Daily Archives: September 2, 2011

When Clutter Runs Amok

My husband is a reality TV junkie.  Not the contrived game shows—although we are huge Amazing Race fans here in the Solheim house—but the programs about folks fixing up their homes, building supped up motorcycles, or rummaging through garbage.  Yeah, he really loves the ones where people get dirty:  Dirty Jobs, Myth Busters, and American Pickers.  On a recent evening, I happened by the TV as he was watching a show about hoarders.  It still boggles my mind that there is an actual show about people so ill they save used band-aids—Yuck!  But, like the millions of others who apparently tune into the program each week, my morbid curiosity got the better of me and I was sucked in for the remaining 35 minutes of the episode.

I came away from the TV with two things:  a resounding empathy for the family members of individuals with this disease—and it is a disease—and two, a profound relief that my house wasn’t as much of a wreck as I thought.  Seriously, I have become a bit overwhelmed with the amount of junk my family has accumulated over the years and seeing how extreme hoarders live was quite liberating for me.  No, my house isn’t crammed full of stuff; one can walk freely, sit easily and sleep in his or her own bed.  Okay, a caveat here might by my teenage daughter’s room, but I pray her college roommate or future spouse will have more luck with her than I have.

Living with a preponderance of stuff is a trait of the adult me.  I grew up in a military household.  By the time I was 18, I had lived in 16 different homes. Needless to say, collections of junk or anything else didn’t exist.  My mother keeps the mementos she saved from three children in a single manila envelope.  Not so in my house. The photos, artwork, crafts, and toys from my two children could easily encompass two rooms in my basement.  I am a saver.  I’m not sure if this is due to my upbringing or a change in the American culture—there just seems to be a lot more “stuff” an individual needs to get by these days.  Perhaps it is a bit of both.

My husband is a collector of junk as well.  His office and our garage are filled with used gadgets, TVs, cameras, computers, and other electronic devices he’s upgraded, leaving the old ones to languish on the shelf.  Both he and I are very conscious of the carbon footprint we leave behind, not wanting to throw anything away.  Maybe we’ll need these things again one day!  Right?  Nope.

So, does this make us hoarders?  I don’t think so.   A little lazy, perhaps, but not hoarders.  Lately I’ve been pondering what to do with all the excess stuff hanging about our home.  Deborah Norville hosted a segment on her TV show last week detailing how to hold an electronic garage sale by posting your unwanted items on ebay.  The monetary potential she predicted sounded great, but, like a traditional garage sale, this process involved something we don’t have an abundance of in our house: time.

Instead, maybe I’ll just box it all up and move to a storage facility.  Hey, they have shows about those, too!!  Outta sight, outta mind and all that.

I guess what I really need is a strategic plan.  Something I can get excited about and execute.  Kind of like a new exercise regimen or a new diet.  I’ll attack it with gusto and hope my interest won’t wan until most of the junk has made it to ebay or Goodwill.  I’m good at planning.  Carrying out the plan, well, we’ll see.  That time thing always mucks up my best plans. Until I have one though, I guess I’ll just catch an episode of Extreme Hoarders while cleaning out a drawer.  At least it’ll make me feel better about my own clutter.

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