Thursday, June 26, 2014

Packrat tendencies

I'm a packrat. And a clotheshorse. Some of my friends joke that I'm actually a hoarder.

But sometimes I suspect they're not really joking.

There are several reasons why they might think this.

For one, I used to be a serious impulse buyer. I've got a much better handle on that now. Sure, I buy the odd book here or there (or a big pile, when World's Biggest Bookstore closed), probably too many DVDs, but I've slowed down on those too. And a couple times a year I go through these and remove ones I honestly don't think I'll ever read or watch again and either put them in a box to go to Goodwill or I bring them to a swap (and if it doesn't go to someone at the swap it goes to the local Value Village afterwards). Honestly, I still sometimes will see a little thing and just have to have it (most recently I got a tiny little Giger alien to hang off a cord, and I won't apologize for it), but mostly that habit has been tempered by me actually stopping to think for a moment about whether I really need it and where I might put it.

Another problem is the clotheshorse thing mentioned earlier. I tend to buy clothes far more often than I should, I do recognize that, but some of that is explained by the fact that I've never had a stable dress size. Seriously, I may never understand people who just wear one size and that's it. My weight and shape is in constant flux (another problem for another post, or maybe not). I do try to mitigate this with the aforementioned Goodwill and swap purges, but I know I'm still bringing in more than I'm pushing out, so I need to work on that a bit more.

Also, there's the collections. Over the years I've been a collector of a number of things - miniature perfume bottles, 70s ruby luminarc, black amethyst, crafting supplies (stamping, scrapbooking, journaling, knitting/crochet, quilting, sewing, jewelry-making), Day-Of-The-Dead figurines, fountain pens, Cthulhu dolls, Doctor Who things, tarot decks, cocktail sets, nail polish - and they've all been enjoyable, but when my interest wanes I put it away in a box (usually several boxes) and move on to the next thing. But it's all still here! I don't plan to keep it all forever of course, I just haven't got around to sitting down and figuring out what to keep.

I lived for 10 years in a place that was quite large, where I had the room and the storage space to just put things in boxes and hide them away, so I didn't have to think about it. And then I moved to a smaller place, and even though I purged what felt like a LOT of stuff, in the end I still had so much. So now it's in boxes in my laundry room and my sunroom, waiting for me to go through it more seriously and purge purge purge.

And here's the central problem: I'm lazy. Seriously. I'm not hanging on to all this crap because I just can't bear to be without it - I just can't seem to get into motion. I do on occasion, of course - sometimes in the evening I'll take a box out of the laundry room and sit in front of the television while I go through everything in the box and figure out if I need to keep it or not. And when I do this, usually 80-90% of the box goes into the paper recycling or the garbage or the Goodwill box (since moving I've taken probably 10-12 boxes to Goodwill, so I am making progress, it's just too slow), so it's not like I can't part with the stuff. So clearly what I need to do is just motivate myself to shift the stuff out.

(It has been suggested to me that, if I haven't opened the box in a year, what's in it isn't important and I should just throw the whole thing out. Last year I found a crayon portrait my Mum made of me when I was four, which I'd actually been wondering about for a while. If I'd thrown out that box, that portrait - which is now framed and displayed - would be gone. A friend told me she did what was suggested to me, she threw out a box she hadn't gone into forever. Turned out her passport was in that box.)

The collections? I have plans there.

  • Perfume bottles: keep favourite 10-15, put up little display shelf just for them, sell the rest on ebay (and I know I'm lazy so I'll find someone who will sell them for a cut for me).
  • Ruby luminarc: honestly I'd love to be able to keep them all because they really remind me of my childhood, but right now I have a set of 6 of everything and if I'm honest I know I'm not an entertainer, so maybe I just keep 2 of each and get rid of the other 4.
  • Black amethyst: again, just keep a few faves (coasters, candy dish, urn, bowl with flower frog) and get rid of the rest.
  • Crafting supplies: keep the yarn and knitting/crochet supplies as I still go back to it every year or so, likewise with the sewing; ditch the jewelry-making, scrapbooking, stamping and quilting stuff altogether, with the exception of almost-done projects and only what's needed to complete them; journaling stuff is small enough and I still play around with it so I'll hold onto that but consolidate it.
  • Day-Of-The-Dead figurines: already taken care of, kept one and tossed the rest.
  • Fountain pens: I have my faves, need no more.
  • Cthulhu dolls: already got rid of something I didn't need, but was bad and brought in another I don't need, so that's it, no more!
  • Doctor Who things: well, I should stop buying toys and stuff like that, but I'm not getting rid of my DVDs and I have more I want to add but it's a finite list, I don't want to be completist about them. This isn't about an emotional need to have the stuff (okay, maybe I emotionally need my plush Adipose doll) - I'm one of those people who can watch the same DVD many times and still enjoy it, and there are certain Dr Who stories that I love and will always watch again - those are the ones I'm keeping.
  • Tarot decks: I've been very good and if I want to buy a set now it has to be something that really knocks me out, and I've separated out those sets I want to give away or sell, and it's definitely more than I'm keeping.
  • Cocktail sets: if I had a bigger place I'd keep it all, but I have nowhere to display them now, so I think I'll pick my favourite set and keep that, and get rid of the rest.
  • Nail polish: I've already been purging as I go but I definitely still have way more than I need. Not buying more unless, again, it's something absolutely amazing, have done a purge a few times and I need to purge a bunch more, try to cut it down to about 1/3 of what I have now, or less!

For the things I've already separated out, it's just a matter of my laziness that they're still in the house and not gone.

Now, they say that one of the signs of being a hoarder is not wanting people to come over or to see certain rooms. I admit that I have too much stuff so of course there are issues with that - but more it's about the laziness I mentioned earlier. I'm not very tidy, you see. If I was not so lazy I would clean as I go all the time, and anyone could just drop in unannounced and all would be well - but as it is, at any given time certain areas of my home (if not the entire place) is so messy because I haven't swept or picked up all the various bits of paper or taken out the recycling or done the dishes or laundry that I would be mortified for anyone to see it. I don't mean like my Mum sees the cover on the couch has fallen down and thinks the room is a disaster area - I mean like if the police were ever called they'd think a burglar was in and ransacked the place.


So I think this summer I'm going to try to get a handle on all of this. Once a week (I know I should plan for every day, but I know how lazy I am) I will take at least one box out of the laundry room, sort through it and fully remove from my place anything in the box I'm not keeping. Garbage to the chute, recycling brought downstairs. My current 'go to Goodwill' box is also in the laundry room so it's not sitting out in the way, but I'm forgetting about it with it out of sight so I'll bring that out to the living room as well.

It comes to this: I'm not a hoarder, I'm just a lazy packrat. Which may be worse.

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