the book boxes are still… ummm…. boxed. Not unopened, just unpacked, in, like, a formal way. Not enough shelf space.

    Also, I’m looking for someone to buy all those tons of gorgeous clothes that will never ever fit me again, ‘coz i’m too cheap to just give them away.

    1. The clothes will be easier, but still. I haven’t worn those jeans in 3 years, but I can definitely fit into them now! I mean…I’ll keep them.

  8. ugh. UGH! Now try adding in kid’s stuff, enough Pesach-only plates to serve 25, a Sukkah kit, a home office, and another 7 years of marriage… yeah. That’s where we’re at.

    Books: Keep only personal/fun books you plan to read at least once per year. If they’re part of your professional library, keep them. Everything else goes – there are great libraries.

    Oh dear, now I feel like I have to go home and purge stuff. Again!

    1. Walla. That’s even worse. You only have to purge if you’re moving, though, that’s the bright side. I think once we buy a house we will go to all sorts of hell.

  9. Oh take me down to Pentagon City where the grass is green and the girls are pretty, oh won’t you please take me ho-ome!

  10. I wouldn’t give away books unless they’re accidental doubles (e.g. through a gift). There’s a reason why Heine said, “Where they burn books they’ll also burn people.” Books that you’ve read or keep as reference works are bits that shaped who you are much more than an electric hotplate. Also don’t underestimate the value of books in cutting heating costs. Loaded bookshelves on the outside walls will save you many a pretty penny. I’m aware some people like to claim you can always re-buy a book, but how many people really blow considerable amounts of money (new books aren’t cheap, and if they’re rare-to-find reference works, we’re talking three-digit prices) that way?
    [When I was living in Britain, I really adored those huge 19th century villas that had private library rooms with bookshelves that grew over the decades – those rooms had so much “character”, it was simply stunning.]
    An added positive side effect is that studies have shown that the availability of books in the home positively corresponds to children’s academic output.

    As for the other stuff, if it carries sentimental value but no actual use, snap a pic of it and document the memories. I suggest you do keep a few items though that you associate most with certain phases in your life even if they aren’t practical. Objects that bring back fond memories have got huge therapeutical value when times are tough.

    If you are bold enough, glue everything you want to throw out together in large chunks and donate the “installations” to various museums. :)

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