Monday, July 12, 2010

A family suffers from over-consumption....

After spending four months in India, living with and visiting families who had almost nothing but what was necessary, I returned home for the summer to live in my parents house. The following post is what greeted me upon my arrival. Perhaps I hadn't noticed it before I left, or perhaps the problem (and that's exactly what it is) is simply magnified in contrast to the stark homes that we visited in India.

It is evident to me now that my family has two major problems: one, they continue to buy more and more things with little thought to what use it will serve, so as a result, it ends up on shelves, tables, counter tops, the floor or in boxes. Problem number two is that they do not dispose (or donate) things that are no longer needed. For whatever reason, they cling to these objects as if to give them up would mean giving up part of themselves. I find it fascinating that an object that is rarely ever seen or used can be of any importance. Why do we continue to keep these things that serve no apparent use to our daily lives? If we (my family) counted the things that we use every day, week or at least every month, it would not come close to the amount of stuff that is in this house currently. At some point the accumulation of things reaches an overload that makes living in your own home uncomfortable.

Obviously, someone in my household believes that these objects hold some importance, otherwise they wouldn't hold onto them, right? At least that is my hope, but then again I don't know what goes on in the psyche of my family members.

And now, a brief tour of my home:

The Basement.

Welcome to the chaotic maze of my family's past.

This corner used to be designated the 'sewing and craft area'. Various craft accoutrements and scrap cloth are shoved inside of plastic organizer drawers. At some point, these things got lost amongst a wall of other things that needed to be stored. Comforters, a pair of rain boots, a humidifier, and who knows what's hidden inside of those plastic bins.Whatever is in there was placed long ago only to be forgotten.

I believe this is the remnants of my dad's 'tool area'. Hidden in the corner are various home improvement items such as cans of latex and spray paint. Spare furniture parts and lawn ornaments are shoved into this corner as well.

Holiday decorations that really get placed upstairs during the holiday season. The reason most likely being that no one is willing to brave the depths of the basement to find them.

The laundry room (and the reason why I do my own laundry). Our laundry room looks like the clothing department at Wal-Mart threw up on itself. Baskets full of clothes are everywhere. I don't think I could even venture a guess at which ones are clean and which are dirty. Whenever I open the washing machine or the dryer there is a load of forgotten clothes. Long ago I started doing my own laundry at home for the simple purpose of being able to keep track of my own belongings. Once an item of clothing ends up in the basement there's no knowing when it will return.

The Porch.

We have a lovely front porch that I have always longed to use for it's intended porch purposes. In the 10 or so years that we have been living here, I have never done that.

The porch serves as additional storage space for the things that won't fit into the basement (or perhaps these things just need more light?). The porch is home to an antique coke machine (we used to actually use this. As far as I know, it is still capable of functioning, we just lack the proper fitting bottles to put in it. There are trunks full of various items (and actually one of those is mine. Opening it up was like opening a time-capsule. More on that later....), excess quilts, an old (and stinky) sleeping bag, spare air conditioners, a cat play pen and another dining room table ( I wasn't aware one family needed so many tables).

Just what we need! Yet another air conditioner! And tacky lawn ornaments! There is also a book shelf of books that were bought at thrift stores and then promptly placed on the shelf never to be read or looked at again.

The Computer Room (?).

I must include a question mark on this one because this room's original purpose was a dining room, but we hijacked it into a tv room. Oh yeah, and a storage closet.

This is the corner where most of the family photos have ended up. There is also a china cabinet in the back corner (evidence of the old dining room).

The computer sits in a large, wall sized cabinet.

The Living Room.

The majority of our living room is taken up by a sectional sofa. The rest is filled with books, laundry, blankets, movies, CDs, board games, the TV, and an exercise ball that is never used. I don't spend much time here.

The Kitchen.

Our kitchen either suffers from a lack of adequate counter space or an excess of appliances. My guess is that the latter is probably the bigger problem.

We have three different hatches to hold food, pots, pans and cookbooks and somehow that still isn't enough space. In this photo, you can see that we were lucky enough to have almost half the table cleared off so that we could have a place to eat.

Appliances pictured: toaster, iced tea maker (did you know they even made an appliance for that?) and a coffee maker. The various food items are on the counter probably because there isn't a place for them in any of our many cabinets. You can imagine that this makes food preparation difficult, since our table is often so full of stuff that we can't use that space either.

The Brother's Room.

Let's just say that I feel bad for his future dorm mate this fall.

I'm not sure where all of these things are expected to go once he moves out in about a seven weeks. Rather than doing something about it, it will probably just be transplanted to another area of the house.

The TV Room.

This used to be the place where my brothers and I hung out. Now I rarely see anybody spending time in here. Probably because the mounds of objects block the view of the TV. Oh and the piles of stuff on the lounge chairs don't help either.

So, the question remains: Why so much stuff? And do they (meaning my family) even really know what's in the depths of the house?

I have now made it my personal mission to keep only those things that are of use and necessity to me. I do not want to be a collector of useless objects, a hoarder of personal memorabilia as a shrine to myself. I will be recording the objects that I use each day in a new blog:

After one month, anything that I have not used I will dispose of.

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