Friday, July 21, 2006

Clutter! Mess! REVISITED!

Why I took these pictures, I don't know. They bring up...irritation...even now, over five years later.

But, since I looked at them and was irritated and have pictoral evidence of exactly WHY my husband's packratness bothers me so much (and my MIL's packratness bothers me even more) I have decided to post them.

Several months before we married, my mother-in-law moved out of the apartment she had ostensibly been sharing with her sons (she had been living, more or less, with her longterm boyfriend, for the past year or thereabouts) so that we could rent it from her. I am forced to use the term 'move out' loosely, for while she claims to have moved out, she left a LOT of shit. Sure, SOME of this shit is my husband's. But most of it is not. Note the bicycles. INSIDE. And not my husband's. There is an enclosed patio and locked closet, both of more than decent size, attached to this apartment. But they were covered in assorted OTHER shit (we found everything from years-dead plants to decayed batteries to plastic boxes so old they literally broke in our hands as we lifted them) so the bikes were inside. The TV didn't work anyway (for those of us that think no-tv is new for isn't). SO. Much. SHIT.

We now get to see the kitchen. What you can see is NOT all you get here. MIL is, you see, a packrat of absolutely insane proportions. She saved every pair of single-use chopsticks she ever got. As a Chinese person in Hawaii...yeah. I lost count around 700. Why was I even COUNTING? I dunno. Amusement. So that I could tell people there were 12,345 pairs of chopstics in the kitchen, along with cans of Ensure that had expired a decade previous and bags of flour so old I should have submitted them to the natural science museum. Whatever the reason, it was a waste of time.

The dishwasher held the clean dishes. So that the actual cabinets could hold assorted nicknacks, candles, assorted small and unused appliances purchased off of infomercials, you know, SHIT. And YES, I do mean that there was more than you can see on the counters here. In addition to that bit of nonfunctional unloveliness, the oven was full of more dishes as well as all the pans and such. My husband assures me that the oven was never used, as his mom preferred the toaster oven, which also (hehe) housed the pyrex pieces. Both of these situations existed for two reasons: 1)MIL kept those foil things that come on the bottoms of pies and some restaurants' takeout and 2)the drawer that should have housed all this shit was full to the I-can't-open-it point with plastic grocery bags. What I didn't realize was that they had been shoved so hard that some had escaped up out of the back of the drawer, hiding to create stinkageness the first time I tried to bake something. Niiiiiiiice. All in all, there was not an INCH of counter space in the WHOLE FUCKING KITCHEN. Not an INCH. I don't know how my mother in law cooked, because surely she DID, I think it was all simply done in midair and placed in a crock pot, because that is how it seemed to happen when I came over for dinner (which we had to eat sitting on the floor in the 10 square feet of open space in entry/hallway).

Oh, but she DID have a table. You just couldn't sit at it. I mean, you could probably have managed to get yourself seated at it and that would have worked out, but you couldn't have moved afterwards. I saw my MIL clear it away once. She pretty much picked everything up and dumped it on my husband's bed so that her mom could sit at the table. I'm not sure what is up with the clear space in the photo. Maybe she decided she needed whatever it was she had in that spot at her new place.

I don’t have any pictures of the bedroom. It was perhaps simply too appalling. There were racks of clothes…store-style racks of clothes…outside the closet. File cabinets. A set of bunkbeds and then just…SHIT. You could barely walk through the room. Maybe that is why there are no pictures. I couldn’t get in there to fucking TAKE them.

Anyway, look and feel better about your life and the amount of shit you have in YOUR place. This is BEFORE I put any of my stuff in there. We had to clear out a lot of stuff. A lot of it, I was just…I was disgusted…I stuck it in boxes or bags and dumped it at MIL’s new place. I don’t want all your fucking half-burned candles and old correspondence and 1000 pairs of Chinese takeout single-use chopsticks. Three different types of coffee grinders, 12 spatulas, three hairdryers, and four (clothes) irons. A linen closet FULL of sheets, for the ONE bed we had.

It was a lot of work. It made me appreciate packratness for the mental problem it so obviously was. Clearly it took a lot of mental work for my mother-in-law to leave this stuff behind. I just wish she hadn't dumped it all on the heads of the newlywed, new-family, struggling day-to-day family that we were.


~L~ said...

This really really stressed me out reading it.

I must go throw something else out now. GAWD.

In Recovery said...

That's intense. Unfortunately for me, I'm the hoarder in our family. Stories like yours help us with this problem--when we're ready for recovery, it's like a wake-up call to read how we and our junk are perceived.

*d* said...

Holy hell, batman. DH is a packrat. I manage it the best I can, too. OY.

Linda said...

This is what my husband's house was like when I moved in. Only probably worse as it was also filthy. He doesn't clean, and his roommates were packrats. The combination was a disaster. And, when I moved in (and the roommates moved out) I was four months pregnant! You can imagine how thrilled I was about *that*.

My mom is clean, but she is a terrible packrat. My brother and I make jokes about having a big bonfire when she dies. It helps us deal with the sheer horror of having to go through it all. She knows it's unfair and keeps vowing to get things organized, but we all know it's never going to happen.

DebraBaker said...

Bless you, I couldn't handle that level of clutter. I know people like that, however.

I have helped move a couple of them and my word, "never again!!"


I think of them as sort of constipated and need a mental ex-lax to purge themselves of all that junk.

Jenny said...

Dear lord ... and I thought I was bad.

Heather said...

She needs Fly Lady. Her book is great.