February 28, 2012
The return of the clean-crazy
I have been on a tear these past few days, bringing on a total terrorization of clutter. I have no idea where these moments of clean-crazy come from, but when I wake up feeling the deep desire to do a full closet purge it is a day of reckoning.
And I was ruthless in my editing, unloading some things I have been carrying with me for years. The psychic weight of that stuff is alarming, I didn't realize until it was gone that not only have I been holding onto the thing, I was also housing the memory of the time I got that thing, along with the hope that I would one day re-need that thing, as well as the anxiety that comes from having a thing I'm not actively using.
About a week ago there was a particularly disturbing episode of Hoarders that sent me over the edge. I can't bear watching that show when the people who hoard also have animals. Look, it's one thing if you're buck crazy and just want to hoard your old pizza boxes. But to make a child or animal live in that is obscene, a crime against living. This one episode featured a woman with a poop mountain and a dead cat and at the end instead of going to jail for animal cruelty, she got a makeover. How is that possible?
This is one of those times I wish TV were more like YouTube, so one could post a rebuttal video. I'm over here holding up the opposite picture: a person can have more than one cat and still have a clean and happy home. YES! Clean! Happy! My place is nothing fancy, it's true, but you could eat dinner off my kitchen floor. Why isn't that the image people have of cat owners?
The poor cats always get blamed on those horrible hoarder shows, too. As if it were the cat's fault the human was too lazy to scoop and sweep. That is like blaming a car for breaking down after you've failed to change the oil for sixteen months in a row.
Perhaps all of this was the impetus for my recent clean-crazy, just a terrifying television show. I know I'm not the only one in America who has to go scrub something after an hour of Weekly Hoarding TV.
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When it comes to Hoarding TV, there was one show that got it right underneath it all. Back when Morpheus (Laurence Fishburne) was still on CSI, his character Langston had a conversation with Nick after a case that involved a severely hoarded home. Nick was having trouble understanding how anyone could ever hoard a home. This was their convo:
Langston: The philosopher Erich Fromm forecast a society that was obsessed with possessions. He believed that human beings have two basic orientations -- having and being. A person with the having orientation seeks to acquire and possess things, property, even people. The person with the being orientation focuses on the experience. They derive meaning from the exchanging, engaging, and sharing with other people.
Nick: Sounds like the right way to be...
Langston: Unfortunately Fromm also predicted that a culture driven by commercialism, like the one we live in today, is doomed to the having orientation, which leads to dissatisfaction and emptiness. When you consider that in 1960 there was no such thing as public storage in America ... and today there are over two billion square feet dedicated to it, it makes you think he had a point. Things don't have to mean everything nor do they have to be devoid of meaning. They are one of the ways in which we can experience and enjoy life.
Nick: As long as they don't get in the way of living...
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So there is my TV philosophy for the day. And for the record, people with cats can have VERY CLEAN HOMES. Oh doubters -- I challenge you to a clean-off. I am Inigo Montoya and you insulted my housekeeping, prepare to scour!
(Comments are open for a bit.)
Posted by laurie at February 28, 2012 5:55 PM