X and I journeyed to Connecticut this weekend. We went to see my parents and also make the rounds with some friends who we didn’t get a chance to really catch up with at the wedding. In an effort to continue my path of post-marriage change and in the spirit of “growing up,” I am continuing my focus on an area of my life which needed scrubbing. The Friends. I’ve continued to make unfortunate but necessary decisions in the way of some relationships and I had to really shakedown what I consider friendship to be. And instead of allowing Gloom and Doom to guilt my every single visit into being an audience for their sparring, I’m going to focus on getting X and I out in the world of Connecticut so we can hang out with my friends up there.
Nothing changes at la Casa Gloom and Doom. Every time I go up there my mother has pulled out “a box” I need to go through. Usually this task waits until I’m about to get in the car on Sunday, and she says, “Oh, you forgot to go through your stuff!” This time though, I remembered early and asked her what and where these boxes were.
Kiddie books. Great.
Considering that X and I just got married, and that we’re no spring chickens, I would think maybe she would wait a year or so just to see if there’s a Baby-Velvet to become the owner of the books. Right now, I have absolutely no idea if I want these books or not.
I started pulling the books out, one by one. Then my mom came over and started pulling books out too, and making piles, and then I had absolutely no clue what I’d gone through already and what still needed attention. I made my focus the “give to nieces” pile, as I would ideally like to put most of the books there. The reason being, it gets them out of her house so I’ll stop hearing about them, and there is a remote chance a would-be Baby-Velvet might get the books back if/when she/he/it arrives. But is it this easy? Oh, nooooo. She has to pull every. single. book. out. And inspect it. And, she has to ask questions. OMFG!!!
Gloom: You don’t want this?
Me: No. I don’t even remember that book.
Gloom: Well, you should take 2 books with you every time you go see the girls and spread it out.
(I ignored her because I only see my nieces twice a year.)
Gloom: Oh, I remember this book! THIS is a “donate?” I paid good money for this book!
(The sticker from Caldors, which closed over 20 years ago, indicates someone spent $1.34.)
Me: JESUS MOM! What are all these piles? STOP taking books out of the boxes!!!
Gloom: Well, I want to see these books!
Me: Seriously, stop. You want me to go through them, I’m going through them. Another for the nieces pile.
Gloom: When you see the girls, just bring them two books.
Doom: Are you two getting anywhere?
Me: No, because she’s a pain in the ass! She keeps pulling the books out that I am trying to donate and trying to save them, and she is making 10 piles of books I haven’t gone through. You can’t throw anything away in this house because you guys rescue it from the garbage and make me go through it again next time I come up here!
Doom: That’s your mother. I don’t do that.
Gloom: I just like looking at the books.
Me: You live here and you have all the time in the world to look at these books. Now that I’m here, you need to let me do this.
Gloom: This box is heavy. Are you bringing all these to the girls? Just bring them two.
X: The kids will be 40 by the time she gets all the books to them.
Me: Yeah, seriously, stop saying that. I’m dumping this whole box there the next time I see them.
Me: Who is at the door?
Doom: I’ll get it.
After a few minutes, my dad came back in the room with two t-shirts. He said their neighbor won them at a golf game and doesn’t want them so he gave them to my dad. He probably bought them at the mall because he’s sick of having to watch my dad mow the lawn shirtless. My mom got totally distracted and starts touching the shirts and asking if they are cotton and the two of them are cooing over the shirts. You cannot cure them of their packus-rattis-itis. Their motto is “more stuff is better than less stuff, and free stuff is the best kind of stuff to have.” I took this opportunity to quickly plow through the books without her TSA-like security inspection.
Then I looked at X and tried to telepathically say “Do you see the irony of them making me throw out this crap and someone shows up at their front door to give them more crap?” and X looked at me and tried to telepathically say “If you fucking turn in to your mother this marriage is over.”
I swear to Gucci, those two shirts will be in my next box of shit to go through.
Too bad they are already back to being Gloom and Doom. It was refreshing to see them referred to as Mommy and Daddy.
There really isn’t much you can do for people who are packrats. Sometimes a fire is the most useful thing that could happen.
Just take the whole box and donate the whole thing.
I think most parents do this, ask you to go through crap and then get mad when you plan to toss it. If they want it that much, then they should have to deal with the boxes in their house. 🙂 I’m glad you survived.
Next visit, send them out to dinner (minus the X’s) and then really rip through things. Do NOT put it in the house garbage cans. Go to the dump, go to a dumpster, haul it home. Anything but having them get it back in the house. You will not turn into these people. Trust me. If you were, that impulse would already be in place, and you would have wanted all of the books, the two shirts and other “stuff.”
I had a widowed neighbor years ago, and he had a screened in porch, the type of situation you see on that hoarding tv show. Finally the authorities were called, groups formed and garbarge trucks and dumpsters arrived. It was truly heartbreaking. Him standing by helplessly. Then later at night, out for a walk, and seeing his frail old being up on a ladder diving into the dumpsters to get his stuff back. I don’t think any of us want to be that person.
All joking aside, it is a serious illness and trying to get a person to let go of something insane….like a matchbook…or a newspaper from 1974….is impossible. They hyperventilate. They become anxious. I had a friend who was living with her mother at the time (Mom being the packrat) and she told me she would go to a playground near their home after work and sit in her car and cry rather than wanting to go home.
Mr. and Mrs. X will never be those people.
I absolutely love D & G. I now feel validated in asking my kids to go through a box or two when they come home. My daughter immediately throws everything out. My son keeps it all and we pay for shipping it across the country.
You should keep your favorite books from when you were little. I wish I had mine. I do remember on one occasion when my mother wouldn’t get off the phone that I colored a whole page black in one of those Little Golden books. I’m sure that one bit the dust long ago.
I feel lucky that my parents have boxed the stuff up that they thought I would want to have, although I guess it didn’t cross their minds that if I’d really wanted any of it I would have taken it with me to begin with. It’s so weird to see some of the things my mother has chosen to save for me, now that I’m old enough to appreciate it, hahaha! Like I need more irrelevant stuff sitting around here.
Hopefully your parents are just exhibiting typical behavior of their generation since those tendencies don’t seem to have been passed along to you. But be careful, because you never know. It is very very easy for that kind of thing to get out of hand.
My husband would be that old man Cube mentioned if he didn’t have me and he has actually has been known to retrieve things (of mine) out of the trash. He kind of somehow turned into his mother, but it didn’t really start until a few years after we were married, and I was in such disbelief that I didn’t deal with it very well. It’s a difficult situation because of all the emotion involved for both the person with the problem, and the person who has a problem with the person who has the problem. There’s just no way to know how far it will go, or how much can be tolerated. But I now know that nipping it in the bud is definitely the best defense – either for yourself or on behalf of someone else because it only gets more difficult as the person gets older.
I’m glad you know that too. X – don’t worry, she sells her extra stuff on eBay!
Siryn – LOLOL!!!! A fire! What a brilliant idea! Hmm…something to think about for sure! I want to donate this crap, but inherent in the demand that I must “go through” the box is also her demand of how I “dispose” of said material. She really wants me to want it all, re-box it up, and then take it to my place so it’s out of her house.
MG – I was just thinking that if X and I have a baby, I’m so cheap I’ll probably end up buying all baby clothes at Old Navy – and that crap isn’t worth saving, so I am hoping to prevent this trend from continuing.
Cube – I have had this “rule” with every house I’ve lived in since leaving their home: I must be able to vacuum from one outlet. I can still do that where I live now the place is so small. And there is virtually NO storage space. I learned many years ago when my then-bf and I packed our entire life into what I was proud to say “only 36 boxes” to put in storage so we could drive cross country, that when you actually sit down to unpack those boxes, you don’t want any of the stuff anymore.
I feel really bad for your neighbor. He probably had a lot of memories tied into that house and the stuff with his wife having died. I watch the Hoarders shows, but all that crap makes me hyperventilate. I’m actually the only one in my immediate family without the packrat gene. Thankfully. X would tell you different, because I have some stacks of books here and there, but my place could be easily packed up in a day and I could get out of here by sundown.
Barbara – I did keep a box worth of the classics. But all those British Invasion books, Mary Poppins, Cheaper By the Dozen and the Duran Duran Biography all went to the Library donate pile. Too old for my nieces, and though my mom protested, I WILL NOT hold on to those books for 8 more years.
Cube, follow up – No. I already checked. The Duran Duran Book is NOT worth anything.
Cyndy – The Hoarders shows say that people start to attach emotions and feelings to objects. I do that with cars, but not with other stuff. Though I did just recently admit that because I’m constantly on the search for the perfect bed for Sammy, I have 8 beds floating around our 3 houses. Not. Good.
I’m glad you checked the books on Amazon (and hopefully eBay.) It’s amazing what people buy. I’ve listed some things thinking, “No one will ever buy this,” and lo and behold!
Isn’t it interesting reading other’s experiences with this? I think it is a subject most of us give consideration to. I know I am fighting the good fight all of the time against “stuff.”