Tuesday, February 21, 2012

My Dirty Little Secret!

My name is Elaine and I am not a hoarder. I prefer the term curator of my own personal museum. Okay...I may have some hoarding tendencies. In my defense, I do believe it is in my DNA. I had an aunt who was a hoarder, my father is a hoarder, and I believe my mother also had some hoarding tendencies.

In the case of my mother, it’s not that she had an attachment to things; she just didn’t like to waste anything. Growing up, we had two newspapers delivered every day. They both came wrapped in rubber bands. Those rubber bands got saved. In a year’s time, and we will assume that a rubber band a week got re-used, she would have saved six hundred and seventy six rubber bands. She kept them neatly bundled and wrapped with (you guessed it) rubber bands. She also had a massive collection of twist ties and grocery bags. Does this sound familiar? Maybe it was more generation-related than anything else.

I don’t have that excuse. Ten years ago, I made a big change in my life, and rid myself of most of my possessions. What was left could fit in a car (not technically, since the treadmill had to be strapped to the roof) and it felt wonderful! During the next two years, the only purchases I made were a computer, a camera, an artificial Christmas tree (I had two ornaments, both gifts from friends), and a kitten.

Fast forward and I am now drowning in a sea of stuff. Let’s see if I can explain the logic behind my problem. I bought a pair of rustic candleholders made of metal with columns which look like branches. I paid practically nothing for them. I bought them because someday (and the word “someday” is a hoarding mantra) we may have a log cabin and they would be perfect. I also have a quilt, a set of dishes, and a lamp that would be perfect, too. Okay, multiply this example by ten (I also have things for a beach house, a downtown loft, and a farmhouse) and you will understand why I am starting to get frightened.

And, buying stuff is not the only problem. I save things just like my mother. I have enough bubble wrap to circle the globe. In the event of an apocalypse, I'm just sure it will come in handy. I have enough cardboard boxes to start a mail order business. If I had a dime for every time the words “Oh wait, I want to save that box” came out of my mouth, I would have enough money for a second storage unit. Yes, I said second storage unit. I have enough candles that if I lit them all at the same time, they would be visible from outer space.

I moved into the house where my husband already lived. I wasn’t comfortable for a long time because it didn’t feel like my house, too. The other day someone came to visit and commented that it looked like a woman lives here now. I smiled because I thought it was a compliment. My husband mumbled under his breath that the only place left in the house that was his was a corner of one room. It’s true. He has a humidor and a stack of motorcycle magazines. Every other inch of the house has been swallowed up by my tsunami of clutter.

Oh yeah, and the clothes. My closets are divided by fits now, fit last year, fit five years ago, and brand new clothes, with the tags still on them, that fit my dream body, not the nightmare body I actually have. And jewelry--I have enough necklaces to wear a new one every day for a year. And, of course, every piece of jewelry has a matching pair of shoes.

They say confession is good for the soul, but writing this has just depressed me. Now, what can I do to feel better? I know! I’ll find another place for the humidor and magazines so I can turn that room into a kid’s room!  It will be perfect for when the grandchildren visit! I don’t happen to have any grandchildren, but I know I will have them…someday.


Unknown said...

I might have an answer.......

Maybe you could start collecting (hoarding?) addresses of friends, colleagues and enemies. Then you could find things you've saved (hoarded) that might go well in a home that your friends, colleagues and enemies actually live in.

Then you could wrap that particular item up in bubble wrap, place it in a cardboard box (you have some of these if I recall) put the address on it and ship it to a F, C or E.

dale said...

I could have written this. I would add to it, the mounds of real estate paperwork and files that come home and get set down to be dealt with later, but later never quite comes because a client calls and needs something now. Meanwhile the stacks of magazines about wonderful things I will someday read and the books on the shelves (3 deep in many cases) of books already read but I might want to read again if I ever get a chance to take a deep breathe and relax continue to accumulate (all on their own, I swear). The items that I find in resale shops that will be "perfect" to stage the homes I list (then are never quite right unless I go get something to add to them) - Oh yes, I could so easily have written this - by the way, my husband has set down a new rule - if the stack on the kitchen table reaches the window sill, he has the right to throw it all away (so some how those stacks that get close get moved to another room to "protect them" until I have time to sort through them. Someday, when I'm no longer a Realtor, when I have a few minutes to myself and I don't disappear into one of those magazines I've been saving to read

Lizabeth @ Infuse With Liz said...

Well I always enjoy your humor and I still see some here, but I understand your plight! I've been on a mission to rid myself of the "maybe I'll use that someday" stuff. Last weekend I went to town on a bunch of my stuff in the basement...my husband gleefully carried it away, loaded up his van and sped off with it before Goodwill closed their doors for the day! LOL... he claims they were delighted with my goods and thanked him and me for them!! Unfortunately there is still a bunch of stuff to go thru! Candles!! ugh... me too! I found more down there and I had organized the ones upstairs and didn't even know those were there! I could mark off a football field!!
I'm glad I'm not the only one that buys things thinking maybe I'll use it, but somehow don't! I'm cutting back on that or at least I tell myself I am!! I do have a good policy on clothing though...if I haven't used it for at lest 2 years I get rid of it! I convinced myself that if I ever lost weight I'd want something new anyway, so I'm not keeping that old stuff anymore! No more guilt! I promise you when you let them go you will forget about them and feel better for it! I have thee large garbage bags with bubble wrap, peanuts and paper for wrapping. I had enough boxes to build a house, but we broke it down last fall and took it to a recyling bin. I have a sister who is a borderline hoarder, and no one wants to go to her house anymore! Although I doubt you are a real hoarder- remember to keep a white flag handy!! :-)

Entertaining Women said...

Still laughing...thanks for a good beginning to my day. Cherry Kay

Linda said...

Thanks for sharing and I do hope you feel better soon. I really don't hoard things. When I tire of them, I pass them on to the kids or Goodwill. Somehow, we always end up with cardboard boxes. My husband or I flatten them out and haul them to the dump for recycling. Imagine, if we all kept everything, we would need storage yards. I find it rewarding to de-hoard....good fresh feeling.

Zuni, Chickadee Home Nest said...

Oh-oh...I'm afraid we're partners in crime. When Hoarders came on TV I watched it with intense interest, and after a few months I "confessed" my worry to my husband--that I, too, was a hoarder in disguise. My house is neat, my cabinets are neat, we have no aisles in our house to weasel through, but I pointed out my need--yes, NEED--for mugs, for example. I NEED to have enough mugs (all matching of course) to invite the neighborhood over for coffee, several times, using different sets. It's freaky scary, but he has not denied my claim since... Your previous two posts, especially the PT one, made me laugh out loud. Thanks for visiting my WaterColor post. :) ~Zuni