Friday, 27 January 2012

Mighty Mental Oaks

May be grown from confessional acorns.
Either way I feel like I ran into a tree. (I didn’t. Though I have headbutted the new jumbo ironing board that still lurks in a box in the hall still more than once.  Not on purpose. Mostly.)
It has been a stop and talk time at Casa De Dragon Hoard. Well actually it has been a stop and talk time OUTSIDE the Hoard.
Major Dragon spent some time with her siblings recently.  I hadn’t really thought anything of it till my aunt started discussing MD’s hoarding with me a few days later.  As an actual problem.  I was so startled I am sure I was standing there like a concussed owl.  Turned out MD had actually told her sister she may have a bit of a problem. 
To put this confession into a OMG YOU DID WHAT scale for you - I thought MD actually admitting to anyone that she had a hoarding problem (without me standing behind her poking her with a large stick) less likely than the current British Government suddenly standing up and shrieking “BUGGER AUSTERITY CUTS!” then hanging out of the windows of Westminster lobbing 50 pound notes at the people below. To actually admit she has a problem and talk about it independently is right off that scale.  Never mind going all the way to 11, you can safely add zeros to that number.  Even more amazing considering that before Christmas location arguments I was told to stop mentioning MD’s hoarding problem in front of her.  She sulkily told me I was crowing about it since I kept mentioning it.  I thought she was working up to the 5 steps back I have been expecting since the step forward when she first grudgingly admitted she had a problem.  I may have Channel Four’s Obsessive Compulsive Hoarder programme to thank for that.  Right about at the point I could have expected a major wobbly about how I am bullying her and it is her house and my god she has done that so often I could actually type out the full rant, she saw this on tv and it put, as my granny used to say, her gas at a peep. Well, for now anyway. There will always be another Table Saga to clip my clutter cleaning wings. The day there isn’t I will have to coaxed out from under the Jumbo Ironing Board with cake and reassures that the sky isn’t about to fall.
I probably won’t believe you but I do like cake.
So where does that leave the Hoard this week?  Standing on fertile ground it seems.  And not just where that stuff got dropped on the carpet.  Aunt clearly had done her research.  She offered to pick up stuff for the dump any time particularly when MD is out at work and can’t sneak it back in the house.  Just bag it and pop it on the doorstop, give her a ring and it is away.  I am caught between guilt at making her do an hour round trip if I take her up on her offer and kissing her shoes.  The offers of aid lately are a bit stunning.  There is wild, crazy talk of a skip party in the spring but that is wild and crazy talk for another post. (not actually in a skip but the skip would be there and we theoretically would be flinging stuff in it. That isn’t Major Dragon. Maybe... Bad Secret Dragon, that is no way to solve your problems. Tut.  You know this is why I started a blog, I was totally starting to talk to myself.  And the cardboard boxes. Can I blame the mental walking into trees?) 
Starting to wonder if I should be handing out badges to them. “I fought a Clutter Dragon! (and it didn’t win)” with singed edges. Or “I have the moves like Jagger a glacier” Mine will read “Have acorn, still searching for sanity”
It is a start though. Hi 2012, are we finally ready?

Note to self: find new word for "problem" or you will be typing it forever on this blog.

Tuesday, 17 January 2012

Any Old Irons?

Ah the iron. That weighty clothes smoothing object. Which I do not use. I really don't. I was a proper scruffy student and then in the following years I had jobs with children and all the mess that would suggest. That led to buying simple, soft fabric clothes that are as wash and wear (and tumbledry) as you can get. The job is gone yet the clothes remain. And also the inner scruffy student that says "ach body heat will makes the creases drop out"

I tell you all this to underline my lack of ironing interest. It does make life easier. Particularly in a hoarded house. Clothes don't do well in a hoarded house. They get lost, crumpled, caught on things and are a pain to drag in any amount through hamster runs to wash and dry. I am willing to do that for me. And for Major Dragon. It is one of the last bastions of personhood? Pride? Against a hoard. One that Major Dragon might lose if she were on her own. Well, I don't think she would lose entirely since she holds down a job and is seen in public so there is a point where she will decide she needs clean clothes. But there was a time in the last 5 or so years where I decided I was taking over the laundry since she would keep putting it off then would have to go to work in a dirty blouse and a cloud of febreeze on a Monday morning. There are many things I let slide in the Secret Hoard for the sake of my sanity. Major Dragon leaving the house without a fresh blouse and clean underwear is not one of them. Even if I do spend a whole week yelling up the stairs for her to gather the dirty laundry.

I do not iron though. There she is on her own. A lack of ironing is also easier in a hoarded house. You may have had a "damn, where will I put up the ironing board" moment. But only hoarders and possibly people living in London bedsits wonder where they can put up an ironing board and be able to stand next to it. Without zebra striping their midriff.

This, interestingly enough, is where Major Dragon will not give way. She has to have ironed clothes. (she has recently destroyed a crinkle fabric blouse by continually insisting on ironing it despite my protests) I am not actually sure how many irons she owns. I can see two from where I am sitting. I am willing to bet there is at least another two in here. Even after I gave one away without MD noticing and I managed to throw away a broken one she had initially refused to part with on account of hating the new one. She didn't use the old one but getting rid of it would have ranked the new inferior iron as acceptable. I think she didn't want it to get delusions of adequacy. The new one was only a temporary measure anyway since the new very expensive iron (the one from the side quest over here. Remember?) still hasn't been found. We thought we had found it once. But it turned out to be a steam cleaner that she didn't remember buying. And we don't know if she bought it thinking it was the iron or they sent the wrong thing because she never opened the box as she didn't want it "spoiled". Or if the steamer is an entirely separate item and there is still a mystery iron living as a soldier of fortune travelling the Hoard and fighting for domestic appliance rights.

Then the ironing board broke. And left in the Great Rubbish Pick Up of 2011.

Just before the festive holidays and an overdose of shopping channels for a happy Major Dragon.

Yes, she bought a new huge and expensive iron. And a jumbo ironing board. Which doesn't fit in the space left by the previous not jumbo one. So are still in their boxes and left languishing behind the front door catching the elbows and hips of anyone passing by, desperately begging for human attention. While Major Dragon irons with Unacceptable Iron on her bed (the third of it not covered by boxes).

This is becoming the plot of a bizarre French film in my mind. With unrequited love and demented suffering. Don't let me get started on the Tale of Tin Openers. It would probably go all Lars Von Trier and I am not sure any of us would recover.

Wednesday, 11 January 2012

Start As You Really Don’t Mean To Go On

2012 is getting off to a slow start. A very slow start. I think a glacier just overtook us. Also glaciers do a better job of picking up shit and moving it. Gah.
Major Dragon was on festive holiday. This means she spent a lot of time at home in front of the tv.  Fatal for a shopping channel addict let me tell you, FATAL.  (don’t even ask. Well do, I will likely tell that tale in the next post)
We did end 2011 well.  There were plans and the MAJOR RUBBISH UPLIFT.  I lifted my eyes to the skies and could have sworn I heard clutter cleaning angels singing.  I am a bit capslocky in my emotion here. For we got rid of the Table.
The story of the Table. (you knew there was going to be one) Major Dragon came home one day with it.  A workmate was throwing it out and naturally MD couldn’t turn it down. A metal picnic table. Rusting and manky. I shrieked in horror but no, MD had a plan. (you knew there was going to be one of those too) She was going to put this table up in our narrow hoarded kitchen and put things on it while she sorted them. This naturally didn’t go well. In a hoarded house any surface is a storage space. Cans went out of date in the actual kitchen storage behind the table.  You cooked at the hob leaning in over the table from the centre of the kitchen.  We had a table argument every year FOR YEARS. I would clear it off and fold it down and go away for a few days or something and whoops, the table would magically pop up again in all its rusty glory, smugly greeting me as I returned to the kitchen and gritted my teeth at the sight of it covered in yet more hoarded stuff.   2011 was where I hit my kitchen limit. I started to clear it out. Not at speed. I just quietly started putting things in the bin. An extra binbag a week in the autumn. Finally a couple of months later I was starting to see a kitchen again. The bin started to get too full too fast.  And I got ill again as I always seem to in winter.  The darkness and the chaos start to get to me then little bugs grow into more and more horrific things as I get depressed and then run down.  I think I might actually be solar powered.  My battery strength definitely lessens in the winter months.  The kitchen started to sink back into the mire. 
The trouble with undoing hoarding is things are resting on things which are resting on things which are stacked on top of something else.  You start moving, well you better move fast.  It isn’t tidying.  It is fighting.  You are fighting a room for supremacy. You are fighting goddamn gravity.  You stop without preparation and you will have a landslide.  When you clear you clear using every part of your body.  Sometimes the only thing between you and concussion is a swift elbow.  You can of course just let stuff collapse to the floor and sort from there but really that is the final phase if you can possibly manage it.  Working on your hands and knees is depressing.  It hurts. Particularly when doing an entire room. Sure you can sit on the floor but that is for considered sorting.  And to be honest, I find I slow when I sit on the floor.  I get cranky with pins and needles from crossed legs, I start sneezing from dust.  And if the exhaustion overtakes me, I have discovered I will nap on anything while down there.   Even filled binbags.   So to ensure dignity and actual clearing I stay away from the floor till strictly necessary.  Which isn’t difficult considering what we have in here. 
So there I was, my ninja clearing becoming slower and slower.  Before it ground to a complete halt I rang Reformed Dragon in desperation.  A week later, she arrived. With a steely eyed Break and Bin expression on.  10+ bin bags later she advanced on the table. Out the back door it went while I cheered and danced.  And there it stayed for a couple of weeks, stacked against the bags of rubbish that wouldn’t fit in the bin.  All was peaceful. MD had managed to part with some sentimental things, like a jumbo sized rice steamer that had belonged to her mother and was nearly as old as I am, with surprisingly little heartburning.  I should have realised we may have won the table battle that day but we had not won the war.  I had to go away for a weekend.  I left MD filled with zeal about how she was going to continue the kitchen clear. 
I forgot her original plan.  And also the fact she gets overwhelmed easily without someone holding her to the sticking point.  I thought at the very worst she just wouldn’t have done anything.
I was wrong.
And here is where we all remember that hoarding is a mental illness. 
Well I did after I did this.
And texted the table pic to RD so she could have a good swear at it. “PUT IT BACK OUT! JUST PUT IT BACK OUT!”  she yelled.  With a lot more bad language.  
By now I was completely done reasoning with MD.  Nothing on that kitchen was going on that table. I didn’t care if she found a new lifeform in the back of the fridge, it was not going on that damn table, it would catch something.  I lifted it straight out the back door again when MD was out.  When she asked where it had gone I told her it was weighting down the rubbish bags we still hadn’t gotten rid of in the winter’s strong winds.  Then bless the skies for they snowed on it and finished off buckling it nicely.   When the winds died down I organised the mighty rubbish angels of the council to come and take away our bagged former kitchen hoard.  (they still sing to me)  We dragged the rubbish bags on the table to the street for the uplift and MD only tried a small argument about the table.  I regarded it as a tiny verbal hoarding hiccup of an argument.
Oh.  Well no it wasn’t.
Unfortunately for me a Hoarder never forgets.  MD can’t remember what she had for dinner yesterday, what I said to her five minutes ago, where she left her favourite pair of trousers that were just in her hand…but she will never forget that table.  And when she is allowed into the kitchen unsupervised she remembers.  A month later and she is still bringing up the table when she is out of sorts and remembering her kitchen plan.  She hasn’t done anything in the kitchen because she can’t. Because I ruined the plan.  If the table was in the kitchen then it would happen.  Interestingly she forgets the table was there for four years or so waiting for this plan. Pointing out there are other tables in the house is also not a winner since Surface = Storage Space if you remember.  And apparently they would be ruined by a sojourn in the kitchen. (I have no idea.) Hiccups always come back, don’t they? Sigh.
So what have I learned from the Great Table Saga of 2011?
Well only that, when my tutor at university asked us if tables change our perception of reality…? I should have maybe taken him a tiny bit more seriously.