Friday, November 11, 2011

I am never watching Hoarders and yes, that's me crying in my car on I-285

I am a big fan of director Kevin Smith's Smodcast network and listen to many of his podcast shows along with audiobooks while in the car or running. I almost never listen to the radio these days. 

If you are curious -visit his web site here - my favorites are Hollywood Babble On, Smodcast, Tell 'em Steve Dave and now Mohr Stories

One of the podcasts featured guest comedian Jay Mohr. I enjoyed their conversation and when Jay Mohr started his own podcast on the network I started to listen. One particular podcast dealt with Jay and his wife's obsession with the show Hoarders. I enjoyed the discussion but I had personal reasons why I would never watch the show. This past weeks episode of Mohr Stories featured the Hoarder's host Matt Paxton. While it was interesting to hear how Matt became the host of the show, I found it very emotional when he discussed his aunt and grandmother who were hoarders. Particularly, when he described his grandmother as being depressed after the death of her husband and not being able to grieve. The things had emotional attachments for her and she could not get rid of them. Well, next thing you know I am all out bawling while driving down I-285. I knew I was tired and had a very stressful week but I really was not expecting that reaction from myself. I knew this subject was touchy for me because I believe my mother was a borderline hoarder. She was no where near to the point of what I hear described on these shows but I could easily have seen it getting to that point if left unchecked.  

***** A little family background - My father died Thanksgiving weekend 1989 of a massive heart attack at the age of 53. I was 2 mths from my 21st birthday and had just started my senior year at Georgia Tech. So, this time of November is always a little emotional for me. My mother died in May of 2002 from complications from esophageal cancer at the age of 58. I was 33 years old. I have one younger brother. I grew up in a small town in upstate NY in the Hudson Valley just outside of Poughkeepsie and I lived in the same house my entire life until I started at Georgia Tech in September of 1986. My mother continued to live in the same house until she died.

While growing up, my house was always a little cluttered but never anything crazy messy. Carpets were vacuumed and rooms were cleaned on a regular basis but stuff like magazines and random stuff piled up. My mother always liked decorating for the holidays so there were always tons of decorations (something I hear is common among hoarders). She also was an avid gardener with a full greenhouse and simply amazing plantings in the yard. I dream of my yard coming even close to what hers looked like. Martha Stewart and her gardner had nothing on my Mom but this also means pots and bags of dirt pretty much laying around at all times. None of this really amounts to a whole lot but I found myself being much more spartan and sterile when I had my own place - which has been described as borderline OCD by some. The clutter and disorganization did get noticeably worse after my father died. In fact , John once commented on how could I be so anal about everything after living in that house. I said that is precisely why I am the way I am. 

After I got married, I didn't get home quite as much as I used to and when I did I noticed clutter but did not think too much about it. I think things got even worse when my brother moved since there was an entire house she could put things in now. The Christmas decorations escalated - tons of Nutcrackers and such. More plants, fish tanks, etc. Just lots of stuff! Again, no where near what you see on TV but more than what I would call normal. I had no idea how much crap had been squirreled away until she passed away. At the time I had a customer support job and could work from anywhere as long as I had a phone and a laptop. So, I moved into my Mom's house and had the enormous task of cleaning out 35 years worth of crap. It took me 2 months! I filled an entire full size roll away construction dumpster and I could probably have filled second one. Numerous trips to Good Will and the dump plus an entire U-haul truck worth of crap I brought home. It was one, if not the most challenging experiences of my life. During that time I lost close to 15 lbs and was probably the thinnest I have ever been in my life. I pretty much woke up cleaned, worked, cleaned, ate and slept. It was emotionally exhausting as well as physically exhausting. Lots of memories unearthed during that time. This is why I never have any interest in watching a show about Hoarders. I have lived it. It's not fun. 

The experience changed me profoundly. Let's just say I did a little spring cleaning when I got home!! It also made me look at my life and really examine it. I was not happy at my job and was depressed in general.  I decided to go back to school and make some changes. This period was very stressful on my marriage. In the end, John and I got through it but it was very rough for a long time. It was a turning point for me in a lot of ways. Going back to school and living apart from John during that time helped me to become a stronger more independent person. I learned to let a lot of things go and focus on what was really important. From time to time, I do find myself doing a little hoarding myself and I hit a breaking point and everything must be cleaned and thrown away. My personal OCD has calmed down a bit partly because Ironman training leaves little time to be obsessed with cleaning and organization. You find new things to obsess over like bike profiles and Garmin data. Now that training has backed off, I find myself itching to get in the basement and start chucking stuff. How the hell do we accumulate all this crap?!!! We literally have Rubbermaid tubs filled with wires and cable - is this an engineer thing or a crazy person thing? Right here next to my toenail collection and hair clippings are my tubs of wire! I know I shouldn't point fingers. I don't really need to have hundreds of travel size shampoos and soaps or alphabetize ...well .... everything. Just call me Ms. Monk. I am OK with that. I think my crazy is acceptable because I am at the very least clean. 

So back to this morning. I listened to the second half of the podcast on my way to work and again I am crying while Matt Paxton talks about his father passing away. He still has vivid dreams about him 10 yrs after his death. I still have dreams my Mom is alive and she is upset with me because I got rid of all her stuff. Yeah, I am NEVER watching Hoarders. 

Nothing about tri's or ultras today. I am sure I will have lots to say after my upcoming adventure at Pine Mtn this weekend.

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