My wife and I are not hoarders. We're very good at using up what we have and getting rid of what we don't need. Our house is small – 750 square feet, give or take – which means if we acquire something new, we usually need to eliminate something else to make room for it. Even down to my short sleeve shirts: if I add one, I must subtract one. That's how delicate our balance of space is. That said, there are things we have too many of, and various reasons why we can't let go of them. For instance:
- Mugs/teacups. We have an inordinate amount of handled drinking vessels, which came to this house as gifts, inheritances, impulse buys, and souvenirs. Yesterday I counted 47 such vessels – 47! – and I'm sure I've overlooked a few. This is not a "collection". This is excess. Because my wife and I just use the same two cheap tea mugs on a daily basis. On occasion, some of our neat 1940s Moscow Mule mugs will be put to work, and we'll set out two dainty teacups for special brunches. But the rest have never been used at all.
- Clocks. My wife and I are prompt people – she even more so than I – and thus we tend to keep an eye on the clock. Or clocks, that is, for we have at least a dozen in our tiny abode: three in the kitchen, three in the living room, two in the bathroom (though one's not working right now), three in the upstairs office, and one in the bedroom. That's not including the clocks embedded on my iMac, our two iPads, and our two iPhones; at least one of us is staring at some Apple screen at any given moment.
- Socks. I like fancy socks and have more than three dozen pairs. Although I do rotate through them all, there's simply so many that they take years to wear out, especially as I can spend entire days barefoot. I'm really bored with some of these socks at this point, but they're still in good shape, so I can't justify tossing them out.
- Plastic food containers. My wife used to work as a personal chef for a friend of hers. She would cook a week's worth of lunches for him every Sunday, each packaged in a reusable plastic container. (Not Tupperware; you know what I mean.) The friend was often lax about returning the empty containers for reuse, so my wife kept having to buy new ones. Now that she no longer cooks for him, we have dozens of empty containers gathering dust in storage. I don't know why we're keeping them.
- Novels written by a musician. Another of my wife's ex-employers is a singer/songwriter. For over two decades she ran his website, coordinated his tour schedule, paid his bills, and sold his music. (I even designed his website and several of his album covers.) In 2005 or thereabouts, he decided to self-publish a semi-autobiographical novel, and had 2,500 copies printed. That's a lot of books. Unfortunately, his fans wanted to hear his music, not read his fictionalized memoirs, and for years we had boxes and boxes of this guy's unsold books in our closet. Although my wife no longer works for him, we still have three sealed boxes, each containing 32 books, in a cubby hole under our bed. 96 big fat books that no one wants, least of all us.
- CDs. We poor Gen-X'ers, amassing tons of compact discs over a decade or two, only to have it all converted into sound files on the "cloud". Some of us have gone retro, of course, with a return to vinyl records. I have not, so behold my collection of 400+ CDs. Do I listen to them all? No, I listen to maybe 20 of them. In the car. On long drives. If I remember to bring them. Despite all this, I continue to pick up a couple new CDs every year.
- CD-ROMs and DVD-ROMs. See above. I must have at least a hundred unburned discs, with no way to burn them ever since I "upgraded" my iMac to the model without a drive. (Note: it's not an upgrade.) I'll probably never buy a "SuperDrive", yet dumping these discs still seems like a waste somehow.
- Comic books. I don't read many comics as an adult, so technically there should be zero comic books in this house, instead of the 150 or so that I have. They are ancient, but not ancient enough: between the ages of 9 and 12, I was a voracious consumer of Marvel titles (never DC!), especially X-Men and The Avengers. At that time, there was much ado over folks shelling out big bucks for an original 1938 copy of Action Comics #1, so I was convinced that comic books were solid investments. I was wrong. Forgive me if I can't bring myself to sell my old comics for cheap – I'm still pretending that they'll be really valuable... someday.
- Matches. Remember when I made a short called 20 Matches? For backers of my 2015 Indiegogo campaign – and later for my 2018 campaign for Words to Live by – I offered to sculpt little clay figures that could each fit inside a matchbox. In order to do this, I had to purchase over 150 matchboxes. Each with 32 matches inside. So I wound up with around 5,000 matches. The good news is that they are long-lasting and useful, so I'm sure I will burn through them all by the time I am 80 years old.