23 August 2008

Hoarding is Caring

I finally had to empty out the few chockfull college bins I never got to during the summer…and my car... so I could pack them up again today. The living room is a disaster zone. If I could get an aerial view, it’d look like a very intricate topography map with multiple layers and uneven edges of shirts, pants, plastic bags, books I wanted to keep from last year, etc.

My room has always been a disaster zone because, as already demonstrated above, I hoard. I don’t think I’ve ever heard the term “hoarder” as much as I have these past few days. Jason keeps saying I’m ‘such a hoarder.’ Things like receipts, too short and too tight shirts from the Disney Store in London, half-used bottles of Bath and Body hand creams from middle school, a handmade “I am Batman” foam visor, piggy socks whose snouts have fallen off, my portable cd player.

Some might look at me and say I’m lazy, or careless, for hoarding as much as I do. But, I hate to just toss things out because these things have individual meaning for me. In a recent Psychology Today article called “Magical Thinking,” Matthew Hutson wrote “What makes something sacred is not its material makeup but its unique history.” I believe that. I am living, hoarding proof of that. Hutson talks about things having unique essences we ascribe. Yeah it's just "stuff," but it's stuff I value because of its personal, historical merit--because of the people, memories, and comfort associated with it.

Throwing out receipts from 3 weeks ago means throwing out the security they bring…even if I know I won’t return anything. Throwing out my Mickey and Minnie England shirt means tossing aside the goofy, kiddy magic I found in London that day. Dumping my pre-teen cucumber melon bottles means dumping memories of carefree, jobless summers with girlfriends. There’s something uniquely special about each piece of stuff, so I hoard because I care.

I suppose I’ll have to get rid of a lot of hoarded goods someday to make room for, well, the rest of my life. But until that day, I want to keep rediscovering and reliving those invisible meanings I’ve made. Hoarding is Caring, I say…and would no doubt make a great bumper sticker slogan.

10 August 2008

3 Disjointed Mini Musings

1.) Yesterday I passed a truck lugging a dolly of construction equipment. On the backside of the truck it read “Construction Vehicle. Keep Alert for Sudden Stops and Turns.” I thought, hey, why don’t I get one of these stickers? What makes a construction driver more prone to hasty breaking and turning? I assume the vehicle’s not the thing under construction, so what’s the deal? It sounds like a liability scheme to me. Situation: construction driver breaks suddenly and irrationally in the middle of an intersection. I total my car and heatedly confront the cause of this whole mess. Flinching not, he or she just points to that sticker. I say we all get those stickers, customized to fit the defense we would use. “Premenstrual Vehicle” or “Worked 14 hours today Vehicle” or “Parent with cranky offspring fighting in back seat Vehicle” or “This truck’s about the same size as a Construction Vehicle Vehicle.”

2.) On the cover of the latest Cosmogirl issue, one of the main headers read “959 Style Tips to Reinvent Yourself.” I thought, what kind of fashion pointers did Cosmo get its hands on to be able to offer me such a bold return? Personal rediscovery and reinvention? But if that was truly what Cosmo could offer, then I probably wouldn’t have read this “tip”: -Study our picks, and by year’s end, you’ll be voted Most Likely to Set a Trend- or this one–Study the looks on the runways, find similar pieces you can afford, then the whole world will be your stage.-

So, I’m not sure if nearly 1000 style tips are as much about individual reinvention as they are marketing and adaptation techniques. There’s more to our whole selves than style or what Cosmo editors tell us style is. The whole world might become my stage someday, but won’t it be a disappointment when everyone in the audience is wearing the same thing as me because they too studied this issue? If we truly yearn to reinvent who we are, it’s going to take a lot more soul-searching than what we might learn from CG’s “School of Style” blurbs.

3.) One of the store managers pulled me aside yesterday with a container of brightly frosted sugar cookies in hand. She pulled them to add into one of the many fruit/gift baskets we make up. She had a stern look on her face. “If you make more sugar, can you NOT make them like this?” Her face scrunched up, repulsed by their, in my opinion, truly vibrant and luscious nature. “I mean, these are mostly going to adults” she said, still seemingly appalled. I nodded my head, but inside I wanted to scream “Who died and made you Frosting Queen?” Okay, I actually didn’t think that at the time, but it well conveys my thoughts on the matter. Just because you can’t appreciate or enjoy deep orange and lavender frosting, doesn’t mean other grownups don’t want or need multicolored iced cookies every now and then!

I thought, why are bright, contrasting colors only associated with young kids at birthday parties? What are the more “adult” colors I should frost with? Don’t you think those oranges and lemons are too bright for this 'adult' fruit basket? Maybe I’m being harsh, maybe I was offended because I was pleased with the color I concocted with four different food dyes. But maybe I just don’t want us all to think growing up means suppressing the quirks, the vibrancy, the color we so naturally delighted in when we were kids. Maybe brightly frosted cookies are the variety we adults need to see more, send to each other, and snack on these days.