Saturday, June 5, 2010


I'm reading a book titled "Stuff: Compuslive Hoarding and the Meaning of Things" by Randy O. Frost and Gail Steketee. It is an assignment from The Internet Review of Books site. I am to review it for an upcoming issue. Actually, my deadline has passed. But I have reasons for not meeting it....

It is a difficult book for me to read. I can't read it in the family room because my eyes keep wandering. I will read a sentence such as "possessions become part of an individual's sense of self...." Next thing I know I'm staring at the overstuffed bookshelves lining the wall of my family room and my thoughts turn to the boxes full of books that can't be displayed because I have no more shelves. Do I think to get rid of the books? God no!

I try to figure out how to slip the cost of more bookshelves into the family budget.

I definitely can't read this book in the craft room, affectionally called the 'crap' room. [Note: photo above of just one tiny portion of the room. Everything stays, except the cat can come and go at will.]

I'd never get through the book's descriptions of 'stacks of boxes' or 'amazing junk.' Anyone who accumulates odds and ends to use in their multi-media or mixed media or eco-friendly art or craft will feel the pinch as I did when I read "Irene put pieces of broken toys, packing material, and the like in a box she labeled AMAZING JUNK." The difference between my multi-media artist friends and me -- they actually make something out of the 'junk' -- I am still in the accumulation phase.

If I read this book in the kitchen, I am reminded that I really should clean out the cupboards. The bathrooms -- I can read there. But then I realize it has been too long since I gave it a thorough cleaning. Reading in the dining room makes me aware of another problem I have: nibbling. Reading and nibbling go together like Abbot and Costello. Can't have one without the other, especially in the dining room. I'm running out of rooms. The bedrooms are adjacent to closets -- also in need of good cleanings -- and full of who knows what stuff. Weren't closets designed to hold 'stuff' that you don't want anyone to see? The clutter you pick up when preparing for guests?

Yesterday I finally cleaned the screened in porch. Vacuuming away the cat hair, washing down the grill. Rearranging furniture and reacquainting my potted plants with the sunshine out there. A clean little oasis. Other than the 90 degree temperature and the 100 percent humidity, a perfect place to read about Stuff.

I may not meet deadline for this review.

Who knew it would be so difficult to read about stuff and compulsive accumulation and shopping.... did I mention that the Discover card bill arrived in the mail yesterday? But really now. I haven't purchased new clothes in years and it has been even longer since I fed my fabric stash. So those were all necessary purchases.... I still need new shoes. Imeda Marcos (who apparently had the compulsive buying aspect of the compulsive hoarding disease) I am not! One pair of dress shoes (at least 10 years old) and one pair of sneakers at least 2 years old does not make for a hoard. Thankfully there is something I show control over. Anyway, fabric is NOT 'stuff' it is art, beauty, -- potential.

But, just in case, I'm backing away from online shopping....

Another aspect of this hoarding compulsion seems to stem from low self esteem and perfectionism. And that may explain why I have the parts, pieces, tools and books that tell me how to make something out of all of the accumulated fabrics and embellishments. And why I never seem to get around to making or finishing the projects. I feel the need of a psychiatrist or therapist to get me straightened out. But the expense of the treatment....

Perhaps the cure is to simply stop reading this damn book! I think I feel better already. Of course, I won't throw it away or give it away. I will find a tight little space on my overstuffed bookshelves and cram it in with the rest of the books I should read.....