I’m not naturally a neat person. I wish I were. It just feels better when your surroundings are tidy. Yet, it’s just a challenge for me to get the energy to clean. I have my excuses: my mother was a poor role model; when I do have free time to myself I deserve to relax; and, of course, the ol’ I simply don’t wanna.
Over the years I’ve gotten better. And now after watching a few episodes of the show “Hoarders” on A&E, I’m even more determined to keep things neater. Damn, even at my very, very worse I was nowhere near the clutter and squalor of the people featured on this show. Yet, when they are doing the cleaning intervention and I watch the hoarder’s relationship to their stuff, I feel an uncomfortable tinge of recognition. And while I’m not attached to outright garbage, or spoiled food like some of these mentally ill hoarders, I do have my own weakness.
My weakness is books.
Up until a couple of years ago, it was a huge bone of contention between the boyfriend and I. Even though we don’t live together, it bothered him to no end that I had boxes of books that did not have a home on a bookshelf. I think at my worst there were maybe six bankers boxes filled with books that I probably hadn’t looked at in about a decade. The fact that they were boxed away and stacked in a corner, out of harm’s way, made them a non-issue to me. Yet, for him, for some reason, whenever we were debating what to do for the weekend, he would always offer “well, we can sort through your books.” Then we’d have The Argument, which I always won because it was my house and my books and they were staying right where they were.
However, when it came time to move to my cute Craftsman Cottage, I didn’t want to bring a lot of excess clutter with me, so as part of the moving process I finally sorted through the books. I don’t really know what percentage of books I cleared out. I would say at least a quarter, maybe a third. It really wasn’t that hard. Moving was a huge motivation, and the fact that the boyfriend would take care of taking them to the Friends of San Francisco Public Library book donation drop-off was also really helpful.
All the books that are in my house now have a home on a shelf. And while most of them I may never pick up again, their presence comforts me. I don’t think a home is a home without some well loved books. The boyfriend and I no longer have The Argument (though there is a filing cabinet in the basement he bugs me about at least once a month – better than the every freakin’ weekend that we argued about my books). I feel my book hoarding issues are behind me.
Or are they?
This weekend is the annual Big Book Sale put on by the Friends of the San Francisco Public Library. Oh sweet Buddha, you should see this place. Take a look at the picture on their site. Seriously, people bring in shopping baskets because the deals are so good. And on Sunday? Every single book is only one dollar. One dollar!
This sale has been going on for years, and last year was the first time I actually went, and even then I happened upon it by accident. It was the weekend of the SF Blues Festival, and we opted to bite the bullet and pay for parking at Fort Mason. And there it was, book hoarder’s heaven. I was good though. I gave myself a budget of $20, which resulted in about five books, I believe.
Tomorrow is the first day of the sale for the general public. And it’s open until 8pm which means I can go after work . . . or maybe during lunch. I may give myself a bigger budget this time. I found some space on a bookshelf during a recent decluttering spree, and we simply can’t have any empty bookshelf space, can we?