Tuesday, March 08, 2005

Several years ago, our hamster went missing from its cage in the basement for about 6 months. Nowhere to be found. Until one day, during a ping pong match, the hamster was spotted scooting across the floor. They ran to catch it. Eventually, they succeeded in cornering it and locking it back in its cage where it proceeded to die within a week or two. Today, before 9 am, I found the hamster's hideout.

In a sudden and overwhelming urge to see what was stored under the basement steps—yes, it’s as scary as it sounds, I moved 25 boxes of varying size, some empty some filled, and discovered a pile of tiny bits of Styrofoam. The bits were packed inside one of the boxes, formerly being the packaging material around a random electronic device. My first thought was MICE. And then I remembered the hamster's 6 months of freedom.

Along with the stryo-home, I found boxes containing an assortment of baby clothes, baby toys, Highlights, stereo components, PC boxes, toys from my own and my husband’s childhood, and an infant swing that I thought I’d given away. Some of these items will be useful, and some of them are out the door.

What possesses otherwise reasonable folks to keep such trash, under the basement stairs or anywhere? It’s rather like difficult psychotherapy uncovering all that garbage from the past. Covered with dust, bug webbing, and hamster habitat, the boxes—some of which had not been unpacked when we moved in 8 years ago—are a sign of anal retention, no doubt. Guilty. I’m as AR as they come, I suppose. I read recently that under the study of compulsive disorders is a subcategory called compulsive retention of junk. You can google this if you don’t believe me. It’s true. They will send you information from the prestigious university in the east if you request it.

Now all that crap is scattered around a previously clean basement. No telling what demons or bugs I’ve disturbed. The task is larger than Herculean, if that’s possible to be worse than a mythological epitome of large, horrible tasks. How much of it will I get rid of? Stay tuned.

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