Aug 21, 2016

Hoarding Problems: Crazy Plastic Bag Lady

     As I write this there's a plastic bag with several dozen other plastic bags all neatly crammed in it sitting in one of my kitchen cabinets. That, I must admit, is far from the only plastic bag full of plastic bags I've squirreled away — there's another one in the pantry and another one in the basement. Plastic bag full of plastic bags that is. There would be more but my boyfriend threw out two (or was it three?!) not too long ago.
     "Hey, what's the deal with you and plastic bags?" was his intricately delicate prelude to my funeral march.
     "The deal with ... what? What are you talking about?"
     "Plastic bags. What's the deal? You have a plastic bag full of plastic bags in the cabinet. Well, actually, you have two," he said dangling the said two plastic bags in front of my face.
     "Um ... They always come in handy? And ... it's good to have them around? And, and we always need those, so ... Yeah."
     "OK, but you have one more in the pantry and several more in the basement."
     "I do? Well, O ... OK, I don't necessarily think we need that many."
     "My thoughts exactly, but I'm glad you said that yourself because I threw a couple of those out."
     "YOU WHAT?"
     A minute of unbridled panic followed. Fine, maybe it wasn't a minute, maybe it was two, but definitely not more than three, cross my heart. Anyhoo, after my initial meltdown I soon realized (and admitted) that my brief outburst was barmy and that we truly didn't need that many plastic bags full of plastic bags since we're more than capable of surviving with only three. Plastic bags full of plastic bags that is. But that wasn't the end of my realizations; the entire incident felt oddly familiar and just as I was about to pronounce it a déjà vu, it hit me: that wasn't a déjà vu, that was history repeating itself — I just acted like my batty grandmother!
     Much like my boyfriend, my mom went on a cleaning spree at her parent's house a few years ago since my grandparents had gotten too rusty to take care of their humongous house all by themselves and I still remember all the wrath and animosity spewing from my sweet, innocent, darling grandmother in gratitude for our help. Or for our 'attempted murder' as she lovingly called it. "You're trying to kill me!" and "Why don't you just bury me alive?" was the cleaning crew's theme song while we decluttered the entire house room by room. But the shit truly hit the fan when we got to the garage and all her precious decaying prehistoric useless junk no one hadn't touched in decades: everything from broken coffee tables and ripped mattresses to cracked windows and busted vacuum cleaners (and a plastic bag full of plastic bags, I think) was there waiting to 'come in handy' one day — and my grandmother wasn't letting go of any of it without a fight.
     "You're evil, pure evil!" she hissed while frantically scurrying around the garage. "I knew you all hated me, I knew it! I'll just go to the cemetery and bury myself, what do you care. Just kill me, kill me now!"
     Whoa, Nelly, I remember thinking, thank fuck I'm not that frigging bonkers, PHEW. Well. History sure came back to bite me in the ass, hasn't it?
     Apparently that shouldn't come as such a surprise, though, because hoarding — and let's not kid ourselves, storing broken vacuum cleaners and/or seven trillion plastic bags is exactly and only that — can be hereditary, as I discovered after that plastic bag calamity twisted my arm making me do a quick online research of the disorder, problem, malady, hobby, whatever you want to call it. But that wasn't much of a revelation, to be honest: if you ask me, everything is hereditary, be it farting, schizophrenia or nose picking, so aside from feeling a stronger bond with my grandmother, making me feel all warm and fuzzy inside, I thought, Thanks for nothing, Internet. But further digging did eventually produce some aha moments — or should I say some uh-oh moments — since ze Interweb cleverly pointed out that people mostly hoard crap due to two reasons: either they believe an item will be useful at some point in the future or they can't throw the item away because it has sentimental value. And with that new-found knowledge in mind I did a quick mental inventory of my personal belongings and the bottom line of that inventory said, Dear crazy plastic bag lady. You're a fucking hoarder. Sincerely, the Bottom Line.
     Frankly? I think Ms Line might be onto something because here are a few items from my inventory list: seven wine bottle corks, five lighters (only one of them is actually working), two peelers (we actually had three, but I don't know where or when the third one went), two sizeable balls of tangled rubber bands — and that's just some of the crap from one of the kitchen drawers, while a quick once-over of the rest of the house includes one old, butt-ugly coffee cup my father brought home from Stockholm, four old, butt-ugly ceramic bowls my mother served us pudding in when I was little, a broken yo-yo my brother gave me over ten years ago, a worn-out t-shirt my brother brought me from Greece when I was ten, a torn necklace my brother bought me as a birthday gift when I was still in primary school (apparently everything my brother touches my soul simply cannot let go of), old party and festival tickets, old skipasses, a heap of my nephew's drawings and paintings — the list truly goes on and on and on and it's just crap upon crap upon crap but the most recent and by far my favorite example are those cardboard cards you see in the photo above. I cut those out of a cardboard packaging I took out of our recycle bin, used them yesterday to take the picture and then put them on my desk instead of back in the garbage where I first took them out of.
     "What are those doing here?" my boyfriend asked me.
     "Um ... I don't know. I think I'll hold on to them a bit longer."
     "Because ... maybe they'll come in handy one day?" Talk about a moment of clarity.
     Needless to say, I threw those out by now. And you can be damn sure I'm throwing a bunch of other things away as soon as I wrap up here as well, starting with a couple of plastic bags full of plastic bags because I sure don't want to be known as the crazy plastic bag lady who lived in a tent in her backyard because her house was taken over by plastic bags, for fuck's sake. And I kindly encourage you to do the same — in this day and age, something tells me I'm not the only one stashing away useless crap.
     But let's be honest, you're not going to listen to me — and why would you? I sure as hell wouldn't listen to me if I were you and I sure as hell don't listen to me even though I am me so I've dug up two useful and on-point quotes which will hopefully resonate with all of our hoarding asses better. The first one is by Vernon Howard who said: Our freedom can be measured by the number of things we can walk away from. And the second one is from Fight Club: The things you own end up owning you. Pretty powerful stuff, isn't it? Makes you just want to grab a pen, write it down on a cardboard card and keep it forever and ever, doesn't it? Or is that just me and my hoarding impulses?
     Anyhoo, I'm signing off now — I'm itching to throw some shit out. Talk to you all next week.

     former crazy plastic bag lady.

     P.S.: Like I said, when I finished the post, I went to the basement to get that plastic bag full of plastic bags to throw it away and found this. Well, fuck me. Hoarders anonymous much?

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