...where distraction is the main attraction.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

The things I collect

Yesterday I had 60 T-Shirts.  60.  We have our own washer & dryer.  There are 7 days in a week.  60 T-Shirts.  I threw away 10 and that was a chore.  I won't even tell you what the sock drawer looked like.

To be fair (to who? myself?) a third of those Ts were for the gym.  For those folks who don't know, after I exercise I look like I've just jumped in the pool with my clothes on.  So I set aside specific Ts for that abuse.  About 16.

Clearly, I like T-shirts, but there's more to it than that.  I collect things, often without knowing it.  There's a genuine Hoarder gene in my family so I have to be on the lookout for signs of its prevalence in me.

The act of accumulating non-perishable consumer goods outside of wartime is connected to other existing human psychological complexities.  Don DeLillo might say that it's part of our desire to postpone death.  Freud would probably agree then loop in issues with libido.  Jung might reference a disconnection with a spiritual center.  Psych 101 would likely suggest depression or repression; holding onto physical things provides the illusion of control.  A good communist scholar could say that it's one of the end results of capitalism, the unnecessary and imbalanced accumulation of goods.

So here are some things that I may or may not have collected:

Yes - T-Shirts.  I'm now down to 50.  In my defense, 16 are for workouts only (as mentioned above).  I can't wear those out into public because after a couple of hours The Ghost of Sweat Past haunts them.  8 more are white undershirts for winter or work wear.  Another 6 are long sleeve Ts.  That leaves 20 normal-wear short sleeve Ts.  In my defense, I live in Southern California so it is T-shirt weather for seven (or more) months of the year.  Thus one T a day for about three weeks.  Not in my defense, we do have that washer and dryer inside our condo...

No - Canned food goods.  We eat them within two weeks after buying them.

No - Boxed food goods.  I don't even buy 'em.

Yes - Baseball cards.  I had 22,000.  Now I have 5,000.  See here for my considerable efforts to rid myself of the 17,000.  I started collecting cards in 1985.  I stopped in 1993.  Then a haze of depression reignited this flame from 2001-2003 as I sought something that I could control.  That was an illusion, I never had control <-- to paraphrase Jurassic Park.  I stopped collecting permanently because I wanted to be more mobile, not wanting to haul countless boxes of cardboard behind me wherever I went.

No - Toilet paper.  We may buy big packs of it, but it is used and flushed with regularity.

Yes - Books.  Every few years I go through my shelves packing a box of books to go to a donation center.  I don't buy too many books anymore, but the shelves keep filling up past the bursting point.  Maybe the books are breeding.  The thing is, I'm not reading all of them right now.  I couldn't possibly read all of them again in this lifetime.  So why are they there?  To make me look cultured?

Yes - Movies.  First it was VHS tapes.  Then it was DVDs.  I have a 7-foot shelf packed solidly with the thin rectangle cases.  It used to be something I could be proud of.  My collection is of nothing but the best.  But with digital video on the rise, and constantly getting better quality-wise, the collection is beginning to look like an anchor rather than a creative skiff.

No - Wives.

No - Cats.  But to be honest, I understand The Cat Lady.  Go ahead, walk into a pound.  See the dozens of caged little domesticated animals who are there through no fault of their own.  Dozens of clean, self-reliant little buddhas who will die if I don't adopt them all.  Go ahead, pick just one.  Or two.  Or three.

Yes, sorta - Coins.  I wasn't responsible for their collection.  They're from family and old family friends.  It's a very impressive lot.  It's swell to have stuff from the 19th century.  Money that's been in America longer than my family has.  I don't add to the collection, but I do keep it.  It weighs about 50 pounds.  It's odd and hideous to move.

Yes - CDs.  Dear G-d, I've been trying to move these things out of my home.  Every CD that has intact liner notes and cover has been shuttled out to Amoeba in exchange for store credit.  But I still have 200-300 of 'em.  They've all been digitized, but I don't have any of the stuff that came with them.  So they sit, lined up like cells in a silent organism.  I will seriously sell them all for $200 (or best offer).

Yes - Items in my Amazon "Saved for Later" cart.  Yep.  Guilty as charged.  That's more an act of sloth than any sign of neurosis.  Right?

No - Stamps.  Never understood the need to collect these things.  Probably healthy.

No - Video games.  Probably healthy.

Yes - All of my hand-written writing.  And...

Yes - Printouts of every draft of every script.  I'm sure this stuff can really be disposed of, but part of me can't let go.  I created it, now I'm going to throw it away?  What kind of parent would I be?  A parent of paper, I guess.

No - Shoes.  Can't afford to keep buying new ones.  The old ones look and smell bad.

Yes - Photos.  I think I can defend this as a human thing.

Yes - Receipts.  I can't defend this as a human thing.  More of a financial thing.  Luckily, I part with a pile every year.

No - Scalps.

No - Recipes.  Though I probably should.  They don't take up much room.

Yes - Internet Bookmarks.  Holy Sh*t!  I have hundreds of them!  What are these sites?  When did I go there?  Why did I go there?  Why did I think that I would need to go back there again?

Maybe - Whiskies.  I can't afford to collect whisky.  But if I could, THAT WOULD BE AWESOME. And...And...And in defense: Whisky can be consumed.  Whisky can be shared.  And then bottles can be replaced by new ones!  Sweet!  Oh wait, that's just my fantasy.  In reality, yes, I have twelve bottles.  Soon to be eleven.  As mentioned in my year in whisky post, I'm not trying to make money from them.  And I'm not saving them until eternity.  But I spent some good money on them.  And I don't drink to excess.  So they'll last a little while.  And occasionally gain neighbors.

I guess that's it, though I'm sure Kristen could enumerate those I've missed.  Moving from home to home puts one's collection habits in check......depending on the size of the home.  We've been living in apartments and condos, and we pay professional movers to haul our stuff, and I'm married to a woman who dislikes clutter.  Thus I have the motivation to reduce.  So, I feel like the collection gene is in control.  For now.