Tuesday, March 29, 2005


When I moved out of my apartment in January, I had to toss out a gigantic heap of stuff. It was ridiculous to think the hoarding could continue apace without reaching critical mass, i.e. fire hazard proportions. After all, the apartment was 565 sq. ft!

That didn't seem to deter me while I was living there; I made quite good use of the space. I kept theatre programs, playbills, museum maps, postcards, in-flight magazines, correspondence, all my university textbooks (didn't re-sell a single one) and custom courseware, obsolete foreign currency (Dutch guilders, deutschemarks, Irish punts, etc.), thousands of photographs, CDs in languages I don't speak, concert tickets, all my credit card receipts for the past five years, software installation disks, assorted cables, filters, hardware manuals, maps and mapbooks, all the greeting cards I've managed to hold onto in my many moves (birthdays, thanks, congratulations, Christmas, announcements), files of old CVs, Canadian citizenship papers, charity fundraisers I've been involved with, car repairs, all the university papers and lecture notes I've ever written, business cards from people I haven't seen in over a decade, the list is endless...

Most of the documents I keep for CYA (Cover Your Ass) reasons, in case I get audited, or there's a discrepancy with my taxes, or billing agencies try and tell me I signed up for A and I'd purchased B, or I wonder if I've learned anything at SFU.

The rest, the memorabilia, is for me. Not in case I ever get Alzheimer's or anything debilitating -- if I do, I'd like to look at people's faces rather than root around in dusty bric-a-brac -- but to re-live certain fleeting moments in time and reflect on life.

Now that I no longer inhabit an apartment but a house (with an attic and basement, even! essential spaces for the consummate hoarder!), I doubt the ritualistic squirrelling away of seemingly worthless items will ever subside. If anything, David is an even more diligent hoarder than I am. For one thing, he's not moved around as much, so his collection is much larger. His collection also includes YEARS of aviation magazines, and large items I could never move from continent to continent, such as the giant wooden antique propeller that graces one wall of our dining room. Years of telling myself "I can't take that with me!" have conditioned me to always keep my items small and portable.

From time to time since I've been here I try and do a big bung-out, get rid of some of the stuff to make more room and promote organisation. Somehow, I don't buy David's excuse of "Being messy is a sign of genius!" but I won't ever make him throw out his memorabilia. Not for selling them on eBay, like his Corgi car, but because I understand very well the sentimental journey we take with our "stuff". It reminds us of fun times, that life isn't always bogged down with bread-and-butter activity -- it's punctuated by events and people and places. The sentimental journey puts things in a broader perspective, so that when we find ourselves floundering in the daily grind, wondering if we're getting ANYWHERE or merely spinning our wheels, we can look back from whence we came and chart some progress (or not, as the case may be... sometimes it's best to retain some "inner child"). Not just changes with ourselves, but also to ponder the way the world has changed. To that end, I took some photos of tickets that David had lying around. They caught some people's attention on Flickr (click on photo for comments), the ticket on the left for obvious reasons.