Wednesday, March 30, 2011

H is for Hoarding

I come from a short line of pack-rats. My mom and her mom are/were pack-rats. (My grandma was #11 out of 12 kids so I can't imagine her mom keeping anything that couldn't be considered a hand-me-down!
I have watched that Hoarders show exactly once. It's so crazy! And the people on that show have SO much stuff that I don't feel like a pack-rat at all. I feel like I have an adequate amount of junk and that I am perfectly normal. I know I have definite Hoarder tendencies but I do my best to keep them in check if for no other reason then I don't want my kids to end up like me! I see T heading that way already. Every toy, rock, bit of clothing, book, etc. that he's ever owned or laid eyes on will be his forever. I was making them clean their room and I held up a small plastic cup and asked who it belonged to and T said it was his. I asked if I could toss it and he got all mopey about it. I made him toss it.

I'm waiting for the day when they do what I did to my mom. When I was 11, my mom was hassling me about my messy room and wanted me to clean it. Without saying a word, I took her by the hand and led her in to her own room and presented her space. It was like a cyclone hit in there. I had a tornado and she had a cyclone. She laughed and made a deal where I never had to clean my room unless hers was clean. (I never had to clean my room much.)

So back to that Hoarders show.... They focused on 2 women, one who lives alone and one who's 16 year old son called Child Services on her because he could no longer get to his bed for all the crap she was hoarding.

The first woman had a 3 bedroom house, so all totaled..... about 6 rooms in the house. She travelled a lot with her job and whenever she traveled she was well and when she was home she was very sick. When the clean-up crew showed up, in the first day, with the first 3 rooms, they removed FIVE TONS of stuff! Five. Tons.

Her house had those little hoarder trails throughout. A thin line into the kitchen where the fridge and all the cabinets were blocked with stuff. A small trail to a bathroom where the shower and sink were completely inaccessible (she could still use the toilet though!). A sliver of floor into a bedroom where she slept on a small, hard chair because the bed was buried. There was about 2 inches of mouse crap in drifts under all that stuff they took from those first three rooms (no wonder she's sick when she's home,right?).

They had the woman outside and the clean-up man showed her a children's board book and asked if she even knew anyone with a child that age anymore. She said she would find someone to give it to. Then he said, "No. What family is going to allow you to give this book to their toddler?? It's covered in rat feces and urine." She said, "I can clean it up!" He said, "No. You can't clean urine off a book." He finally convinced her to let him throw it away.

It was tooth and nail the whole time and after three days, the clean-up guy finally gave up and told the therapist that the lady was no where near ready to let them finish the job. I think the final straw for clean-up guy was when they got through the first three rooms and uncovered a door. A whole 'nother room, they didn't even know about. They opened the door and behind the door was floor-to-ceiling stuff. You couldn't get in the room! It was full of things from Home Shopping Network - most still in the shipping boxes! One of the boxes had a $600 set of pots and pans when they opened it. It was under so many things that some of the pots had actually collapsed under the weight and the set was useless. Wild.

The other woman (the one who's son turned her in) had 2 grown daughters that live within a coupla miles from her. When it was clean-up day, the woman had a panic attack and she started tearing in to her daughters, mostly about the fact that they never visit and bring their toddler children (her grandkids) to visit even though they live so close. One daughter said, "Mom. Last time we brought them, Sally was nearly crushed by falling bins! You call and it's always the same argument how you have all this stuff and we never help you. There's TWENTY people here today and their sole purpose is to help clean up and you won't let them." Mom said, "You need to read your bible."

Wow. Just..... wow. I'm guessing she was referring to the honor your parents or respect your elders bits of the Bible but I'm quite sure (I'd lay money) that she pulls out that little gem every time she's losing an argument.

She finally let them clean out her house and was all overjoyed and felt so much "lighter and happier" and vowed never to go back to that way of life again. And 6 months later, her son had to call Child Services on her again.

We were watching a CSI episode that also dealt with a hoarder as their primary story line. The hoarder in the episode was a highly organized hoarder and all her stuff was in matching bins! After we saw the episode, Dave looked at me and said, "Doesn't that make you want to get rid of some of your stuff?" (He's always harping on me to get rid of my stuff.) I said, "No. It makes me want to buy more bins!!"

I actually am going through my bins in our garage. When we moved from Parker, to where we are now, we moved into a smaller place. We went from a 3 bedroom, 2 car garage, finished partial basement house to a 1 car garage, 2 (large, master-bedroom-sized) bedroom, no basement townhouse/condo thing. 90% of my yarn and a bunch of other miscellaneous stuff has been generously housed at a friend's house in Parker since September 2009.

There are things in our garage that I want in our house but it's hard to find the room. The boys have 2 small bookcases in their room. One actually holds books, the other holds treasures. I made them move the treasure so I could give them the set of children's classics that I received as a gift when I was in 3rd grade. I want them to have them (have access to them) while they are still young enough to really enjoy them.

Other then that, it's time for me to go through all my stuff and start making some hard decisions.

But wait.... is it that time yet? I remembered that Dave has this little mobile home that we own as part of his business. It used to be the office but we moved the office stuff to our home (partly because it's just more convenient, mainly because that little house has no bathroom), so now it sits on the property he rents to store his equipment and we even pay $30/month extra for it to have electricity we rarely use. It has 2 big office spaces and one smaller room. We had a bit of an argument about it. He says he's put stuff in those rooms and there's no room for more. After some angry back and forth (mostly him telling me to get rid of some crap; mostly me saying it's my crap and I shouldn't have to get rid of it if I didn't want to), he agreed to move some stuff around so I can put some things there. I figure it can be my pay for being the secretary for his business.

Dreaming of matching bins, Ruth!


Anonymous said...

Hi Ruth!

Oh, man, thanks for the final nudge to really get going on cleaning out my crap. I've been meaning to do it for a year but, well, [insert usual excuses here].

Now I'm on it! I'm hardly a hoarder but it feels very heavy being surrounded by stuff I need to go through and thin out.

I hope you're doing well and that you're having a nice spring!

Anonymous said...

By the way, that was me, Sandy from Tucson, who forgot to sign my comment.