Friday, July 09, 2010


(Not really my apartment. This is a still from A&E's "Hoarders.")

Well, it turns out that moving into a new house is a far greater chore than I had ever expected.

For what seemed like hours, my girlfriend and I lugged box after box. By the time it was done, the two of us were a sweaty and exhausted mess. My foot hurt. My back hurt. My tailbone hurt. I couldn't catch my breath. The heat was unbearable. I was pushed to the breaking point of my physical and mental capabilities. The two of us simultaneously collapsed on the couch to bask in the after-pain of a job well done.

There was just one teeny problem: Did I mention the boxes we were lugging into my apartment were empty?

THIS is why, when it comes time to actually make the move in a couple of weeks, I'm hiring a professional moving company. I feel no shame when I tell you that we really DID get completely worn out by bringing in load after load of empty boxes that we'd scored off a recently-moved friend. Well, okay, maybe I feel a little bit of shame. But darn it, ANYTHING's heavy when you're carrying it in mass quantities, up to and including cardboard. A ton of feathers still weighs a ton, people.

The point is, I almost threw out my back lugging a stack of cardboard, so I couldn't possibly imagine doing it again when the cardboard's holding things far weightier. This is not a gig for a chubby nerd like me. This is a gig for a chubby nerd like me to pay a muscle-clad behemoth to do, and I'm pretty much okay with that.

At least, I was -- until I started getting estimates from movers. It turns out that there must be some seriously wealthy muscle-clad behemoths about town, because I had NO idea how much it actually costs to move your possessions. I'm about halfway through gathering estimates and thus far the lowest one has been $770 plus tax. That's a bit steep -- but I'll likely be paying it.

I've just got too much stinkin' stuff. The low-end quote of $770 was for a crew comprised of four movers for a time period of six hours. I find it amazing to think that, in my 39 short years of living, I've amassed enough material goods that it requires four dudes to spend six hours carrying. But as I look around this apartment, the 4 guy/6 hour thing seems pretty realistic.

Long have I been a connoisseur of junk. My apartment is packed to the gills with odds and ends and knicks and knacks and bits and baubles that, when viewed as a collective whole, offer a deep and spiritual glimpse into my inner, umm, Shane-ness. My girlfriend, on the other hand, feels that I am inching more and more precariously close to a starring role on A&E's "Hoarders."

Now, I've seen a few episodes of this "Hoarders" show. Every third friend, relative, and/or co-worker of mine is addicted to it. And I am here, ladies and gentlemen, to announce to you in all certainty that I am no hoarder. If you've been lucky enough to avoid the show, the premise is simple: Each week, a sad sack is profiled who -- through any combination of sloth, neglect, and/or mental illness -- has let their living environment turn into a sea of trash and feces. A typical "Hoarders" home usually has 2-3 feet of decomposing garbage strewn throughout the floors, tended to only by what usually ends up being an army of defecating and fornicating cats. I'd like to think that I'm slightly above this, as would my current landlord, I'm sure.

It's just that, given the size of my small apartment and the amount of junk contained within, occasionally one must get a little creative when it comes to storage. My girlfriend keeps bringing up certain aspects of my current living arrangement that are outside the norm. It's been a bit of a learning experience. For instance, I've learned that the average homeowner does NOT, strangely, have a kitchen cabinet devoted to the storage of a/v cables. My girlfriend gives me unlimited grief over what I call the "cord dungeon." I simply think it's the handiest place for spare cords and cables to go. I told her not to come crying to me the next time she was in the middle of a cookie recipe that calls for brown sugar to be mixed with a 1/4 cup of 30' shielded digital coaxial with dual balanced conductors. Like the Boy Scouts, I am always prepared, especially when it comes to audio/video experimentation in my kitchen.

It's true that she might look around my apartment and see loads of useless junk. I'm simply giving our survival a fighting chance. I've seen enough episodes of "MacGyver" to know that if we were ever trapped in here with an atomic bomb and a 1:00 detonator, that useless junk might just save our lives. Of couse, we'd have to be trapped in here with MacGyver himself because I don't know what to do with any of this useless junk, but still...

And nowhere does junk accumulate more than in the stereotypical household junk drawer... of which I have four. Weeding through these drawers is my current pre-move task, and I honestly just can't bring myself to throw any of this stuff away. There's priceless treasures in here! Among the things staring up at me from my junk drawer right now:

• A pair of work gloves with the HGTV logo on them. Correction: only the right glove. That's a keeper for those right-handed gardening moments for sure. Besides, if I throw it out, I'll find the left glove immediately and then be super sad.

• 3 Slinkys. For fun, they're wonderful toys.

• A lighter in the shape of a woman's bosom. Push one naughty bit, flames shoot out the other one. I'm nothing if not classy.

• A Posh Spice Fantasy Ball Gum Lollipop, unopened, also containing 1 of 24 collectible Spice Girls trading cards. That's going with me to the grave.

• Also unopened: a bottle of Gore/Lieberman drinking water from their Quad City campaign stop. The perfect companion to my bottle of Hillary Clinton hot sauce.

• A plastic baggie containing exactly 9 little plastic whatzits. I have no idea what they are. But they each have hooks and two small holes in them and look horribly important, which is clearly why I can't throw them away.

• "The Best of Foghat" on 8-track.

• A pin that proudly says "TALK HARD!" I believe it's a promo item from that Christian Slater movie, "Pump Up the Volume," which made every college kid believe that their campus radio show would end up changing the world. This one can come out of the junk drawer... and GO STRAIGHT ON MY JACKET! YES!

Everything in these drawers is in there because at one point in my life, I deemed it too important to throw away. So why question my past decision-making skills now? There's some great treasures in here... I just need to move the 342 Taco Bell sauce packets to get to them.

I'm not a hoarder. I'm a refined collector... of junk.

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