Monday, January 24, 2011
Books are never considered clutter.
I find the TV show “Hoarders” strangely addictive. Maybe it’s because I’m a pack rat. No, I don’t have piles of trash and old margarine containers lying around. But I do have all the books from my childhood (two full bookshelves), at least six empty coffee cans (to do projects with sometime), and a closet-full of old costumes, including the dress my Mom wore in her big piano recital in high school, my tutus from early dance recitals, and the tux my husband wore at our wedding.
If you’re not familiar with any of the hoarding shows on television, let me explain. They show people who are compulsive hoarders, meaning that they have an addiction, much like alcoholics, whose problem affects every area of their lives. Their houses are so full of trash and things that there is literally nowhere to step. They can no longer cook in their kitchens because they can’t find the stove. Their family and friends no longer visit.
So, the valiant TV show comes in to rescue them, bringing a psychologist, a professional organizer, and a team of 15 people to clean out all the stuff.
To me, the fascinating thing is watching the people’s excuses for keeping everything. They truly think they will someday need that old broken vase. They want to keep every single thing that has sentimental value. Being surrounded by stuff makes them feel secure.
My husband loves it when I watch the show, because I usually end up cleaning out a drawer or donating some clothes to charity. But the big difference between me and the hoarders (besides a true psychological problem) is that I actually use my stuff. I am in the process of finishing a quilt made of all my old t-shirts and sweatshirts. And just a week ago, I created a wall hanging to pin all my necklaces to on the wall next to my bathroom vanity. I used some leftover fabric, an extra piece of foam core, and some map pins. I knew where it all was, and didn’t have to spend a dime.
And I know I’ll use those coffee cans someday, too. I have four ideas: 1. Cover them with contac paper, fill with cookies, and give as Christmas gifts. 2. Paint them, add some yarn rope and turn them into drums for kids to play with. 3. Paint them, punch holes in them, add a candle and use outside as luminarias. 4. Follow the instructions in my old kids’ book to turn one into a butter churn. (I did this as a kid and it worked!)
While my husband may protest, I have no problem with clutter, as long as it’s managed, and used. I have many, many hobbies that require stuff. I have many interests that require stuff. My stuff has stories. (That doll on the shelf flew on my uncle’s plane in WWII; That Hawaiian lei in the frame was made for me for our wedding.) To me, interesting people have stuff. So that means I must be super interesting.