A DNA of Hoarding


My partner Sara says I’m a hoarder.  I prefer to think of myself as a devotee of surplus—not so much a believer in excess, as advocate for plenty.

image via philosophyofscienceportal.com

Call this what you will.  We all have our crosses to bear, and having a few extras of everything lying around is Sara’s, I suppose.

This tendency toward more than enough may have been at its worst during the Haitian presidential elections last year, when we were living in Port-au-Prince and I felt the need to be especially well-supplied in the event of violence or political unrest.  We had plenty of fuel for the generator, batteries for emergency lighting, and a solar powered radio to hear election results.

We were so well-supplied, in fact, that Sara laughed at me, pointing out that, including the four cans of diced tomatoes I bought the day before the election, we had a grand total of thirteen, and including the two  I purchased that same morning, we had fourteen bottles of salad dressing—blue cheese, balsamic vinaigrette, and honey mustard varies all lined in lovely rows.  You see, Sara has her own issues with wanting things excessively well-ordered—tidied—so much so that before the election, for example, Sara had my fifteen two-liter bottles of Coke Zero lined up with military precision in the cupboard under the stairs—a soldiering of the surplus, so to speak.

image via adamwomann.wordpress.com

Okay, okay, I admit it—I’m obsessed.  I over-shop.  I over-stock.  It’s a sickness.

And, sure, I could have blamed this on the political climate in Haiti, the potential for civil unrest, the need to be well-supplied in the event of disaster.  But I didn’t­.  No—

—I blamed it, instead, on the DNA—

—Claiming, as my grandmother did when my aunt asked why she had so much toilet paper—a floor-to-ceiling-sized pantry full—

“I’m keeping it so all the hoarders don’t get it!”

What supplies are surplus-ed in your pantry?

Note:  If you are new to my blog, you might like to know that I am writing a memoir and blogging about growing up in an organized crime family.  (This post is not part of that series.)  To read one of my mafia-related memoir posts,”Kids Make the Best Bookies,” click here.  If you are interested in reading any of my protected posts, please email me at kownroom@yahoo.com  or let me know in the comments below, and I will gladly share the password with you.

64 thoughts on “A DNA of Hoarding

  1. I just sent you a link to a fascinating and affirming study on behavior that may provide some explanations for what we do 😃Much love to you, dear friend!

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  2. I think you two are a match made in heaven. You collect it, she organizes it. I am a book hoarder, but I’m trying to get over that. Nathan collects stuff. Lots and lots of stuff. Sarah takes after him. I try to organize his stuff, but he and Sarah cannot seem to fall in line with the organization, so I wave my hands in surrender. That’s why he has the “Man-cave” downstairs (although can you really call an office with lots of games and puppets a man-cave?). We don’t really have an excess of food stuffs and things, because Nathan learned a lesson from his parents, who are hoarders, when we had to clean out their entire refrigerator after a blackout that lasted over a day. That was fun. NOT!

    Great post, Kathy.

    Lisa

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    • Yes, I suppose Nathan and I are a lot alike. Smart of you to have assigned him his own space. The man-cave concept may be woman’s most brilliant cultural achievement in recent years! Hugs to all of you—————-

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  3. OH my goodness—-you are in such good company!! I have not really gotten into hoarding anything other than craft supplies for my card making but I blogged this past summer about cleaning out my father in law’s house and seeing all that he hoarded. Need a lightbulb? Found about 200. Flashlight? At least 50. Toilet paper and laundry detergent? Didn’t have to buy any for the 7 months I lived there taking care of things. I blame it on SAMS Club memberships. But I digress. Loved the post and I would love to get the super secret posts also……sounds like I have a lot of reading and catching up to do on your blog!!! 🙂

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  4. Haiti does that sometimes. Ha! i remember growing up there and seeing my nana buy things in case of an emergency. we went through the embargo in the early 90s- so all the things she had stocked in her pantry came in handy – like chocolate or cereal…things like that were very expensive and rarely available.

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  5. Very fun post, Kathy! From what I’m learning it appears that all our tendencies or predispositions are inherited from past generations. With that said, it’s no wonder it’s so hard to change.

    I like the word “collector”. I’m a collector of information so I have reams of paper and stuff I usually don’t get around to fully reading.

    Hope you have an excellent day!

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  6. “I’m keeping it so all the hoarders don’t get it!” Hahaha! Brilliant. I might have to adopt this theory as it relates to cake. I’d hate those hoarders to get their hands on all that cake 🙂

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  7. Allow me to put this in perspective for you, I live in a space that’s about half the size of an anthropomorphic flea’s thumbnail. A very typical cramped New York City apartment that will never be seen in a mainstream movie, but it’s housed my life for nearly thirty years. The last time I had two guests visit at once was ten years ago. Fortunately, they were already romantically involved for if they weren’t they would have been by the time they left — and possibly parents. Since I could easily become the Collier brothers’ sister with minimal effort, I try not to hoard but to purge. If not, I wouldn’t have any space to fit myself.

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  8. Fabric and books. The bane of my existence. I have a dresser full of fabric. The closet has nine rubbermaid containers of fabric (containers the size of a small microwave each, some of them with a book inside because it contains the instructions for a project for that particular set of fabric) and two giant (like could fit a large man’s body in) of fabric in the laundry room and that doesn’t count the box of fabric next to my sewing machine, the small cabinet full and the stuff I have crammed in my sewing table. Jo Ann’s got nothing on me, baby. Books….I have a serious addiction. Between Jim and I, we NEED a library. In fact, we are considering building book shelves that go from ceiling to floor, but…we’re worried it won’t be enough room for all of them! Gah!

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    • I have some minor issues with fabric myself, as it relates to my ornament making. However, both Sara and I have issues with books–big issues with books. We both have e-readers AND books still coming out the “you know what.” Sara says, however, that she thinks books are an issue unto themselves–that they deserve special consideration. I may do a separate post on book-hoarding!

      Hugs to you, Sista!

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  9. “Crosses to bear…” I’ve been using that phrase a lot lately with my teenage kids who each have their own short-comings to work on or work around.
    As far as hoarding… I’m not sure if what I do would be considered hoarding. If I’m at the store, I always buy food items that I know I never want to run out of – oatmeal, ice cream, apples, popcorn, steamable veggies, and more. Sometimes I will have so much of these items, I can’t close the fridge door. Okay, you’re right… I’m a hoarder too. 🙂

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  10. Having 2 young boys at home, I can’t say that we have a surplus of ANYTHING! They don’t allow anything to be stocked up for long!! Starting a few years ago, I have developed a strong need to “simplify” my life as much as possible. Getting rid of “junk” at home that I don’t need anymore. Unfortunately, things seem to come in to our house faster than it can go out……

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    • You sound a lot like my sister. She has 2 boys, as well. She is big into getting rid of things and keeping life as simple as possible. But there’s a lot of wisdom in that approach. I wish I could learn that way of living. Thanks for reading, Holly!

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  11. I have about a bazillion bottles of Mike’s Hard Lemonade. Which is funny, as I rarely drink the stuff anymore.

    This must be the reason why I have about a bazillion bottles of Mike’s Hard Lemonade…

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  12. Does 25lb of quinoa count as hoarding? What about 25lbs of rolled oats, 5lbs of short grain brown rice, 2lbs of oat flour, 2lbs of spelt flour, and 5 lbs of raw, organic almonds? I hoard non-perishables! Guilty as charged! 🙂

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  13. I’m laughing because my hubby Keoni is a hoarder as well! I think my favorite of his “hoards” is the inexplicably stuffed drawer-full of RECEIPTS… for things we WON’T be returning, like groceries or tattoos! It’s become our joke now, whenever a sales clerk goes to hand him a receipt–I have to stage an intervention! 😉 I won’t even try to describe the supremely stocked kitchen–but I don’t intervene on that one! He’s da Kook (er, Cook), and that’s his kingdom, and I only go in there to kiss him or refill my coffee… 😉 You & he would get along marvelously!
    Hugs, Kana 😉

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    • How funny, Kana! I have to confess–I have issues with receipts, as well. Kind of big issues with receipts. I save them–all of them. In fact, now that you mention this, I think I will need to blog about my receipt issues. This is too, too funny!

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  14. You and my stepdad should meet, Kathy! When i was home for Christmas, I counted 9 jars of olives and 13 jars of mustard.
    At least you have the excuse of the Haitian unrest to blame it on. My stepdad can’t say the same.

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    • How funny, Jackie. I’d agree that 13 jars of mustard are one or two too many. Perhaps your stepdad is a mustard and olive connoisseur, of sorts. Lets just hope it wasn’t 13 jars of yellow mustard. Have a great weekend, my friend.

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  15. Ah yes, the toilet rolls. It never hurts to buy a bulk pack when they are on special, now does it? They’ll all get used one day, eventually, and they don’t have a ‘use by’ date, so how can you go wrong? 🙂 Well, that’s my theory anyway, and I’m sticking to it!

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  16. This is great, Kathy! I love all our different obsessive-compulsive traits. I personally am obsessively-compulsed about wanting to get RID of things. Way too much joy happens every time we throw something out! (My dad is a collector. You know how it skips generations with a vengeance at times.) The only thing I don’t want to get rid of is blog hits. lol!

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  17. I used to collect lots of stuff–books and CDs, Hummels, Star Trek Action Figures…. But all those things have been released to the ethers and found new homes. My apartment is too teeny to hold much–the One of Everything rule applies (except for underwear and toilet paper).

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  18. LOL! I love your grandmother’s response. I’ll have to remember that one as I’m sure I’ll have use for it. My pantry looks like I’m getting ready for the apocalypse.

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  19. omg – I LOVE this topic – though I HATE the TLC series, for those of us in the USA… I have to say, my current hoard issues are #1 finding great new blogs and following them – I follow WAY too many blogs, but I wouldn’t have it any other way, and #2 e-bookmarking and creating folders so I’ll be able to find said e-bookmarks. Kathy, your blog is so great and so are all the comments/commenters!!!
    🙂
    janet

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    • Thanks so much, Janet. I’m thrilled to have you read my blog and feel honored that you enjoy it. How fun is that!? I, too, follow too many blogs, I’m afraid, but I guess there are worse vices, right? Hope to see you again soon!

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