Personal Archaeology 1: Prepping the Dig

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My office closet, which includes a mess of comics, board games, and my CD collection.  To the left is a nicely alphabetized book collection.

My grandmother was a hoarder.  This is something we discovered at its fullest extent after her death, but when I think back to the years spent at her house, the signs were there–TV Guides piled by the guestroom bed, at least one room where there were a lot of things all over the place, knickknacks and other such ephemera fighting for space on shelves.  But the true hoarding was done in secret, finding places to put whatever clutter or trash she was packing away while keeping the living room and kitchen clean and functional.

I say this not to dredge up a bad memory–after all, it wasn’t until after the funeral when they were prepping the house to sell it that they discovered this and my family doesn’t always handle “what would the neighbors say” type of stuff very well–but to tug at the possible origins of my accumulation.  I started this blog because I have too much stuff and especially too much stuff that I haven’t read or watched.  Concurrently, I want to clear things out and keep only what I still use or feel is worth treasuring.

The two main areas of my house that will be focused on will be the office and the basement.  I’m starting with the office, which is technically an extra beroom but since there are only three of us in the house, we are good with taking up the two big bedrooms and using a third as a guestroom.  And it’s actually a nice room when it’s not overrun with stuff.  This stuff includes my comic book collection, bookcases that are overflowing, bins full of wrapping paper, posters in and out of frames that haven’t been hung on walls, and miscellaneous items that I can’t even begin to catalogue off the top of my head.  My ultimate goal is to paint the room and get new furniture, but I feel like I can’t do that until I have finished cleaning things out to the point where I have created more space.

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To the left: wrapping paper, various posters, and various stuff.  But the books look neat.

When I walk into the room at its messiest (and it certainly looked like that when I was up there an hour ago), I really can’t tell where I should start.  Yes, the books are organized and my comic collection is usually inside the closet, but there are also piles of papers and books on top of every desk or other surface and the floor.  It’s really not unlike my bedroom as a teenager, which I used to call “organized chaos”–each pile had an origin story and an origin date, so when I was looking for something, I knew exactly what pile of crap to sort through.  This annoyed my parents to no end and I guess you could say that I’m being paid back with a kid who has a messy room.

Anyway, even though the state of the room doesn’t currently show it, I’ve actually already gotten rid of quite a bit by opening up boxes and bins of things that moved with us and throwing away items that had lived well past their usefulness. And I deliberately use the phrase “moved with us” because it’s very literal and I think we can all relate to that one (or five) boxes of things that were sitting in the back of a closet before the last move and found their way into another closet once you settled in.  For me, it was old files and doubles of photographs that I didn’t mind scanning before letting them go.

I also have sold, donated, or thrown away enough comics that I cleared out an entire shortbox, which I gave to Brett because his collection is starting to outgrow his single longbox.  I’m hoping that by the end of all of this, I’ll have my three Titans-related longboxes and at most two longboxes of other comics; however, that’s definitely a while down the road, especially as I make my way through the hundreds of comics I have never read.  And the same can be said for the books that have gone to the library donation cart.

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My graphic novels/trade paperbacks collection starts after the books.  Unless you count that huge reading pile on my file cabinet.

All of that stuff is easy to get rid of because it’s done its time here and has been enjoyed, but then there are those things I have to take a moment to look over and go through before saying goodbye.  I have always been sentimental and therefore have kept a number of things that were a way to commemorate what I moments or periods in my life.  I think that while it won’t be tough to get rid of some of these things, it will take longer, but at least I’ll get a few blog posts out of it.  When you spend too many nights listening to “This Is The Time”, you’re going to get reflective when you realize that time has passed.

Right now, I’ve got a pile of stuff from high school to sort through as well as stacks of college memorabilia and I find myself wondering what memories might come back.  It sounds lame, but I feel like I’m taking my time here a little because I don’t know how psychologically prepared I am going to be.  But I want to show some sort of progress and if they really haven’t gotten much attention, then it’s time to dig them up and say thank you and goodbye.

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