Saturday, April 17, 2010

Hoarding, Packing

Ok, have any of you watched that show Hoarders? Because I've watched it a good amount, and I find it incredibly compelling, and I've been thinking about it a lot as I've begun packing.

Now, I'm not an actual hoarder. I don't go into a panic about getting rid of "my treasures" or "keepsakes," and when I sit down to actually get rid of stuff that we'd all consider garbage, I'm pretty good at just getting rid of it and not hanging onto it because "someday I might regret getting rid of that grocery list from 6 months ago" or whatever. But when you live in one place for approximately 7 years, or at least when I do, a certain amount of accumulation does occur. And a lot of what I've accumulated really has to go.

Now, on the one hand, I have a lot of stuff that many people would consider to be... unnecessary. In just thinking about books alone - I've packed 8 boxes, and I still probably have about 1/3 of my total collection of books to pack - many people would say, "but you're not going to reread those books! Get rid of them! Donate them to the library! Sell them to a used bookstore! Away with all the books!" I think, for example, that Cyndi the Realtor would be of that opinion - indeed, when I suggested that I was concerned about where my books would go when we looked at the house, and when I noted that not all of my books would fit in The Nook of Ideas, she asked, sincerely, "But do you really need to have all of your books out and accessible all the time?" Now, for a normal person, that was probably a reasonable question, but I am not a normal person. I am an English professor. Yes, it's important for me to keep and have accessible all of these books (though it is not necessary, or even desirable, for all books to be in the Nook). (I should note that I have not kept every book I've ever bought or acquired, and I've regularly weeded books out even while living here. If I hadn't done, I would probably have twice as many books. Seriously.)

And then there's the paper. PAPER. Different versions of drafts of scholarly stuff, printed out articles, research notes, etc. Now, last year I totally went through all of this and got rid of a ton of unnecessary stuff. But that still leaves me with a lot, a lot that I still "need." And no, I can't just start doing all of this electronically. I've done a lot more as time has passed on the computer (my entire process used to be hard copy - I mean, heck I used to write everything out longhand before ever sitting down at the computer!), but the way that I write very much involves paper because I can't think as deeply as I need to think and as slowly as I need to think without it. And so managing the paper is an issue.

And let's not even talk about the kitchen and my closet and etc.

But. With the thought of moving into my very own house, I am motivated. I DO NOT want to move all of this crap with me. And so. I am in the middle of One Great Massive Purge. Ideally, there will be no weeding out of shit once I've moved. Ideally, all of the weeding out shall occur now, on the front end, and unpacking after the move will only involve unpacking. As you might imagine, the One Great Massive Purge is quite a large undertaking.

On the other hand, though, it also is... how do I put it... really energizing. It's like with each decision not to pack something or not to move it with me I become less and less stressed out. Less burdened by stuff. And I'm finding the decisions about what not to move to be much easier than decisions to keep or to toss when I'm not. Moving is a huge motivator, maybe because I know that the more that I take with me the more work it will be for me on the other end.

Going along with all of this purging is also list-making about where things will go in the new house, as well as list-making about things I will buy for the new house. As much as I want a new couch, I've decided that I'm just going to get my current couch cleaned professionally and keep it for another couple of years, which will mean that I'll have the money to buy a nice comfy chair and ottoman. Also, instead of buying a brand new full sized vacuum cleaner, I'm instead going to get something like this one, since my vacuum cleaner right now works fine - it's just that it would be a pain to use for vacuuming the stairs. So the old vacuum will just live in the closet in the front bedroom, and the hand-held one will be the one I use for the stairs and the furniture. I've also decided that I'm going to go the yard sale/thrift store route for dressers for the bedrooms, as the reality is that these are not huge McMansion Style bedrooms, and they really can't support gigantic dressers like one typically sees in furniture stores. I'm going to wait on dealing with the dishwasher issue until I've been in the house for a few months, though I do want that taken care of before winter comes. I know, I know, in some ways it would be easier to do this before I move in, except I don't want to get myself in over my head with money stuff right off the bat, and given the fact that I've got a lot of trips and stuff between when I move in and mid-July, it just doesn't make sense to rush. Since I'll be on sabbatical and not teaching, not having a dishwasher for a few months is not going to be a major hardship. Similarly, I'm going to deal with the porch/deck furniture when sales on that stuff begin in July, both to save money and because I won't really be around a whole lot in the couple of months preceding.

There's more, but you get the picture. I'm finally thinking in an organized way about what I need, where things will go, what needs to be done immediately and what can wait a bit. All of this feels very good, and I am not freaking out in the way that I was just a week or two ago. I'm a lady with a plan.

But so anyway, I should get going with my tasks for today. I want to get a bit more packing and purging done, and then I need to do some grading.


Feminist Avatar said...

On buying new furniture- it is sometimes a good idea to wait for non-urgent new furniture as once you move in you will get a feel for what you want (which might be different from your initial reaction) and you can also shop for bargains or save for something more exciting.

I know when I moved from small flat to more-roomed house, I bought some new stuff to fill rooms, but wish I'd waited a bit.

PhysioProf said...

I want to get a bit more packing and purging done, and then I need to do some grading.

And then some motherfucking drinking!

Notorious Ph.D. said...

I'm a compulsive stuff-shedder -- in part a product of my roughly annual moves from age 18 to 33, but also because my parents' hoarding and the firetrap that the family home has become as a result has made me severely clutter-averse.

But enough about that. What I wanted to share was a mental tool I use (which doesn't apply to Important Documents): Have I used/looked at/even thought about this thing in the last 18 months? No? Then chances are it can go away.

Good luck! I salute you!

Doctor Pion said...

I found "a certain amount of accumulation" hysterical.

I share your pain. And I think ahead to when you will have been in your new house for 20 years.

One plan is to have regular parties and house guests, particularly ones you will want to show your office.

Janice said...

One thing that I liked about moving was the opportunity to get rid of stuff. We donated a lot but stuff that we couldn't find an obvious home for went to the dump (they do have a recycling centre there, not just the conventional kind but an area for stuff that others might find useful). And we freecycled a tonne of stuff.

Still, I have too damned many books. And I have three other book-lovers in the family so I can understand your pain on that front. (Yes, the books need to be available though I have two boxes of favourite fantasy and SF books tucked away in the store room.) The small vacuum sounds like a good idea. I love our canister vacuum and wouldn't want a bulky upright (we have mostly hardwood, tile and only one area rug, anyway).

the rebel lettriste said...

O Cyndi the realtor, do not ask such questions of the English professors!

(And be glad you don't have to move far and PAY to have all those books shipped. Because lord that's what almost killed me and my finances getting here.)