punkwalrus (punkwalrus) wrote,
punkwalrus
punkwalrus

Packrat

Sometimes I have to fight being a packrat. Right now, it's not so bad (excluding computers), but being a packrat runs on my father's side of the family. While I was growing up, my father's "study," or home office, had piles of magazines stacked like columns off the floor. I'd say they were about 3-4 feet high per column, and about a dozen columns on the floor, with more in closets. His closet was FILLED with office supplies he had stolen from work. I mean, we're talking about hundreds of pencils (still in sealed boxes), rulers, staples, ring binders, you name it. I was never allowed to go in there, but my mother sometimes "dipped" into his supply. A few times I got accused of "stealing" some of his supplies, which I thought was irony like nothing else. Sometimes the supplies did come from that huge closet, but via my mother, who thought as long as we have them, why don't we use them? When I was about 13, my father made this rule that I was to buy all of my own school supplies, and he STILL would accuse me of stealing his stuff, and then proceed to "take back" stuff I got with my OWN money...

... okay, that was over 20 years ago, let it go...

He also accused me of stealing other stuff of his. I recall he got really upset that I had stolen some voltage transformer, like a huge 40 pound... thing that he got from work. What he needed it for I have no idea, but he was sure I had stolen it. I didn't even know what it was, but I got in trouble for stealing it. Later, my mother confessed she threw it away because it was apparently a huge object that weighed over 60 pounds, and was leaving a dent in the carpet. She had no idea why he wanted such a thing, and she was concerned about his collecting habits. But then again, my neighbor had this collection of old European comic books and toy cars that was ludicrous. They were stacked on uncountable wall shelves and piled in their original boxes all around the house. I always felt that was even stranger.

When Christine and I visited my old house one day, we peeked in through the rec room window and saw piles of old newspapers. With my mother dead, and my father's new wife not being a "houseperson," apparently the whole house just started piling up. My neighbor (the one with all the cars and comic books) told me that my father and his wife had three maids quit because of all the clutter. When they sold the house, I saw it was listed as "handyman's special - new owners must clean" at like 30% below market value. Creepy.

So today, I learned that my paternal grandmother was the same way. She even rescued stuff from the trash, to the major disgust and annoyance of my uncle. I recall hearing from my mother that my father was ashamed at how his house looked, and his room was the neat and tidy room of the house. How... irnoic that he should turn out the same way.

As I write this, I look around my den and see some clutter, of course. But I try and throw away anything I don't need that won't be totally useful. I clean up instead of pile up. But I have taken this as an omen, a warning, perhaps, that I don't want my house to turn out like this someday. After all, I have four cats and two dogs, I think I am partway there already.

Something for me to keep in mind.

This entry was originally posted at http://www.punkwalrus.com/blog/archives/00000384.html
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