Thursday, September 9, 2010

Stuff I got rid of today.

1) Donated the chest of drawers from my room to Habitat for Humanity.
2) Dropped off a bag of leotards at my old high school, with a note that they were for the color guard.
3) Donated a grocery bag's worth of various junk-y things to the local thrift shop.
4) Labeled and handed over a full set of cutlery and an old homecoming dress to the consignment shop that sells my nicer stuff.
5) Tossed 2 sets of playing cards and a miniature American flag in the library's stuff-for-the-troops box.

I also completely cleaned out my car - it was full of dresses, shoes, and jackets which are now neatly put away in my super-clean closet. I just have a few random things here and there to conquer/sell/give away before my bedroom is 100% junk free!

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Physician, heal thyself! With Pictures!

Clean closet!!!

Some rarely-used heels, a couple of handbags, and old tax records.

My summer robe hanging where I can easily reach it. The white spot is where the wall was repaired when the bathroom behind it was renovated.

My beauty stash - it's been significantly culled down, but it still causes me a bit of embarrassment. I feel I should be more monk-like in my wants.

Hi all! Sorry I did the disappearing blogger thing. I broke up with my boyfriend recently and started school, so those took priority.

However! I have been cleaning. Mostly in my own bedroom. Because you know my motto - "Sometimes, in a crazy, backwards, dysfunctional family, you have to content yourself with being the one normal who gets out alive." In this case, I also feel hypocritical dejunking my mom when I know I have junk of my own hoarded quietly away...

I am starting to get truly ruthless with myself about possessions. I unplugged the mini-fridge my dad brought in here a year ago - it's sitting on the side porch now, waiting to take the spot of the other, older, crappier mini fridge in the house. It had been using energy and junking up my space for way too long!

Clear space where the fridge used to be stuffed:

Then I initiated a cleanout of my most personal closet, complete with skeletons. My closet was truly shameful to me, as the daughter of a hoarder. It was the black sheep of my personal organization empire. I had...

  • an old, stained white down comforter I had told myself a million times I would take to the drycleaners "someday"
  • a crappy old printer which made me pull my hair out every time I tried to use it
  • paperwork dating back to 8th grade (I'm in college now) that I couldn't bear to throw away
  • several dozen crappy wire and plastic hangers with nothing on them
  • some old purses I didn't even like any more
  • a bunch of shoes I never wear but couldn't bear to part with because I spent so much money on them
  • some clothes I kept around in case another depression hit...80% kidding
  • pictures of me and my abusive ex (not the guy I was just dating, the guy before him)
  • one of those cheap pop-out mesh clothes baskets

My closet was like the place junk went to die. When something seemed unmanageable to me...I shoved it in the closet. When I couldn't make a decision, the closet seemed like the ideal spot. Unfortunately, this also meant that things that are supposed to go in the closet - clothes, jackets, etc, couldn't actually fit in there any more because there was just. So. Much. Junk. So, I started chucking stuff into bags to donate, recycle, or (I always try to keep this bag the smallest) throw away. After a couple of day's work, my closet was totally free of junk! Once again, I advocate the "take everything out and then put only what you really want and use back in" strategy.

I realized a few things about myself that contributed to my room messiness:

  1. I hate putting clothes away in drawers.
  2. I hate hanging clothes up on hangers.
  3. I can't be bothered to do anything except chuck clothes into a basket.

So basically I invented a totally rudimentary 2-basket system. I bought a 2 dollar blue clothes basket at Walmart to supplement the one I already had. Clean clothes go straight from the dryer to the basket on the right, dirty clothes are taken off and immediately chucked in the dirty clothes basket on the left. It's simple, but so far it's been AMAZING how much less time I spent rooting around looking for clothes.

Of course, this meant that my dresser (which had sat collecting paper junk and jewelry junk on top, since I didn't put my clothes in it anyway) was now completely obsolete. Cleaning off the stuff on top was daunting since so much of it was sentimental to my relationship. I ended up making a small keepsake box just for the relationship's too soon for me to get rid of any of it. The box went on the newly clean shelf of my closet, took up very little room, and made me feel significantly better.

Clear space on top of dresser that used to be PILED with papers and stuff:

I found a stack of my old Cicadas (a literary magazine for teens) and posted on facebook, asking if anyone knew a smart young voracious reader who would like them. The next day I walked them over to my friend Alvin's house - he said his son would love them. So I got to pay something forward in addition to getting rid of a stack of magazines I would never read again.

I had to sort through my jewelry collection, and let me tell you, I thought I had 1 or 2 pieces to get rid of...turns out I was happily able to put 1/2 my jewelry collection in a big plastic Ziploc bag to be donated. Stuff I'd been holding onto for YEARS because it was "too nice to give away" but too ugly to wear! Oh, the webs we weave...

I had acquired a 3-drawer organizer thing, and I put it in sideways. piled my beauty stuff on top of it. I admit - I really need to dejunk my beauty supply. I have way too many body sprays and face washes for any reasonable person. At least I've sworn off buying any new cosmetics until I run out - which at this rate could be another year! The organizer holds "office clothes" (I work as a nanny during school, but I won't be in college forever and need SOMETHING to wear to job interviews), "rarely worn but still precious to me", aka my grandmother's silk robe that she brought back from China and a few nice dresses for wearing out to dancing, drinks, a night at the theater, etc.

Since all the stuff was off my pole now (either in the clean clothes basket or the organizer), I was able to see the back of the closet, and I decided to install my mirror on the back wall of the closet. I wonder what a feng sui master would say about installing a mirror inside a closet?

I hung my bras and headbands over the closet's pole. I looped my scarves and belts around the pole as well. On the far end, a few nice wooden hanger hold the stuff that's too bulky to fit in the organizer's wee drawer space - my BJJ gi, a couple of fall jackets, and my 2 often-worn robes.

The top shelf now holds special occasion shoes (I have a couple of pairs of heels I LOVE), vital documents (I finally gathered them all together in one safe Manila envelope! Go me!), and extra reusable bags ( I use them frequently as travel bags when I'm staying the night at a friend's).

And the best thing is - there's EXTRA SPACE. Ahh, the luxury of space...

The whole interior of the closet needs priming and a coat of paint (who thought pistachio green was fashionable, again?) to cover where it's been repaired, but still, I'm over the moon about how much cleaner and more organized my living space is with all the clothes semi-neatly put-away.

So in addition to a closet revamp, I bagged up tons of stuff in my room that was junk to me but treasure to someone else, found several peices of clothing I had lamented losing (including a T-shirt with Obama's pixelated face on it), and even found a few things nice enough to take over to the consignment shop.

And it only took me...oh, a week and a half. And I'm still working on it - I asked my brother to help me move out the dresser in my room, and I need to take these bags of junk to be donated before they start to mate and make little junk babies. Why on earth does this process take so long!?

I also unearthed an adorable blue-and-white painted China dish which I decided to use to dejunk my bedside table. Now my car keys and petty cash have a place to reside which is both pretty and functional!

(The table is dirty there, but at least it's organized, right?)

And here's one of all the stuff I'm giving away...

May it inspire you to do the same!

Monday, July 19, 2010

Inroads in enemy territory...

I've nearly exhausted my options in the living room. Most further progress involves persuading mom that it's not worth keeping hundreds of old VHS tapes and decades-out-of-date encyclopedias. To give you an idea of what it's like trying to help a hoarder:

Me: "I can't wait to get this room painted! No more ugly yellow walls!"
Mom: "This room just always seems depressing. We better paint it bright semi-gloss white. You know how dark it gets in here."
Me: "Gee mom, did you know that interior designers say that contrast, and not color, is what makes a room look dark? Even a small room painted dark blue will seem large if everything coordinates. It's lots of contrast that makes rooms seem small and dark, because it's aesthetically confusing to your eye."
Mom: "So what do you think? Should we paint the bookcase [full of VHS tapes] white too?"
Me: *facepalm*

This isn't the end of it either...

Me: "Mom, you're stopping just one step short of the real solution here..."
Mom: "I know, you think we should throw away everything and live in a ti-pi."
Me: "Well I just mean, you're thinking of how to disguise the problem, not solve it outright. When is the last time you derived and joy or pleasure from these? When's the last time you even watched one of the tapes?"
Mom: "I can't remember. Whenever we set up the system. So a few months ago."
Me: "A few MONTHS? Doesn't that tell you something?"
Mom: "I am not getting rid of the movies."
Me: *long deep sigh*

And you have these conversations every day.

Anyway, today I was having a giant urge to just....clean....something!

  • First I took down the light fixture in the hall and cleaned the bugs and dirt and dust and soaped off that weird grimy layer which stuff near the kitchen tends to acquire. Then I walked aimlessly through the house a half dozen times, looking for a project with a clear goal.
  • I set up the big mirror which I got for free off Craigslist above the mantelpiece. It still needs to be properly hung, but it felt good getting it up there. It should really increase the light in what tends to be a very dark room (high contrast from all the junk in there!).
  • I went into the dining room and began cleaning there for the first time. I cleaned up the office supplies area, a small black bookcase (are you seeing a trend here?) packed to the gills with all kinds of paper, bent up notebooks, chalk, pencils, old binders, at least 6 kinds of tape, a million tacky kiddy folders that belonged to me when I was in elementary school, and, get this, 38 used manila folders. My mom sure loves to save. I cleaned everything out, put back what we could actually use/what she would miss if it were suddenly gone, and then made a neat stack of all the remaining supplies and carried it over to the low-rent housing across the street from me. I put a hand-made sign on top saying "FREE school supplies. Take one or all!" I've had good luck getting rid of stuff this way, and it makes me feel all warm and fuzzy b/c I know people did the same thing for my family when we were little.
  • Then I cleaned up behind the other door to the dining room, which is next to the dryer (yes, the dryer is in the dining room...when you barely ever move around your house, spacial planning doesn't really mean the same thing) and thus is a haven for dust bunnies the size of greater Montana. I put away a couple of boxes full of expensive preserves mom bought forever ago and then forgot she had, and recycled the boxes. I rearranged all the crap that's back there so it actually fits. Tomorrow I'll ask my dad (a lot of it is clearly home project stuff that was bought but never started) what's good and what's junk.

So, both the entryways to the dining room are relatively clear. The first wall has French doors, one of which has not been opened in years because a bookcase blocks it. The other door at least is finally able to swing open all the way. Now to begin my 2-front war on clutter!

Saturday, July 10, 2010

The porch is clear!

My dad dragged loads of the furniture that was cluttering up the side porch down to our local Habitat for Humanity Re-Store (sort of like a second-hand Home Depot) today. Not only is the porch almost totally clear, we got store credit for the stuff he took in! The porch looks great - before it looked like the back room of an antique store, stuffed with junky old wooden furniture.

The only downside is that he got rid of a desk mom wanted to keep (even though she has literally no place to put it) and she was really, really. Really. Really mad.

This could really set us back. Without the hoarder's consent, she sees this as an invading force, rather than a friendly set of helping hands. Urgh.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Bring it on, 2010!

Holy cow. I am BEAT from today. Spent the whole hellishly hot afternoon (it was 102 degrees in my northern Virginian town today) lugging furniture around. My mom and brother helped. Here's what we got done:

  • Lugged crappy old junk-magnet coffee table out of the living room
  • Lugged the giant white pleather couch that was taking up the whole corner out of the living room
  • Loaded both the couch and table into the back of my dad's truck to be donated
  • Vacuumed the whole area behind where the couch was sitting - fallen drywall galore!
  • FINALLY got mom to sort through her old records, donate some (1/2 a box), and take the rest (2 boxes) up to her bedroom
  • Lugged the nicer coffee table from the porch INTO the living room - no drawers/compartments means no place to put junk!

I am so proud and so happy! We got so much done, it's ridiculous. My mac's battery's gone bad so it's tougher for me to use my isight camera to take pics of the progress (we don't have a digital camera) but I'll edit some in to this post tonight.

I really had to sit on my mom to get her to start with the records, but once she started sorting those, she got onto a whole de-cluttering jag and she - get this - SHE was the one who suggested we take the old furniture out! My family, which normally has the forward momentum of Mt. Fuji, actually got huge strides forward accomplished today.

The only bad thing about decluttering is how incredibly addictive it is. The more you do it, the more you WANT to do it. It's tough to be satisfied, even though I know the living room looks 300% better now than it did 6 hours ago, because all I can think about it how much better it will looks tomorrow and the day after tomorrow and the day after that...I am driven by a mental vision of my dream space.

Even my mom (the resident clutterer/hoarder/keeper/packrat/compulsive over-buyer) is happy with how things are going. I've finally got her on the clean-house bandwagon. The only hold-out is my older brother - he HATES change and insinuated today that I am a snake-oil salesman trying to trick the family into cleaning the house with my false promises that it will make their lives more enjoyable. No kidding. Sometimes I'm surprised we're genetically related.

We're getting close to seeing wall space now. My goal is to get the whole lower part of the house livable by the end of summer (August-ish) so that we can paint in fall when it's cool and not so insanely humid. The walls of the living room are currently a shade of cream-that's-gone-bad which my mom lovingly refers to as "funeral parlor yellow", and much of it is covered in my childhood crayon scribblings. Time for something new, clean, fresh, and pretty. Maybe a bright, Mediterranean tealish blue? I'll post some inspirational decorating pics as well. Many loves to all those decluttering out there! The journey is long (I know, earlier I was bent over a trash can outside fishing out change the vacuum cleaner picked up), but the pay-off (a smart, clean home) is so worth it!!

Friday, July 2, 2010

Less is more.

I love the spareness of Japanese design. Growing up in a house stuffed to bursting with overfull bookcases on every possible wall and cluttered floors, I long for simple lines, clear spaces, and bare walls. I adore any style which strips away the unnecessary and replaces it with perfect form/function balance.

I'm also a big believer in the idea that the best decoration is often no decoration at all. My boyfriend and I often get in tiffs over this philosophy - he's a collector of frivolous things, and I am a mercenary declutterer. It's tough, but we strike a balance.

I still love the occasional beautiful object, a single large glass bowl on a table for example, but the rule for me is that each object must give more than it takes. If it is beautiful, the beauty must outweigh the cost in money and care. Very few things are beautiful enough to pass this test.

To my mind, the most beautiful rooms contain the following elements:

  • Critical furniture (a bed, a desk, a couch, etc, according to the room's primary purpose)
  • One beautiful piece of art (a statement piece, to use the lingo - more than one, if they work in tandem or it's a very large room, but the rule prefers one)

And that's pretty much it. Don't get me wrong, I adore the grandeur of Versailles, but I'm happiest in a simple cottage in the French countryside. The right amount of less, is more.

I'm not a minimalist in the following aspects:

  • I like a very spare number of functional/loved objects (a couple of nicely hung and easily accessible pots in a kitchen, a shelf of best-loved family pictures in a living room)
  • I MUCH prefer several table lamps to a single ceiling light. In my mind nothing is uglier or more irritating to the psyche than the use of a central ceiling light. If it were up to me, they'd be banned everywhere but the dentist office. Aesthetics outweigh efficiency in this case.

Clearing the porch of some old furniture tomorrow (it's at least 75% covered in tables, chairs, and desks right now). I will do my best to take before and afters. Keep reading, keep writing, keep dejunking!

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

A Minimalist Home

I think minimalism as a concept is becoming more and more appealing to me. Another goal, besides making the house presentable by the end of the summer, is to make my own room as minimalist as I possibly can. It'll do me good to get by with much less.

This blog really inspired me, and it has a great dejunking message.

Things I'll need to do:
  1. Finally stop procrastinating and thoroughly dejunk my closet.
  2. Design a system into my closet so that I can eliminate the chest of drawers, the top of which is attracting junk and the drawers of which I barely use anyway.
  3. Give away that wall decoration which I thought was awesome 2 years ago and which I now realize is tacky as hell.
  4. Clear as much stuff off my floor as possible.
  5. Put the huge boxes of shelf-stable soymilk somewhere other than my bedroom.
  6. Bring a small filing cabinet in here for the pile of important but disorganized papers laying on my floor.
  7. Get rid of the mini-fridge I never ended up using. Thanks anyway dad.
  8. Finish painting both my closet and bedroom doors.
  9. Put away my ugly tacky silver sequined lamp. Sigh.

Big progress in the living room!!!

I could not be happier today. Mom was in a great mental space today and we must have plowed through 7 or 8 hundred magazines that had been junking up the living room since 1999.

The lesson of the day is, take your cue from the hoarder. If she's interested in cleaning up magazines instead of going through her old records, go with it. Everything has to happen at the hoarder's pace, with gentle(!) cues from the helper from time to time.

It started with mom going through a cardboard box that had been full of magazines forever. Then she kept asking me to bring her another pile. Being from a military family, she's not stereotypically neat, but she does follow through with a task once she starts and gets momentum going. This was an absolute shock to me. I NEVER thought she would part with any of these hundreds of old junk copies of Newsweek, the New Yorker, Scientific American, etc. Lo and behold, she begins a huge pile of "give-away" magazines. All I did was provide her the tools (the recycling box for things too crap to give away) and she did the rest, quickly and efficiently sorting through at least 100 pounds of old dusty magazines and catalogues. I told her over and over how proud I was. I called up my aunt to give her the heads-up about my mom intending these materials for her, she said bring them over, she collages and scrapbooks now and is happy to take them.

Poof! Like that, one of the biggest slices of the junk pie almost totally removed. She did save a small, neat stack of current publications, but she ruthlessly dejunked all the others. Something she never would have done 5 years ago. I'm seeing a change in her and it's so inspiring. When I cleaned off the mantelpiece I made sure to keep and proudly display a small but lovely piece of art she made about 40 years ago (when she was the age I am now). It's a reminder to me, and hopefully her, that there was once a wonderful, clever, strong, creative spirit inside her often thorny exterior. The more junk gets removed, the more that spirit can emerge.

Plus we put an entire blue recycling bin full to brimming out, and filled up a bag for charity. I also cleaned off the entertainment center and put the old Playstation and its games into a bag to truck down to the local thrift shop.

My dad wasn't as happy as I would have liked him to be, but that's his personality. I totally psychoanalyzed him and told him that I understood how painful the house must be for him, and how I know he's negative about it b/c he's been dealing with it for much longer than I have. He immediately opened up to me and told me about times in the past when he was working 2 jobs and all he wanted was to come home to a nice house. And he couldn't even have that. So eventually he gave up beating his head against the wall. He resigned himself to living with a hoarder. I know he probably only stayed for us kids.

Overall I'm very happy with the progress we made today, emotionally as well as junk-ily.I feel like it won't be quite "real" until we cart all that stuff out tomorrow.

I've got everyone in the house working on dejunking now. In addition to my mom's sudden surprising fervor today, I had my brother clear his comic books out of the living room and my dad chose to recycle all his old HOME magazines that we had sorted from the piles. Even my boyfriend is dejunking the house he's currently living in. Let's start a minimalist trend! Less stuff for everyone!

I would be overjoyed to see a dejunking trend hit this country - let's all try having just enough instead of much too much.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Living Room, Day 1.

Started on the living room today...ugh. What a slog. It is the most difficult room, because mom refuses to acknowledge that much of the furniture and the empty bookcase and the never-used wood stove could be classified as junk. She only thinks of spare papers as junk. At least I "cleaned up" (by which I mean, restacked) a few piles of magazines we've been stepping over repeatedly, we filled up a bag of stuff to go to good will, and I took 2 old sewing machines up to her bedroom and a box of textbooks up to my brother's room. Took all the junky kitsch off the mantle peice, trying to figure out what is her sentimental junk and what is nice enough to put back up. Empty and organize, empty and organize. Currently waiting for my dad to get home to ok us switching out the coffee table for the nicer one that's been sitting on the porch. Exhausted. This room is going to take a long, long time. As least mom has finally decided I'm on her side now.

Signs Your Loved One Is A Hoarder

It's a blurry line between packrat and low-level hoarder. Here's a few quick ways to tell when the person who loves to save is verging into hoarding territory:

  1. The most immediate and telling sign of hoarding is that the rooms in their home can no longer be used for their intended purpose due to junk build-up. I.e., all meals are taken on the coffee table because the dinner table is completely obscured. This situation lasts for years, not days.
  2. Utility becomes obscured by quantity. Their collections of value-less items move above the range of 20 to 30, ie, keeping hundreds of plastic bags, several dozen empty glass bottles, thousands of twist ties, etc. A cost/benefit analysis reveals that the cost of keeping these items (lost floor space, missed social opportunities, junked up living space) is greater than the benefit of their use.
  3. The keeper in question demonstrates stronger emotional attachments to these value-less items than to family and friends, ie, extremely upset about unauthorized recycling of plastic bags, yet nonchalant about failed interpersonal relationships.
  4. The keeper creates a "nest" which they rarely move from, ie, a cushy chair or couch on which they spend the majority of their time. The floor around this nest may be completely covered in old magazines, catalogs, books, etc.
  5. The keeper consistently demonstrates avoidance behavior. When an outsider attempts to offer help to make the home more livable, the keeper stonewalls, procrastinates, and denies that there is a problem. Blaming is another common behavior.
  6. The keeper may have suffered a severe personal trauma at some point in their life. For example, abusive parents who threw away or altered the keeper's personal belongings as a child, making them feel like they must keep all their things close at hand.

There are many more and these are primarily my unscientific observations. However I'm a big believer that "the more you know..." so keep an eye out for the above.

Do you have other signs of hoarding you'd like to share?

Bathroom, linen closet, kitchen, and coat closet.

These are the 4 areas I've tackled so far, previous to starting this blog. I REALLY wish I had taken before and after pictures - you would be stunned to see how much stuff I was able to get rid of.

I began with the bathroom one day on a whim. I finally installed the new, correct-fitting toilet seat one day while the whole family was out, just to have something to do. It looked so nice that I decided to keep going, and I cleaned out the entire corner of the bathroom where tp and tissues are stacked up. The tiny room (not even legally large enough to be called a bathroom, according to our local zoning laws) immediately felt 10X bigger and so much more spacious.

I'd caught the dejunking bug that bites me at the end of spring every year. Each time I passed the bathroom I felt my spirits lift. A few days later I decided to try the linen closet, a veritable repository of gross old creams and expired medication. After several hours of trashing what was trash and separating the old meds out to go to Rite Aid for medical waste disposal, I could actually see all the way to the back of the closet. I threw away an entire trash bag full of junk, including a number of items significantly older than I am (including eye cream that expired in 1985).

No one complained. I expected mom to throw a fit, but she didn't even mention it.

I got a little bolder. Next I did the kitchen. The entire center counter (we call it the peninsula, since it's not quite an island) was covered in empty glass bottles and washed out yogurt containers, my mom's favorite 2 makeshift reusable containers (even though she has a ton of legit tupperware). I managed to clear off both major flat surfaces in the kitchen, the peninsula counter and the counter next to the stove. I also dejunked the nook between kitchen and dining room. The shelves above the sink are their own 2-day project and will require lots of input from my mother. Still, I was so proud of myself for making what once looked like an ocean of trash into a habitable counter space that you could actually cook on.

Finally, I dedicated yesterday to the front coat closet, a space which no one has been able to walk though for years. It's one of those quiet spaces where junk just sort of somehow accumulates, and no one quite knows how it got there. Not only did I load the entire back of my hatchback Taurus up with stuff and make a trip to the local thrift shop, I was able to load it AGAIN with excess coats. I was really nervous here that my mom would not be able to part with the disgusting old coats which have hung unseen and unused in that closet for years. But, miracle of miracles, she did! I picked a time of day when I know she's "good", mentally together enough not to pull out the excuses of "I'll do it later, when things settle down, when I'm not exhausted, when my brain is working", etc. I made a system - all of the coats would be taken out of the closet and divided up according to owner. The owner would then go through them and hang up what they wanted, and put anything that was junk into a pile to be donated.

We managed to get rid of at least 50% of the old coats in that closet. I think we pulled out about 8 or 9 to be donated. My mom kept 5 coats, my brother kept 1, I kept 1, my dad kept none (he keeps his in his car b/c he's on the road so much). I was very proud of my mom for being able to get rid of so much stuff, and I told her so. She almost had to make a "This stuff is so ugly" game out of it, but whatever helps her get through dejunking works for me.

By the end of the day the closet had gone from packed to chest height with old junk to neatly organized and with extra space left over. It was magical. I didn't have a chance to sort through the dresser, but it is neatly labeled and all the stuff in there is sorted correctly, so it's not a pressing matter for me right now. Also, I found about 1.30 in the pockets of the old jackets we gave away! Plus, I found a pair of my old roller blades - I LOVE roller blading but hadn't had a chance to do it in years. I can't wait for the weather to dry up so I can use them!

All of the legitimate, functional stuff that had been pushed out of the closet by the junk was able to go back in, including shoes that were staying in the living room and jackets that were hanging on the banister.

My dad was very very happy with the fact that we are now able to walk in through the front door of our house. He said he would buy lunch for anyone who kept it looking that nice. Even mom commented that it was "a good idea"! We're making progress here people, slowly but surely.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Die, junk, die!!!

I am the 21-year old daughter of a 62 year old hoarder. My mother's behavior is tough for me to classify - most of my life I used the label "packrat" or "keeper" because I didn't know what else to call it. It wasn't just that she didn't mind the house being a mess of value-less things which junked up every living space of our relatively small home - she was in a hugely different mental space than anyone else in the family. Despite my urgings she could not, would not talk about the junk, who it belonged to (90% her), and what to do about it. At first I was young and angry. I tried all the worst tactics, shame, guilt, etc, to force her to change. I couldn't stand the constant sense of claustrophobia in the family home. I moved out at 18 to get away from it - even though my boyfriend at the time became increasingly abusive, even that seemed preferable to the immense stress of living with a hoarder. I wanted a nice, clean, minimalist life. I wanted to know exactly where everything I owned was. I wanted my papers to be in order. I was angry with my mom for hoarding, angry with my brother for his apathetic complicity, angry with my dad for his impotence.

Now I'm older, wiser, and determined to whip this house into shape, one room at a time.