objects, collections & possessions: some thoughts & three questions

So I’ve been thinking about objects a lot lately, mostly because of the new book, in which things & belongings are scattered about like the injuries in The Accident Season.

At the same time & not entirely unrelatedly I’ve been reading a lot about hoarding & collections, & theories of space & clutter, & Marie Kondo, & recycling & plastic consumption & household waste, & I’ve been thinking about the shrines my sister & I set up in our rooms when we were teenagers: the photos & flowers, the trinkets & treasures, the candles & fairylights reflected in mirrors giving the carefully curated chaos a low glow. So in the evening I declutter my house & sort through mess & memories, & in the morning I write about objects & all the while I think about the things we own & the things we keep & the things we let define us.

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So I have a few questions, & if you’re reading this & you’d like to answer I’d love to hear what you have to say.

What’s your favourite object?
What object would you say defines you? (Are they the same thing?)
What is the object you use most often?

I haven’t been able to narrow down my favourite object but once I do I’ll post it in the comments. As for my defining object, maybe a notebook? My current notebook is pink & says this on the cover:

trouvaille
(noun)
something lucky,
found by chance

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It’s perfectly fitting for a book about lost things written by a half-French person made mostly of love & luck.

The object I use most often is a pair of thick, black, cat-eye glasses, because I put them on first thing in the morning & take them off last thing at night, & I can hardly see without them.

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Other contenders were my phone, my notebook, my Paperchase pens, the floral mugs I drink endless cups of tea out of & leave in random places around the house, the GHD I straighten my fringe with every morning (& I am particularly interested, for this book, in beauty routines & beauty objects as talismans, so if you have any thoughts about this please please leave me a comment, it’s fascinating stuff).

Here are some of the things I’ve been reading, in case you’re interested:

Glamorous Hoarding by Arabelle Sicardi
The Story of Stuff
Lego Lost at Sea & the Plastic Pollution Coalition
Teenage Bedroom Decor via Apartment Therapy
A shrine of shrines via Rookie

If you’ve any similar links or books you think I should check out let me know!

11 thoughts on “objects, collections & possessions: some thoughts & three questions

  1. Hi! I like your new page.
    As much as it pains me to admit it, the objects I use the most are my glasses (black, need to be replaced soon), my phone and my laptop.
    But there are several things I carry in my purse every day that I feel lost without even though I might not actually use them every day: chapstick, Muji pen, planner/notebook, small mirror (if I get something in my eye, not for reapplying lipstick), a small pouch of “lucky” objects like a Chinese coin with a hole in it.
    As for beauty rituals: I feel sort of naked if I leave the house without perfume. I was really sad when my pregnancy hormones made everything smell off to me and I couldn’t wear any for months. Now I can use it again – in small quantities.

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    1. Thank you! I’m still getting used to it – for example I’ve only now learned where my comment notifications go. I had been wondering…

      I love the things so many people have in common: specific pens, notebooks, lucky objects/talismans, mirrors, glasses. Feels almost fairytale-like!

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  2. Hey there! What a sweet and inspiring post. I never really think about things in such detail like the way you seem to. I had to sit back and gauge before I went ahead to reply.
    I think the objects I love the most would be a palm-sized, white, ceramic, leaf-shaped tea-spoon rest. I love seeing and washing it and only actually realised this when I went to make tea after reading your post. Another would my grandmother’s Edwardian bookcase and writing station. Right now it’s filled with a very strange assortment of books, some half-painted napoleonic British soldiers, a notebook and some loose photographs. Over everything inanimate, it really anchors me in the same way my grandmother anchored me, when I was growing up.
    My glasses and a pen are essential to my life; technology, not so much.
    I read Marie Kondo’s Magic of Tidying and it’s lovely and I’d love to be so wonderfully organised. I love the method and the devotion that goes into her vision. I’ve just cleared away my TBR and R amalgamated piles and now am reading a small penguin classics book, The Suffragettes and Pandora by Anne Rice. Happy writing!

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    1. That teaspoon rest sounds beautiful. And I think you’re the only person to have answered with an object too large to fit into a bag! But I love that it’s an object upon which to display objects – so relevant! I also love how so many people’s replies are things that their parents or grandparents owned. This idea of keeping the past with us in physical form – it’s so powerful. Sorry this reply’s so late btw, I was having issues with comment notifications!

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  3. Moira, your new website is lovely!
    Objects I use the most:
    my glasses! and, embarrassingly, my phone! And my wedding rings and my watch! I collect mugs from new cities I visit so I drink from a different one every morning.
    My beauty routines aren’t very exciting (standard teeth brushing and face washing and moisturizing) but I do love the name of my face cream: ‘Hope in a Jar’.
    I have two perfumes that I alternate between. One is Body by Burberry, and I wear that if I’m going out with my girlfriends or on a date with my husband and the other one is Modern Muse by Este Lauder and I wear that if I’m spending the day writing or if I have a writing related meeting or if I need to be inspired. I love how it smells but I *might* have been initially attracted to it because of the name!
    Kxx

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  4. This isn’t a direct answer to your question but it feels pertinent and it’s what came to mind as I read this post:
    Without realising it I have developed this ritual where I keep something small in my handbag that I’m not necessarily likely to need, but that’s part of one of my hobbies. For a while it was a crochet hook (used for fixing knitting mistakes) and then for a while it was a measuring tape. At the moment it’s a ‘good’ mechanical pencil for drawing with. There have been other ones in the past too but I can’t remember what right now. It feels weirdly important that I have something like this with me, especially if I’m going somewhere scary; it reminds me of who I am and what makes me me. I feel more ready to face the world.

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  5. My favorite object is so hard to choose. I’m inclined to say my laptop or phone because both are such saving graces for me so often in so many ways. But I think I want to say the jar of flowers I keep on the corner table in my bedroom. I switch the flowers out every few weeks once they’ve dried out, so it’s ever-changing, but it brings color and softness and light into my space, and I love it so much.

    Most-used object is definitely my laptop. Writing, drawing, reading – my three big hobbies – all take place on there quite a bit. (Reading also in books, writing also in notebooks, drawing also in sketchbooks, but the laptop does all three, in certain respects.) It’s where I dump the excess energies from my brain and where I often take in soothing distractions. I don’t feel very at home where I live right now, so I look for home through various internet outlets. It helps so much.

    The object that most defines me is my black hair-clip. My hair is almost always twisted up in that clip (always at work, and often on other days) or in a side braid (while sleeping, days when I’m antsy and want to play with my hair to self-soothe). I don’t know how I feel about it, but I think it’s as close to a trademark object as I have. (I also love when I take my hair down because I need to re-adjust the clip and someone oohs and ahhs about how long my hair is. It’s in terrible shape and to be honest I need to cut it almost all off, but I keep putting it off because I love when it’s long, even if it’s always hidden up in a clip.)

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    1. Sorry this reply is five years late – was having technical issues! It makes so much sense that an object could feel like home, especially one that gives access to so many things you love. When Elsa was just born my phone was a little lifeline for me – this one tiny thing could keep me connected to my friends & a bit more awake & slightly more sane. I can see how a jar of flowers can do kind of the same thing. x

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