In a very convoluted dream last night, I was returning home to our house in Montana with a pet turtle. I kept getting confused about where the house was as we drove down Meadowview Ln. Someone jumped off the bus too early in the snow, thinking they would get there faster on foot. In my dream I was aware that the house no longer exists and that something else would be in its place. Someone was housesitting and our early return would surprise their three-some. Yes, it was a bit messed up.
One striking image from the dream remains, though. My brother was in the diningroom and the floor was littered with papers, bags, useless objects of trash like cassette tapes and receipts. In my mind I justified his choice to not throw the stuff away. It might come in handy later, at least for someone, but it was disappointing to see the house in such a bad state.
That part of the dream gave way to visiting a pregnant student and passing a homeless man who was catching a pigeon to eat. It was a grungy dream, all around.
As I sift through the mass of objects behind me in this room, the objects become increasingly tangled and cumbersome. To go through it, I must bring it out, and leave it out, until I decide how to dispose of it. My office is quickly becoming a heap of things while the storage area becomes proportionately empty.
The recurring image as I sort out these things is the stereotypical hoarder. On Conan last night, Bruce Jenner and a hoarder were on stage with some Alaskan King Crabs to welcome him to cable. This hoarder, although a comedic image, had objects around her, to the ceiling. She was overweight, generally unattractive, and appeared frightened at her exposure. My repeated dangerous thought was and continues to be, “That’s not a hoarder; her room isn’t that bad.” What hypocrisy to deem someone not enough of a hoarder while I sit here in only a somewhat cluttered room writing about hoarding.
By all appearances, I am not a hoarder, but my mind latches on to these objects all the same. I went with D. to the recycling center this morning and felt internally upset to see architectural plans buried in one of the bins. His comment was that we haven’t looked at them more than once in all the years we’ve lived in this house. Truthfully, I would not have realized they disappeared if I had not been with him this morning. But still, it nagged at me that this potentially valuable set of blueprints was being tossed like garbage when someone had labored over it years ago.
Tomorrow “Deb” is meeting me to buy my turtle collection. It was so easy to find someone, a collector, to take it from me. And as I gathered up the set to estimate the value I attribute to it ($20 more or less), I couldn’t stop myself from thinking, “Would it be so bad if I kept one of them?” And then I chose my favorite one. It, like the others, rested completely forgotten in the bottom of a bin for the past 5 years. I do not know who gave it to me or where it came from, but I somehow want to keep it. I need to sell it to Deb as much as I feel I need to hang on.
Posted in from my hoard to yours, hoarding identity
Tagged Conan, Deb, heap, hoard, hoarder, hypocrisy, keep, sell, sort, stereotypical, stuff, things, turtle, value
One of my new small joys is meeting the people from craigslist who actually want to buy things from our box of “junk” that D. told me I should throw out. Today I met “Deb” in the K-Mart parking lot, which was an experience all its own. Deb was waiting patiently in her car near the entrance to the parking lot while I was patiently waiting near the entrance to the store. Who can be blamed for such an innocent difference of interpreting “entrance”?
As I handed over the signed and dated glass chicken that had been given to D. for speaking to chicken farmers, Deb handed me an envelope with $3 in it and joyfully proclaimed, “I collect chickens!”
“Cool!” I said enthusiastically as I turned back towards my car, imagining her house full to the brim of chickens. I happen to remember that Deb contacted me about some wooden ducks for sale earlier in the summer, but someone else had beaten her to it.
But what’s this collecting all about? Where does it go and what does it do for us? I used to collect fountain pens. I “restored” one of them today and tried to write a letter of recommendation with this once cherished instrument. It squeaked and dragged. It did not at all reconnect me to Leïla Sebbar who also expressed love for her Parker fountain pen. Nope, mine’s going up on craigslist, probably alongside my turtle collection.