The Observant Observer
“Future Goat Hoarder Herder”
“Dying From DIY & Denying Dysfunction”
“Hoarding Towards Happiness”
Ugh. My brain hurts.
I enjoy a world that is ordered. As a child, I organized my closet by color. As a student, I took meticulous notes and had separate, labeled binders for every subject. As a runner, I could tell you my splits for every quarter mile of every race. Details matter to my mind. It likes to put them in categories and boxes. In this way, I keep my thoughts ordered and the world seems somewhat under control. When things are in prolonged disarray I begin to feel that I am trapped in the bowels of all imagined hells.
I got married over three years ago and agreed to consolidate lives and stuff with my husband. I moved into his home and promptly disapproved of almost everything about it. It wasn’t that he didn’t decorate well – for an eclectic bachelor, he did amazing things with what he had. However, “boho bach” is not my style. Neither is peeling linoleum, holes in walls, flaking paint, or a bumpy yard full of crab grass and a rusty shed alongside a sandbox used by all of the feral animals in the neighborhood as a shit beach. The room dimensions and doorways violated every Fung Shway rule ever written. Our current master bedroom is shaped like the most fucked-up Tetris block you can imagine. I have had several small strokes attempting to find a reasonable location for a double bed. So basically, I determined lots of remodeling would be necessary if I/we were to live comfortably together – the interior, exterior, yard – everything needed to be altered. Rather than telling me to “go fuck myself” as he could have, my magnanimous and magnificent mate agreed to work towards a new vision – a combination of our aesthetics, and what’s more, we would do it ourselves. I feel like that decision has preceded many divorces and still more criminal assault cases.
I could write an entire column on the tribulations of DIY home renovations:
how long they take (we are in our third year of remodeling),
how painfully slow they can be (sometimes I am an emotional cocktail of homicide/suicide, followed by hopelessness, depression, despair, and then cycle back to rage and violence),
how romantic relationships do not always lend themselves towards successful group projects (it’s difficult to work cohesively and without verbal violence when both of you want to be in complete, isotonic, rigid, and tyrannical control)
and how much they cost, (please don’t discuss this with my husband – I am certain he will leave me if he realizes the total dollar amount dropped on our efforts).
But I will spare you the dirty details until I am cycling through another rage episode. Don’t worry, they come in about every 4 -6 weeks.
Tonight, I am apathetic, overwhelmed, irritable, and stuck. These are the precursors to depression. Why do I feel this way you ask? How kind of you. I will elaborate.
Throughout these three plus years that I have been living in a home in the perpetual messy state of remodel, I have never actually been able to decorate or successful organize ANYTHING. All furniture is constantly being moved around and each room is in progress. Basically, I can’t make anything look nice and finished so I half-ass clean/decorate to get through the week or the month or the year. Nothing ever looks finished or good and our house is beginning to look like a bohemian hoarder owns it. At this point, that might actually be my official title. And I don’t like it.
Because I am never able to complete a room, I don’t know what actual decorations and furniture I need to keep, discard, or continue to accumulate. I have entertained several visions for every room in the house and purchased pieces to accessorize and realize each concept. As the house changes, the concept changes and I am surrounded by relics of imagined spaces that I can’t be certain are no longer relevant because MY HOUSE IS NOT YET FUCKING FINISHED!!!!!! Oh god, I might have entered the rage part of this emotional merry-gofuckyourself-round.
You see my friend, I can’t get rid of much because I don’t know if I will need it when I FINALLY get to actually decorate and finish a room. To alleviate my desperation and pain and frustration with the general mess I live in, I clean up a room as well as I can and imagine how I might decorate it now that the next room has been kind of finished.
I look at the two rooms and how the spaces interact with each other. I consider the lighting, both natural and electric. I consider the shape of the rooms and function of each space. Then, in my head, I add color, furniture (some that I already have and some that I don’t) and I escape into the fantasy of the finished home. I decorate in my mind to satisfy the desperate need in the present for order, for cohesive yet eclectic aesthetic, for beauty.
I might, in that mindset, head out to a thrift shop or an antique store. I might find an amazing deal on a fucking sweet dresser or bedframe or set of pillows that would go EXACTLY with my latest vision. And I might buy it. Maybe all of it. And then transport it back to the house that is already starting to bulge with too much shit, in the hope that if I hang these curtains, use that throw, incorporate this chair, that it will make me feel better about living in a fucked-up, super messy house, that is probably still a few years from being done. Guess what. It usually doesn’t. What it really does is add more to the mess and more to move around when we are remodeling, and generally promotes the hopeless, despair, suicidey part of the cycle.
Oh, and there’s more, I’m sorry. I really feel like I should be completely honest about the entire situation since you were so kind to ask…
I also love vintage clothing. I mean, I am obsessed with it. No, you don’t understand – I spend thousands of dollars on vintage every year. I have collections of 1950’s pin-up style tops and skirts, sweaters and saddle shoes. I have 70’s bells for every occasion. I have more vintage dresses ranging from the Edwardian period in the early 1900’s to the 1980’s than I could possibly wear in one year. That might be a slight exaggeration but it would be close. Then factor in the 30 – 40 pairs of boots and around 100 pairs of shoes, two full five feet long racks of vintage coats and furs and my trendier newer clothing and fuck me in the pooper, WHERE THE HELL CAN I PUT ALL OF THIS? On top of all of the clothing I collect for myself, I also have as much that I have curated (the classy word for “hoarded”) to sell. My friend, it has become a problem.
Our bedroom hasn’t been consistently without piles for years. I am ashamed. I used to have my shit so “together” and now it is strewn around everywhere like so much flotsam. Hills of jeans with no home. Mounds of sewing projects I can’t begin to start. Jewelry hidden like landmines under soft clutter waiting to reach up through the textile roof of their subterranean homes to stab unsuspecting, unshod feet. Oh my god. I can barely type this up without wanting to bag up everything and take it to the Salvation Army. Then take one back pack of clothing and just drive off into the sunset. Become a minimalist. Join a hippie commune. Own a goat… I wonder what kinds of goats there are? And if I could collect them? Are there vintage breeds? Honestly, I would probably just become a goat hoarder herder. The problem is probably just me. And, here it is in a nutshell…the potential solution that keeps me keeping things…
Part of the problem is that I have some really fucking cool stuff. Seriously. I just can’t get rid of it yet. My husband and I are planning on buying a house with a detached studio space down the street from our own domicile to turn into an art studio/wood working space/storage & office space for vintage clothing sales. If we can get that going, I can empty the house of at least 50% of what is currently cluttering it. I can also actually sell that stuff that keeps seducing me in thrift shops and then breeding like a bunch of goddamn horny monkeys in my closets. I am sure that is what is actually happening. It can’t just be that I am buying too much stuff. That doesn’t make any sense at all.
Our target date for purchase is probably sometime in early June. Oh Jesus. I hope I can hang on that long… my sanity is evaporating in this warm weather. I want a place to put all of my lovely things and I want to be able to walk through our bedroom without falling into the swamps of depression. I’ll let you know how it goes. But it might be by letter from a desert community in California. And it might smell like goats.
The Observant Observer