Standing On A Chair

Telling it like I see it…

Rants from the Chair: On Hoarding

I once had a boyfriend whom I thought was a pack rat until they came up with an official designation for the disorder.  Now I know he was a Hoarder.  His two-car garage, dining room, living room and third bedroom were crowded with piles and stacks, more piles and stacks, and additional piles and stacks.  The only reason the other rooms were inhabitable was because when I lived with him, I begged, cajoled, threatened to see order and space somewhere in that house or I’d have to leave, which of course I eventually did anyway, partly due to that.  I always felt badly for his daughter.  She’d be the one stuck with it all upon his passing.  I’m hoping for her sake that 1-800-Got Junk? is still in business.

I am now forced, upon self-examination, to openly admit that I have my own hoarding issues: books, more books, pictures, films/videos, memorabilia, and more books.  This fact strikes me because for the past month I’ve thrown myself into the task of organizing all of it.  And since I was designated the “family archivist” after my father died, the responsibility…hell, the sheer monumental-ness of it all, heavily weighs upon me.

It’s important I do this now, I’m thinking.  What with dementia and loss of body function right around the corner and all.  I mean, I’m in my early sixties, for God’s sake. 

And it’s a damn good thing I’m doing this, because you will not believe what I have unearthed in this process.  Oh My God!

Whoops, there’s that playful little sex tape I made with my second ex-husband…

And the picture of me baring a single breast in broad daylight in some parking lot at my 20th high school reunion (those pesky reunions seem to make me a much friskier type of person than I normally am)…

What I am looking at here, are twenty or so Carousel trays full of slides my father took over a span of three-plus decades.  (Where’s the fucking projector?).  He shot 16mm home movies, and used various complicated cameras to document other parts of our family life, his life in the military, with lots of friends along the way.  Back in 1986 I gleefully transferred the latter onto that progressive medium called VHS tape.  I was so proud of my forward thinking and dedication to preservation.  Now?  Do I rush out to put everything on DVD?  Or wait five minutes until the next thing pops up?  I’m thinking I may dump it all on my daughter Farrah to do at a time when she thinks a medium will stick around long enough to actually view the damn stuff.  And what in God’s name do I do with all those slides?

I’m also looking at a room full of photograph albums from my life, my daughter’s life, both my parent’s lives, even my grandmother’s life.  And then there are the pictures and items packed in boxes, things that never made it into albums.

What do I save, organize and preserve? 

Will Farrah and her children truly find it fascinating and enlightening to read through the notes I passed back and forth in class when I was in the fifth grade?

Will media outlets scoop up that list I made of all the boys I kissed when I was thirteen?

Should I save for Liam, my soon-to-be new grand baby boy, that amazing and riveting audio cassette recording my father made of his favorite Siamese cat meowing?

The truth is I have to throw a whole bunch of this shit out.  So much of it is here just for me to going through, savor and ultimately, I have to let it go.

In the meantime, for everything else, I’ve got this great new system!  Items will go in hanging files, carefully labeled by subject and date.  Within these hang files, items will be placed in 9 x 12 white envelopes, also labeled in case they somehow become misplaced.  The rest will be framed and hung on the walls…um, if I can find some free space.

Did I mention that I am also a framed-picture hoarder?



June 21, 2011 - Posted by | Mental Illness | , , , , ,


  1. All I ask is that you please please please dispose of the sex tape! None of us have any interest in that! Ewwwww! Make sure it’s shredded!!!! Please! Yes you need a scanner to scan all of these pics and put them on a digital frame that sits in one small space and doesn’t collect dust or clutter the walls. You also still need a Kindle. =)

    Comment by Farrah Pirkle | June 21, 2011 | Reply

  2. She’s right Jill, the sex tape has to go. Once it is shredded, then burned you can get on with the rest of the stuff. Spend the time to scan everything that you can, pictures and those notes from fifth grade, then get rid of the originals. You know, find some one in the family that needs the pictures and burn the notes. When you scan everything put them in neat little folders on your computer and everyone will think you are soooo organized. Oh, keep the picture from the 20th reunion, maybe even frame it .

    Comment by Linda Wines Stokes | June 21, 2011 | Reply

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