Nothing will cure a hoard better than selling your home, though natural disasters might have a similar effect. We put our home in Kansas on the market in March and it went under contract within three days. A week later we were at our house to clean out what remained after five years of absence. Our tenant and good friend A. called me a tornado, because I whipped through the piles of stuff without mercy sending the bulk towards the trash heap. It is easy to sort unaffected when you have absolutely forgotten the things in the hall closet even existed. We took two car-fulls of useful things to the emergency shelter to donate (some of it belonged to A.) and were grateful for the tax receipts. In spite of this culling, there was still some furniture and exercise equipment lingering. The tenants posted items on craigslist, had a yard sale, sold a few more items of theirs and ours, took a commission, and donated the rest. Today the real estate agent told me that he removed 12 bags of trash from the house (what??!!) after the tenants moved out, and the house is now cleaned and empty. I wish I could see the empty house today, but that would be a long way to fly just to have the satisfaction of knowing our former home is ready for a new owner to love it.
My second book is in a bit of a mess right now as I cobble together the chapters. I was looking through my introduction notes today and kept seeing reference to Huyssen. I realized I needed his book to pull together a point I was trying to make, but somewhere in the back of my mind I thought, I must have read this book or at least looked at it. Being a visual person, I googled it to see the book cover. Definitely familiar. In my mind, I could see the book in my university office, on a high shelf, but knew I had not seen it recently. I read a few reviews online to see if that could help me get what I needed.No, I needed the book. I looked through the titles pushed against the wall on my desk. Not there. I looked on my bookshelf to my right. Not there. Should I buy it online? Then out of the corner of my eye, I could see behind my laptop, just in front of me and within easy reach, a pile of theory books. There it was. Second book down. I have no recollection of bringing it home or putting it there. I think I have (a) disorder. At least for now it’s made its way to the top where I can see it.
Last year my father (HP) concocted a plan: build an outbuilding on vacant land, move the hoard into it, build a new handicap accessible house by the outbuilding, move into the new house, sell the old unhoarded house.
I still do not follow this logic. The de-hoard part of the plan was vague and included a lot of verbal couching in “hopefully,” “at some point,” “may,” and “I hope.” The idea is to put up shelving in the building and “start to liquidate some of our junk here and elsewhere” by eBay, garage sales, auctions. The wisdom, however, was priceless:
That should be interesting but painstaking. I have literally thousands of them. There are some […] that may bring in hundreds of dollars per [item]. That is a problem in life . . . we work for years collecting junk and then we die. Ha! What good is it to us then? Lesson learned: DON’T COLLECT JUNK!!!
From memory, there were enough items stored in the yard, shed, and barn around the current home to fill this outbuilding. I believe there are also storage units rented nearby and the outbuilding is also meant to reduce the cost of renting those.
Nonetheless, the shiny new outbuilding was built. One of the first comments on the photo on Facebook from a young in-law was, “That is bigger than my whole house. Don’t go filling it with junk.”
I have been collecting news stories about hoarding for about a year now. It only just occurred to me that my Flipboard Magazine might be of most interest to readers about hoarding. If you are curious, please visit and feel free to follow: http://flipboard.com/@ahubbell/hoarding-7gl9r0jsy
I primarily curate stories from the news, but there are occasional research articles or other items that catch my interest via the COH (children of hoarders) group. I post without comment.
I am not dead. I even got good news that I am not apparently quickly dying All reasons to rejoice. I am very happily on research leave and looking forward to catching up and forging ahead quickly this semester. Two quick desktop updates from August 2015 and this week in January 2016. My desk is disastrous, but the rest of the house is beginning to look unusually uncluttered.
I just spilled nut mix on a recently vacuumed carpet and as I plucked out the little pieces to throw them away (in case cat hair may be involved anyway), I had a vivid memory of my brightly colored carpet in my childhood bedroom. For some reason I do not quite grasp, picking up lint was one of our frequent chores at home. We were tasked with picking up every speck of lint we could see on the carpet. As an adult I now think this is ludicrous. Why was there not a vacuum cleaner to use for that task? Was my dad (born in the late 1940s) conserving electricity? Was it a way to keep us busy? Was it a punishment? It seemed to take forever to pass the lint test but it was always a hurdle requirement to get to something we wanted to do.
Fast forward to today, my HP father tells me he has asthma and that his recently replaced carpet had been soiled many times by his dog who recently passed away. He thinks this is contributing to his breathing issues.
*I googled “lint on carpet” in Google images to find a picture for this post but today (obviously) we have lint rollers for this purpose. That would have rocked my little eight-year-old brain right out of my head.
Don’t even ask. The good thing is that it’s not a disaster (solely) because of my desk-keeping skills.
Sometimes it pays off to be a COH, grand-daughter of self-affirmed packrats, and from a family of collectors. Today I was advising a student about types of assessment he can expect will studying in Switzerland, and as I pulled out a file from a history course I took in 2001, I caught sight of printouts from my research that year in France. Low and behold, I had kept all of the hard-copies from programs I attended and that happen to be relevant to a paper I’m writing right now. I was convinced that I would never be able to verify the historical point I was trying to make in the paper, and suddenly references are in front of me dated 15 October 2001. Thank you to whichever ancestor who also taught me how to file things.
My dad, the HP-Pastor-Santa Claus, had been out of touch until just before Thanksgiving. We tried to arrange to skype but it became too difficult for him. He finally just emailed me the story he so desperately wanted to share.
Oh yes, one more thing . . . I need to tell you that I almost burned down the house Tuesday morning. I went outside to fuel the furnace and in doing so, I dumped the ashes on the pile. About an hour later I looked outside and there was a huge fire under the patio. The hot coals had caught the leaves on fire and it expanded in two directions. One toward the patio and the other to the west side of the house. From there it caught the pile of junk I had stacked there (for maybe ten years or more) and caught it on fire. There were shotgun shells exploding and the fire was extremely threatening. I screamed “Fire” and the kids came a running to help at 5:50 am. Fortunately, a man stopped to help and called the fire department. By the time they got here we almost had it put out. Yeah! They watered down the pile of junk and then left. That’s one way to get rid of my hoarding crud! LOL!
It’s a fine example of his storytelling prowess: he saves the dramatic story for the end of an email as if he had almost forgotten, he recognizes he has hoarded junk… never mind that people could have been killed by shotgun shells blasting. But there is no account of what “junk” was lost that was so important to keep in a pile outside of the house in the first place. There is no acknowledgment of cleanup efforts or how he might avoid such trouble in the future. I can only expect that next time the local newspaper will be telling the story of his demise.
We are getting ready for a trip to the US and Canada. I haven’t been to North America since the 2012-2013 New Year. So in preparation, I had to sort through my very organised box of foreign currency. Oddly, however, this handful of coins now seems exotic to me.