07 September 2010

Hoarders

I've started watching Hoarders on Netflix. (As you may recall, we don't have cable. It might be on Hulu, but I never thought to look until we got Netflix.) Watching the show is influencing our unpacking. And making me a bit paranoid that I might be a hoarder.

I should say that I LOVE identifying things that we can get rid of (although I'm much happier when those things can be recycled or donated. I don't like clogging up landfills). So I don't really think I'm a hoarder. But when we decided, for instance, to put all of our books (11 office paper boxes worth) up in the attic to deal with later, I was reminded of the lady who wasted her two days with the professional organizer/therapist arguing for putting things in boxes to sort through later. And when I come across boxes of papers that I threw together as we were packing up to move from the temporary house, I am reminded of the guy who couldn't manage to throw away a single fast food wrapper. (Actually, I don't think that guy was a hoarder at all. He was just a lazy slob...am I just a lazy slob?) And when I find a storage bin or shelf or organizational item that I'm pretty sure we're not going to need (we have tons more space here than we've ever had before), but I decide to hang onto it anyway just in case, I feel like pretty much everyone on the show who hangs onto things just in case they might find a use for them one day.

We continue to make progress, slowly but surely, and while the attic really is a mess (along with some other areas), I know that we will go through everything, get rid of what we don't need (after we're settled enough to know for sure what is no longer of use to us), and live with only what we need and/or really want. But this process is going to take time. Before we moved, I estimated that it would be 18 months before we were completely settled in, and two months in, I still think that estimate was accurate. So check with me next Christmas, when there won't be any unpacked boxes, we'll have all of the right art on the walls and rugs on the floors, the yard will be landscaped, and we won't have any extraneous junk in the attic. (No, no, not this Christmas. Next Christmas. Christmas 2011. Check back with me then.)

Interesting note: I recently read a review of the book Stuff, which used the metaphor of video games to illustrate what it's like to be a hoarder faced with an item. It said hoarding feels like being a kid wrapped up in playing a video game -- it doesn't matter what else is going on (dinner time, etc.), the rest of the world fades away and the only thing that matters is getting to the next level of the video game. When a hoarder is faced with, for instance, a rug, it doesn't matter that there's already a room full of brand new rugs at home, the hoarder just has to have the rug. Or broken toaster oven. Or whatever.

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