Archive for the ‘Hoarding’ Category

Service of Hoarding III

Thursday, September 24th, 2020


I can see everything in my freezer–it’s no longer overstuffed–I have three rolls of paper towel and of TP and love that it all fits under a sink. In the small cabinet in my diminutive kitchen, for the first time in six months, there’s room for a few more condiments, pasta or other non-refrigerated items.

The space in which I stored the overflow in my apartment last March is taken. It’s my home office since I no longer rent elsewhere.


We broke a record with 200,000 dead from Covid-19 and there’s already a new spike of cases in Europe. “Europe Passes U.S. in New Covid Cases, Returning as Hot Spot,” Thomas Mulier reported in 10 days ago. Earlier this week the UK increased restrictions for six months in an attempt to quell an alarming rise in cases.

We anticipate a resurgence in winter that will exacerbate the usual flu season.

“Currently, travelers from 35 “hotspot” states and territories must quarantine for 14 days after arriving in New Jersey, New York or Connecticut,” according to on Tuesday. On September 22 New York Governor Cuomo added Arizona, Minnesota, Nevada, Rhode Island, and Wyoming.

So am I taking a chance by not stocking up on the brands I like or do you think the country has overcome its shortage challenges? Have citizens here controlled their tendency to hoard? Is this an issue that only impacts people who live in compact spaces?

Covid-19 memorial for 200,000 who died by mid September, 2020



Service of Hoarding II

Monday, March 16th, 2020


The morning after the August 2003 Northeast blackout I visited D’Agostino, a grocery store. We were going on vacation, the cupboard was bare and a friend on business in NYC was locked out of her hotel room so she was roosting at our apartment. I waited in line on the street and staff let two or three of us at a time in the darkened store. My mission: Bread and cheese. The numbers of other customers with grocery baskets filled with toilet paper eight-packs was remarkable.

A run on toilet paper is happening again these days. I can understand stockpiling food should we follow Italy, France, Israel, Spain and other countries closing everything down. But toilet paper?

Wegman’s in Rochester, NY.

Several places online report that the average person uses 100 rolls of toilet paper per year (over 20,000 sheets). Does this match your experience? Eight rolls a month seems like a lot to me unless the rolls are minuscule, you are extremely ill, you use the stuff for other things–the way we use baking soda for far more than cooking. Or maybe the national toilet paper association, if there is such a thing, spread the word in the hopes that people try to meet the statistic.

Trader Joe’s NYC 3/14/2020, 8:40 a.m.

The behavior–hoarding such paper goods–doesn’t match’s definition: “Hoarding disorder is a persistent difficulty discarding or parting with possessions because of a perceived need to save them. A person with hoarding disorder experiences distress at the thought of getting rid of the items. Excessive accumulation of items, regardless of actual value, occurs.” I had a friend with the disorder and have seen it in action.

The symptom, as reported on the website, is a little closer to what’s happening: “Getting and saving an excessive number of items, gradual buildup of clutter in living spaces and difficulty discarding things are usually the first signs and symptoms of hoarding disorder, which often surfaces during the teenage to early adult years.”

People with houses have plenty of room for all those extra rolls but in a typical NYC apartment an excessive number would likely be incorporated in the decor.

Everybody asks why people hoard toilet paper and I’ve not heard a valid answer. When anxious, people apparently need to have excessive amounts of it–why? Are you hoarding anything at this stressful time?

Trader Joe’s NYC 3/14/2020, 8:41 a.m. NYers don’t eat artichokes.


Service of Hoarding

Monday, May 3rd, 2010


You may have seen the book reviews of “Stuff” in The New York Times, last Sunday, and The Wall Street Journal, on Friday. The book is by scholars Randy O. Frost and Gail Steketee [Houghton Mifflin Harcourt]. The Journal‘s reviewer, Philip Terzian, reminded about E.L. Doctorow’s book “Homer and Langley,” a novel published last year about the famous Collier Brothers. Terzian also wrote about two TV programs focused on hoarding–news to me.

I am in awe of people whose desks are totally cleared of everything but a phone, empty in-and out-boxes and a family photo or two. I like to think that some are secret or selective hoarders. It’s so easy to hoard: I enjoy displaying familiar mementoes such as birthday and Valentine cards, photos and gift-trinkets. If I’ve put them away, bumping into them when searching for something else makes me feel secure and happy.

I had a good friend who was both a hoarder and one of the most talented interior designers I’ve known and/or whose work I’ve seen. While her apartment was a dangerous shambles–you had to calculate your way around narrow paths of floor to negotiate moving from front door to a living room chair–I’ll never forget her remark on one of the frequent visits she paid to mine. I’d neatened up the place and everything superfluous was put or thrown away. Yet there was shock and disgust in her voice when she saw the cardboard box that housed wood by my fireplace. “How COULD YOU have this junky box in the living room?” she admonished, sternly.

When she’d sigh that she was severely behind in her reading, which was apparent by the piles of newspapers and magazines at her place, I shared with her that periodically, I have to force myself to throw out piles of magazines and newspapers, even if I haven’t had time to look at them. And it’s hard to do: The answer to life’s puzzles–or a current one, anyway–might be in just the publication that’s going in the garbage unread.

newspaperclipsAnd what about the magazines and newspaper clippings I’ve kept? I try to take the approach that I do when writing material for a client or for this blog. There’s always a deadline involved, and I review and rewrite as often as possible, but at one point, I must give birth to it. Similarly, at one point, I must toss stuff that becomes outdated or irrelevant because otherwise my office and home will become unworkable, unbearable and unsightly. Expecting visitors is often the impetus.

The Internet is a huge help and makes throwing out treasures easier to do. I have found, however, that when I get rid of a piece of my work kept for archival reasons, say a consumer brochure or fabulous invitation, within a week someone is bound to ask, “Did you ever write or produce a thus and such?” and it’s gone. Today, computers help.

We’ve had to throw out tons of stuff when moving from larger to smaller apartments. It’s as hard for me to judge how much I need to de-accession to fit in fewer kitchen cabinets or rooms as it is to know how many flats of impatiens or pansies I need to buy for my garden beds. Most of the time I need to return to the garden center for more. In the case of getting rid of things for a move, exhaustion usually helps and in the end, I begin to toss everything in sight.

lockbabyhairAmong the things my parents kept I found a lock of my baby hair, an acceptance letter to first grade, assorted grades with teacher comments and boxes of letters I’d written them when I lived in Turkey for two years.

I don’t like to remember all the things I’ve had to throw away such as my Dad’s stunning 2¼ x 2¼-inch transparencies. [With digital photography, generations won’t have to make heart-wrenching decisions about tossing family memories.]

When there’s something that’s too hard for me to part with, occasionally I do a childish thing: I hand it to my husband and ask him to wrap it up and get rid of it quickly before I change my mind.

Do you have hoarder tendencies? How do you get yourself to throw out a child’s painting or poem, work files, cards, letters, magazines, newspapers? Is the answer to move to bigger and bigger offices and homes?


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