Shocking confessions on the road to minimalism -or- The weird shit we hoard

 This is not a story for the chicken-hearted… Or my parents… or in-laws who would undoubtedly be horrified…

There is something that I must reveal in a public forum so that anyone reading might hold us accountable and shame us into finally putting an end to our last remaining hoarding habits!

People hoard some bizarre shit. I once offered to help a friend tidy up his apartment only to discover his collection of old ponytails that he stashed in sandwich bags, and not the Ziplock ones — like fold over sandwich bags… This forever made me paranoid about what people might inadvertently find around my house and I became obsessed with not having too much stuff ever since. Thank the TV gawds for bringing me Hoarders and making me feel so much better about myself simply because I do not have to scale a mountain of soiled, reeking diapers to reach the second floor of my home. I am at once haunted and entertained by the images of the old lady who obsessed over her precious pile of mummified cats and “fascinatingly beautiful” bug carcasses.

It was not uncommon when we started dating for me to find among my (future) Husband’s piles of bachelor crap: old girlfriend’s underwear (that led to some interesting fights conversations), collectible filthy childhood toys, ten million or so guitar cables, and a fine array of unidentifiables of the food or clothing variety. Dave had a roommate who had filled the entire basement with box after box of unopened Amazon purchases, Microsoft manuals, CD cases, VHS tapes (VHS tapes!), rubber ducks, other forms of rubber poultry, comics, moldy socks that were likely shoved into the boxes on the way to the laundry when it was just too difficult to get them into the actual washer (a mere 2 yards away), aaaaand nothing. Yep, there were boxes simply there because they were “perfectly good boxes he might need someday” — Like, when he moved all his stuff out — Which he didn’t. So we were left sifting through these rat-abandoned boxes for months after the roommate moved out and I moved in.

Once I did move in, it was harder for me to nag Dave about his borderline hoarder potential because it became clear that I had been holding on to some rather unsavory items as well. As I began to spruce the place up, unpack, and unload my feminine touches on Our Home (see: cleaning supplies & pretty-smelling soaps to replace the cracked shard of an Ivory bar that lingered near the shower drain week after week); two things in particular were illuminated: We had multiples of some really unnecessary stuff and I save some things as if I were raised during the (first) great depression.

We had have a ton of knives. I like knives. Like the decorative, switch blade, retro, witchy woman/Jets vs. Sharks variety — I have a collection of letter openers — but the knives we have duplicates of (STILL to this day, even as we stand on the precipice of minimalism!) are really lame. We have approximately 13 plastic-handled (many never used) pumpkin carving knives in a variety of neon Halloween colors, sharpness/childproof-ness, and serrations.

We had MANY, HEAVY boxes of photographs shitty snapshots that were mostly of nothing. There were pictures of unknown landscapes, exes, blurry sidewalks (?), and (once again) nothing — seemingly blank prints that we saved with the negatives thinking that someday we would have the time, energy, and technology to find out what beautiful mystery had just escaped the lens before we snapped… I about snapped going through these piles of garbage for hours on end. Somewhere in the back of my mind maybe I thought that if I was ever in some terrible accident and got amnesia we might need these thousands of un-framable photos to help me regain my memory, but in reality those photos would serve to remind me that we were hoarders and that I never should have let my mother cut my hair when I was a kid… and that we apparently like sunsets and the Statue of Liberty A LOT.  We finally have our collection down to a few albums of intelligible Photographs. We hardly ever make prints, since we rarely say “that’s a framer!” without major sarcasm.

We collectively had 16 spools of dental floss, 11 tubes of toothpaste, a file box full of expired medicine, and only half a roll of toilet paper between three bathrooms at any given time…

My Husband had a T-shirt collection that (when piled on the floor in anticipation of someone, someday doing laundry) reached the ceiling. This collection consisted of precious, typically XXL keepsakes that reminded him of shows he went to, jobs he had, camps he attended as a kid, and apparently the vintage shops he frequented during his rockabilly, Grateful Dead, and punk eras. They did not, presumably, remind him that he wears a medium size T-shirt.  I told him to narrow this collection to 20 shirts the first year we lived together and after many months and me sneaking some to the garbage in the middle of the night a fantastic system that I will write about later — it was finally accomplished. I believe he currently has this collection down to 3. I’m convinced he kept acquiring so many shirts over the years because he figured he had lost many of them to The Pile that had become too overwhelming to wash.

We had still have a disturbing collection of underwear. Yes, myself included. I had so many pairs of underwear that when I backpacked around Europe in my younger days, I would just throw them away after each use (this also had to do with my fear of the European laundromats). Although I have this collection downsized significantly now, it pains me to say that I carried around (and still occasionally find) tattered panties of a bygone era. I found one such disgraceful pair while doing laundry today which inspired me to write this post. I have carted lingerie around like a security blanket — We aren’t wealthy folks, but we can afford to by freakin undergarments on a regular basis — and therefore nothing shall excuse the fact that until I moved in with Dave (the first and only Man I shall ever live with) I had carted around for an undisclosed number of years (deep breath!) the underwear I wore whilst with my first date, one bra I distinctly remember buying at Victoria’s Secret in high school knowing full well it was a cup size too large, a bra which slices into my flesh every time I wear it but was just so expensive pretty I didn’t have the heart to throw it away, My “Alex P. Keaton for President — Sha la la la” boyshorts that contained about one half-inch of their original elastic, and the dreaded granny panty (which is not allowed in my home now that I have some pride and a person who sees me in my underwear on a regular basis). 

We have since purchased a new house together that is 75% less full of crap — Before we moved in, we gutted and remodeled it to make it less packrat-friendly. Packing and moving is one of the best ways for us to clear the clutter (though obviously not a practical solution for everyone), as we are forced to face the reality that few of our worldly possessions were treasures, but many were heavy and we didn’t want to move them again… Our goal is to get our wardrobe down to the basics of our Uniform (with a few special touches, of course – a girl’s gotta have some defining accessories) and to get our home down to the basics of our true needs and wants. Part of our continuing Quest for peace through simplicity… So, obviously, this creepy hoarder behavior must be exorcised from our lives like a pea soup spewing demon… I’m guessing this shameful blog confessional should do the trick.

Tell me about the weirdest shit you hoard/have hoarded in the past/things your “friends” hoard — What’s the toughest Stuff for you to let go of and why? Feel free to email me your anonymous confessions at FreeRangeQuest [at]

Happy un-Hoarding!



3 thoughts on “Shocking confessions on the road to minimalism -or- The weird shit we hoard

  1. Wow! I didn’t know I was a hoarder til I read this! I just thought I was being practical with my various boxes of items I might someday use. Like every single button that has come as an extra attached to new clothes or ever fallen off clothes or I’ve ever found on the ground! I also like to keep all the packets of soy sauce from Chinese take out, and all the honey from Popeyes. I’ve never once opened and consumed one of these packets, but someday when all other resources have been exhausted I will escape certain death by sucking down a honey packet.

  2. Okay…I will abstain from jam making endeavors until the basement & all my crap is gone. Once again, I needed a gentle (ahem) reminder that no one will be interested in going thru’ this stuff when I am 6 feet under…but I am keeping the gift wrap from the mid 80’s that a former boyfriend’s famous painter father made for me…you know, just in case it’s worth a bazillion dollars….

    • Suz, I bet you have a ton of stuff you could sell on Ebay/Amazon and make a pile of money that could go toward a killer Jam session. Simplifying means you can focus more on your true passions!

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