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item head

2023.12.31

It's the last day of the year, so some decluttering was in order. I love fresh starts, and nothing there's nothing like some extra breathing room to facilitate that.

One of my fundamental personality traits is that I am _very_ particular about the things I own. I actually thought the word for this was gearhead but apparently that only applies to mechanical things and technology? So maybe I am actually an itemhead. Thinghead? Anyways. I love the things I own. It makes me really happy to use a beautiful tool that's perfectly suited for my needs. It makes me really happy to see the things I own in their place in my apartment, and I'm grateful for how they make my life better. I also don't want to disrespect my items by mixing them in with junk, so I try to declutter my space often.

When I need something that I don't have, it kicks off a process in my mind. First, do I really need it? I usually agonize over this for a long time. Reduce comes before reuse and recycle, guys! If I really need it, I begin to explore the product landscape, and identify possible candidates. Then, I'll take a look at the specs, price, reviews, and expert opinions. Finally, I might wait until the item goes on sale before I buy it, or see if I can find it more cheaply lightly used. I consider a lot of things, like the material, color, size, how it will fit with the rest of what I own, where I will put it, how easy it is to clean, and whether the design is beautiful and pleasing . I can understand this might be tedious to some, but I find it fun.

Once I found this optimal item, I usually stick with it forever. In a way, this process puts all of the decision making time up front.

Clothing is a notoriously time consuming challenge for most people, my previous self included. I hated how much time I used to spend trying to find clothes that looked good, were comfortable, easy to clean, durable, and versetaile. After some experimentation, I have worn basically the same outfit for almost two years now. Lots of people who feel like their clothing is a key part of their self expression might balk at this. However, even though I wear the same thing every day, I feel like the outfit does express many key aspects of my identity, and it expresses them confidently and consistently to everyone I meet, without any extra thought on my part.

My outfit is mostly, but not completely, black. On the streets of NYC, I am totally invisible and unremarkable in it. It's casual, but not sloppy. Many of the items are made of technical fabrics, though they don't look like your averagae gym clothes. I have no problem sprinting a few blocks or climbing a fence in it, though it can serve well enough for a business meeting or dinner out with friends. Mostly devoid of logos, it's not immediately apparent whether the clothes are cheap or expensive. On close inspection, the items are well-worn, but still clean and in good repair. My black jeans and t-shirt are definitely pretty edgy compared to the standard (ugly, boring) office uniform, but not unacceptably so. The hot summer days version includes some medium length black shorts, which are definitely casual casual, but I wear them on the way in and out of the office so I don't show up sweaty and gross, and nobody has said anything yet. In a pinch I can button up my mid layer flannel, which is not exactly a Brooks Brothers suit shirt, but it has buttons and a collar which is probably the most you can get out of me, sorry. The white sneakers serve as a way to break up the black, and give a good balance of style and functionality. For accessories, I have my running watch, which will be immediately recognized by any other runners but otherwise looks like an average simple digital watch. Maybe I'd enjoy the increased funcionality of an apple watch, but I don't think it's durable enough for my clumsiness, and it's a little too expensive and flashy anyways.

I can rant a lot about the things I own. Personally, I think this is good. I think this is how it should be. If you own something, you may as well love it. If you don't love it and find it perfectly useful and beautiful, you should probably give it to someone else who will!

As a certified itemhead, I definitely have fallen into the materialism trap that Chuck Palahniuk aptly described in Fight Club with "The things you own end up owning you". However, I'd like to think the consideration I put towards the things I own makes me much less wasteful than the average person, and I regularly part with things I no longer use, often given away for free. Maybe in some places and times, there can be the odd Diogenes, but in modern America, I think it's impossible not to be owned by your things. So the least you can do is to take back some control by thinking about your things, and appreciating them for everything they do for you.