stuff your life

How to stuff your life into four boxes

Step 1: Have some things, maybe a lot of things, and a place to live, maybe you even really like that place, and a vibrant, complex life stationed somewhere, maybe it’s kind of great.

Step 2: Remove 98 percent of step one.

Welcome to my insane life! I’m currently in the process of removing 98 percent of it and stuffing the rest into four oversized plastic bins.

A lot of people I’ve talked to have been surprised at how time-intensive the process has been, so I thought I’d create a guide for you beautiful people in case you decide to one day embark on your own completely insane journey and also to explain why I haven’t had time for all the drinks.

First, tell your bosses and stuff, and also the people that you love. They should know.

From there, you’re going to need a step-by-step game plan.

Here goes…


Step 1A: Make your peace with your stuff.It’s just stuff, I promise, almost all of it can be replaced. Still, it’s weirdly hard to get rid of some things. Something about the human experience makes us attached to inanimate objects. Find a way to see those things as dollars — you know, which you desperately need for your journey — while keeping the truly invaluable stuff (my typewriters are bulky storage but I mean c’mon). It’s not always going to go well! I sold both of my guitars to a man I sort of hated who sat on my lawn for an hour playing a really shitty version of Jimi Hendrix and I haven’t stopped thinking about it! But that’s OK! Closure, even closure that involves a creepy and not-overly talented guitar man can be good.

Step 1B: Find things to sell.Go through every drawer, cabinet, shelf, corner of space, including under the bed, and make note of everything you can’t live without.

Step 1C: Do that again, but be serious this time. Stop screwing around. Bolivia is no place for your dress-up-Bigfoot magnets.

Step 1D: Plan a yard sale. This is more work than you could ever imagine if you’re not a normal yard-selling human. Make an ad on Craigslist. Put an ad in the newspaper, yeah like the actual newspaper. Make signs. Get permanent markers with really big tips for that, too, otherwise you’ll spend several hours cursing and pencilling ridiculous letter outlines. Now go put those signs up everywhere. See if your grocery store and your wine shop will let you put some up — if not, be ready your double-sided tape and run, and just see what happens. Maybe someone will see them before the manager angrily removes them. Now you need to sort things and clean things and put masking tape with prices scribbled on them on things. Get the good masking tape, the kind that doesn’t split into six strings every time you try to pull off a piece and then end up in your hair.

Step 1E: Sell that shit hard. I’m talkin’ free mimosas at this sale. I’m talkin’ free donuts. When people drink alcohol and eat sugar, they feel happy. And when people feel happy, they spend money. That’s science. While your potential customers are sipping their free mimosas and munching their free donuts, say things like “Wow, that’s absolutely your color” (but in the non-creepy way) and “You like that humidor— let me throw in a few cigars, straight from Cuba” and “Iceland is beautiful this time of year. You should buy this guide and plan a trip!” Refill their mimosas. Take your bills. Count your cash.

**public service warning** People will absolutely show up to your house at 6:30 a.m. regardless of the starting time of 7. They’ll be demanding. They’ll want everything for $5. You’re going to be dragging tables out your front door and some asshole is going to be playing a really shitty version of Jimi Hendrix on your lawn. Did I mention that guy? 

Step 1F: Keep selling. This is what Poshmark (upscale items), Facebook Marketplace (other stuff) and Craigslist (everything else) are for. I’ve sold everything imaginable on Craigslist, including two cars. But Facebook Marketplace seems more relevant now? Not sure, I’m kind of old. Perhaps someone younger can advise. Also, consignment stores around town, like Clothes Mentor, will pay you for the clothes they think they can sell. Make use of the people around you, too. If someone compliments you on something you’re wearing, it’s for sale. If they like your earrings, they’re for sale. If they like your wallet, it’s for sale. But not the contents of it, you’ll need that. You get the idea.

Step 1G: Give things away.If you can’t sell it, bring it to Goodwill for Pete’s sake and feel good about it.

Category: CAREER-ING

Step 1H: Make a budget.Things cost money! Like almost everything except for love and confidence and stuff. Figure out how much all the things cost because that’s what you’ll need to make. That’s math.

Step 1I: Build a website. Don’t be ridiculous, pick out a template on a site like or Building a site from scratch is for people who know what they’re doing. Mess around, read some guides or hire a designer on to do that shit for you. You’ll need a domain too. That’s what is for. And when the first 17 ideas that come to you are not available in dot com for, realize that there are other relevant options, and even Forbes agrees.

Step 1J: Start a Patreon page. This is like Kickstarter, but for starving artists like yourself. Put up your picture and some compelling text, and sell subscriptions for like $1, $3 and $5 a month and promise things like exclusive content (words, videos, recipes), hand-signed postcards and a monthly newsletter in return.

Step1K: Figure out how to start a newsletter. You literally just promised one. Mail Chimp is a good starting point for this.

Step 1L: Reach out to everyone you know and make them reach out to everyone they know. You’ve got a network, now work it. WHO KNOW WHO? And who do THEY know.

Step 1M: Email people from every publication you can imagine publishing your work. Plus all of the things these other people in your network suggest. Don’t get picky, you’re definitely not at the picky stage yet. Be charming. Make them all love you and think you’re interesting and useful.

Step1N: Reach out to travel brands. You’re an influencer now! Brands will pay you to publicly use their stuff! Or they might, anyway, if you’ve been paying attention to Instagram for the last five years. If you haven’t been paying attention to Instagram for the last five years, scrap steps 1A through 1M and focus on that for a while.

Step 1O: Talk to your accountant. Your life is different now. The whole thing is a write-off. You’re no longer a W2 kind of human. You need a plan of action.


Step 1P: Buy a flight to ground zero.Wherever it is you want to start, that is.

Step 1Q: Don’t buy a flight to anywhere else and try to calm people down when they freak out after you tell them you’re “going with the flow.” It’s fine.

Step 1R: Buy a computer. Oh yeah, that thing you’ve been using for the last eight years? That belongs to your (former) company.

Step 1S: Buy a phone.That also belongs to your company. And you’re gonna need a good one — you know, for Instagram.

Step 1T: Get a phone plan. Still belongs to your company. Besides, you’re going to need a ridiculous international plan with unlimited 4G data and stuff. Call around and compare if you want, but I’m telling you, Verizon has the goods.

Step 1U: Get equipment. You’ll need a tripod for your iPhone if you want to do standup videos. And you’ll need a stabilizer thing for handheld videos. You’ll need a serious battery pack. You’ll need a mini light. You’ll need some podcast software, perhaps, and video-cutting software. If you bought a teeny tiny computer because of weight concerns, you might need some adapters for USB drives and such. Oh, and you’ll need outlet adapters, too, because the countries can’t all get on board with something universal. I’m still figuring much of this out so if you have suggestions, please hit ya girl up.

Step 1V: And the right credit card. Have I mentioned your life is different now? If you have loyalty to one airline that is probably no longer useful. Think about a nice versatile travel card that will give you the best bang for your buck with every precious dollar you spend and one that lets you spend your points in a variety of ways. (I chose the Capital One Venture card.)

Step 1W: And packing gear. Do you have a backpacking backpack? If not you’re definitely going to need one. Roller bags are for resorts, not Nicaragua. Think of this backpack as your new apartment since it now holds all your belongings. You’ll also need a day pack and travel cubes for making the most of your space. This is a good time to ensure you have a good, versatile jacket, sneakers and boots, too.

Step 1X: And mace, or something. The world is weird. One alternative I’m looking at is an “ear-piercing” push-alarm that comes in the form of a heart-shaped keychain. But I’m also concerned I would set it off accidentally roughly 17 times a day.

Step 1Y: Consolidate your student loans?Remember when you groaned at graduation that it would take you until age 35 to pay those off? LOL WHAT A DREAM THAT WOULD HAVE BEEN. So see if you can get them all consolidated into one and lower your rate — or get a temporary deferment? Still working on this, so again, suggestions????

Step 1Z: Make a decision about insurance. Oh yeah — your company owns that too. So figure out what works best in your new life, whether it’s traditional U.S.-based insurance, travel insurance or, like, not having insurance for a while?

Step 1aa: Create a post like this that begins as a guide and ends as a bunch of questions you don’t know the answer to yet so maybe your readers get sucked into helping you?

Step 1ab: Go to the doctor. You’re going to be gone a while.

Step 1ac: Go to the dentist. You’re going to be gone for a while.

Step 1ad: Get shots, maybe.For things like Yellow Fever and such. And get some malaria pills. I hear that’s bad. This is probably a separate appointment than your doctor appointment. I go to Park Nicollet’s travel clinic for all my travel-based, skin-piercing needs.

Step 1ae: Change your address.I don’t know, people might need to get ahold of you or something. You should have a permanent address, maybe, for your passport if nothing else. Your parents’ house? Your bestie’s? Your favorite bar? Something like that.

Step 1af: Get a storage unit? Or get things to your parents house?You have four boxes, after all. Figure out what to do with them.

Step 1ag: Take a deep breath, like a really deep one, as if you were applying for a job as a yoga instructor.You’ll be fine. (Probably.)

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