Fighting Outside The Box

Okay, not fighting outside the box. Not really.

Just a difference of opinion about throwing away a box.

I’m going to let the conversation speak for itself. You have to read that with a little bit of a superior attitude one has when one is obviously not wrong. 

We have been spending Tuesday evenings throwing out as much as the trash people will pick up on Wednesday mornings.

Randy: You can’t put that box in the trash.

Me: This box? This box is too narrow to pack anything in, so I’m going to put it out with the trash.

Randy: You can’t do that, it’s a TV box.

Me: There are no rules about disposing of TV boxes. It’s disposing of the broke ass TVs we have that are going to cost us.fighting outside the box

Randy: No, a box like that will attract people. They’ll know there’s a TV in here.




Me: Everyone in the country knows we have a TV in our house because everyone in the country has a TV.

Randy: Well, it’s a new TV.

Me: Technically, it’s not new. This box has been in here for over a year.


Me: You’re right. I mean, there are roving bands of ruffians on the lookout for an off brand 32 inch TV that cost $134 and they are willing to kill to get one.

Randy: Keep joking, Skippy.

Me: Seriously, it’s fine to put this box out in the trash. It’s fine, Randy. I promise.

Randy: I’ll break it down and put it in a bag.

Me: You are exhausting.

Randy: Not everyone in the country has a TV.

Me: Fine, fair enough. We’re in the suburbs in the Midwest. Everyone here has multiple TVs.

So, anyway, we didn’t put the box out in the trash.

I thought there might be Midwesterners who do not, in fact, own a TV.

I am responding for those people as Jill Sebastian St. Williams.

Dear Michelle

I am writing to you from Terre Haute, IN which is definitely in the Midwest. We do not own a TV in our house. We actually love our children, Muffy and Joffrey, and want more for them than to spend hours in front of a screen. No screen time in this house. And we named our son Joffrey before Game of Thrones was even a thing. I hate George R R Martin. My son is not a monster. 

I would never allow my children to be hurt the way I’ve been hurt by TV. My world shattered when Uncle Jessie married that Becky person. 

Also, for your information, a girl I work with has a cousin who was the victim of a home invasion by a gang who were specifically looking for a house with a 32 inch TV to burgle. Not only did my friend’s cousin’s family get tied up, but the gang made them eat non-organic fruit and now they’ll probably die a few days earlier than they would have.

You just have to be more careful about spreading disinformation. You are ruining America. 

Jill Sebastian St. Williams

Wow. And now I’m feeling like I owe Randy and fictional Jill an apology.

Not much longer, it won’t be much longer. I swear when we sell this house and move we are going to be better adults. We won’t be pack rats! We will throw things away! We’ll keep better records! You know, or start keeping records.

It’s going to be great!

Now, excuse me, I have to debate over what we’re going to do with this huge cassette tape collection we haven’t listened to in 15 years.


Photo courtesy of Rene Asmussen.


Add your comments below. Profanity is encouraged, but not required. ;)
  1. Paula says:

    Oh, Michelle, you do a heart good. I am the worst, hear me worst pack rat. Not a hoarder you see, just “might need it someday” pack rat. And I am specific-fabric, jewelry stuff, plastic bins (not used butter containers)-good stuff. However, for Randy’s sake, I did cut up my TV box and put it in the trash. I do live in one of “those” neighborhoods with an emphasis on “hood”. Not my neighbors but who know who might go down my alley and decide if I have a big ass TV, what other goodies I might have. I am ready to move. Not because of my town, neighborhood but my grands are an hour away through Dallas. I do have a new job that is not north 31 miles, it is west in Ft Worth 38 miles one way. But the commute is better and they do appreciate a woman who is 65 with skills. My gosh, Michelle, you just prove I am not the only one…dare I say looney. I really prefer goofball, it sounds more like Goldie Hawn than a crazy person.

  2. Val says:

    Hmmmm, Paula… Dare I guess – Lancaster or Cedar Hill???
    (I’m not trying to be a creeper – I work in Red Oak, home base is in Bristol which doesn’t even warrant a dot on some maps, but we’re just NE of Ennis.) I keep on threatening if traffic gets much worse on I-20, we need to move farther south!
    And my DH just started in on the stack o’ crap in our garage – both of us have packrat tendencies, way overdue for major decluttering ‼️

    • Paula says:

      Val, Desoto. I have lived there since ’76 when I graduated from college. My mom and I had Roe-Art. She passed away in April of last year so I have a lot of her stuff at my house. It was important right after she passed but not so much now. When she closed the business she moved all the equipment to her garage. I have to deal with her stuff still. I have lived in this house for 40 years and you can imagine the crap! My ex took some but not enough. My garage is full as well. I believe when my ex needed something he didn’t look for it, it was easier to go to Home Depot. And of course to shut me up he would buy the supplies to do a project and never follow through. So I totally appreciate. Can you imagine if we had basements? And of course I know where Bristol is.

      • Val says:

        Small freakin’ world, huh?!? That’s amazing, Paula, we’re practically NEIGHBORS!!!
        And I know no one looks at an honest-to-God printed map anymore, but many would place the marker for the farm to market road that leads THROUGH Bristol where the tiny dot that is our town should be… It’s hard to believe I’ve lived here for 26 years, but I said this would be my last house until I’m too old & decrepit to live on my own (I HATE moving even worse than Michelle hates painting! 😉

  3. Haralee says:

    A perspective I haven’t thought before for home robberies. Here we have on garbage day supplied by our waste management company bins for garbage, glass, yard debris and recyclable paper and plastics. Woe be the person who mixes up or puts non acceptables in the wrong bin. A note is taped to your bin in fluorescent duck tape so all can see you are not very bright! What this garbage and recyclable discards organization means is it is very nice for the homeless to shop and rummage through your bins.

  4. Diane says:

    I have moved so many times in my life for love, the pursuit of happiness, or a promotion, that I do not have many boxes…..I mean I can sell them to the next person moving out and get some money back.

    In this condominium building we are, “supposed to” clean our food cans before disposing of them in, “x” or “y” container, and cardboard of course gets put in that bin etc.

    Half the people don’t speak English and we are lucky if there is garbage not left in the hallway. And this is not a cheap building to live in!

    So Randy throw that box out. You are safe. Or I have an extra tv that you can have that we never use. I will trade you the box for it. I am sure I have a use for it.

    So Randy, trust me. We have three tv’s. For two people. Don’t ask me why, because we always end up watching the same one together. Throw the box out. No one cares.

    • randy says:

      Thank you Diane! I cut up box and put into garbage. Controversy and intrigue kaput in three minutes.

    • Michelle says:

      I’ve moved a shit ton of times, but this house? We’ve been here 9 years and that is the longest, by far, that I’ve ever lived in my life. So we have years of shit to clear out. Also..kind of freaked out. I mean, I’ve always been good at moving. I don’t know why this is freaking me out so bad.

  5. Jennifer says:

    We have got to be marries to the same person. We have beta tapes and a beta player. The tapes are full of Mr. Ed and every single David Letterman anniversary. Then the husband moved to VHS and we have all the rest of David Letterman and several Super Bowls recorded.
    And now let’s talk about all the cassette mix tapes. I’m hoping for a fire in the garage it’s the only way out.

  6. Onlyme says:

    But the good news is…..cassette tapes are becoming popular again! That is good news, right?!?

  7. Renee says:

    You and Randy need your own show on that TV or my TV!

  8. Now I’m imagining Randy broke down the box and then said, “Break it down” and did an MC Hammer dance on the box. And that “putting it in the bag” is some kind of breakdancing move that he also did on the box.
    Hopefully all the packing and housework and moving will be done soon before any of that really does happen.

  9. Doug in Oakland says:

    Cassette tapes? I used to have my music collection on cassette tapes, before it was stolen from me by a crazy room mate. The hard part about that was the recordings I had made myself of shows that didn’t exist outside of my recording after they were over. And I fail to believe that roomie ever listened to “HSU Fusion Band, Blue Moon, Arcata” after she stole it.
    Now I have a Naugahyde case full of cassettes that weren’t in the collection that I can’t find a player to use to digitize them. Those tapes include three TDK 90’s labeled “Recording History” that have recordings of my playing on them going back to 1978. There’s also a pair of Fuji 90’s labeled “Peter Gabriel, Greek Theater, Berkeley, 1983” that I really hope still play after all of these years, because that was one hell of a show.
    Being an electric guitar player, there is no real way to keep the neighborhood from knowing that I own electric guitars, which unfortunately can be sold for drug money. Which is how I’ve lost four of them to burglaries. What I learned from those experiences was to get to know your neighbors. Especially if you’re a white boy living in a poor neighborhood in Oakland. I haven’t had any such troubles since 2004.
    Cutting up a box is no big deal. I tend to rebel against being timid for safety’s sake, but as I said, I have been burgled a few times.
    I also don’t keep stuff that I don’t use any more. Space is way too expensive in the East Bay to pay for the storage of things I don’t really care about.
    The last time we moved we were under duress and I had to make our stuff fit in a 4X8 storage locker while we found a place to live. So I went through the crates of stuff I had been carrying around for the last few moves, and my reactions quickly morphed from “Oh, wow, I remember this” to “DIE! Fuck off! I can’t carry you around any more! You suck!” as I hauled them to the garbage area in the foundry building.
    The thing was, really, that after I put most of my possessions into a storage in 2011, I found out that I really didn’t use most of it, and when I got it out of the storage and moved it to the foundry building, I didn’t even unpack it until I was faced with moving it again. That’s when I ruthlessly threw most of it away.
    Now I have a closet full of music equipment, a trunk full of clothes I don’t wear much, my computer stuff, my Timbuk2 bag with my medicines, documents, and assorted odds and ends that I actually use, and three bags of clothes and bedding, and a few crates of books I couldn’t part with, and that’s it. What’s more, even in my condition, I can move it all myself if need be, so that’s also something.

    • Michelle says:

      The only cassette tape I regret no longer having is the first one Randy sent me. I know the first song was Ashes to Ashes by Tin Machine and the second song was The Devil Is Chasing Me by Reverend Horton Heat.

  10. Monique says:

    Do you have- by any weard coincidence- a cassettetape of Milly Jackson, named Roots of soul?
    Please, please put it in the trash and I come luting your garbage, Thank so much!

  11. mydangblog says:

    Ken and I have the exact same conversation every Christmas. He’s convinced that people will know what we got and they’ll break in and steal it. I’m always like, on the day you buy me diamonds, I promise I’ll put the boxes inside the cat litter bucket.

  12. Babbalou says:

    I was convinced Randy wanted to save the box because he keeps boxes for everything you buy – you know in case you have to send it somewhere for repairs…or who knows what. I only recently was able to toss the box my husband’s college speakers came in (so about 1972 or so) because I said if they fail, they’re toast.
    And we are not pack rats. I have to put mail on my desk because otherwise it will end up in the recycling bin within hours. My husband is German by heritage and very orderly. But he has a thing about boxes….
    For the record, I agreed to move back to my husband’s home town 24 years ago. I thought this was a temporary house -I lived in 8 houses by the time I was 7 years old and never in my life had lived anywhere longer than 5 years. And here we are…24 years later. I have accepted my fate.

  13. Spiked Lee says:

    When we moved, we got rid of a lot of things. Some things we thought we got of, and they moved anyway. I think they crawled out of the garbage and back in to the garage.
    Old house: 1600 square feet, 2 floors. New house: 1100 square feet, 3 floors.
    Old house: Husband put keys on the key hook 63.2% of the time.
    New house: Husband puts keys on the key hook 97.4% of the time.
    I count it as a win.

  14. emelle says:

    My last 3 moves have been “downsizing” types of moves. But when the technology finally exists to TRULY “downsize” (like the movie), I’ll finally be able to completely unpack my life!
    Until then, I take baby steps. I have a single file cabinet that keeps me organized, and every year or so, it gets a decent purging. More important than my television is my paper shredder. I’d be lost without it. Not that I don’t still have a fuckton of other cluttering shit. I manage to win the paper battle more often than not, and I have to let that satisfy me.

  15. Kate says:

    Yoir blog gives me life and I need to stop by more often. ❤️