Tag Archives: forgotten

soliciting input on hoarding output

For those of you readers who are or have been personally impacted by hoarding, I would love your input on some questions I’m teasing out in my research.

I’m working on “Hoarding Memory” as a manifestation of loss in autobiography, but right now my questions are specifically related to the consequences of hoarding. It seems to me that hoarders hoard because they want to hold on to things, can’t bear to part with them, and then the accumulation over time becomes a sort of comforting nest, even if an isolating one. Although the intention is to save or salvage scraps,the sheer quantity of items quickly creates a storage problem. Consequently, the hoarded things that are meant to be preserved instead become inaccessible, forgotten, lost, and many times destroyed.

From your perspective, what are the other consequences of hoarding either on the objects accumulated or on the person who has accumulated them? Those of us who are in someway related to the hoarder are obviously impacted to varying degrees, so I welcome that insight as well.

Many thanks in advance for sharing.

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postcards from the edge, of reason

before

I’ve been considering selling my postcard collection on Craigslist for some time now, but the thought that some personal information might get misused has always interrupted my plan. I then offered the collection to a friend who has an affinity for postcards (and probably hoarding) and she smartly declined.

I finally tackled the box a few days ago, sorting the cards into four categories: received from someone, free cards, art cards, and cards from places I’ve been. I started collecting when I was about 15 years old and stopped not too long ago. I still have a habit of visiting art exhibits and picking one or two cards of the pieces that most affected me. As I was sorting, I fairly easily tossed the “free-card” pile with the exception of two or three cards I have often displayed in my office over the past 15 years. What surprised me most about the “places I’ve been pile,” though, was the careful chronicling of my travels. Places I have long since forgotten were documented there in pictures. Some of the most generic images (i.e. “Arizona Coyote”), I tossed willingly into the recycle bin, but I ended up keeping the majority. I stumbled across a few duplicates from Paris, and yet I couldn’t let go of the second copies. I feel compelled to find them a home.

Finally, I went through some of the “received” cards and was a bit dumbfounded. Some were cards that I had written home, but many were from people I no longer remember. I had a card, for example, from someone named Anastassia, and I have no recollection of ever meeting this person. Nonetheless, the card looked vaguely familiar. It somehow remains in the “keep” pile.

after

In the end, because I took the time to confront the memories in the card pile, I wasn’t able to let go of the bulk. I took too much pleasure in seeing my travels plainly documented in such a compact space. I do not have all the other souvenirs, because those did go onto Craigslist. Instead, I keep a condensed box of postcards without knowing if I’ll ever look inside it again.

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.