(Author’s Note: The following is an abbreviated update based on an extensive phone conversation with Greg on 1/9/2011 –Hannah B.)
It’s been about eight months since Greg began what was supposed to be a six-month project to clear out his childhood home. Progress has slowed significantly in recent weeks, and months, as the sorting process has gotten more personal and difficult. “I almost made a post, like a confession to everybody. [For a couple of weeks], I hardly did a damn thing. I was kind of frozen… I went on a bender. I was going to the local bars and avoiding doing stuff in the house and if I wasn’t drinking at the bars, I’d be at the house drinking. It was pretty bad… That was kind of a wake-up call.
With the New Year, Greg has resolved to stop drinking for at least 30 days. He’s also resolved to lose 30 pounds. He’s gained a lot of weight in recent months, as the physical work involved in clearing out the home has given way to more stationary endeavors fueled by a junk food diet.
But progress, however slow, does continue. He recently donated several boxes of books, knick-knacks, clothing and blankets. The antiquated plumbing has been upgraded. And he’s made a small dent in the processing of his mother’s massive collection of costume jewelry.
He’s also kept a lot – and there’s plenty more to go through: His father’s study, with its massive piles of books, remains untouched; Two attic spaces need to be explored; His mother’s extensive collection of roadrunners, Indian and Hispanic artwork and crafts, and more jewelry needs to find a home. “She’s got a lot of nice stuff. I don’t want to donate it straight out.” So Greg is looking at options, from consignment shops to estate sales to a possible arrangement with the Museum of Man where his mother was a docent for many years.
There’s also a record collection, vintage clothing and hats, rare coins, and a myriad of other items that could find their way onto Ebay or Craig’s List, or into a garage sale. “I’ve also compiled a lot of Christmas stuff. So much stuff – including ornaments and cards – that I could have a Christmas sale. That might come next year.”
Meantime, the monthly bills keep rolling in for the storage unit of “keeper items” that need to be inventoried. And the job situation needs to be addressed. “I need to ‘man up’ and contact my work again. Quite honestly, I’m a little scared to, because I’ve been gone so long and haven’t been in contact with them. I’ve been avoiding it. I’ve been avoiding a lot of stuff. [But] pretty soon I’m going to lose my health coverage through the union. So I need to get an extension on that or I’ll have to go on COBRA. Sidney thinks – and I don’t think she’s wrong – maybe I should go back to work, at least part time, and have a little more ‘normality’ in my life, a little more ‘routine’… Sometimes I don’t know what day it is.” The project has been all-consuming, even when it’s stalled.
Greg is cautiously optimistic that his own hoarding tendencies won’t get the better of him. “I don’t have the tendency to go out and get stuff myself, per se. I really don’t think I’m going to start to hoard. And that’s one reason I wanted to go through this stuff myself… to show me that “’Dude, you can’t do this.’ But yeah – the slowdown sure has scared me a little bit, I will say that.”
So what does the future hold? Time will tell. “I’ll admit that six months [to complete ‘the project’] was a little ambitious. I think it’ll probably be more like a year. I don’t even know if that includes repairs… It’ll be a while before I get the house in a condition where Sidney is willing to stay there… so I need to have a sit down with her and/or an advisor to figure out our options.”
p.s. For additional updates, photos, finds, and random musings related to their journey, check out Sidney’s blog.