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When Does ‘Collecting’ Tip Into ‘Hoarding’?

As I’ve chronicled extensively through the last month or two, I’ve just moved house. Now in my new house, I’m still putting together the last few bits to make the house actually feel like a home. That means lugging my glass cabinets upstairs to the spare room, and starting to redisplay the collections that I’ve been curating over at least the last decade.

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I didn’t think I’d collected that much until I had to pack it all up. It was some of the first things I packed up, as anything decor could easily be thrown in a box and left, without affecting day to day life. (Try packing up a kitchen. You can’t. You need everything still. It is a nightmare). As I packed, I realised just how much stuff I do collect. Here’s a non exhaustive list of the items I collect over time:

 

  • My Little Pony toys
  • Fashion dolls (Barbie, Monster High, Disney dolls, etc.)
  • Terrible fridge magnets (the more ugly and hideous, the better)
  • Enamel pins
  • Artwork
  • Theme park ride photos
  • Empty notebooks (that I will fill one day, I swear)

 

This isn’t even all of it. That’s not including the things my husband collects, such as DVDs and Hatsune Miku figures. There’s a lot of stuff in the house, is what I’m saying.

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Moving house has brought me to realise just how much I collect. Some things don’t take up a lot of room, such as the magnets and pins. Magnets, obviously, live on the fridge, and I display my pins on cork boards so they’re just hanging out on the wall. Other things do take up room though, and it’s a fine balance between things that ‘spark joy’ and just straight up clutter.

There is a small voice in my head that’s screaming about becoming a hoarder, that I’m wasting my time and money on these things as they’re just ‘things’, after all. What are they really? Am I just filling up my house with useless junk?

That’s the question. I do try and keep on top of my collecting, though. I know many people who want to collect full sets of things, such as My Little Pony toys and playsets. As cute as the playsets are, I’ve already made peace with the fact I’ll never have the room for them. I also don’t pick up full sets of the toys, unless I like each one. It’s better for me to have less toys that I love equally, rather than packing the spare room full of every plastic filly Hasbro ever made.

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I also regularly go through and clear out my collections. Sometimes you realise you just don’t like something as much anymore. That doll was great when I bought it, but now I just feel rather ‘eh’ about it. These things go on eBay and I send them on to someone who would appreciate them much more than I would.

At the end of the day, collecting is something that makes me happy. I’m not big on makeup, I don’t own a lot of shoes, and I’m not into expensive bling. Instead, I spend my money on plastic toys and little shiny trinkets. As long as I’m not creating hallways in my home from discarded toys and plastic junk, then I think I’m going to be ok.

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I Hate Moving House, And Here’s Why

I feel like I’ve been writing about it for weeks (mostly because I have) but I have finally, finally, moved house. All my stuff is in a new place and I now have the task of finding new homes for it all. I’m exhausted, and so sick to the back teeth of seeing boxes everywhere. Here are some of the things I’ve learned about moving house that I’m going to pass onto you. Forewarned is forearmed, or something like that.

The Boxes Never End

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They never end. Ever. I spent hours the other day clearing up the front room, taking things out of boxes and finding homes for them. I emptied boxes, broke them down and started on new boxes. However, the procession of boxes NEVER ENDED. In the end, I flopped into the living room and wailed ‘THAT ROOM DOESN’T EVEN LOOK ANY BETTER!’

I have resigned myself to the fact that my house now looks like the back room of a severely disorganised charity shop.

There’s Still Stuff To Get Rid Of

I thought I’d got rid of everything that needed to go before we made the move. I took a whole sofa to the tip and heaved it away, and it was deeply satisfying. I KonMari’d the crap out of my life. Everything I have now is something I want, right?

HA.

Now we’ve moved, I have pieces of furniture that don’t have a use or a home. I have things that were dumped on me last minute, as I was loading up the van. Plus, there’s the stuff that we just plain forgot we owned till the last minute. I moved my childhood violin with me. I haven’t played the violin since I was 8. Why do I have this violin?!

Plus, there’s all the crap that we found in the new house when we moved. There’s terrible ‘modern artwork’ on the walls. There’s a rusty old shower caddy in the bathroom. There’s a variety of ‘funky’ yet dreadfully boring vases dotted everywhere. Why?! I don’t want them!

You’re Never Fully Packed

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Before we left, we ran into a snag as we couldn’t pack up everything before we could move. There’s stuff you’re still using, and will still be using until moving day. On moving day, we ended up flinging things at random into boxes, just so we could get the hell out.

That’s now backfired on us, as now we have several ‘Boxes of AAARGH!’ as my husband has dubbed them. Now we have to sort through them and put stuff away. Sounds great. I’m going to go cry now.

Your Address Needs Changing Everywhere

Much like changing your name, changing your address is a slow and on going process. I keep finding new places that need my new address. You think you’ve sorted it all out, but then there’s somewhere else that needs your new address, and what are you going to do then?

That would be ok, if everything would go smoothly. But it won’t. Paypal currently can’t work out why I want to change my billing address with them. I’m too tired to argue with them. This leads me onto my next point…

It’s Exhausting

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Even a week on after getting the keys to the new place, I’m still utterly knackered. If I’m not working, I’m tidying, cleaning, unpacking, you name it. I haven’t stopped. It doesn’t seem to have an end in sight either, so I think I’m going to mainline coffee and throw things out of boxes until my body gives out. That’s how you unpack, right?

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Why It’s Ok Not To Own A Show Home, Or, What The Hell Is ‘Hinching’?

Right now, my entire life is packed full of boxes and chaos. Nothing in my house is where it’s meant to be. I’ve spent today pulling picture hooks out of walls and filling them back in, readying the house for the next people who move in. As I’m about to move this week, there’s so much to be done that I can’t even think about keeping on top of a cleaning schedule. In fact, with so many boxes piled up in my living room, I can’t even hoover the carpet.

I think that’s why I had such a negative reaction to seeing Mrs. Hinch’s Instagram account this week. My friends pointed her out to me, saying that they love watching her Instagram Stories and getting tips on how to clean their houses. When I took a look though, it seemed like her feed was full of everything that I just can’t get along with.

(Please note, I am in no way meaning to insult or do down Mrs. Hinch. Her feed is full of positivity and she’s very kind to her followers.)

Firstly, it was the house. Every room in her house is white and grey, perfectly polished, show home standard. If I visited her, I’d be scared to touch anything. Everything very clearly has a place. Her feed is an uninterrupted stream of white and grey, grey and white. It make me feel kind of itchy.

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Then there’s her habit of calling cleaning ‘hinching’. This is a super personal irritation, but I can’t bear it. It’s so twee, it makes me gag. Plus, ‘hinch’ isn’t a frigging verb!

It’s the perfection that gets my back up. She has her house the way she likes it, and she takes a lot of joy in making it look good. It’s her house, she can do as she wishes. She can even put it on Instagram to show others, that’s very much up to her. Whatever she’s doing it works, as she has thousands of followers and even has a book coming out. The perfection scares me, though. What’s it like, living in a house like that?

She’s just one of many cleaning gurus that I’ve come across in the last few years. Firstly, of course, there’s Marie Kondo, she of the KonMari Method. Then there’s Jolie Kerr, who ran a cleaning column on Jezebel and wrote a book called ‘My Boyfriend Barfed In My Handbag’. There’s also Unfuck Your Habitat, run by Rachel Hoffman, who also wrote a brilliant book by the same name. I’ve devoured them all, soaking up tips and gathering the energy to make my space better.

What is it about them that doesn’t put me off, like Mrs Hinch does? It’s the fact they’re not asking for perfection. They’re not advocating buying expensive cleaning products (Unfuck Your Habitat is a big fan of the ‘drain volcano’, otherwise known as baking powder and vinegar to clean your drains). They just want you to be able to take care of yourself and your surroundings.

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KonMari wants you to find a place for everything in your home, but she wants you to do that so you can find all the things that ‘spark joy’ for you. Unfuck Your Habitat just want you to spend 10 minutes clearing something, so you can actually see what you own. It’s manageable, it’s doable. It’s not perfect, but it doesn’t need to be.

While Mrs Hinch is selling a lifestyle, it’s not a lifestyle to me. It’s too much. I’m not that much of an organised person to colour match my towels or perfectly place ornaments in my living room. I’m a bit chaotic, and I’m ok with that. I’m going to stick with my mismatching cushions and ridiculous character emblazoned mugs. I’m not one for ‘hinching’.

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The Curse Of Too Much Stuff, Or Looking For What ‘Sparks Joy’

Last week I said I was in the midst of an ‘enforced KonMari’, and that situation has not changed. I’m frantically getting rid of anything that I don’t need, as I’ll be damned if I pack up and move anything that I don’t need to. In fact, yesterday I went to the tip and heaved an entire wardrobe away, which was deeply satisfying. What I’m saying is, I’m getting rid of anything that I just can’t think about wanting to take with me.

The funny thing is, I’ve actually just finished reading both of Marie Kondo’s books, The Life Changing Magic Of Tidying Up, and Spark Joy. They’re both really interesting books as they do delve into why we gather all the things we do, and why we cling onto them even when they’re not doing us any good.

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I’ve been very guilty of buying things just for the sake of buying them. As a kid, I would be taken shopping many weekends, and the trip wasn’t considered a success unless we’d bought something ‘good’. I equated getting new stuff as ‘love’ in my mind, and so as an adult I was basically chasing that high. I bought all kinds of stuff that I would never use or wear, just so I’d have something to bring home. The amount of times I came home and thought, ‘I don’t even like this!’, was far too high.

I’m still guilty of doing this. I’m a fiend for stationary, and just today I nipped to Poundland to grab some cleaning supplies. Even though I didn’t need to, I wandered down the stationary aisle and saw that they were selling marble patterned washi tape. It was six rolls of tape for a pound! I grabbed it, even though I already have a box full of washi tapes. I have a problem.

I also am a toy collector, and so of course I’ve got plenty of items taking up space in my home. I have to be careful with them, as it’s so easy to pick up every toy that catches my eye and then I quickly run out of room. I’ve had to restrict myself to buying toys only once a year, at UK PonyCon. To be fair, it’s where I’ve picked up some of my best toys, and I can look them over rather than using the photos on the eBay listing, so it’s much better.

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As a whole, humanity feels as though the more stuff we have, the better off we are. Are we, though? I’ve noticed that the less stuff I have, the better I feel. I had the British Heart Foundation in my house the other day, taking away some old furniture. It was so great to see that empty space where the furniture used to be. That was one less thing to deal with, one less thing to clean.

Marie Kondo recommends only keeping things that ‘spark joy’, and she’s right on that score. Why would you keep anything if it doesn’t keep you happy? Why would you keep it around, just taking up both physical and mental space? It sounds ridiculous when you put it like that, but we all do it.We hang onto things ‘just in case’. We hang onto photos because we think we should, even if we feel bad when we look at them. Instead, we should happily pitch those things out, and only keep the things that create happiness when we look at them.

Gotta be honest, pitching that wardrobe into a skip made me happy. It didn’t half make a satisfying CRUNCH when it hit the bottom of it…

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The Art Of The Enforced KonMari

Right now, I’m in the middle of trying to pack up everything I own, as I’m about to move house at the end of the month. I haven’t moved house in nearly 10 years, so there’s all kinds of things I’m having to lug about, sort, and pack into boxes before I can leave this house. Right now, it’s basically hell.

I’m basically undergoing an enforced KonMari session, except that session is going on for weeks and it isn’t really about what ‘sparks joy’ for me. Instead, it’s looking at an item and asking, ‘Can I physically be arsed to pack this up, move it somewhere else, and find a new home for it once I’ve moved it?’

The answer, often, is no.

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If I don’t want it anymore, then I have to find somewhere new for that item to live. Usually, we’re forever getting charity bags through the door. These bags ask me to fill them up with items I want to donate, and then leave them outside on a specific day so they can take them away. It’s a good deal if you’re trying to have a clearout. Since Christmas, we haven’t had a single bag through the door.

Typical.

Luckily British Heart Foundation let you order charity bags on their website, and you can order almost as many as you’d like. You can fill them up, and then give them a ring to come get them. Cheers, British Heart Foundation.

I’ve filled up some bags with the smaller items, and then booked a collection for them and some larger bits of furniture that need to go before we move. This was kind of last ditch, because first I tried selling them, or giving them away, online. I don’t know what it is about online trading sites, but they’re packed full to bursting with time wasters. Has anyone actually ever successfully got rid of something online? Either the item just goes unnoticed, or people promise to come collect it, and then leave you waiting in for nights on end. No, I’m no bitter or anything.

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I’m trying to give away as much as I can because I don’t want to be shoving stuff into the landfill, but despite my best efforts, there’s still plenty of rubbish I need to get rid of. Not having a car, I can’t simply rock up to the tip and throw it out. If I want to book a council collection I’m going to have to shell out for it, and moving is expensive enough as it is. Luckily, a friend has offered to take me but she can’t do it until next week. In the meantime, the house is piling up with bin bags that need throwing away.

Why not throw them away with the regular rubbish? Well, I would, but we have a wheelie bin that we can fit about 4 bags into, and no more. We’re not allowed to leave more bags, so I’m pretty much out of luck. The real kicker? The refuse workers are going on strike as of Monday. I’m not going to start in on them for wanting better wages, but their timing could not be worse.

The upshot of all this? I’m up to my eyeballs in boxes and bin bags, trying to get somebody, anybody, to take all this stuff away from me. Maybe I’ll sell everything, buy a caravan, and drive off into the sunset. Anything’s better than trying to clear out the attic.

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An Open Letter To Spiders

THERE ARE NO PICTURES OF SPIDERS IN THIS POST. I AM NOT A SADIST (OR BLOODY BUZZFEED). THANK ME LATER.

You know the time of year when spiders decide it’s time to rock up to your house and take up residence? It’s usually around the beginning of Autumn, when it starts getting colder out. My dad calls it ‘Spider Season’. I don’t call it anything. I’m usually too busy screaming.

Yeah, I’m an arachnophobe, and that’s the way life is. I know spiders won’t hurt me (I live in England, what are they going to do? Glare menacingly at me?) but I want them OUT OF MY HOUSE. They scare the crap out of me. It’s nonsensical, but there’s nothing I can do about it. The fear is hardwired into my genes. I keep promising myself I’ll go get therapy for it, maybe hold a spider, get over my fear, let them live in my house. But then Autumn rolls around again and all bets are off.

And it seems to have started earlier this year? Last week, I found one hanging out on the bathroom wall. This week, my husband found one standing in the kitchen as if he owned the bloody place. Later that day, he found a massive one sitting on a cuddly toys head. WHAT. THE. HELL.

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Who are you, spider? You think you’re going to come in here and sit on my cuddly toys, as if you have a right to? Are you even paying rent, spider? I THINK NOT. And it’s not even Spider Season yet! Go away, I’m not ready for you!

Last year, we had a massive spider who kept showing up at random, just crawling across the living room floor as if he had the right to be here. I’d scream, husband would come in and tear the room apart. We never found him. Maybe he was the one sitting on the cuddly toy. Sounds about right, the cocky bastard.

Spiders, it’s time you and me had a talk. I respect your right to exist. My husband does the cup and paper trick, so you still get to go and eat flies and stuff somewhere else. Basically, everywhere in the world that isn’t my house is your territory, and I respect that. When you’re in my house though? No. Get out.

Why do you keep wandering in here? You get thrown out every time you’re spotted, so why do you even come out into the open? I refuse to believe that spiders don’t communicate. Don’t you tell each other that my house is not a friendly place to be? There’s plenty of spider loving people who’ll happily let you chill in their corners. Why not go live with them?

While we’re at it, let’s talk about spider deterrents. It’s 2018. How in the name of all that is sweet and holy do we not have an effective deterrent yet? Something that comes in a spray bottle that I can chuck around like holy water, to keep them out?

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(Does holy water keep them out? I’ve never seen spiders in a church. Must test. I’m sure I won’t go to hell for it).

There’s so much money in this! If I were some kind of business mogul, I’d be pouring cash into researching this. But no. The money’s being given to scientists who are giving them LSD and watching them weave webs.

NO ONE CARES ABOUT WEBS, GARY. STOP GETTING THEM HIGH AND WORK OUT HOW I’M GOING TO KEEP THEM OUT OF MY HOUSE.

I am very frustrated about the whole thing. If I find another spider I may yet torch the house, and we’ll never get the deposit back. If the entirety of spiderkind doesn’t want to find that bill landing at their feet, they need to stay out of my house.

You’ve been warned, spiders.