Friday Filler – Managing Clutter and Chaos

Thank Grog It’s Firday!

I started writing this, as I was was finishing Phase I of dealing with my Mom’s estate. These things are complicated, especially with a “collector” like my Mom. I wish I could tell you how many phases this is going to entail. But, after a week of constant sorting, trashing, and organizing, We are several phases away from being complete. 

But, while I was knee deep in sorting piles, I started thinking of things in terms of TSTO, and how we have all become “virtual hoarders,” and that in everyday life,  everything is turning into not much more than bits and bytes in a cloud that may or may not simply “evaporate” one day. Will we miss what we have stored and lost? Or will it just be like the huge collection of “salt cellars” that my Mom collected over decades…and nobody wants?

It is a dilemma, that is not easily solved…and perhaps needs a “greater power” to make the hard decisions.

Let’s take a look at how TSTO and Real Life Storage Issues compare.
I know, I know…you are all going to say, “But we have UNLIMITED STORAGE IN OUR GAMES!!”  Yeah…maybe. 

But, what is storage all about?  Is it placing things “Out of sight, out of mind?”  Or is it saving something “you might use later, in a safe place until you need it?” 

That last line is the favorite saying of hoarders everywhere.  And make no mistake about it, no matter how well organized your “stuff” is, if you have way more stuff than you need, you are on the path to becoming  hoarder. 

You know who you are. You, who have tens of thousands of donuts saved up, or have maxed out the amount of cash you are allowed in the game…or have accumulated so damn many items with “Bonus Percentage” values, that you have rendered the concept of “farming for donuts” useless. 

If personality types hold true, I suspect that you hoard other things in your “real life” as well. 

The problem with unlimited storage, is the very real reality, that you aren’t bound by common sense. You have far more than you can possibly remember that you have, but yet, because it’s unlimited, you just keep accumulating. 

That really doesn’t work well in real life. I have two real-world examples…both close relatives.  One being my own mother, the other my mother-in-law.

My Mother-In-Law is a Storage Unit Hoarder. As her life changed, and she downsized to smaller and smaller houses and apartments, rather than get rid of things, she just got storage units.  Yes…some of it was “valuable art” she had collected. But the majority of it was brand new, almost never used, furniture, appliances, and household decorations from the 1970s-1980s.  She had three super large storage units.  The impracticality of this became obvious, when we had to clear them out, and realized she had spent tens of  thousands of dollars in rental fees to save mint condition washing machines, and other appliances that nobody really wanted. And this is to say nothing of reams and reams of kids dolls, art and decorations that the her adult kids wished they would have had throughout their lives. 

That all sounded pretty bad…until we started clearing out my Mom’s house last week. 

My Mom’s house was affectionately nicknamed “The Smithsonian West.” She saved and archived everything.  And I do mean everything.  She was a very organized hoarder. But, who really needs countless full-size notebook binders, with news articles, printed emails from all of her friends, relatives, and political targets, carefully ensconced in plastic sleeves.  There were more than 100…from family history, personal scrap books on all of the kids, pictures, news clippings, and more…all carefully catalogued, and stashed in very organized shelves. 

But, that isn’t the half of it. 

Mom was an antiques collector.  This condition was exacerbated by her “late in life business venture,” as an antique merchant. Mostly. 

There are actually some valuable items in these cases (she has about 12 others as full). Some are very collectible, others are just things she liked, but most all of the family just wanted a handful of it.  Crazy. And yes…trust me, that word has been used a lot this past week. 

What we have discovered, is that for every metric ton of antiques she may have sold over the ten years she and Dad filled their post-retirement time with their business, 2.5-3 metric tons of “stuff they decided to keep” or “overages from the booth” ended up at home.  Again…all neatly displayed, but voluminous. 

After three full rounds of the entire family taking what they wanted (which was ironically mostly things my amazingly talented father made, including pottery, baskets, furniture and more), we have a full 2600 sq ft. house still bursting at the seems…and ready for an estate sale. It’s heartbreaking, maddening, and just a bit eye-opening. 

So…how does this pertain to TSTO???

Well…lately, all of the “Declutter Specialists” and “Hoarding Therapists” tell people to take pictures and scans of your possessions so you can remember them, after selling or donating them (or creating a niche in a landfill somewhere).

That is great. Except…then, you have to figure out where to store the digital images...on hard drives (which fail), or “the cloud” (which can be hacked, destroyed, corrupted, or lost with the flick of the wrong switch).

Let’s not fool ourselves. The “security” of storing our stuff, our extra town items, and our towns themselves, is not secure at all.  It WILL go away some day.  Unless of course, you want to do a massive screen shot of your town, have it blown up and printed, and turned into a large framed poster to put in your house…so your kids have to deal with it later.

It’s all about stuff. And placing value on things that are only really valuable to you…with the expectation that someone else will find it valuable too.

I came back from my first week of my Mom’s house…with boxes of stuff that I have to scan, so that my family members can have copies.  Old family pics…scrapbooks…and random collections of important artifacts of 88 years of life (more if you count the vast collection of my ancestor’s stuff). 

There are close to 20 MORE boxes full like this. All needing to be scanned. 

It’s going onto hard drives…where it will be “safe.” But not really safe…

It will become even less safe, and looked at, than the humongous collection of random posts and pictures on Facebook…who regularly reminds me that “X happened five years ago on this day).  

I maintained my Mom’s Facebook account, because she could never really get the hang of it.  She was bothered by those  reminders, because she had already likely printed the pictures and posts, and put them into a scrapbook.  It forced her to go look to make sure she had printed and saved it, and usually ended up just re-printing it for safe measure.  Yes. Wading through her organized chaos is going to be a herculean task. 

The real question here…is that are we better for having all of this stuff?  Or did fate actually make the question easier for people who lose everything in a fire or some natural disaster.  

Oh dear God…It just occurred to me…
Do I have to find a safe way to protect the hard drives once I scan everythingt?  What happens if we have a fire and they are lost?  Should I back everything up onto the cloud?  WHO IS GOING TO PAY THE CLOUD STORAGE BILL AFTER I AM GONE??? 

And what it he hell am I going to do with 20 Beast Toilets in my storage???

There is a theory, that energy is eternal, and simply reanimates into other entities or stuff in this, or perhaps other universes.  Our souls are like a wave that crashes onto the shore, and then folds back into being just a part of the greater ocean from whence it came. 

Will the same thing happen with all of the digital and actual bits and pieces left over from a life well lived? I like to think so.  

But first…I have to spend the next few months scanning what my Mom thought was important enough to keep… 

Wish me luck.

Do YOU collect stuff?  Do YOU have more than 10,000 donuts?  Do you wish someone wanted your collection of antique sugar bins?  Let us know!

29 responses to “Friday Filler – Managing Clutter and Chaos

  1. Mom passed in 2014. She was the matriarch of an extended family (she had 57 first cousins) and kept all the records. I’ve gone through a boatload of stuff, but can’t seem to pitch the notebooks she kept of her personal life. Newspaper clippings of her Women’s Lib roles. Running an AAUW convention in 1968 at the Conrad Hilton in Chicago with Yippies at the gates, on and on. No kids to pass them on to, and my brothers kids don’t care. And what do I do with the 9 perfect ringlets from her first haircut?????
    Yep, it’s so hard.

  2. My aunt is a hoarder too, but most of her stuff is trash, literally trash, if she finds something she thinks might be reusable or recyclable she picks it up, like an empty pickles jar, old carton boxes, empty cans or plastic bottles, etc. The problem is that she never does anything with them so she has like her own DIY walls made out of trash. If you try to clean it up for her she gets mad and gets back whatever you threw away (idk how, she’s 90!!!).
    Its gonna take a couple of months for my mom to clean all that up when my aunt passes (she’s the closest relative who keeps in touch with her and is willing to clean).
    Although she might have some actual valuable stuff in there, like those collectible LIFE magazines, who knows?
    Good luck cleaning up!!!

  3. Your comment of your mom printing everything out reminded me of my early days at a computer company. Before PCs (and the internet) were used, we had terminals (screen and keyboard) to access email, code, visit forums, etc. Many managers would have their secretaries print out all their email. Always seemed strange to me (though I assume they might have wanted to mark some (i.e. highlight) or do something with them and just figure it was easier just to print them all.

  4. Sorry for your loss. My Mom died five years ago and I still dealing with the estate.

    My father was hoarder of business papers and magazines. The whole basement and many parts of the house were stacked with boxes and briefcases full of magazines and papers (and a few uncashed checks). Some of the internal memos were quite interesting. But he would not buy tools because he didn’t want stuff around. Go figure.

    I wouldn’t call my Mom a hoarder, but there were around 40 cool whip containers, 30 glass vases and 20 baskets in the basement. And a few tubs of clothes. And the books. Lots of books.

    I wouldn’t call myself a hoarder but frugal. I wouldn’t buy a storage unit to hold stuff, but if I might see a need for something down the road I will not throw it away. I did bring many items to the local thrift shops.

    I also keep a few mementoes from the past. Checks written, paystubs, etc. Master thesis and other works from school. Things I know will go to the garbage cans when I die. I also have tubs of games which I hope to pass on to children when they get old enough.

    Our area has a local Facebook group called “Buy Nothing ” where people give things away or ask for something. Recently I was able to pass along all those baskets to someone who needed them for a project.

    As for the Game I have 19,000 donuts in one of my games. Not hoarding as much as “breaking” the game, i.e. figuring it out.

    When I think of a hoarder, I think of the show were they show people who houses are full of actual garbage. Where if you wanted something it would take hours to find. Your parents sound like collectors, waiting for the opportune time to sell or give away. (Hopefully they made enough from selling the items to pay for the storage). I wonder how storage bins are full of baseball cards and beanie babies and star war collectables.

    Hard drives are cheap. Buy a few, you should be able to put multiple copies of the pictures(documents) on each drive. For the important ones, get a few thumb drives and store them there. If you have a safety deposit box place at least one there. Google also offers 15 GB of storage. Use Google Drive to share with your family those you wouldn’t mind if the world saw (just in case it gets hacked). You can also use Facebook accounts to share. Depending on the number of member of your family you should have sufficient free cloud storage for everything.

  5. Whilst I was suffering with depression last year I got rid of vast majority of graphic novels collection and my dr who figurine collection giving it all to charity which had taken me years to buy and collect over time afterward my depression I regretted my actions however I took some other stuff down that I actually didn’t want and the woman running the shop said all the stuff had sold really quickly so it brings me some happiness to know the graphic novels that had been just sitting in boxes and the figures which some I had on display but was running out of room for will bring joy to other people.

  6. There is nothing wrong with holding on to things to a degree but eventually you have to get rid of things you aren’t using or have no interest in ever using again.

  7. Definitely, absolutely and positively a hoarder 🙂

    I’d like to claim some of it is useful – the hard disk in my dad’s laptop died last week – the one he uses with his ham radio gear to keep in touch with his elderly friends around the world…

    Twenty minutes to collect the laptop, two minutes to find a suitable replacement drive, and several hours re-installing windows. Twice.

    But the look on his face when I got him the laptop back, with his ham software reinstalled and ready to run?

    If anyone needs a Canon EP-L toner cartridge, for the laser printer that was scrapped last century, let me know and it is yours!

    • My Mom archived everything. She printed out emails, and filed them. Not kidding. She printed out pictures from Facebook, and filed them. Not kidding. We found almost an entire file cabinet, full of articles she had clipped, and meant to mail us.

      And her drawers were full of electronic devices marked, “only radio works,” or “needs a replacement charger.”

      I admit to having a bit of the same affliction…but promise not to do this to my kids…

  8. Sell it all to the hoarders, as for tsto sell what you can forget about the rest 😁

    • I think one of the other comments substantiates my theory that most estate sales and garage sales are mostly just stuff from other estate sales and garage sales.

  9. I can relate. My dad died a year and a half ago and then my stepmom died in March. My husband went down to NYC in August to clean out the apartment of anything we might want to keep and brought home about 1,000 photos. I bought a flatbed scanner and spent my two-week December vacation scanning about 700 of them up to Google Photos (organized into a somewhat elaborate set of folders), so that relatives and close family friends could see them and download any they wanted. It was a huge project, but, in the end, a rewarding one. But we were fortunate with that apartment, in that the building was willing to take care of disposing anything we didn’t want…HUGE help, especially since we live 200 miles away (and my neither lives in California). I shudder to think what will be involved in clearing out my mom and stepdad’s apartment when the time comes, especially since he’s pretty much a hoarder (the bathtub fill of old New York Times papers would be a dead giveaway). At any rate, just want to let you know that I can relate!

  10. I collect gemstones, so I know someone will want them one day as long as greed or money still exists. I am a paper crafter also, so I have large amounts of paper and cardstock in all manner of colors, finishes, patterns, and weights. I don’t really consider it hoarding because paper and cardstock get used up. Eventually, it will all be made into something except for bits too small to do anything with at some point. I suppose, even with those pieces, I could chop them all up and make confetti. It’s a thought. I make greeting cards and 3D things out of the paper and cardstock to sell, so eventually everything I make will also leave my home and not pile up.

  11. Patric, you deserve a 🏆 for your dedication and handling your Mum’s Estate (I went through this 10 years ago with a Dad who did not want to deal after she passed away).

    Definitely not a hoarder, do not collect as much as we used to (3 years ago began selling , gifting donating – now we feel better knowing that the cats don’t hide amongst any clutter!)

    4,400 🍩’s
    69,000,000,000 in Simpsons Cash (FACT that is a pittance compared to both Powerball and Mega Millions recently!)
    Love to have more Land, but accepting the fact one has to reevaluate their Springfield and remove things to make room for new Content (definitely wish I could permanently delete crap like Beast Cribs, Beast Toilets, Bonsai Trees, etc).

    Still haven’t finished “planning ahead” (the both of us are looking into it, inspired by the pandemic, we’ve lost enough friends and family to covid-19 and that makes you think about “better plan ahead before it’s too late”).

    Now that we have a nice break from the snow and the rain, must get some things done after work while I still can (we have more rain and snow on the way – I welcome it, I just don’t enjoy driving around traffic accidents).

    Stay Safe 🌞

  12. I guess I must be a hoarder in the game. I have over 130 thousand donuts and don’t even think about farming for more. I can buy all premium items and finish the event and questlines on the first day and make back the donuts by the end of the event. I guess the hoarder in me makes me continue playing, I want to get everything.

  13. Check all the books for cash, my Great Grandmother would stash cash and forget about it.

  14. Kathryn D Soukup

    I am not a hoarder, but I do find it hard to get rid of some things. What I have learned is that you really can let go of a lot of things without even a thought. We all have so much. I’ve found a lot of satisfaction in the Facebook “Buy Nothing” community. There is never any money exchanged and people get things they want or they give away things to people who want it. Of course, that doesn’t help with pictures.
    For TSTO I tend to only have about 1000 plus donuts all the time. I buy everything that’s offered. I like that because there was a time I couldn’t buy the items that helped with events. Even with only 1000 donuts I don’t need to farm. I still enjoy the game even though it won’t last forever. I don’t think I have a ton in storage, just those things you can’t sell. But, it’s all good.
    I know, going through your parents stuff is tough. I’m sure you’re doing the best you can and then you just have to let it go.

    • Sounds like “semi-moderation,” but even free exchanges are dangerous. You end up just swapping the same garage sale stuff back and forth.

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