On Top of It #9 by Lisa Martens


As a New York college student who has moved nine times in ten years, I try to live light. I fail, but I try.

I love books, I can’t throw out gifts or cards, and well, to be honest, if I find the five of spades on the street, I just may keep it and hope I find the rest of the deck.

However, I recently did an odd job for a man who had so much stuff that it redefined the word crap for me.

Let me first explain that this man . . . let’s call him Tim . . . didn’t have a hoarding problem. I would never make light of something like that. Tim had once had a store that had gone under, and so he was transitioning from a brick-and-mortar space to an online Amazon store.

Tim. Had. Crap.

He had hundreds of items to put on sale: Obama sex dolls, animal key chains, bobblehead action figures, Wizard of Oz-inspired rubber ducks, zombie socks, mustache pacifiers, cookie cutters in the shape of fetuses, coin banks in the shape of bullets, fake belly buttons, candy g-strings, a mug that said “coffee makes me poop,” a ketchup costume for dogs, toilet bowl lip gloss, a zombie painting of the Mona Lisa . . . the list went on and on.

Pure crap.

Tim had a small apartment, so he paid to have his crap stored. He paid me to take or find photos of his crap, and then he paid me to list his crap online.

He wanted to use the money to fund his other projects, or maybe support his ex-wife or buy things for his new wife. Who knows.

But, and this was kind of a relief, Tim knew he had pointless crap. He wasn’t particularly passionate about the crap or his online store. He saw the crap as a way to generate some income and then, when it became apparent that absolutely no one wanted his crap, he tried to get rid of it online.

As I listed hundreds of these objects online, I thought about the needless accumulation of stuff, and also the lack of passion behind the business of crap. Sometimes I think people’s passion come across, even on the Internet, and the passion draws real people, real results. I saw Tim’s business and it was almost nice to see that his scheme to sell crap didn’t work. Because his heart wasn’t in it, my heart wasn’t in it.

Don’t trade your passion for crap, I think is the point I’m trying to make. You may have to deal with crap, but don’t deal with it in your spare time. Don’t give away all your time and space to fake belly buttons or Wizard of Oz-themed rubber ducks. Save room for the books you love, and for the holiday cards you’ll receive from family members who sort of have their shit together.


Lisa Martens

Lisa Martens (Episode 22) currently lives in Harlem. In her past 10 years in New York, she has lived in a garage on Long Island, a living room in Hell’s Kitchen, the architecture building of CCNY, and on the couch of a startup. She grew up in New York, Costa Rica and Texas, and she’s still not sure which of these is home. She completed her MFA in Creative Writing from CCNY. Her thesis, What Grows in Heavy Rain, is available on Amazon. Check out her website here. Follow her on Instagram here.