Small Talk


September 26th, 2011

I come from a long, stubborn line of hoarders. Oh, they would never acknowledge it, but they all know it deep down.

It's my Chinese side. My mom's relatives. Lots of them. It's the kind where you have to walk sideways through their house and two people cannot be in the aisle at the same time.

On the plus side, it encourages weight-control, because those lanes can get pretty tight.

I remember one aunt, who everyone called Popo Nellie, had boxes piled to the ceiling in her apartment. Floor to ceiling!

She no longer cooked, and there was so little light getting in the kitchen, and so much grime, a little plant started growing out of the sink muck around the back of the faucet.

None of those relatives ever had dead kittens in their piles of junk (did you see that episode of Hoarders?) but it was still quite enough for me.

As long as I can remember, when I walk into a room that's really cluttered (note: not dirty, cluttered) , I feel a strong desire to clean it.

My dad's side, the Hawaiian side, is normal. There are varying degrees of mess, but I can't think of anyone who has out of control issues.

Thankfully, I got the clean gene from my paternal lineage. I like to throw stuff away. I like to clean my house; throwing away clutter makes me feel lighter.

My mom's house isn't as bad as Popo Nellie's - yet?- but you know, habits only ingrain with age.

I used to try to clean her house when I was younger but, to her delight, I'm way, way, way too busy now that I have a child, a husband, and a career. All her carefully washed and dried milk cartons and twisters are safe now.

Growing up in mild hoarding conditions reinforced my vow to to myself to never, ever be a saver.

That is, until I had a child. I have started saving things that I think she will need down the road for school projects.

I saved the plastic jar from the time we had the chameleon, Rango. It's in the attic. I save empty blowing-bubble wands and containers in case I have a group of kids and I need to split up the bubble solution for everyone to have one. I saved an ugly plastic lei in case we need it for some school craft project.

I also started saving empty containers, like after you buy poke, or after you use up the pre-mixed salad. It's for when I bake cupcakes or make food that I want to share with other people. It does tie into having a child; I'm just so much more domestic now.

I find myself bringing baked goods a lot of places. I had to meet a friend and I wanted to bring him soup for dinner.

About the soup friend - I did not have a large container for soup, so I had to ask my mom if she had a disposable container that could be given away.

"What for?" she asked. When I explained why, she sniffed, "Hmm. So you're saving containers now? I thought you love to throw everything away."

"Yes, well. It's different now," I mumbled. I had to eat crow. Decades of crow.

She riffled around her kitchen and presented something. "Will this do?"

"Yes, Mom. Thanks, Mom. Yes, you are right to save some stuff. When you need a one gallon plastic container for soup, then you'll have a one gallon plastic container for soup," I admitted, as I placed the humble pie inside the plastic jar.

I still vow I will never walk sideways in my own house.

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16 Responses to “Hoarding”

  1. Rosette:

    next time bring your friend cookies..omg don't have to bring soup...I THINK OF ME FIRST..this time I am not hoarding for something or for someone..funny! when my boys were younger I had to hoard a bunch for crap for school project..but was it really necessary NO! After second child I got smart...YES my 20 years lesson..MY HOSUE FULL OF relaize a child will grow up..they will leave behind I am not keeping a bunch of forget you age then next thing you cannot clean..JUS THTROW if if the project is not doen..who cares..UNIVERSITY or al least grade 12 is more IMPORTANT... so in between that don't worry to much or you end up HOARDING ..your life changes as a child get older..

  2. Rosette:

    if a friend need soup he can make it himself...funny! PROLBEM SOLVE no need to container...just luck you stress yourelf cookingthen burn the soup..HERE HAVE APPLE MY FRIEND...funny!

  3. Rosette:

    you know you have to think of YOU..YOU YOU FIRST....

  4. Rosette:

    I am the most practical in my when I go out with my brother to the beach I have five huge umbrella on brother is not as practical as I time we went with my brother he had no umbrellas it was HOT ..I have differetn sizes of umbrella too...!

    even with my parents when I go with them I always have extra folding chairs and folding table my dad is sick.....I am highly innovative I be the one with the most practical things in my if anybody need something I have it...I AM PUT IN THAT PREDICAMENT because I have the personality of being too organize...sometimes it is hard being the way I am...I always bring large ziploc and all sorts of things I have it...I even have big huge empty plastic container which I saved from apple juice container I filled with water..I freeze that so when summer comes I use that instead of buying doesn't melt and wet all the food....yes I tell my husband he has to do the same as I do it..less he learn to be practical like me.

  5. Rosette:

    I am the most practical innovative and I shop wisely.

  6. Rosette:

    I think you can save few things ... but the trick to figure out which things are the most important and the most practical...don't get too attach to things..I shop wisely..with our different seasons I had to be more practical...I even buy clothes as I age I can wear..LESS SORTING..I pick materials that don't wrinkle etc etc..I AM TOO LAZY TO I save money..funny...yes As I age I figure my LAZY time doing nothing is more important than sorting or buying clothes..omg SEE I AM TOO LAZY...funny..yup..I tell my self as I age do I have time to sort out garbage then my kids will get mad when I die I left them too much junk to clean ...HA HA HA!

    Then I argue with my hsbsand he has tools galore then all sorts of junk... plus stinky sport crap..I tell him if you die YOU LEFT ME STINKY GARBAGE TO you like it I left you stink crap use pads to haul HUH...omg WE ARGUE..I throw his junk when he is not home. YES he has tools galore do you think he even build things..oh sure he build me pile of crap cheaper to buy it made already...funny... I Tell him don't even think of wasting your time building when he retire..I NEED HIM TO SIT WITH ME BY THE BEACH and carry my umbrellas..funny..!

  7. Rosette:

    you know my husband will delibrately buy a cottage that will need fixing..omg then I be too lazy to scream...funny! YUP..story of my life..I be tripping all over junk for the rest of my life...omg!

  8. Rosette:

    yes I tell my husband my father in law has junk galore..OH CRAP just my luck my husband's father has more tools to pass on to my husbnad ..OH SHI...T...! so I tell my husband is that what you want for your kids fully knwoing my kids are not into fixing JUNK! YOUR KIDS WILL SUFFER oldest son said mom don't worry I will sell the tools....SO I say why bother they should have left you money instead of wasting it in buying cleaning my way!yes I sooner leave money clean up at least this way my son can decide what he want.

  9. Manoa Mist:

    Rosette take your Ritalin!

  10. Rosette:

    Manoa why don't you dig up your ritalin collection..I am sure you have that kicking around in your pile of JUNK!

    I tell you a friend she used to tell me she enjoys cooking and giving I told her YOU WILL QUIT THAT CRAP when you get tired of cooking CALL she argue with me..OH I LOVE TO COOK and I LOVE COMPANY on and on she five years later she called me she got fed up giving party someone took a HUGE CRAP IN HER NEW RENOVATED I laugh so see now sheis stuck with piles of expensive PLATES....I TOLD HER when she retires she wont need all sort of things..too old to clean that she is into travelling.

    BUT I DO THE EASY WAY I GO MY BROTHERS HOUSE TO EAT his wife I give her ten more years of cookign around..she will get fed up eventually..I RELAX...

    just my luck I marry a guy that does the fishing thing and outdoor crap...and sports crap...IT got to a point my oldest son got persuaded into joining hockey ..I warned do not join that but my stubborn son and husband..he lasted five days on the ice and here I am stuck with huge hockey bag bag full of equipment over $500.oo dollars...I AM TRIPPING OVER IT...I COULD SCREAM..Now I tell my husband...keep it up do the sport thing wasting money galore.. see that now my parents pass on the golf to my youngest who will pay to get into golf..omg! YUP I feel like saying to my mom you going to pay the golf FEES or what...NOW MORE JUNK TO TRIP OVER the kid will use for five days and I BE STUCK AGAIN.....! OMG...JUST MOVE OUT ALL OF YOU!

  11. Rosette:

    so lesson in life marry a guy that do not collect crap or you end up cleaning after his crap..! My boys days they have those old VCR OLD VCR MOVIES taking up space add old tv.....I can go on and on with before my husband goes doing his outdoor stupidity fishing around crap I make him hang clothes and clean the garage THEN I LET HIM GO...SEE THIS TIME I TURN INTO THE BIGGEST BITCH... next thing my clean van stink like fish...and me stuck with three dogs since I broke down I give in to the boys wanting more crap to clean!

  12. Rosette:

    some women break down collect crap just to run from issues...they bury themselves with crap...or the husband they cannot control collecting crap..NOT ME...I CLIP THAT SHi....T BEFORE IT SWALLOWS ME...!

  13. Rosette:

    you know what else my friend her husband is worst junk collector..she keep cleaning the house ..he got his junk section she got her neat one day she broke down toss all his crappy furniture and bought new furniture..then she went got new small use to get so frustrated he would tell her to put the old huge phone inside her be laughing so hard ...I never seen anything like it he has an old car he was going to fix..and she be telling me LOOK OVER HERE he used board for the floor and he expect me to ride that so she went to the car store buy new I laugh...then he got smart got two new places in Florida so she can get away from winter ...funny!! So now she is happier.

  14. Rosette:

    I wont be doing the cleaning business for hoarders..they created the mess they can clean that up...omg..yes I watch that show..they get angry if you clean up...reason why I clean when my husband not home....too much trouble arguing with a junk collector...I was helping my husband clean the garage we be arguing then I go out another lady outside must have heard me SCREAMING AROUND at my husband over the garage junk...omg ! I am still busy scraping floors pulling old I am busy...good luck with hoarding 20 years from now when you have junk galore just move out into new

  15. Ken Conklin:

    Rosette has inspired me. And I can't find my ritalin which is somewhere among all the boxes, so here goes.

    I live in a 2-bedroom 730 square-foot apartment. But I'm the only person living there. And I have placed my desk and computer in the living room in front of a huge window because of the beautiful 12th-floor view of Kane'ohe Bay, since I spend most of my time using the internet or watching TV while enjoying the view. The TV and a file cabinet are also there in the living room. So what's the second bedroom for? Hoarding.

    Some hoarded stuff is pretty normal for anyone: Plenty of facial tissue, toilet paper, detergent, bleach, soda pop, etc. to get through the next dock strike. But also some bookshelves with piles of newspaper articles, event flyers, etc. saved from 19 years in categories like Hawaii history, Hawaiian language, Hawaiian sovereignty, etc. There's an old 17" TV set just in case the newer 32" hi-def TV breaks, and an old deep-slouch fabric chair just in case my Lazy-Boy breaks. Boxes and boxes of academic journals containing my articles, and perhaps three thousand reprints of those articles (50-100 per article), from when I was a professor.

    Then there's stuff that lots of people might hoard, but I hoard it more. Like half the closet in my bedroom is filled with T-shirts, aloha shirts, and slacks which are way too small to fit me now, but I've been saving them for 15 years that I've been getting bigger because someday I'll go on a diet and shrink down to fit them again ... someday ... just maybe ... And a drawer full of ties from my years as a professor on the mainland.

    Then above the kitchen cabinets are two boxes containing nothing but brown paper bags from the supermarkets, which I kept after my divorce 14 years ago and haven't looked at since then ... but someday I might need them ... just in case the big bunch of paper bags on top of the refrigerator ever gets used up. Then in a utility closet there are about ten plastic bags full of empty plastic bags from Safeway and Times, which I am keeping just in case O'ahu ever passes a ban on plastic bags like they've done on Kaua'i. And a box of 100-watt incandescent light bulbs so I won't have to buy those ugly screwed-up hyper-expensive fluorescent lights after the incandescent ones become illegal to sell starting in January. I also keep about 20 plastic bottles ranging from one quart to maybe 5 gallons, to keep water in case there's a hurricane or a scheduled water turnoff in my condo building. Oh, and I forgot to mention 2 boxes of plastic sippy-cups with plastic straws in them which I brought from the mainland 19 years ago and haven't looked at since then.

    In addition to the desk, computer, TV, and DVD/VCR machines and file cabinet all in the living room, there's a big cabinet containing several hundred VCR tapes containing movies, PBS documentaries, etc. which I saved from TV programs broadcast during about the last 30 years -- programs I saved because I liked them so much I might want to watch them again someday "when I retire" -- but still have not watched again even though I've been retired for a long time now (often nerdy stuff like 5 hours of debate on the Akaka bill on the floor of the U.S. Senate during 2006, taped from C-SPAN). Plus a stack of about 100 DVD disks I've saved more recently for the same reason. The file cabinet has all my income tax returns -- ALL of them forever, going back to when I was a teenager working an after-school job as a store clerk and filed my income tax on a single postcard, and a summer job between high school and college when I worked as a garbage man.

    Am I a hoarder? You betcha! But it's all neat. None of those narrow aisles where you have to walk sideways to get between the stacks of stuff like Diane's Mom or her Auntie Popo Nellie.

  16. zzzzzz:

    Ken, maybe the ugly screwed-up fluorescent lights are hyperexpensive, but normal CFLs have come way down in price. I've seen 4-packs for less than $2 at Costco.

    Of course, that could lead to the question of what to do with all the perfectly functional incandescent bulbs that were replaced by CFLs. Perhaps they could be given to owners of EZ Bake ovens.

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