Wednesday, October 27, 2010


Hello, my name is Joy and I'm a hoarder.

If there isn't a Hoarders Anonymous there ought to be.

I've been watching season 1 of A & E's Hoarders the last couple weeks or maybe three. With other series I often watch several episodes in a row in a kind of gluttonous binge but with Hoarders I can barely watch one episode straight through without taking a break.

I see too many of my own quirks, behaviors, justifications represented in the people featured on these shows. I get the feeling they probably select their participants in large part because they represent the worst of the worst--stuff stacked floor to ceiling in every room of the house with pathways too narrow for a stretcher when the husband has a heart attack or a wife strips over a box on the stairs and breaks her arm; infestations of mice, rats, cats, possums, flies, mold, rotting animal carcasses and rotting food; houses being condemned, renters evicted, children removed.

I never reached such a level of gross out and doubt I ever would. When it comes to cleaning I confess to letting things slide quite often for weeks at a time but never for years or decades. Probably because closely related to my hoarding issues is my obsessive reorganizing and rearranging of the furniture and the stuff . But when it comes to collecting stuff I probably don't have rooms stacked floor to ceiling with (organized) stuff only because until ten years ago we've never lived in one place more than a few years and twice we lost nearly everything we'd accumulated in the previous decade or so and in the last decade we've had only one small room to expand in and probably only three fifths of that. But this room is stuffed such that it would be difficult to swing a mouse by its tail in here.

So I do identify strongly with those whose proclivity is collecting things that have potential uses: books, crafting and sewing supplies, office supplies. Doesn't sound so bad when listed that way but if i were to confess some of the subcategories you might shake your head until its contents felt somewhat like the die in a Boggle game between rounds. Like gum wrappers and foils candy wraps, clothing tags and the cardboard backs of note tablets for bookmarks; unlabeled plastic bags, plastic containers and various cardboard boxes for storing crafting, sewing and office supplies in which until said uses are found for them hold only cardboard boxes, plastic containers and plastic bags; snips of crochet thread, yarn and embroidery floss shorter than the needles for crafting projects I have in mind for them (think abstract art and bookmarks or greeting cards) or else for the birds to use in their nests; twist ties, paperclips, rubberbands for their various organizing uses but of which I have dozens to store for every one actually used.

In that list I've covered only the things that have volume and mass but I'm sure my collecting of podcasts, ebooks, graphics, photos, games, applications, URLs, stories forever in progress and the characters for them that proliferate faster than the pages, notes, unfinished book reviews and essays and other digital files is related as well as proliferation of new ideas and concepts and issues to be concerned about from the BP oil spill and every other environment wounding to child labor in China, from abused children and animals to war, corruption, slave trafficking, civil rights and victims of natural disasters.

And then there are the unfinished projects from TBR and TBW piles and lists of books and videos to cross stitch and crochet and other sewing, from stories to sorting and organizing stuff to blog revamping and a web page project with potential for income on which I've been working for five years. And lets not forget an email inbox pushing 1400.

And do you suppose the accumulation that expands my waistband has anything to do with this?

Well I have been tackling these issues head on for over a year and have made significant progress in spite of a few setbacks but I've been doing keeping mostly to myself about it with only Ed and my two sisters in the loop. I'm thinking maybe it might help me pick up the pace if I went public with my shame and thus create a sense of being accountable for follow through if only by the need to have progress to show in order regain my dignity after laying it on the altar of public confession. So I'll be posting occasionally on this with photos to illustrate my shame and declare my reclaimed dignity.

A very ironic thing happened as I set out to create this post. Today I'd done a major reorganizing of my 'office' beside the bed in preparation for the NaNo kickoff at midnight Sunday night. I also sorted a months worth of laundry and did several loads including the bedding. I wanted to at least start the marathon month with my work environment as tidy and conducive to productivity as possible. Well, as I began working on this post Ed arrived home from his swing shift with a tall hot coffee for me. I set it on a tray that was balanced on a box on the bed to my left. Most of the time I was keeping my hand on the handle (I had transferred it into my lidded, insulated mug) as I operated the mouse and watch YouTube videos. I had just brought my right hand up to the keyboard briefly for a keystroke or three when Merlin jumped up on the bed and then onto the edge of the tray which then catapulted my mug onto the bed where all but a couple swallows gushed out before I could spot its dark blue against the dark green of the blanket. It soaked through the blanket and both sheets and saturated the mattress and that portion of me that was planted on the bed. There was a narrow miss of a library book and the bag with two spools of crochet thread and a bookmark in progress.

As if I wasn't feeling demoralized enough after spending some six hours shuffling stuff around (including Merlin who seemed to absolutely have to sit or sleep right where I needed to sit or crawl or right on the thing I needed to use or move) yet again and in the process stubbing my toe, banging my elbow, bumping me head, being snared by the cords of my ear buds, discman, netbook, printer, detached disc drive, camera, lamp, alarm clock. I swear the very hair on Medusa's head had migrated to this room to make my efforts as impossible as possible and as miserable!

Now I have to strip the bed again and wash an extra load and remake the bed. Meanwhile I have to sleep on the damp spot!

And of course the spilled coffee is directly caused by the hoarding since that is why I no longer have a stable place to set a cup of coffee on or near my workstation.

0 tell me a story:

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