Tag Archives: dread

the big dump

As you (or at least I) can see, pictured left, order is slowly being made out of the mountains of mess I’ve been sorting for the past three months. Sales on craigslist are dwindling, all of our unwanted clothes have been sold and donated, and today we took numerous boxes to a local charity thrift shop. One of my graduate students also helped by taking all kinds of unwanted CDs, books, and dishrags. What remains now are primarily things that either matter to me, and I would like to keep, or things for which I have a clear plan (craigslist, a family member, and so on). I am becoming more merciless when looking at what’s left and the struggle to toss, recycle, donate or sell, is waning.

I suppose this is the moment when I should feel proud, resolved, or accomplished; yet, I still feel a bit sick in the pit of my stomach. I feel spent and almost defeated. More remains to be tackled, but perhaps what’s weighing on me at this moment is something bigger than all of that.

the hoard lives here

For the past week I’ve been thinking I need to make a trip “home” to visit my dad and my step-mother. A sort of dread fills me when I think of it – all the piles, closed rooms, filled closets, overflowing storage spaces that are lurking there. Because I am not attached to their possessions, I feel an overwhelming urge to strip the walls and carpet in that house and to give them a (probably very unwanted) gift of remodeling. I feel I need to confront the hoards of my past if I’m ever going to understand where I came from. I also want to photograph the mass because at this point I don’t know if it’s become larger in my mind than it ever actually was, or if, in fact, that hoard is colossal. It fills me with dread, sadness, and nausea. I know bits of my own past are still lurking there – much sadness and relief, simple and complex memories are woven into that run down house.

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memory hoarding

Apparently hoarding memory, or “memory hoarding,” according to the OCD Center of Los Angeles blog, is a shared trait of hoarders whether they have OCD or not.

Memory hoarding is a mental compulsion to over-attend to the details of an event, person, or object in an attempt to mentally store it for safekeeping.  This is generally done under the belief that the event, person, or object carries a special significance and will be important to recall exactly as-is at a later date.  The memory serves the same function for the mental hoarder that the old newspaper serves for the physical hoarder.”

remains to be sifted

I understand why I’ve held on to so many weird objects, but this doesn’t express why I’ve forgotten them. Items are buried, memories are covered up, and when I’m forced to sift through the rubble in the bottom of a crate, I’m confronted with intermittent moments of joy. In there is a smattering of painful tugs, dread at the photos of a past life that I anxiously tried to share with someone else, and relatively little nostalgia for past countries and experience.

Yet, as I clean out the boxes in preparation for another shift, I cannot help but feel I am hoarding memories. There is the constant feeling of “this might be the last time I see…” and I have caught myself snapping photos of bizarre moments in a vain effort to capture the present for later meaning.