Monday, May 25, 2015

Marriage 701, Lecture 231: The great hoarder dilemma

Things I have thrown away while SH is gone:

1. All the twist ties in the junk drawer. About five years' worth. We never re-use twist ties. I hardly even use them to reseal the original bag. It is just more clutter in my house. Even though SH straightens each twist tie lovingly and lays them all next to each other at the bottom of the front bin of the junk drawer, there is no reason to keep them.

2. The envelopes the bills came in.

3. A vase I got in Mexico that broke for the third time about two years ago and that I could not repair because some of the critical pieces pulverized and I tried to throw it away only SH said NO!!!! He would FIX IT and it remained on the stairs since then, driving me slowly insane. It cannot be repaired. I threw it away. Someday, I will return to Dolores de Hidalgo and get another vase painted with a calla lily. Someday.

4. All the little mustards and soy sauces that come with take-out food. We get takeout maybe once every other month? And yet we have accumulated a bunch of these. Why? I keep thinking I will use them - I do hate to waste food - but then I always forget. Gone.

5. Related to the little condiments - the plastic utensils that come with takeout, even though we try to remember to tell them NO UNTENSILS! I really hate throwing those away - so, so wasteful. Maybe I should take them to work and leave them in the cafeteria instead. That's what I'll do.

Things I have wanted to throw away (or donate to charity) while SH is gone but he would figure it out and get upset:

1. The old bills. Seriously. The old bills. How long do you guys keep bills? I keep them for a year. After the new year, I have a ceremonial purging of the files in which I shred all but the most recent of any bill. (NB: Taxes and investment documents are kept forever in three-ring binders. I want proof of my money.) SH wants to keep all credit card bills forever. No I do not know why. All the bills except for the 2015 bills are stuffed in a plastic bag in the basement. They will be one of the first things to go if SH dies suddenly.

2. The extra vacuum cleaner. SH bought a fancy new vacuum cleaner that excites him. If it helps him vacuum more often, that is fine. But now we have four. Four vacuum cleaners. SH had two when we married, then he bought a shop vac the first time our basement flooded, only the shop vac has not been that useful. Then he got tired of his old vacuum cleaner - it is not too effective on cat hair - and bought a new one. We do not need more vacuum cleaners than people in this house, I do not think.

3. All small electronics that no longer work. SH bought me a labeler a few years ago, but it stopped working. I did some googling and found no way to repair. I was ready to put it in the Goodwill box but SH said he would fix it. That was three years ago. I do not care if he fixes it. He probably could, but it would be an all-day project and I have already developed an alternative labeling system for my freezer goods: Scotch tape and a felt-tip pen. Easy. If SH is going to spend all day on a project, I would rather he paint the exterior window trim.

4. The eight unopened little water bottles stacked precariously in his office. He collects them when he flies.

5. All the old magazines SH either has or has not read. Not only did SH move magazines from his apartment into the house - they are in the attic and have been untouched since we moved in, he is now bringing old (1981 Life magazine) magazines from his mom and dad's to our house. I want nothing from their house and I really do not want 35 year old magazines. Unless I can sell them. Which SH would be horrified to do.

I should clarify that SH and I were raised very differently. He almost never moved when he was a kid - I think they moved once - and my family moved every few years. There is nothing to keep you lean than frequent moves. My family does not accumulate junk. My family is not about hoarding. SH thinks that as long as you have room in your house and can still walk easily from space to space that there is nothing wrong with keeping things. He points out that he is not as bad as his parents and this is true.

I want to get rid of stuff on principle. If it's not something we need or use or will ever need or use, I don't want it.

(That includes no tchotchkes - nothing frivolous that does not serve a purpose and has to be dusted. Alas, SH's mother lives for tchotchkes and thinks there is no better gift than an expensive but tacky item that can be returned only for store credit at a store that sells nothing I would ever want. Ever. Bless her heart.)

6. The two cases of Lakefront Brewery souvenir tour glasses. "But what if we have a party someday?" he asks.

"So let's have a party."

"Not yet."

7. His employee manual from when he worked at Apple. He worked there when Apple was not profitable. He got rid of his stock because it looked like Apple would never be profitable again. You wonder what's on the other side of people who have gotten rich on tech stocks? Us. Ordinary people who had tech stocks but made no money on them.


smalltownme said...

Every once in a while I use up all the little soy sauce packets in a batch of fried rice. Can you take those to work too? When I worked at a school there was a basket of them in the teacher's room and they came in handy when you had a dull lunch!

webb said...

I feel your pain ... he's sitting in the next room. Fortunately, we recently had a pipe burst flooding the kitchen. They are coming next week to pull up all our floors and re-lay them, so we have had to pack everything for the whole house into two bedrooms - and continue to sleep in one of them. He has filled two 100-gallon trashcans for two weeks in a row with stuff that should have gone years, no decades, ago. I am so thankful.

Now, we have room for him to start accumulating again! His motto is "no flat surface should ever show!"

Anonymous said...

I have heard that this book has had a profound affect on natural hoarders. Good luck. I'm the opposite of hoarder -- I would have dumped every single thing you listed *years* ago.

Joy said...

It's not just upbringing. I grew up in the same house my whole life, and my parents still live there. They are opposed to clutter and tchotchkes and crap, and they get rid of unnecessary stuff, and I am the same. There's just something about hoarders. And you're a better woman than I--if he was out of town, I would have gotten rid of all the crap in the second category as well.

My husband and I are moving soon, and I'm excited because it's a chance to clear out old stuff that we don't use.