Tag Archives: struggle

the normalcy of stuff

I was watching bad television last night and trying to fall asleep when I noticed that the New York apartment set for this bad sitcom was unusually cluttered. There were numerous odd and interesting objects around the place like a reel-to-reel film projector, and I do not know the characters well enough to assume this has something to do with their persona. I can only guess that the set designers were trying to give an eclectic feel to the place where a young, financially struggling couple lived. Personally, I would characterize that place as comfortably cluttered. There were knickknacks everywhere and no real blank space for the eye to rest.

As I struggle to dig out of our stuff and continue to remove the nonessential items, I’ve begun to wonder how much “stuff” is normal. I understand that hoarding can be diagnosed when the things get in the way of living well and personal relationships are put at risk. But what about the rest of us who are just decorating, collecting, or too busy to put things away? [Note: I should not say “us,” since I have already proven my problem to lie deeper.] What does society have to say about a nearly empty home? Even rented serviced apartments have decorative bowls and vases and coffee-table books to make the place feel more homey.

What about you? How do you live?


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.