Tuesday, August 19
Are you your stuff?
Since getting cable after over a decade without, I'm fascinated by a show on the Style Network called "Clean House." Clean House shows people who can't walk around their house because they are literally knee-deep in clutter.
The show's staff deals in a very pseudo psychological way with their issues, sells all their shit in a yard sale, and redesigns a new house for them.
But the problem is, people whose houses have seven sofas in the living room on top of the other, and that's really the way some of these houses are, (like the guy with four decades of newspapers in his apartment) these people have ISSUES. These are people in emotional crisis, and the show acknowledges that as much as they can in sixty minutes with commercials.
What I find fascinating is, often...the issue is...somebody DIED.
Somebody DIED. (and look, this embed starts with a commercial, go figure!)
And the people in these houses walk around mazes four feet deep because they can't cope, won't deal, or forbid themselves to throw away ANYTHING that belonged to that person.
The worst case was one woman, I swear, who kept the mangled license plate of the car that crashed and killed her husband. And her walls were wallpapered with pictures of him. For years.
She had no other way to grieve.
So this show gets me thinking that our society teaches us all forever that we are what we BUY. So when someone dies it's all we can do to preserve that person's memory is keep the extra furniture. It's like these people have never heard of a thrift store truck. The show, I suppose, is exploitative; well, except that the family usually knows something is wrong and calls the show. They get new furniture...it's "queen for a day" redux, and someone takes part of the responsibility for throwing out stuff. They get useful help organizing. They have professional help for that, with lots of free advertising for The Container Store.
As one commenter at Salon said, the network exploits their madness but dresses it up to look like therapy. And the people are happier in the end, because they HAD to get rid of Granny's sofabed. For the show. FOR THE SHOW.
Which is what makes me go ick. 15 minutes of shame/fame, to show the world what a slob you were. And that some one else made you a nice home out of brand new furniture made in China because you finally coped with your grief.
And your house and therefore your life is all better in a 60 minute time slot.
So this post is not about reorganizing your house, but about death and loss and how we deal with it. Are we our stuff?
Since I divorced this spring, and moved out of a house that was NEVER mine, and into my own house with my own stuff, I have to confess that it's much more my home. But I would be horrified if someone decided after my demise to keep all my books/yarn/knicknacks and add my stuff to their place because they loved me and had no other emotional resources with which to honor me than to add my "stuff" to theirs.
And hey, I didn't use stuff to escape my situation, I used blogging. Because I am not my stuff. But I am my blog.
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