It Was the Best of Junk, It Was the Worst of Junk

25 Mar

I am feeling Less Than Organized this week.

Our move has now progressed to the stage known as settling in.  In other words, we are in, but not settled.  Which box holds my son’s orthodontic appliance?  Where are my sneakers?  These are mysteries to be solved.

I was so proud of my moving file, with my list of address changes all checked off.  Then I realized my car registration had expired because I misfiled the bill.

I have also discovered that my fabulous color coding stickers should have been confined to cardboard boxes, and should not have been used on art or furniture.  It turns out that they don’t peel off very well…even the television has a sticky paper residue.

Speaking of televisions, there seems to be one in every room now, although I have little desire to watch anything, aside from “What Not to Wear” which I can’t resist.  Previously we watched only DVDs and streaming Netflix.  Along with the other rather dubious benefits of digital cable (provided by our new housemate), I have been recently exposed to commercials for yet another television program about the topic of hoarding.  I won’t watch those programs because the hoarders are full of anxiety, fear, and sadness.  The programs are sad; before you know it, I am sad, too.

Surprisingly, there is a happy kind of hoarding.  At least, it may be said that some hoarders are happy.  The happy ones are generally called collectors, and they collect out of a sense of purpose or a favorite passion.

I read an interesting portrait of one such hoarder here: Hoarder of History | Find an Outlet.  This is a blog post about a man who has spent most of his life collecting old cars, and it features photographs of both the collection and the collector.

If you watch a program called “American Pickers”, you may learn about a few more happy hoarders.  This is a show about guys who drive around in a van looking for people with massive collections of funky old junk, like antique oil cans.  The drivers are business men, not hoarders.  The plan is to talk folks into selling some of their junk, so it can later be resold to other collectors at a profit.  Some of the rural collectors are real characters, and they love their junk.

Meanwhile, we have moved in with a family member who is not a minimalist at all. Don’t take that the wrong way; the house is lovely, and clean (or as clean as it can be considering the age, sex, and species of some of the inhabitants).  However, I have spent the past five days trying to figure out how to fit our life into a house that is already full of someone else’s life.  Six televisions, two refrigerators, four sofas…you get the idea.  I am happy to report that our leather sofa fit up the stairs, although the box spring for our bed did not.

My first approach in the kitchen has been to clean out drawers and cabinets, looking for items that can be removed, thus leaving potential open space for some of the items we want to integrate into the household.

Emptying one kitchen drawer turned out to be an especially interesting task.  This one was what most people call a “junk drawer”.

The bulk of the items.

Chewing gum, paintbrushes, seashells, fortune cookies, warranties, fake flowers…those things go together, right?

Selected items.

Money, frilly toothpicks, eye glasses, corncob holders, tape, vegetable storage bags, batteries…

Slivered almonds anyone?

Don’t let this happen to your kitchen drawers!

16 Responses to “It Was the Best of Junk, It Was the Worst of Junk”

  1. Emily March 26, 2011 at 1:12 am #


  2. David Jensen March 26, 2011 at 6:42 am #

    Re the sticky stuff from the labels, you can try a product called Goof Off, available at hardware stores and Home Deport. Rubbing alcohol might work depending on the glue. Paint thinner too if there is any of that in your new place.

  3. bigsheepcommunications March 26, 2011 at 9:56 am #

    Doesn’t everyone have at least one junk drawer?

  4. shenanitim March 28, 2011 at 6:43 am #

    I’m right with you on What Not to Wear and Hoarders. But I don’t find Hoarders depressing, just boring. Every episode features some person with a house full of junk. And they feel sad because they’re embarrassed, they can’t see the grandkids ‘cuz the parents are afraid the floor’ll swallow them, etc.

    The one interesting one I saw had a husband and wife living in a claustrophobic house together. They husband hated it, but loved her, so he just went along with it. They could’ve interviewed him, about how it started, and why he gave in, and it would’ve been a lot more interesting.

    Though I guess this “same-ness” criticism sort of holds true for What… also. I usually stop watching that after the first day of shopping (i.e. when the drama stops). Unless the haircut’s spectacularly bad,

    • acleansurface March 29, 2011 at 6:53 pm #

      Thank you for the comment. Hoarders have a kind of mental illness. Some feel embarrassed, some honestly can’t see a problem. I have heard that sometimes if they are shown a photo of their home, they do not recognize it, in the same way that an anorexic does not recognize that her bones are showing and sees only fat in her reflection.

      I agree that more in-depth interviews would make a better program. I also think that delving into the treatment process would be better. Without treatment, most of the hoarders will do it all over again.

      My favorite thing about What Not To Wear is when the women realize that who they have been does not have to be who they will always be, that there are stages of life, and change is natural. I just watched an episode where a woman was stuck in her sixteen year old identity, although she was nearly thirty.

  5. pegoleg March 28, 2011 at 7:30 am #

    I LOVE Hoarders. It is a real boost to my self-esteem. I make my family watch it and keep saying “Now THAT’S a problem. I don’t have a problem. See the difference?”

  6. jswesner March 29, 2011 at 6:48 am #

    I always have a junk drawer in the kitchen. It is just nice to have catch all.

    • acleansurface March 29, 2011 at 6:45 pm #

      I think having things mixed up, and not knowing what is in a drawer stresses me out a little bit. It is like “mystery meat” in the freezer.

  7. Team Oyeniyi April 1, 2011 at 3:45 am #

    I saw an ad on TV for one of those hoarder programs and I shuddered. OK, I have the pile of papers at the moment, but I am far from a hoarder. In fact, my daughter once commented she needed to ask me over to encourage her to throw stuff our that she couldn’t help feeling “they might use one day”.

    To me, if I haven’t used it (whatever it is) in 12 months, I’m highly unlikely to!

    • acleansurface April 1, 2011 at 3:44 pm #

      If the ad alone made you shudder, you definitely don’t want to see the show…

  8. oldancestor April 13, 2011 at 6:01 pm #

    I only collect rectangular things that fit neatly on shelves, like books and DVDs (well, the cases are rectangular, at least)

    The difference between good and bad hoarding: good hoarding does not involve animal poop.

    • acleansurface April 13, 2011 at 6:27 pm #

      I think good ANYTHING does not involve animal poop! Unless you have a poop-scooper business, then even the poop is good.

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