It’s Spring Cleaning time here, and I’m going to see if I can basically cut in half my various collections of stuff.
Growing up a child of a hoarder, I was taught that I could really collect and have anything I wanted to (cost and space considering, of course). From toys to bikes to vintage obsolete computers to cars to (more recently) shoes, I have multiple you name-its. And in many instances, these collections are dear to me and for collections of things of value, they can be “investments”. With any collection, if you have the space to store them properly and they are reasonably organized, they can be an asset and a comforting reminder of things you like. That borderline between “collecting” and “hoarding” is usually defined by the ability to live and function properly around all the stuff. A collection of 300 Matchbox cars from the 70′s is far more manageable and valuable than a collection of VHS tapes with TV shows you already have on DVD, or a collection of car parts from my dad where maybe they’re worth something, but there’s way too many boxes of them to properly identify them or go through the trouble of finding buyers.
I’m NOT the sort of person who has nothing to my name. People who don’t own anything, and can just up and move to wherever, always struck me as people without a sense of place or home, and it’s like their life is totally at the whim or wherever a job or a career is. As appealing as that is to some people, it’s not so much to me. I’ve never been that sort of person, as I like a place that’s a home with a sense of coziness. It was like that growing up, but now it’s gotten to the point where it occupies too much space in my brain. But if I wanted to unload EVERYTHING I have, I could probably open up an antiques store just of that stuff, and even then, it’s probably only about a tenth of what we had growing up, with parents that were hoarders (well, mostly my dad).
As I start writing more personal stories about my life, I will obviously touch upon the whole children of hoarders thing, but for now, I’m just going to talk about my current situation.
Having a collection of crap can often times limit what you can do and where you can go and how you can function. But if the collection is neat and manageable, that’s ok. So I’m going to see if there are some collections of things I can at least cut in half.
Now some things I don’t see getting rid of any part of. Like I won’t be getting rid of any of my outfits that I’ve painstakingly created. I also recently acquired about 10 mannequins that I display my outfits on. I won’t be getting rid of any of them, because to me having my outfits on display in my studio is an asset.
And there are some collections that will be transferred. Just glancing over there I see there’s a small stack of unused but brand new faux gilded picture frames on the floor. If I actually take the time to frame some prints and put them on the wall, I’ll transfer that collection to where it needs to be. On the wall they don’t take up any space, and also I might use up half of the picture hanging nails I have in the process. Double points! All that house paint I have? Well, put it on the walls and exterior of the house, that will use it up.
Would I get rid of half of my furniture? Well, that’s a tough call. I have been saying that I’m not going to bring anything else in my house unless it’s an antique or particuarly Victorian, but I can think of a few tables I have that aren’t antiques that I might give away. Also, if I get rid of some old books and magazines, then in the process I can get rid of a shitty particle board bookcase too.
But there are some collections of crap that are taking up so much space (and brain space) that it’s time to (at least) cut them in half. I’ve got a lot of books here. Some of them were moved/quasi-inherited from my parents house to be used specifically as background elements for shoots like the “National Pornographic” shoot. Now that that’s happened, that pile of outdated encyclopedias and 50 year old sets of non-interesting books? Those can go away. Burn, baby burn! There’s also books and various crap that came with the house I bought, as well as boxes of tchotchkes and other shit. Some of that stuff can just go, go go. But if a book is interesting or clearly valuable or over 100 years old, I tend to save it.
But in my recent quest for fru-fru china and tea cups for my latest “Sweet Lolita” shoot, I can’t tell you how many plates, cups and non-interesting glassware and other kitchen shit I ran across in this house. I’ve got stuff that belonged to my ex, stuff that belonged to the past owners of this house, and then plates and mugs and cups that I’ve always had that aren’t anything special. Stuff that’s great and useful when you’re starting out at 20, but years later isn’t as nice or pretty as stuff that came later.
But the important thing is to fight the learned habits that come with being a child of a hoarder. Its fighting the hoarder logic that “if it’s useful, keep it”, when I’m getting to the point in my life where I ONLY want to surround myself with pretty things I like. My goal by the end of this year is to have my house looking pretty and beautiful and to live the lifestyle of a pin up model living in a cute 250 year old New England cape cod cottage, all done up with flowers and a beatifully landscaped yard.
And there’s not room any more for hoarder logic. Though hoarders take that logic one step further where if they see something with no apparent use, they’ll invent a use for it – or save it until the day when it can be useful. That happened with my parents because they lived through the Depression, and even more so with my dad probably because his father died tragically during that time at the young age of 35. So any of this pottery and glassware I don’t like, if it can’t be sold on the internet, fuck it, it’s going away. Or hey, maybe it’s smashy smashy time.
Yard sale it all away? Maybe. Yard sales are a lot of effort and you basically sit around outside while people paw through your old crap and lowball you nickels and dimes for stuff. Maybe- if I get enough of everything together. Otherwise, it’s almost easier to donate or toss that stuff.
But other collections I have- vintage bikes? Geez, I got about 30 here, mostly 10 speeds from the 70′s bike boom. Which have become relatively scarce to the point where they’re in some demand (who know that shitty, heavy Schwinn Varsity you hated would become desired by a millenial hipster?). I’m sure I could pare that down to just the ones I like or have sentimental value.
Vintage Macs? I’ve got about 10 vintage mid 80′s compact Mac systems, and they do sell well for about $100 on ebay, so there’s money to be made there, and if I end up keeping one Mac 512ke system just for giggles and nostalgia, that’s ok. Though my huge Atari 8 bit collection I could see selling off the duplicate systems and cartriges.
Car stuff? I grew up in what was basically a car junkyard, and was never told that I couldn’t have 10 cars. At least I knew what was interesting and cool, and I sort of gravitated towards French cars. At 16 years old I bought a Citroen DS when they were at the bottom of their value for the paltry sum of yes- twenty dollars. And then subsequently bought up each parts car I could in the southeastern New England area. I’ve got some cool-ass stuff squirreled away and this year I’m going to try to restore that one rust-free Citroen DS barn find I put away inside back at my mom’s house. In the process I’ll probably get rid of most of the collected other parts (and whole entire parts cars). I now it’s time consuming to do, but for good or for ill, I actually know Citroen DS’s very well, and it’s a skill that I have, so in the end, I should have one complete and functional classic car that’s actually worth some money. And that itself I could sell later on down the road when it’s all painted, when I get to the point where I’m bored with it and/or desperately need the money.
Could I pare down my collection of things like shoes? Well, I won’t be getting rid of each left shoe (though trust me- a hoarder would discover 1001 uses for ophaned shoes), but I might be able to eliminate about 25% of my over 75 pairs that are ugly, worn out, or pain inducing. My vintage camera collection that came from my dad? Eh, I dunno. I’ve got a lot of stuff I inherited from my dad that’s cool but very obsolete (yep, even formats that are obsolete during the film era, anyone remember 620 film?). A collection of 20 or so cameras doesn’t take up much room and if displayed nicely, can add to the decor of a room. Not sure about all the darkroom stuff though. I basically have enough old darkroom stuff to make- well, a proper darkroom. Perhaps if the itch to engage in some old school photography comes around. Like yeah, when I get done with everything else in life.
There are other things I have that are simply around because they were saved for specific projects, most of which are leftover whatist from my parent’s house. Like I have a good couple of cubic yards of interestingly shaped styrofoam packing pieces, that were going to be used as a sci-fi background elements for UNS. God dammit, I just need to just use them up, then toss the fuckers, or just toss them pronto. Piles of stone wall stones in the yard? Figure out where I want some garden walls, and USE THEM UP.
And another important thing – I can’t let my anyone else near me try to claim ANY of this stuff. Anything I give away has to GO off the premises. I was trying to get rid of about 5 shitty old frying pans and at the 11th hour they were claimed by my tenant/housemate so fuck all, I ended up getting rid of like 1 of them. Fuck that shit. I’m not going to enable someone else’s hoarding, especially if that means it will still end up being my problem eventually when said tenant moves on.
And that actually works in the inverse too. I have to teach myself not to “save” shit from my mom’s house that I don’t have a place/immediate use for. Though when you get something like restorable antiques, that gets a little dicey. I’ve got countless potentially cool heirlooms at my mom’s, but I just got to get to a point where I decide if they’re worthless or worth doing something with.
So…. Let’s see where I’m at in the coming weeks. And if in the process of getting rid of stuff, I get some props to use for photo shoots, all the better!