On Tattoos and Purging

Okay, I’ll admit the title is a tad misleading.

Because this post isn’t about tattooed bulimics.

I mean, I have tattoos.

And used to be bulimic.

But this isn’t about rehashing the past. Nor is it about glorifying tattoos.

So. Just to be clear, kittens: go get inked if you want, and eat a sandwich if you’re hungry.

PSA over.


Now, y’all might remember a certain post a little while back about purging stuff. You know, all that crap you amass in a ridiculously short amount of time. Those things that, individually, are a lot of fun finding and making your own, but together can become a little overwhelming.

Especially when two households combine.

Because there’s no superhero that bursts out of the ground booming, “By your powers combined!” with a handbook about making everything fit into your design aesthetic. And there’s definitely no pointy-eared brother turning into water. (I mean, if I was Jayna, I’d have dumped that mop water of a brother into some kitty litter a while ago. And wash my hands of him completely.)

Fire! My Wheeler Planeteer ring...found during The Great Purge.

Now, it’s not like our apartment was an homage to Hoarders. In fact, it was all sparkly and clean and pretty. (Well, I might be a little biased because of a lil Apartment Therapy tour…even though it predated Andy, and our place looks nothing like this now.)

But lurking in the closets were little reminders that all décor is not created equal. Past decorative trends and accents were suffocating in trunks and boxes, left unused and unseen for years.

And then there’s stuff that’s good and all, but just doesn’t have its former pizzazz.

The solution?

A cross country road trip!

Okay. So that wasn’t the main reason we packed up the Prius and drove to CA. But once we were there, and on the way back, we knew we’d have a clean sweep of such epic proportions it’d make Niecy Nash blush and scream, “GUUuuurl!” right before she passed her fabulous self out onto one of her trademark hair flowers.

We’d barely unpacked everything before we both disappeared into different rooms and started grabbing things off table tops and ripping jackets, boxes, and files out of closets. 


With a very strong cocktail in hand, I sifted through my three distilled-down boxes of graduate school notes, papers, and drafted theses before emptying the entire lot into the garbage, and tossing most of my seminar books into the Sell pile.

Bubye to some grad school reads...

Clothes came next. And seven massive garbage bags’ worth later, our respective wardrobes breathed sighs of relief. (Mine mostly because an amazing influx of cashmere and cardigans phased out polyester-blends and overwashed cotton. Bam!) 

Next, each piece of furniture and decorative bit underwent a critical assessment, determining its functional worth versus its decorative appeal. So the pile grew with beautiful, lovely things that function pretty ineffectively. At least for us.

Cut glass punch bowl fabulousness...for someone else.

And then there was the kitchen.

And, guuurl. Did I clean it out.

Out came roughly a bazillion tumblers, and juice, wine, and martini glasses. (And even though I loathe tequila, we still had margarita glasses.) And dishes? If it wasn’t Fiestaware or locally-made pottery, it got tossed atop the Pile o’ Stuff.

But it’s not like we were going willy-nilly. I mean, we did set some parameters before we started–like, if we haven’t used it in a year, we clearly don’t need it. Or there are two of us, so we don’t need 70 wine glasses.

So much drinking to be done. By someone else.

So, so much stuff.

And why do we have it?

Because, like getting tattoos, buying shit is addictive. More than that, though, that chair or DVD or stand-mixer quenches your thirst for excitement, and leaves a material aftertaste.

But then, you’re surrounded. And you realize that you’ve just created a den of unhappiness. Because even if you have killer design sense, the common thematic element with every little thing around you isn’t paisley or purple.

It’s depression. Or anxiety. Or bitterness. Or other nasty emotions made tangible.   

And that’s why it’s hard not to respond cattily to certain comments. Comments that, especially during this whole downsizing-purging process, keep evoking expressions that make me resemble Two Face, or Tommy Lee Jones, or Tommy Lee Jones as Two Face. (Bless his heart.)

Like, “Why would you part with something so great?!”

Here’s the thing: it’s not easy. In fact, we’ve both lost sleep over it. Had tiffs here and there. Not just because our apartment is in disarray, but because trimming the fat is hard and exhausting and symbolic.

Vanity got the best of me. Ba da bah!Yay, Deco cabinet! But, bubye!


Change is never easy. But it’s necessary. And we need it more than a great Deco vanity.

We need a sense of permanence and purpose.

It’s like when I look at my tattoos. There’s no regret, only good memories about the people I’ve been, the friendships I have, and the experiences that’ve made me who I am.

And we both need to be able to look around us–wherever we may land–and feel that same sense of satisfaction.

And the two of us will. Whether that’s in a month, six months, or a year. We’ll get there. 

Whether it’s casting aside a throw pillow, or shipping off the first piece of Deco furniture I ever bought, it’s all about moving forward. And if I learned anything from Susan Sarandon’s character in Elizabethtown, it’s that “All forward motion counts.”

And we’re keeping that momentum going. Because that’s all we can do, especially when we have goals to achieve.  

Dreams to realize. 

4 Replies to “On Tattoos and Purging”

  1. Awww, thanks Jeanne! I always appreciate your comments, and everything you and yours are trying to do to make this world of ours a little better!

  2. Matt– I, too, have to just let you know how much I appreciate your writing style. It really does flow so well and makes me want to keep reading. I really love the idea behind this post, too– the idea of forward motion. I’ve never thought of purging like this before and I want to keep it in mind next time I purge some of my own stuff!

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