Other than my regular Sunday night episode of The Tudors, I rarely pay attention to what's on TV. But somehow, I channel surfed my way into a show that reminds me of a train wreck; its so gruesome that you want to turn away but sheer intrigue keeps you glued to your seat. The show is Hoarders on A&E and though I can't even begin to guess the scheduled date or time it airs, when I happen to come upon it while randomly checking the channels, I get a little giddy.
Hoarders features people who, for various reasons, have this uncontrollable desire to get and keep stuff. This stuff accumulates overtime until their whole lives are completely and utterly controlled by this stuff. I'm talking piles of stuff years high. Whole rooms inaccessible because of floor to ceiling stuff. One woman had filled her entire home and bought the house next door to start filling it as well.
Everyone featured is at some end-stage level where they are about to have their home condemned or their loved ones have threatened to cut them off so its more of an intervention show than plain old exploitation. Therapists specializing in hoarders are called in to help assess the situation, move the hoarder to a point where letting go of the stuff won't cause a meltdown and then volunteers pour in to clear out the mess.
I've seen more than one home that I would have just let be torn down rather than go through the hassle of cleaning them out. During the clean up of one elderly Louisiana woman's home, carcasses of dead cats were unearthed as they began clearing layer after layer of pure garbage that had collected over the years. One guy's front door couldn't even open all the way because of the huge mountains of stuff in the way. To actually go inside, he had to CLIMB the mountains of stuff!
Honestly, I can understand how an elderly person with no local assistance could end up suffocating in a home piled with stuff but some of these folks are way younger than elderly and, at first glance, appear to be normal, well adjusted members of society, holding down jobs, taking vacations, having relationships, etc. Then they roll the footage of their home and reality shifts tremendously. At this point, my forehead furrows. How is that possible? The guy with the mountains of stuff that I mentioned was ex-navy, looked a little like Christopher Reeves and had a girlfriend who had never been to his home! He always stayed at her place was a meticulous housekeeper while there. He finally agreed to let her see the place during the show and, just as I suspected, her jaw dropped, a look of horror/confusion flashed across her face and she left him. I would have done the same thing. To me, for someone to exhibit behavior like that, something must be mentally unstable. For lack of better word, its CRAZY! And who wants to be laying in bed next to a crazy person every night?
Anyway, since I've been watching this show, its made me super aware of my own home and the things I keep in it. A few days of letting laundry pile up in the chair in bedroom and I panic. Oh no, I'm becoming a hoarder! I throw things away at record speed rather than letting the mail pile up on the counter for weeks. I'm terrified that one day I'll wake up into a nightmare similar to one of those featured on the show.
Well, today, for the first time, I took a look around my office/cubicle and saw the piles of paper, the outdated folders, several days worth of coffee mugs and a styrofoam cup from a fast food lunch from weeks ago. Like those hoarders, I had cleared a bit of work space, just around the keyboard and to my right to actually work in but the entire surface of the desk was obscured by . . . STUFF!
Noooooooo . . .
Tomorrow, I've vowed to march in there and clear the mess but I'm intimidated and overwhelmed. I've never used a real filing system! I print out nearly every email that requires an action so that I won't forget it. I have copies of proposals mixed in with articles that I printed to read later, memos rendered soggy from leaning against drink cups, a storage cabinet full of 2008 Christmas cards and bottles of lotion accumulated after birthdays and holidays. I don't know where to begin but I've got to slay this dragon immediately before they create a spin-off show in my honor: Hoarders: Office Edition!
Any REALISTIC organization tips are welcome and appreciated. I cannot order new furniture but I can order new accessories; bins, hanging thingies, etc. And I do have a soft walled cubicle which is now push-pinned to capacity with my childrens' artwork and school schedules, old to new travel itineraries, birthday cards, random memos and a deskpad calendar which I decided to hang to save desk space (ha!).