Friday, July 31, 2009

Growing Up in Casa de la Pack Rat

I grew up in Casa de la Pack Rat, and it has strongly molded my personality. It was a house where very little was discarded. Because of this, as an adult I really tend to hold on to very little. This really bothers certain family members of mine that want to pass things on to me to give to my offspring to give to their offspring to give to their offspring, and so on. I don’t like the weight, the emotional weight, of it. I guess it is entirely possible that my children may resent me one day for not holding onto that piece of driftwood from my trip to the ocean back in 1984 or for boxing up and saving every picture they drew. It may even sadden them to know that I loved looking at every single picture they drew but that almost all swiftly made it to the recycle bin. I do keep some; I’m not THAT bad. In fact, I show my love and admiration of their work by displaying them in my house, such as over my mantle (see picture below). I even have a short stack of images that I plan on scanning to save a virtual copy so that the original can be turned into some recycled paper towel somewhere.


Back to Casa de la Pack Rat… Very much in the way sprinkles cling to cupcakes, my house growing up clung to piles of magazines. Piles. Every failed car, appliance, or electronic gizmo could not be tossed because WE MIGHT NEED A PIECE FROM ONE OF THEM SOME DAY. You know how it is written as a law somewhere that if you own a big chunk of land in some rural area, you have to have old, beat up cars in one corner of your property? Yeah, I lived in a big city, and our backyard still had 4 or 5 car bodies in one corner.

The house owners (notice I am trying really hard not to name any names here) had a huge room added on to the back of the house, which eventually looked like this:


In this picture I have blurred the face of the man that I happen to be closely genetically related to. I am doing this because it is not my intent to hurt anyone’s feelings, but rather explore why I get physically depressed if my house is cluttered for more than a day or so. Seriously. I have heard many times that if you spend a lot of time cleaning your house, you will look back and regret not spending that time playing with your children. The thing is I CAN’T PLAY WITH MY CHILDREN WHEN MY HOUSE IS MESSY. Well, OVERLY messy. Sure, I could hang out with them, but I’D BE CRYING. No amount of anti-depressants could cure me of this quirk. So, I work hard to keep my house picked up – not perfect – and manageable. THEN I play.

I had problems with clutter when I was a kid too. It would get to me so badly that I would gather gizmos, stacks of magazines, and doo-dads throughout the house and put them right in the doorway to the room described above. I would gather up enough things to stack in such a way that the owner of said gizmos and doo-dads would have to do something with them to get into his room. If I didn’t make it high enough or deep enough, they would just get stepped over, defeating my purpose - DO SOMETHING WITH YOUR CRAP JUNK PRIZED POSESSIONS.

My hope is that my children will grow up seeing that their father and I keep what we can honor and that they will understand and appreciate that we don’t hold onto things for the sake of holding on to them. It is also my most sincere hope that gene de la pack rat does not simply skip a generation.


  1. I can't stand the clutter either. Ever since Meg arrived I feel like I am always trying to find places to put her stuff. I just want to go through and get rid of everything right now.

  2. I could have written this post. I understand EXACTLY what you are saying although I did not grow up with pack rats. I did marry one and it was a serious factor in our eventual divorce. And guess who I fell in love with? Another pack rat. I've decided I can love him while he lives in his house with all his clutter but I'm staying in my clean and clutter free house, thankyouverymuch.

  3. Wow. That is a freakin' awesome display of finger paint artwork. I dig it!

    My wife's dad was a pack rat, and when he passed away, it was a major project for her mom to clear out the basement. That was a lot of crap. But I did get a lot of great tools for myself that way.