Thursday, September 07, 2006


In my bid to make room on our bookshelves for my textbooks, I began a small cleaning/packing frenzy that lasted approximately 2 hours. During that time, I was once again reminded of my affliction, or the thorn in my side, if you will.

I have packratitis.

Yeah, you probably have it too, to some degree. We all do. It's that little sentimental part of us that insists on keeping every card, every gift, every badly-coloured colouring page gifted to us by someone we care about. It's that frugal, practical, hoarding aspect of ourselves that wonders if we might need something again on some indeterminate rainy day down the road. It's that weird greedy defect in our personality that holds on to useless trinkets and stuffed animals and bags simply because we don't want to see things go to waste.

Well, my packratitis is getting a little severe, so I had to buckle down and junk a few items, including some booklets from our pre-marital counseling sessions (sorry Pastor Ed!), some old textbooks with zero resale value, some ugly coconut candles that we had never burned, old bills and papers from an eternity ago, my cheap-a$$ "rock kit" from that stupid geology class I had to take, as well as an assortment of other knick knacks that were useless to me or anyone else (you know, the "gag gift" variety ).

Of course, I'm not completely cured, because I packed away several stuffed animals, some of my old essays, class notes from last year's studies, old bills from the repair of our car, and many more things that I probably should have just tossed but haven't quite mustered the courage to throw out yet.

The hardest things to decide on are actually my books; at what point is a book no longer worthy of being kept? When it has been read? When it loses its front cover from over-reading? When its contents are no longer relevant to our current life situation? *sigh* I still have several boxes of textbooks and novels sitting in the storage room at my bro's place, which I have yet to rummage through and make some decisions on. Surely my psych textbooks (which I paid hundreds of dollars for) are no longer worth any money, nor are they terribly useful to me now. However, is there enough child development content in those texts for me to hold on to them? Would it be a tremendous waste for me to just pitch (or donate) my books when I spent so much money on them and they are in such remarkably pristine condition?

And so, my packratitis continues to wage war on my space, and I continue, day by day, to amass a wealth of "stuff" that likely has little lasting value to my life.

Is there a cure, or do we just need to move to an even bigger place?!??!


Ontario Emperor said...

Early in our marriage, my wife looked at all of the books that I had and asked, "Do you want to start a library?"

"Yes," I replied.

But several years later I joined Bookcrossing and started to decrease the bookload.

Natalie said...

Personally I think books should be kept forever. About 2 years ago I would have said books and music but since music is all digital now it takes up little space and is easy to download again. I have some books that are beaten up broken down and useless but someday I might want to read them again. Or maybe I think having many bookshelves makes me look smart....

Wynn said...

I can totally relate... recently my husbands side of the closet collapsed because of too much clothing. Himself is working through giving it away, but me with books... that's another story... I hate getting rid of books, unless a puppy peed on them... however, ebay can be lots of fun for useless books that you don't want and think nobody else does... you'd be surprised!

Mack D. Male said...

A friend of mine simply repeats: "decrapify". I listened to her and ended up with countless bags of garbage when I moved recently!

Nome said...

Here's the cure: go backpacking. No, really. Plan a trip where you have to travel for several months carrying only what you can put on your back. It worked for me. And I am SUCH a pack rat. But I'm a lot better now, and it's all thanks to Nome Does Europe, 2006.

Mrs. Loquacious said...

I am afraid of eBay. I've never used it, and quite possibly never will.

Decrapify is a nice word. I think I'll adopt it!

As for keeping a library, that is one of my dreams for when I own a home one day. However, I envision a library filled with quality fiction and self-help and reference books, not old textbooks with outdated information and pedagogy. Plus, we don't own a big house yet, so there really isn't a lot of room for old books I don't read or refer to anymore.

And backpacking?! LOL...that is for the rugged outdoorsy type. Hubbs & I are more the stay-at-nice-hotels type, you know - the kind that NEVER goes camping? That's, um, US.

Nome said...

Well, I didn't camp. I stayed in hostels, and with friends, and sometimes this was just as nice as staying in a hotel. I'm really not very rugged, either.