Tag Archives: forget

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.

forgotten coffee


I’m a spoiled girl. My husband packs a lunch for me in the morning. I just have to put it in my bag and go. Yesterday I realized I forgot to bring a fork: but never fear, the hoarder is here to save the day! I opened a desk drawer I haven’t looked in for months, and of course I had a plastic fork. I also found a mystery baggy with frightening grey turd-like crystals. Who knew freeze-dried coffee could become desiccated and moldy?

Inspired by Joanna’s blog, I Won’t be a hoarder too, I snapped a picture and threw it in the trash. This is not so much something I held on to, but a perfect example of me keeping things “just in case” and then forgetting about them until they are ruined. Classic COH.

reunion and recollection

While I classify the bulk of my research as part of Memory Studies, I am the first to admit I have memory trouble. Sometimes I have crystal clear precision of words or events, especially of places, but I can forget something you told me five minutes ago, I forget what I’m doing while I’m doing it, and I sometimes jumble things together.

My high school class(es) are getting ready for our (gasp) 20th year reunions this year, and in preparation, one of the classes is compiling images and video to show at the party. Someone just posted our Senior Class Video,  I’m three minutes in, and I have only recognized four or five people. These were our teachers and staff that we saw every day for years. Of all those who impacted me, I can give you the names of my French teacher, my psychology teacher, my calculus teacher, my American Literature teacher and my very favorite Physics teacher. Four of the five were my teachers for at least two years.

I’m dumbfounded. I feel like a stranger looking at someone else’s documented past. Is it because I only lived in that town for two and a half years? Or have I really erased so much of those mostly happy years in my life?

more unchanging

More evidence that I do not change: a photo from what’s on my desk right now.


D. likes to tease me about my need to constantly remind myself of mundane tasks. To him I dedicate this photo. I just opened a book I haven’t used since graduate school (c. 2002) and found this list. I’d apparently lose my own head if it weren’t screwed on correctly. Except I don’t lose anything. Not even this.

satisfied hoarders

Perhaps a paradoxical title, as part of the compulsion to hoard must be a dissatisfaction one attempts to fill, but the feedback I’ve received from the “lovely hoarders” of craigslist has been overwhelmingly positive. My Ernest Hemingway lookalike hoarder will buy a laptop bag from me tomorrow, and I’ve begun offering a few former buyers some free items they might enjoy.

What surprises me (many things surprise me lately) is that I somehow had already forgotten Merl, even though he had made such an impression on me when I met him a couple of months ago. I exchanged numerous emails with him last night and it wasn’t until he described himself as an old guy with a camo boonie hat that I remembered we had already met. When I told him I remembered him he replied, “It was the ‘hairy old guy’ description that reminded you, wasn’t it.”

Well, no … it was the camo boonie and how afraid I was to meet him. And now it all seems normal. That memory was integrated seamlessly into my past, forgotten.

Every time I sell or give an item now, I automatically imagine the hoard in that person’s home. This is especially true for characters like Merl, or Deb, or Rose, or even Anushka, who have repeatedly contacted me for items. I have since learned that some of them likely resell on Ebay for profit what I’m selling so cheap here in town, but they must amass piles, whether it stays with them or is constantly renewed.

Today as I drove to meet someone who wanted to buy an item I had held on to for far too long, the mail carrier brought me another box of things I bought from the Internet. I felt dismayed with myself, even though I’m convinced we need those clothes for our trip (and they were cheap). One thing out the door, six things in: it’s unsustainable. Enough now – time to find another way to satisfy the need for things.

hoarding in the profession

Part of my career is founded on using authentic resources from other countries. As such, I have spent the last 15 years transporting precious items from one country to another. This isn’t unique to me: most of my colleagues do the same, and many of them bring back trinkets for the rest of us. All these years of compiling treasures and souvenirs adds up. I now have countless little items that are either too valuable to be used or too intrinsically valueless to give away.

This problem resonates with most of my colleagues, but no one really talks about it. I just brought home three bags of Fauchon tea that I have been saving because I cannot easily get more – and it’s probably lost its flavor by now. I have tons of books that I have accumulated from tiny publishing companies during a variety of research trips. They are not available electronically and most libraries will not quickly provide them for me. But now that I’m confronted with moving to another country, I have to consider the value of each book. Will it cost more to move it or to chance forgetting or replacing it.

I posed the question to a colleague on Saturday, “What do you do with all of those beautiful Clairefontaine notebooks that you can only find in Europe?” She responded, “You use them up so you can buy more.”