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November 4, 2011 > Funny Side Up

Funny Side Up

Moving from hoarder to not-so-hoarder

By Charleen Earley

I just finished moving from 1,500 square feet to 950 square feet, and let me just sum it all up for you in three words.

I'm a survivor.

More specifically, a relationship-survivor. I'm happy to announce, that I'm still engaged to a man who had every reason to run-don't-walk during the last two months of pawing through box after box filled to the brim - okay more like smashed jam-packed - with what I've been schlepping around for the last 47 years.

I affectionately call my belongings "things" and "stuff." My problem began when I was young. Real young. Say around five-ish. I remember begging my mom not to get rid of my priceless collectibles with the strong argument of, "that's my stuff" or, "those are my things."

Stuff like newspapers with my articles in them from 12 years ago. I had no idea newspapers - that many - weighed so much either, since I've always had help by strong peeps, carrying my boxes of stuff from one storage place to another.

I reasoned that because those articles were not on the Internet back then, I needed to save them, the entire newspaper too, not just my 15" prose on page 7. But for what? I was a crappy writer then. Not that I'm Pulitzer-material now - close though - I realized that those clips were not going to score me a cover story in the New Yorker.

I found lies in those boxes too. Neatly tucked away in box number 85, was my son's green and yellow crocheted baby blanky, the one I had told him his dad and I "lost." He's 20-years-old now, and when I showed him his security blanket, he was miffed. I couldn't blame him. White lies don't hoard well.

My claws came out like switchblades when my fiance questioned why I needed to save 15 remote controls, over 20 surge protectors and make-up from the 80's. I growled another strong argument of... "back off or else."

Thoughts of becoming rich through EBay sales danced through my head. So did thoughts of strangling my fiance with the 30 extension cords too. I mean, what did he know? This is my life and those are my things and stuff.

In the end, I made progress. I sold about a quarter of my things and stuff during three days of garage sales with his mom's help; I threw a quarter of it away; donated a quarter of it to Goodwill; and ultimately kept the remaining must-haves-or-I'll-die stuff.

It felt good. It felt like a weight was lifted. I learned about my problem.

Two months and seven Hoarder episodes later, I realized my problem was in letting go. First step, realizing you have a problem. Second step, finding very good reasons to not let go. Third step, letting go.

Fourth step, hello shopping.

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