Tag Archives: beautiful

hoarding is a mental activity

My head is stuffed up, or maybe just stuffed. It’s full of gunk, if not information. And because it’s completely clogged, I decided it wise to take the bus instead of my bicycle to work on Wednesday.

Suspected bus-sprawling hoarding woman was sitting in her same spot, this time with only her purse on the seat next to her. I realized I’m too quick to judge. But more to the point, I realized I create stories in my mind attached to all kinds of random people I see throughout the day. Somehow when I process information, it never rests simply in my mind. I attach all sorts of meta-data (or in this case a meta-fiction) to it. How I’m able to draw out any meaningful conclusions or produce much from the accumulated mental mess, is quite miraculous. Yes, I did just say I impress myself given my “cognitive difficulties” (said to me by my PhD committee during my preliminary exams a decade ago).

Akiko Ikeuchi Knotted Thread - Red 2009

Akiko Ikeuchi Knotted Thread - Red 2009

The point is (this is some fine writing), hoarding has been defined as an activity that detrimentally impacts your ability to live in a space. In that view, hoarding is only defined by its physical manifestation. However, Frost and Steketee have also looked at “information processing deficits (e.g., attention, organization, memory, decision-making).” I believe hoarding is a mental activity and one that plagues me even though I have mostly slain the over-accumulated-object aspect of it. At the root of it, our brains are overwhelmed with a knot of information that we can’t always properly untangle because we get distracted by the various threads within it. Sometimes those knots can be quite beautiful and productive; sometimes the knot is just a messy obstacle to what lies beneath.

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conversations with an HP

Monday, September 11, was my dad’s birthday. As per my usual, I festively celebrated by calling him with Google Voice. My parents are old enough that a call from Australia seems amazing, never mind that it was totally free for me and they can also call me on a local number whenever they want. It was the first time we had talked in months.

It was 6 a.m., Sunday morning, in Missouri and my dad was getting ready for church. According to him, though, he was really answering peoples’ birthday wishes on Facebook. Our conversation wound around and around and around onto one odd topic after another until it finally digressed into an overly detailed description of a cyst he had removed. This is the hoarded detail of every day disgusting grit that my father clings to: the microscopic memory that will get in the way every time of a normal exchange and fill his mind up with so much useless clutter that he cannot properly talk to me.

On the one hand, I appreciate that ability that I’ve inherited to be completely distracted by something others would find banal but I see as amazingly beautiful. On the other, it’s painfully annoying to be flipped around in such a conversation that very abruptly ends with, “talk to your step-mother, bye.”

haunted by this object

This blog post has been nagging at me for more than a week, building in the back of my mind, much like the object inspiring it. It has bothered me so much that I wonder if the key to my memory hoarding lies within it.

I went to Iraq and Turkey in 2003 on a memorable, emotionally draining, terrifying and exhilarating journey. After our three days in Kurdistan with little time to do more than work and acknowledge the fragility of our lives, we returned to Istanbul to relax for a couple of days. My very favorite memory was a visit to a Turkish rug shop. After visiting the workshops, watching hunched-over women at their looms, seeing the silkworms, the dyed thread, and the extensive labor that went into each woven piece, our group was led into a grand room. We were seated on benches along the walls, served tea, and a spectacular display of color began. Several men came out with rugs in various sizes, and as they rolled them out across the floor, the fireworks began. It was like a splash of magnificent colors filled the room as each rug was dramatically unfurled before us.

I was still a newly employed academic at the time, struggling with student debt and a recent move across the U.S. I carefully weighed my options and I purchased a cotton on cotton rug, approximately 4′ x 2 1/2′, for a negotiated price of about $300. It was a sacrifice and a reward for me.

This rug, like most of my prized objects, has been rolled up and stored away for most of the time I’ve had it. I intended to hang it from the wall, but never managed to figure out how to display it. I had it out in my room a few times, and each time the cats scratched at it and broke threads. Then we remodeled our home a few years ago, and although it was rolled up, the rug was in our family room. The house sitter at the time had a puppy, and when we returned, I found a piece of the chewed rug, detached.

This is where I might have realized I had a problem. I was devastated. It made me sick to my stomach to see my beautiful tapestry “destroyed.” D. could not understand why I was so upset. After all, I had left the rug out and the house sitter was doing us a favor by being here. How could I be upset with him about a rug that only sat in a closet all this time?

I rolled up the rug and put it away. It has been in our daughter’s room until this morning when I finally dragged it out, afraid to unroll it and confront the damaged piece.

Two things occurred when I finally looked at the rug. I felt a warm moment of joy when seeing the beautiful and delicate pattern that drew me initially to this piece of art, and the chewed edge seemed far less onerous than I remembered it. I kept that separated chewed edge somewhere, but now I cannot find it … just another missing object that looms in my memory larger than life. The remaining rug, though, survives mostly intact.

I felt anxious every time I considered writing about the rug, and now that I’ve put it out there, I only feel I’ve honored both the object and the warm memory it represents – a beautiful fragment of nostalgia. Even the missing piece and the frayed edge seem to suddenly have a sense, a value, that adds to the meaning of the tapestry. Why would I cling to the ruined shard instead of the mostly intact object, and how did I recuperate it from ruins here in my writing?

cataloging

Part of the downfall of craigslist for me is that the weeding out simultaneously creates a new type of collection. To properly list and successfully sell items, I photograph them. And now my hard drive is filling with images of the items that no longer clutter the house. A few of the images were deleted with ease, but I have duplicates. A new compulsion to catalogue what leaves the house tugs at me gently, rationalizing itself as beautiful.