Finishing things off….

It may not be simple parsimony or frugality, but I have to finish things off.

Toothpaste tubes are squeezed this way and that until not a drop remains, hand cream bottles are cut open to scrape the last bits off the side, shampoo bottles stand on their heads so that gravity can drain them fully.  Funny shaped bottles, with shoulders where little pools of cream can collect, drive me to crazily poke my fingers inside.

Only when the last tiny bit has been used up, can the empty bottle be thrown away and a new one started.

You won’t find a multitude of half finished bottles in my bathroom or kitchen cupboards.  It’s both a good and a bad thing.  There’s a real sense of satisfaction in being ‘allowed’ to throw something away knowing that I have squeezed everything possible out of it; but sometimes  I do secretly wish I could open the new thing before the old is exhausted.  That I might even throw an unfinished something away every now and again.

Ready for a change

I’m the same with my notebooks.  I love notebooks, and I have many beautiful ones.  Some of the most beautiful are the most difficult to contemplate using.  They are so lovely it seems a shame to write rubbish in them; so I start using a cheap one from somewhere like Monoprix (I have a weakness for the squared paper found in French jotters) promising myself that I will use the beautiful red leather one when I know I am on a roll and am only writing good things in decent handwriting.

Of course, I am still waiting for that day to come.

It was only a couple of years ago that I allowed myself not to finish reading a book if I really wasn’t enjoying it.  Until then I would always slog through to the end.  I’d always go back after the interval, no matter how egregious the performance of a play.  I had the ‘I’ve paid for this so I’m going to see it through’ mindset. And then someone asked me: ‘If you’ve already wasted your money, why waste your time as well?’  And I saw the light.

I was talking about this with a friend the other day and realised that it might extend beyond just using things up.  In a household where children were expected to eat what they were given I would often find myself eating the thing I didn’t much like first, in order to be able to reward myself by by having the best things last.

To this day in social situations I can still catch myself adopting this approach rather than admitting to my host that they’ve put something on my plate that I find unappetising.

For a number of years I shared a house with a friend who had Shreddies for breakfast every morning.  Clearly he loved the cereal, but he hated the dusty bits at the bottom of the box.  His economy measure was to sift the remnants when the box was a couple of bowlfuls away from empty; the dust would go in the bin and he would eat the whole Shreddies.

The problem was that sometimes, it was too much effort for him to find the sieve, and he would open a new box.  This could go on for several weeks, so that every time I opened the cupboard 5 boxes of nearly empty cereal would fall out.  One morning in a fury I took all the lining bags and consolidated them into one box: even when really quite irritated I couldn’t throw good food away, but there was no way on earth I was ever going to sieve someone else’s cereal.

I’ve decided that I am going to practice a little profligacy this week and find something to throw away, as well as start a new notebook, even though I have one with blank pages left in it.

It’s writing that ‘s the impossible thing to finish……

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  1. brendan stallard

     /  June 9, 2011

    “shampoo bottles stand on their heads so that gravity can drain them fully.”


    Ah…one of the major irritations of modern travel and getting to use other folks shower rooms as a guest. You try terribly hard to travel light. EVERY time I visit my family and use their shower stall, there are ten bottles of various confusing fluids left inside said stall.

    All empty…GAH! Now, I simply go and stock up at the local corner store after I land.

    “I took all the lining bags and consolidated them into one box: even when really quite irritated I couldn’t throw good food away, but there was no way on earth I was ever going to sieve someone else’s cereal.”

    LOL, I so get this. The pain of sharing houses with other people is a real psychosis. Other people simply drive one madder than a wet hen. Cereal lunacy is merely the edge of the precipice:)

    “‘If you’ve already wasted your money, why waste your time as well?’ ”

    Something to be taped to the inside of one’s wallet. Fabulous!


    • Brendan, that’s why it’s so vital to finish off and then throw away. The throwing away bit can be very satisfying!!

  2. Trevor

     /  June 9, 2011

    As another ‘can’t waste anything’ person, I can sympathise with all you say. I must say I think you’re really brave leaving unused pages at the end of a notebook though.

    • Thanks! I can always go back to the ‘spare’ pages later if I want…….maybe….


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