I admit it; I’m a pack rat. Eek. I’m that guy who would be classified as a hoarder if he had a little less space and a little more junk. I have just enough junk that I can hide it away when company comes, but too much junk to keep it hidden for long, and that’s because it keeps growing. Don’t get me wrong, I am not one of those people who buys a ton of junk just because it’s on sale and then it sits around collecting dust. I have no idea where those people came from or how to get rid of them. I’m one of those people who collects things that are worth the time and energy.
For example, I collect:
** Concert ticket stubs
** Stickers from the Disney DVD Club
** Letters people have sent me from way back
** Baseball cards
** Rubber bands
Oh my, papers are probably my biggest problem lately because I feel like every single paper that comes into this house is worthy of treasure. It doesn’t matter if it’s my kids’ school homework, if it’s a letter from Publisher’s Clearinghouse (that I never plan on entering, even though I’ve already won), if it’s a receipt from a trip to Arby’s in 1997, or if it’s a stack of bills that I, for some reason, haven’t paid yet. And they build up in piles. You know, not quite the size of the piles you see in an episode of Hoarders, but not so teeny tiny either. Periodically I’m forced to go through those piles and creates smaller piles. You know, one for keeping, one for discarding, and one with a big ol’ question mark on it. You can guess which pile most of the papers end up in.
Once in a blue moon I get rid of some of my junk by gifting it to others. Of course when I do that my friends and family tend to think I must be dying or something, but they accept it anyway. Anything to help me get my junk down. My two big moves helped me a lot when it came to lowering those piles. When I moved down to Knoxville, it was easy because the car we drove down in was a Ford Probe. Yeah, I’m lucky I was able to fit all of my clothes and CDs in it (oh yeah, I collect CDs too). But then I started collecting matchbooks from all the restaurants down there, then it was menus (we ate out a lot), then it graduated to pennies I found on the street. Then I moved up here, and I sloughed off a bit more items, like pictures of ex-girlfriends, printed out emails from college, and University of Tennessee yearbooks that for some reason I had been gathering like squirrels gather nuts for winter (hey, they were free!).
Yet, despite all the things I get rid of for whatever reasons, I still have my two boxes worth of keepsakes and memorabilia. My graduation gown from college, my tassel from my eighth grade graduation, the yearbooks I was actually in from high school, all the Rolling Stone magazines that featured either Michael Jackson or U2, those concert stubs, and various pictures from times in my life I would rather forget (yeah, so why do I keep the pics?). And that doesn’t count the paper mountains that inevitably begin to pile up again just a couple of days after each move.
So I bought filing cabinets. You know, those hulking behemoths that collect paper for you. You just have to organize the papers into folders and into hanging files that magically slide along a track, taking them out of sight, and supposedly also out of mind. But I’m still thinking about them, about those stamps I collected for a couple of years when I was a pre-teen, about those printouts of tennis shot techniques from the ’70s that features women in long dresses, or about those bills from a credit card I paid off in 1998 all stacked neatly in a file, and slid to the back of the cabinet.
How do people do it? Let me know when you find out. In the meantime I’ll be finding more places to hoard stuff, and I’ll be crossing my fingers that the program doesn’t get wind of it. I’d rather not be on TV.