I Am Not A Hoarder…Probably

But I love stuff. Weird stuff, mostly. Like dinosaur bones and Zuni fetishes and watercolor paintings of Lucky Dog vendors in the French Quarter. Sometimes stuff just speaks to me and sometimes I say “Stuff, I don’t need you.” But other times, I see something and there’s a story hiding in it. Maybe it’s a whole novel, maybe it’s just that crucial plot point that has been eluding me for weeks, but if it’s in that thing and that thing is on eBay, well, I have to buy it.

Hence the state of the spare bedroom.

So I’ve spent the week trying to turn the tide before I find myself with a starring role on A & E.

It’s like an archeological dig of my own life. Sort of the geology of Robin. Things have gathered into time periods, like strata in a rock formation. Here is the year I was obsessed with Pokemon. I really wanted to be an animator until I realized that I didn’t have the temperament for it. I could draw the pictures, I just couldn’t draw the same pictures over and over. Anyway, certain cartoons grab me now and then, seducing me with the design of their characters. Pikachu had his turn. It’s over.

Into the donation box.

Onto the Tasmanian tigers. Cool, sad, extinct. And yet very popular now they are all dead. Sort of like the California grizzly. You can find all kinds of Tasmanian tiger stuff. Books, stuffed animals, license plates. Anyway, I wrote a story about one. It was kind of tragic. I bought many things. Also kind of tragic.

Yes, I have a license plate. No, I’m not getting rid of it.

But the newspaper clippings can go.

I’m making headway. I’ve sorted the books into two boxes, the keepers and the goers. I’ve made it through the sack of old sneakers. I’ve tossed out three trash bags of stuff.

I’m rolling.

So into the next plastic grocery bag, assuming it is just more receipts to be shredded. I think about half these plastic bags are full of stuff to be shredded. The shredder can only handle about 12 sheets of paper before it jams and needs major maintenance so the shredding does pile up. Anyway, another boring bag.

Only it wasn’t.

Because the problem with cleaning out the spare room is that it is a minefield. Boring, boring, boring, devastating.

So the bag was full of mail. From the year my mom died.  And the first thing I pulled out was a sympathy card signed by all my closest friends.

Now this is usually the point where I stop cleaning. I leave the room and don’t come back. But I can’t do that. I always do that and that is why I have a room full of stuff.

But I need a breather first. Watch some Olympics, make some brownies, revel in the warm gooey mixture of melted butter, cocoa powder and sugar for a few moments as I talk myself into getting back to work.

One card, I can handle one card.

I go back.

To a different spot.

I open a tub. It’s full of rejected stories, still in their manila envelopes, rejection letters intact.


I need another brownie.


6 thoughts on “I Am Not A Hoarder…Probably

  1. Nice post!

    The picture leaves a lot of unanswered questions though! Why does it look like an archaeological dig? Why do you have an empty “Victim” beer bottle? How come the books aren’t dusty?


    1. It looks like an archeological dig because I couldn’t get to the shelves to dust. The “Victim” beer bottle is from Anne Rice’s Memnoch Ball which I attended many years ago in New Orleans. She gave out free specially labeled beer. No, I did not drink it myself, but I did keep the bottle. I’m not sure why the books aren’t dusty. Vertical surfaces don’t gather dust, I guess.

      The shelves are all clean now, btw.

  2. I’ve had similar experiences to yours through the years. Especially since I was unable to stay put in one location from 1980 through the mid 90’s. I would collect things along the trail of life. Before I left for England in 1980 this wasn’t a big problem. I had a nice large bedroom with lots of shelving in which to display those things I had collected. And then it was time to leave for awhile – so I packed it into some boxes. Thus began my living out of boxes for another 15 years.
    Pictures, movie posters, a stretched coke bottle won at a county fair, club yearbooks and certain homework assignments from middle and high school that I was particularly fond of. A C3PO made of rocks, even things dating back from 1st grade. All placed into boxes for me to retrieve at a later date.
    When I returned from England I was able to leave most of that stuff at my parents house. Then they moved from Orem up to Brigham City. Mom made the first sounds of trying to unload them, but I was a poor student with not much room to keep things. So up to Brigham City they went. When my parents were moving to Kentucky (and I was living in LA) Mom told me to come and get my stuff or she would throw it out. Well, such bluntness and the thought of losing my collected stuff shook me enough that I made a special trip to save my things. I did some pruning – through out some things, kept others, and took them back to California with me.
    When I left LA and returned to the Midwest I left many things that I had accumulated while living in SoCal – but pruned a little again and loaded up my little Plymouth Laser with my boxes of things remembered.
    My boxes remained either in storage or attics for years while here back in Indiana, slowly deteriorating and spilling their contents. Finally I resolved to do something about it and clean it up a bit. I purchased some plastic containers to replace the worn out cardboard boxes (one of the boxes actually dated from my Plitt days at the University Twin Theatres!). I pulled the boxes down out of the attic and started going through those things I had deemed necessary to keep. I found all the letters I had received while a missionary. I found birthday cards from my 18th birthday signed by my new friends at the Rising Star and Orc. I found stories I had written from in my high school creative writing class and name tags from SF conventions from long ago.
    I still couldn’t throw anything out.
    So I repacked everything neatly. Even my Star Trek 3 glasses from Burger King (Which Mom, god bless her, didn’t have the heart to throw out and kept on their move out to Kentucky). Back up into the attic out of Kim’s sight (she is the queen of anti-hording) for me to dive back into again some day. I may even re-read those letters from my mission someday.
    I don’t know if this makes me a horder or not, but I definitely like keeping those souvenirs of my travel through life!

    1. Wow, your stuff has done a lot of traveling! My stuff just sort of sits and collects dust. Or falls over in earthquakes. I can see two earthquake victims in that photo. There’s also at least one fossil rock, two Tasmanian tigers (one modern, one prehistoric), a wax cougar from the Hogle Zoo, a wax submarine from Chicago, a wooden music box from Vienna, a T-rex with blue stripes who is now over here on the dresser because I love the way he looks, some Krystle fragrance Bruce gave me before he died, and a Mustang logo Drac made me buy. You know, the usual.

  3. Oh, I forgot to mention, I also found a doorknob that had been sheered off its door dating from an epic struggle from an evil temptress of the night.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s