Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Horton Hears a Hoarder

Behind a mysterious door, in the darkest annals of a nice little house built on a hill lives a collection of treasures spanning 45 years. Prom dresses, Strawberry Shortcake dolls, old knick-knacks, wrapping paper, bar signs, furniture, maybe even a human skull or two. It’s all there—bushels of booty carefully tucked away by the pirates that are my parents.

On Thanksgiving night, my brother told my mom that he had watched the show “Hoarders” and that he thought of her 59 out of the 60 minutes it was on.

We often tease her about how we’re either going to burn down the house when she dies, or sell every single thing in it for a dollar, because with the amount of stuff she owns, that would make us millionaires.

But here’s the thing. As I was cleaning out closets this weekend, gathering stuff to give to the Goodwill (which I do very regularly), I became aware of my own hoarding tendencies.

I have a collection of gift bags and boxes that could choke a herd of elephants. I have a bunch of candles and candleholders that I don’t want to get rid of because maybe, someday I might use some of them again. Then there are the travel bags. And the craft supplies. All the other little things I hang onto just in case…

Mr. Wonderful suffers from some of the same thinking. The bottom drawer in his bathroom has enough medical and hygienic supplies in it that he could probably open a corner store. But he can’t get rid of it because he might need it one day!

In some ways, I think a bit of hoarding can be good because it may prevent us from just buying and throwing things away in a continuous cycle. It may be better for the environment for us to hoard a little because we can "shop" among our own things and not fill up the landfill with old stuff. But this could just be my crazy collector mentality seeping into more brain cells. And I certainly don’t think there’s any reason to save old newspapers under your couch (Mom).

Where do you all stand on this? Do you have secret stashes of stuff strewn about your houses?


Wow, that was awkward said...

That is a cool beer can collection. My dad had one displayed like that. But they were in the pool room which was really too small for a pool table. So all the cans about waist level behind the end of the pool table were dented from careless (me and my friends) pool players too lazy to use the short stick.

Jane Monepenny said...

I'm the QUEEN of hoarding, but neatly and organized b/c I'm OCD: stationary, medicine cabinet stuff, ticket stubs, receipts, brochures from traveling... and when I move, I wonder why the hell I keep all this stuff.

brookem said...

did you see last nights episode? it was so nasty and gross, and SO sad. two dead cats. yup.
sometimes i wonder what the point really is to all these shows. like, why does there need to be a television show about it? and it's different than say, intervention (which i fucking love), where they show you the whole progression... how the addiction happened, the course of it, the intervention, the treatment, and the afterwards. but this hoarders show (which i admit, i watch.. yet, am thinking twice about continuing to do so), ... it feels... different to me. like they are exploiting these poor people or something. i dunno.

anyway, ive gotten off on a tangent.

um but yes. manfriend says that im a bit of a hoarder, and i kind of have to agree. i mean, cosmo is fine and all, but i have heaps of random items that i think i might need or use "one day."

justrun said...

So, that beer can collection, is that a google image or yours? Because I can't help but think it's awesome. There, I said it.

Anyway, yes, I tend to hoard a little as well. Never trash (like wrappers and newspapers) but I'm sure I have things others would consider trash. I am also one who likes to organize, though, so I find myself in a constant state of keeping and arranging and rearranging to accommodate myself. My one rule is that nothing can be sitting out, so it has to go into a closet/cabinet/shelf/something so I can't see it. Most of the time I actually follow that rule.

Anonymous said...

Hoarding has a long, and valid, history. We only relatively recently came into an era when so many goods are available so cheaply and with so little effort (though, of course, the lack of quality is a factor). Hoarding comes from days when things weren't so easy, as they still aren't for vast numbers of people around the world.

I think a bigger problem than hoarding is how to prevent the purchase in the first place. It's one thing to look at something you already own and think "maybe I'll use that one day." But who hasn't purchased something, either because it was on sale or seemed great at the time, thinking the same thing, only to have it end up in a drawer?

As for me, my problem is paper: books, magazines, etc.* Hard to get rid of those.

* And maps, but I refuse to apologize for those. ;)

laura said...

nope...if i don't use it, i throw it out....but sometimes later i regret it, like when i need an item i got rid of, or see my mom or sister wearing the clothes i got rid of...it goes on and on.

Anonymous said...

Ok, so let's get something straight. Mel does tend to exaggerate a bit. I am very well organized, know where it all is. And if I hadn't saved it, where was she going to find the flapper dress from my high school days. Someday, these treasures will truly be treasures. And our wedding gifts are now "antiques"! About the old newspapers, just save the important ones. Someday it will be fun to see what the news was, the cost of food, cars, etc. So if it's neatly stored away, and not a hazard in the house - get over it and look forward to enjoying it later in life.

Big Sister said...

I have to admit, it was pretty handy to just go to mom's house to get all my props for the 80's party that I had. Who else would have had a whole collection of cassette tapes, smurfs, and care bears?

Now that being said, there is a whole lot of crap down in mom's dungeon that we probably won't need someday.

I too have some of this gene in me, and it really is better to save something you just might need, than have to buy it again. Do you know how cool I was wearing my original pair of Rayban Wayfarers at the 80's party, and an authentic dress and leather jacket that was my own? I was really irritated when I couldn't find my 20 rolls of crepe paper for Carleigh's party that I probably through out in one of my domestic bulemia purges.

Mandy's Kidding said...

My son hoards toys and stuffed animals. I'm thinking of hiring those therapists and social workers from the show to come and perform an intervention with him. I don't care that he's five! His stuff takes up too much room.

Sassy said...

Except for my scrapbooking supply, I really try not to hoard. I have been thoroughly 'fly-washed' by Flylady ;-)

Happy everything to you today

Danielle said...

That picture of the beer can collection is really awesome

thecoconutdiaries said...

I went through a drawer the other day and found old medication The Hubster has that expired in 1998. 1998! He was 21. What the hell kind of recurrence did he think he was going to have at 31?? Icky.

Oh, Mel's Mom, you are so cute. I am going to have to veto newspaper collection for historical purposes. The Internet won't stain your hands or make that annoying rustling sound when your pets get at it.

Mel Heth said...

Wow TWA - Unfortunately, that's just an image grab from Google. My brother did have a beer sign collection and my dad collects beer bottle openers, but no cans in the house anywhere.

Jane - Stationery! I forgot about that one. I have a ton of that too. Glad to know you're a hoarder too. :)

Brookem - I've only seen one episode - but I saw something on your FB status about watching it. It disgusts me how people can hoard animals. That is terribly sad.

JustRun - It's a Google image. I didn't have time to document my own hoarding issues. :) I'm totally with you on the organizing thing - if it's neat, it's not really hoarded.

Geekhiker - I think books and maps are smart things to hoard. You might REALLY need those again! I have a tough time getting rid of books...I guess I need an in-house library.

Laura - Haha I see Shelli in my clothes sometimes too. But I usually don't regret giving them away. Is Pam a hoarder like my mom at all?

Mom - Oh yeah, we'll enjoy it all right. Enjoy loading it into the Goodwill truck!

Sister - I suppose it's somewhat convenient to have an 80s outfit on hand...but that seems like something you could easily put together. I think you're just saving the blue suede dress so you can wear it to Car's wedding.

Mandy - Keep an eye on him or he may end up on the TV show. ;)

Sassy - Don't even get me started on the scrapbooking supplies...

Danielle - I know! Wish I could take credit for it.

Coconut - At least it was only one medication bottle, not 50. Maybe you can help me do an intervention with my mom next time you come to LA.

SoMi's Nilsa said...

Before I met Sweets, I was always very diligent about getting rid of / giving away things I no longer use. But ever since he came into my life, well, I've gotten lazy. Lazy with my regular purges. Lazy with filing. Lazy lazy lazy. And the disorganization in our house is proof!

Sizzle said...

I am not a hoarder. Far from it. But I obsessively watch that show.