The collector.

I joke about being a pack rat. But this morning, after googling “pack rat” for pictures, I can safely say I AM NOT A PACK RAT. Dear Lord. If you can no longer see your floor for the mountain of clothing and debris, you need help. And quick! Before you are swallowed WHOLE.

SO. Instead of saying I am a pack rat – which I AM NOT – I will call myself a selective hoarder. Not quite the same level of commitment. Being a selective hoarder is sort of like being a secret drinker, but as I am open about my drinking, I favor STUFF instead of liquor. I stash it about the house, here and there. Tucked into little crevices, so neat and tidy you’d never suspect it’s lurking there behind that cupboard door. HAHAHAHAH!

Fortunately this hoarding compulsion really only translates to a few things. My kids, for instance. The walls of my office are lined with their drawings. I save school papers, scrawled messages, mementos. Birthday cards, locks of hair, teeth. I even have their umbilical stumps, like two dried-up raisins – why? Because. Boxes of old shoes and clothing line the walls of the attic. Even though I’ve given away a ton of it all, the collection still grows. We want more children!
I will NEED that stained, holey Purple Pony t-shirt some day. For this same reason I still have boxes of baby toys, 2 changing tables, cribs and an enormous plastic racing car bed. I am not sure how many more kids we’ll have, but it’s safe to say they’ll all have somewhere to sleep.

In addition, I retain paperwork. If we bought a small appliance 10 years ago, you can bet I have the manual sitting in a drawer somewhere. I have boxes of notebooks from high school, college, graduate school. Old report cards from junior high, paper awards from Highland Elementary. I have birthday cards I got when I was 15. Really. I’ve saved every letter, postcard, and greeting card I’ve been given the past 20 years. Our closets overflow w/ correspondence. I tell you, if I am ever famous I will be an archivist’s dream.

Against my will, I also collect plastic containers. I do not want to. But they only take #1 or 2 plastic in the recycling, and I feel guilty about tossing the others. On average, I eat two cups of yogurt a day. Our dog Max loves his Beneful meals, which (of course) come in these cute little lidded containers. I cook at home almost every day. Sour cream, cream cheese containers, foam packaging, all non-recyclable. I know the news is blathering on about the price of oil, BUT WHAT THE HELL are these manufacturers doing??! Putting all of this stuff in #5, 6, 7 plastic?? Wake UP AMERICA! This food isn’t coming from overseas. This is our shame, and all this trash is going back into the ground! What a waste. So much garbage. I HATE chucking these plastic things, but dammit my cabinets can only hold so much. I already have closets full of paper, where the hell can I stuff 35 jumbo yogurt tubs a month?? I will be buried in a mountain of plastic Stonyfield Farm containers when I die.

Now that The Daily Dish is on hold, I am spending time organizing my home. It is liberating being able to open up a closet and not have stuff fall down on top of me. And it is fun looking through old pictures. At this rate, my house will be so clean I’ll hardly believe it’s mine. But I know I not the only Collector out there. Tell me your secrets.

9 thoughts on “The collector.

  1. Oh…boy. Ok. OK.

    Well, Christy, I don’t know if you know this about me but my father was/is a hoarder. A big time hoarder. The kind that get interviews in the local news because no one can believe how BAD the problem is.

    I can’t tell you how much I hated (hated!) growing up in a house with him and his crap. Honestly. I took Chris to meet him when we got engaged because he just wouldn’t understand why I wouldn’t let National Geographics in my house. (They are NOT reference materials, people!)

    He was shocked, absolutely dumbfounded. He spent the whole ride back to Orlando apologizing to me because he hadn’t really believed me.

    So here’s what I’ve learned. The older you get, the more crap you will accumulate. It’s a given. If it’s bad now, it will only get worse. At the very least, it should be crap that is specific to YOU. You may want to post all your containers on Freecycle, or start using them for art projects or something. (Maybe a local elementary school art class could use them??)

    I remember my dad telling me that he was ‘saving’ all this stuff from the dump and damaging mother earth. But the thing was, he wasn’t actually using them so basically what he created was a ‘mini-dump’ of stuff that – when he was evicted – other people had to send to the dump anyway.

    You never know what you have and, therefore, you never get around to using it. Your pile always grows, never shrinks.

    Things get damaged because they are neglected and hard to reach. If, by some miracle, you remember you have something you need – by the time you dig it out it is probably broken or mildewed or lost hull integrity.

    You’re nowhere close to even possibly being even near that bad, but just imagine what will have accumulated 20 years from now. Elderly people’s homes are always stuffed with junk that they never use but will never get rid of.

    Anyway, you’re different, you’re beautiful – and your house is beautiful and your kids are beautiful and your pets and your husband and everything is beautiful – but vigilence! That’s all I’m saying.

  2. Boy Hayden I had no idea. That is awful. My parents kept a certain amount of junk around when I was a kid . They still do. But it’s neatly put away in boxes in the basement & garage. Probably a lot of it is MINE! HAHAHAH. Just joking.

    But it sounds like your dad had issues. Like some of the photos I saw – seriously, check these out. That’s a whole lotta crap.

    I agree. Less is more. Which is one reason I’d rather have fewer clothes. If I am not wearing something regularly – off to the thrift shop for someone else. I’ve given away almost all the girls outgrown clothes – except the sentimental bits. I keep hand-me-downs for Georgia, but otherwise pass the stuff along.

    I must admit though – we do have a rather large collection of Nat’l Geographics. 2 bookcases worth. We like them. I know they take up space, but they’re so fun to look through. And yes, we also collect books. A LOT OF BOOKS. More than I need. I will put that one on my to-do list. WEED THROUGH BOOKS.

    I am not too bad, but I like things. Fortunately, it takes quite a bit of doing to strike my fancy. Only the best junk gets brought home. 😉

  3. well, i’m a chucker but am married to a hoarder. it makes for an interesting life. when he moved out of his childhood home at age 22, i helped him clean out his closet. we found clothing that predated the gerald ford era, sneaker-roller skates (you know, the blue ones with big yellow stoppers on the front) in a child’s size 4 that my husband wore in the early 70s.
    we manage okay now because he has an entire room (and garage and basement) where he stores his stuff. since i am more of a minimalist, there’s plenty of room to go around. 🙂

  4. I am a hoarder of clothes. I have clothes from junior high even thought I can’t possibly fit into them. I also look at the same top or skirt and think I’ll wear that tomorrow or when it is warmer/colder. I never wear it. I still keep everything just in case a blizzard comes and they only rescue those of us who have puffy vest with a faux-fur hood.


    The only reason I mention National Geographics is that EVERY hoarder I have ever met has a pile of these going back to 1965. Seriously. And it boggles the mind because it is a magazine that gets treated like the Encyclopedia Britannica, as in, it’s saved past when the information is badly outdated and no one ever reads it but they keep it on the shelves anyway because all the beautiful binding matches.

    So the pics you showed were actually not bad. This is a little more of what my childhood home looked like, except with a lot more boxes (of mostly books) and less light because boxes were stacked everywhere, including in front of the windows.

    Oh yeah. We had stacks taller than me!

  6. I am part pitcher and part hoarder, but the hoarding is mostly for sentimental things and for some reason seems to be mostly paper related. I too have all of the cards I have gotten from friends and family over the years. Concert ticket stubs, maps and brochures from places I’ve been and vacations taken. I have a collection of business cards, accumulated from various art shows I’ve been to over the years. There’s always the intention to take the card home, view more of the artists work on a web site or at a later date and then, I forget all about it and nothing ever happens, but I still feel bad throwing the card out. I do this with coupons too. I find something I either use or think I would use, cut the coupon and then forget about it, so 10 months later I find stacks of expired coupons.

    I’m not so much of a hoarder for clothing and household items no longer being used- that stuff gets donated to Goodwill or friends and family who would use it. I’m kind of ashamed to admit this, but I have been unknowingly throwing my yogurt, cream cheese, and sour cream containers into the recycling bins- I had no idea! I am going to make a conscious effort to read up on recycling a little more thoroughly!!!

  7. Books, magazines, and papers, esp. what I call “Mementos” like cards, letters, stuff like that, plus pictures, and because I write a lot of bits and pieces and unfinished stuff, that too, but it is getting better because of the computer. Wow, that’s some sentence I just wrote. Do you think the yogurt, etc. containers could be used to plant seeds to later be transplanted to the garden?

  8. LMAO! I have old report cards, etc. but saw one too many programs on hoarding and did not want to be the crazy lady with all that stuff that my children will have to deal with, breathe, so I have tossed a lot of stuff. If I haven’t used something in a year, I’m probably not going to use it again so I donate it after it sits in the garage for six months. I framed several pieces of my children’s art work which I still have hanging around the house b/c I love it and I think they secretly like seeing it even though they are grown ups! I will be posting a few corners of shame on my blog soon! Stay tuned!!! You could toss all those yogurt containers in the cars with the prostitutes. or leave them on someone’s doorstep. 🙂

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