Tag Archives: book

unpacked

How do you cure hoarding tendencies? Move 3 times in 12 months, one of those international, followed immediately by 2 trips during which you must live out of your smallest suitcase. Maybe it’s not for everyone, but it has made me habitually re-evaluate what is important to have with me at all times. It comes down to my passport, my money, my computer/iPad, phone and some clothes and kitchen things family. Oh right, family! The ones I love are healthy and happy and so am I. That’s all that really matters.

Still, there’s all this other stuff. Baggage. It trails behind me with little wheels, sometimes a comforting pleasure, sometimes a burden. I’m packing today and trying to decide if I check a bag, how to keep it light. My brain is a chaotic mess of lists that keep slipping away. My body is ready to relax. Tonight I’ll hit the road for a research trip in which I have 5 different destinations in less than 10 days.

ImageIn honor of the voyage ahead, I finally emptied my backpack (left exactly as shown). I’ve pared down the contents several times in the past few weeks, but still, the contents are impressive. It’s my “just in case I need it” inherited hoarding disorder. 3 chapsticks, several tampons, two packages of kleenex, one pack of baby-wipes, numerous pills (sinus, pain), 10 or more pens, scraps of paper, an umbrella, plastic bags, headphones, iPad charger, sunglasses, cereal bars, breath mints, a bottle of water. I even found a flashlight and a clean pair of underwear. Those are the things I drag with me everywhere hidden in pockets. That’s not including the important passport, money, phone, books, tech…

Apparently I still have work to do in the hoarding category. But at the moment, I’m pleasantly unpacked and about to start stuffing it back together again.

And you? What’s in your bag?

Advertisements

you might be a hoarder

I just hung up the phone with my brother who is mentally planning a visit to us and to my father. We talked about the unsafe conditions in my dad’s house for my newly walking niece. My brother proudly reminded me that he was the last person who had a car in my parents’ garage because he cleaned it out. He thinks he probably knows where things are better than anyone else. “You know what? I’m probably responsible for them hoarding more stuff because I just made more space for them.”

“Maybe,” I said.

Then he told me how I would be shocked if I saw his place because they have too much stuff with three people living in a one bedroom apartment. “But I can’t be a hoarder. I just live in a small space.”

“You might be a hoarder,” I told him.

And then … (it keeps getting better) he proceded to tell me about his three cars, his dining room set that is packed up in storage because there’s no space for it, and his baseball cards that are probably valuable but he doesn’t even know where they are. This was divulged in the context of me saying how much it pisses me off that I’ve inherited the inability to throw out junk.

My brother says when my dad dies he’ll take a month off of work. He estimates it will take every day, working eight hour days, and a giant dumpster to sort through the remains. “Some of it is probably valuable.”

“Maybe.”

But what was most interesting in our talk was the myth that my father has created. He has told us we can’t throw out his magazines or books because, “there might be money hidden in there.” As my brother just pointed out – that’s probably not even true. He’s likely told us that so that we won’t just throw out his things. On the other hand, the myth of my grandfather is that he had money buried in his front yard (à la Vegas Vacation). My father could very well have done something so stupid as to tuck one dollar bills or rare coins into other collections. My brother has told my step-mother she’s not allowed to burn the stuff. (That would be my preference.) No, my brother says he will be the one to sort through the stuff, “And you’ll be right there with me. You’ll be there with me.”

We ended the phone call at that.

things to hold on to, things to let go

Sadie just left for her new life on a country farm. We’ve had ample time to prepare for her departure, and because she’s visited the farm several times already, we know she’s happy there. All of this preparation makes her absence much less sad than it could have been. Letting something I’ve loved for a long time go to a better home is OK. Besides, in my mind, Sadie will live happily ever after. I will never have to suffer those days of watching her in pain or the agony of deciding to put her down.

While I’m able to let go on this point, I still hold on to ridiculous pieces of someone’s past, not sure where to file them. These two photographs were tucked inside of a rare book by Marie Cardinal that I picked up at a flea market in Lausanne, Switzerland. I have held on to them for the past ten years, not knowing who the woman is, but imagining she looks something like Cardinal. I’ve studied the pictures over the years and tucked them back in the book again, forgetting they exist. It’s almost as though I’m the guardian of someone else’s memory, a memory now vacant of meaning and waiting for my story to transpose itself there. Will my new photo replace the paper copies making the meaning now mine? Am I the new home for this adopted memory, a better place for the image to live on? Or is it now up to me to decide if the photos should be discarded, laid to rest, put down and out of their misery?