Category Archives: weight of things

moving right along

After months of looking at all kinds of houses and being very picky and demanding about the area but open to fixer-uppers, we are about to close on a house in our neighbourhood. Once that decision was finally determined, we immediately put our townhouse on the market and have since been playing the game of “hide every shred of human existence and make your house look like a hotel and do it quick.”

The market in Australia usually runs by open houses rather than private showings, though D and I never hesitate to ask for private showings of listings when it suits us. The result of the open house is a frenzy of people winding their way through the house in a thirty-minute span, dripping with sweat, and by the end of the day they are totally dizzy with what they have seen. My one neighbour went to six open houses today in her search for the perfect investment property, and another neighbour was doing the same in search of the ideal home for her growing family. Our house was opened up around the same time as two others on our street today, so people filter down the street like a parade.

While keeping our home as pristine as one can with a school-aged child and three pets, not to mention two full-grown adults who like to live and eat and work at home, I have slowly begun the boxing books.jpgbusiness of packing up. I am ever amazed at the quantity of things we moved to Australia on airplane trips. We have all of our photo albums from birth to now, little treasures like our Christmas ornaments, my grandmother’s silver, and then all the clothes (considering we dumped what felt like the majority of the wardrobes before we moved here and have constantly donated since we moved here, this, too, is impressive). I have fifty-three boxes that can be filled (the suggested quantity from our removalists). I wonder how many will be full on moving day.

As I pack, however, I see D and S really struggling with this move. This one is somehow different and harder and scarier even though we are moving only three streets over and about 5 houses up the hill. This townhouse has been an anchor for us. Our daughter has lived here for the majority of her little life. We have loved it and hated it and we are about to move from a new modern sleek place to an old funky one that needs a lot of love and attention.

In all of this, I have realised, for reasons I cannot explain, I just keep pushing forward. I push even when it is not the most sensible thing to do. And as I push myself, those who love me and want to live with me get pushed and pulled along my path. I was speaking with S’s therapist a couple of weeks ago about this and she pointed out that sometimes when we are pushing forward, we just drag more and more and more stuff behind us. I’m clomping on through the snow that’s up to my knees and I’m on the verge of collapsing. At some point, I’m going to need to stop and sit still and work on what’s here in front of me without the distraction of moving again.

 

revenge of the hoard

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.

be there

My guilty pleasure is watching Real Housewives of Anywhere, no matter how trashy or how silly the show is. I do not watch television to edify myself.

And so this morning I was thinking about ashy feet and how nice Kandi Burruss‘s skin is, and how she’s my favorite housewife of Atlanta. She’s short, smart, and ambitious. But I thought, “I can’t understand how she defends her mother.” She broke down in tears a week or so ago when confronted by her best friend and boyfriend. She defended her mother saying how she knew her mom would always be there for her. Obviously I can only speculate based on the show, but I thought, “But she’s not there for you, Kandi. She’s ripping you away from the people you love.” (Yes, I have really deep thoughts in the shower.)

Then it sort of struck me: I always have said that if I got into trouble, my father would be there for me. And yet, I have no evidence that he would be there for me. He has not been there for me. He even made up excuses not to attend my high school functions. He does not support me emotionally and has not supported me financially since I turned 18. Right before we moved to Australia, I asked him if he would be willing to send me things like over the counter medicine if I needed them, and I offered to pay him through PayPal. He blatantly said he thought that was not a good idea. Why would I think he would be there for me?

Do any of you have a Hoarding Parent who is truly there for you when you need something? I am thankful I have never honestly needed something from either of my parents, though it would be comforting to have emotional encouragement from either mom or dad without me asking or admitting I need it.

secondary issues

Tangential to the last post, when we go to our house in the U.S. I am supposed to pack up any remaining items that matter to me. I’ve made a careful list of what I remember leaving there. I know what items I want to have here with me in Australia. There are only a few things that matter, but some of it has me stuck.

One personally valuable item that I had to leave behind is my paternal grandmother’s china. She passed away when I was only eight years old and I loved the delicate flower pattern on the dishes. I now have her entire collection packed away in a rubbermade bin in the basement of our house. I don’t think I can justify shipping it to Australia, though I may want to have it here some day. It has occurred to me that my brother might like to have it, but he is flying to Florida to see us and won’t likely be able to fly home with a full set of dishes.

If I had a normal parent, I would leave the dishes at his house. Because he’s a hoarder, though, that is the surest way to lose them. The whole thing depresses me; and so, the china will likely remain in the basement of my house where I will continue to store it in my mind, catalogued away, hoarded.

guilty pleasure strikes back

When I need to relax, I do not partake in edifying behavior. I watch the worst possible television or spend time playing social games on Facebook. Farmville was an initial part of the inspiration to look deeper at hoarding. I could see I was compulsively acquiring virtual animals, and as part of the game requires visits to your “neighbors” farms, I could see their lots were not much better.

Lately I’m more interested in Castleville which is equally pointless and requires collecting. Then my guilty pleasure jumped up and bit me in the face, so to speak. This is the challenge I was issued a couple of weeks ago.

Soap and bedding, really? Never mind. I of course conquered that task without much effort.

 

 

 

 

 

 

thank you, Sidney

It is with much sadness that I write this thank you note to Sidney Patrick (of milbetweenus.com) who passed away unexpectedly last week. She was an amazing supporter of this blog (with many snarky and hilarious comments), and as far as I can tell, of so many people in the COH community who need support. She was amazing on the HuffPo Live show on hoarding, bringing the emphasis to the victims while the show itself seemed to have been programmed to haul the hoarder back into the light. I posted then on her blog that I was proud: I’m proud to have even minimally interacted with such a bright, strong person. Sidney, you’re inspiring. And I thank you.

revenge of the hoard

D. spent the last ten days or so in the U.S. from whence I received a few messages such as, “And the bathrobes in the guest room closet… do you want those?”

While he was busy going through crap trying to find the few items that I said I really wanted, I was busy not remembering what I had left where. I haven’t been to our house in the States for over a year, and honestly I’ve forgotten almost everything that might be there except for the requested ice skates, photo albums and art work. Mostly I want things that can’t be easily packed into suitcases and will cost a fortune to ship. I’m a practical gal.

D. finally arrived in Australia early Saturday morning and the contents of his nine suitcases vomited all over our new home. Many of the items had been special ordered (clothes for our daughter and me), some were thoughtful gestures (my ceramic beer mugs from our favorite brewery), a few odd items I’d forgotten about (a sign that says Bordeaux 1996), a few broken pieces (glass containers and photo frames that I bought at an auction for $1), and one item I thought I had lost forever that has plagued me for two years as I have repeatedly wracked my brain to think of where I put it (a compact travel umbrella that I thought I lost in Florida in 2010 when we packed up at the end of vacation).

photo purchased for one dollar in Michigan, recycled in Australia

The stuff has followed me to Australia. It pains me to see some of it though I fail to express why. I just know I’m having trouble knowing what to do with these things I’ve forgotten about. I also know that if I don’t start getting rid of items at the same pace that they arrive here, I’m going to have a relapse. That familiar weight of things is no longer a comfort here.

discard

All while we’re pressured to keep and reuse what we can, my neighborhood continues to slough off any unwanted items. Plenty of pickers have been roaming the streets taking what they wish from the piles. There’s a nice symmetry to some of it.

bus sprawl

Instead of blogging in the past week, I’ve been commuting to my office and preparing for the new semester that is fast coming upon us. This week I witnessed a woman spreading out ads all around her on the bus, possibly sorting, but possibly demonstrating her need for stuff to surround her wherever she goes.

Around the same time I was taking this picture, it was announced that there are an estimated 1 million (plus) hoarders here in Australia, which falls in line with estimates in the US, around 4.5% of the total population. It’s not much of a surprise to me, but hoarding still isn’t as popular a topic on this side of the world.

As I watch popular children’s programing here with my daughter, though, I can see how we are constantly guilted into not wasting material objects. Just a small example, there’s an Aussie-Canadian program called Dirt Girl World with one of the main characters Scrap Boy. It’s all about repurposing stuff. How can we let go of anything when there might be a use for it, or discarding it might hurt the nature around us?

pickers down under

American Pickers may be all the rage back home, but it isn’t any different on this side of the world. Last weekend we rode our bikes up the street we used to live on, and we noticed piles of discarded furniture and other bulky items lining the sidewalks. As we chugged up the great hill to a near halt, a small pickup truck (or ute as they’re called here) passed us, pulled over, and a man and his young son popped out. In the back they already had assorted fans and pieces of wood furniture. They grabbed a few more items, hopped back in the ute, and drove on.

I see no evidence that the city has arranged to pick up the remains during a “Fall Clean up,” and now it’s all been thoroughly rain soaked as it continues to meld into the curb.