I’ve got a confession to make; I’m a hoarder.
Didn’t really think about this much until my wife moved in with me; I lived in a two-bedroom apartment at the time. My clutter was filed away in one bedroom; I slept in the other. My second bedroom was cutely referred to as “the Odditorium”; a place where I stashed my enormous collection of records, comics, books, magazines, musical equipment and shelves and shelves of knick-knacks. The walls were decorated with framed portraits of GG Allin and Ed Gein, signed 8X10s of movie and TV actors and signed LP sleeves. A room suitable for an eccentric bachelor indeed.
And then my wife entered my life. One by one things began to change around my humble little apartment. The kitchen began to be used for its original intended purpose. Utensils were pulled out of storage, dusted off and used for (gasp!) actual cooking. My computer, office chair and desk which had for years always been within arm’s reach of the coffee pot, refrigerator and oven were unceremoniously rolled into the living room so the wife could cook in her new kitchen.
Then she started her own website and began to sell books she had written and published herself. At first she was content to work off of a laptop on a TV tray in the living room but as her website grew in popularity and the numbers of books she began to sell grew, she wanted my man-cave for an office.
I cleared off a desk that had become a major catch-all so she could put her laptop and printer on it, got her a comfortable office chair to work in from a nearby office supply store and even installed a large rug on the hardwood floor to roll the chair around on. A fan and a space heater were installed. I tried to make it comfortable for her but she didn’t like the windows I had covered to keep the Texas summer sunlight out, or the crappy view of the wooden fence or the brick house next door (or in other words not much of a view at all really) The prementioned portraits of Ed Gein and GG Allin came down next, not surprisingly.
Eventually as we rearranged the room and she moved in more of her things it became painfully obvious a storage space was going to be needed. We rented a midsize storage unit, I borrowed a pickup truck and trip by trip I began to move stuff out of my apartment and into the storage space.
This is when it began to dawn on me that I had over the course of the last thirty years or so I had managed to rat-hole a LOT of stuff away without much thought as to (A) what I intended to do with it (B) who was I going to leave it to? I had no children. (c) Why was I keeping it? (D) when was I going to do anything with it at all? I had about a dozen large heavy boxes of magazines: National Lampoons, Heavy Metal, Fangoria, Psychotronic, miscellaneous film and music mags and more “adult” magazines than anyone in their right mind would want to admit owning. There was five large crates full of LPs, two large heavy boxes of comic books, boxes of rolled-up posters, tons of cassettes of live shows and no working cassette player in the house. This was ridiculous; I had become a hoarder without giving it a single thought.
As I spent a week emptying out the man-cave and turning into my wife’s new office, my wife brought up the idea of selling some of this stuff on Ebay. We opened an account, rented a PO box and even though it was like pulling my own teeth, I began to cull through the stuff. What could I let go of? I skimmed the comics and magazines for things I thought might sell and in a few brief months we made enough money to go on a Carnival cruise just by selling comics I hadn’t looked at in twenty years. After we went on the cruise however we stopped selling stuff; Ebay itself was a time-consuming affair and we had other things on our minds.
In November of 2014 we packed up and moved out of our now-cramped apartment and moved into a for-real house. The storage space which was supposed to be a temporary measure was now packed full of collectibles and just plain junk. The company who owned the unit also began to slowly raise the monthly rate for the storage and paying the bill became a painful monthly expense. And as if that wasn’t bad enough the company I was working twelve hours a day for announced No More Overtime and cut my hours down to eight a day, putting a real cramp in our monthly budget.
So once again we are selling things on Ebay, only this time I’m serious. We emptied out a big heavy box of Heavy Metal magazines and sold them for a few hundred dollars. Now I’m starting to slowly inventory the rest of them, digging boxes one by one out of the storage unit and lugging them back to our house. I dig the magazines out one by one, write down on a clipboard what they are, the date of publication and their condition. Then I look them up on Ebay and see what other people are selling them for, knock a dollar off their price and list them.
So far we are doing okay; it’s amazing what sells and what doesn’t. I sold two crumbling issues of Rolling Stone for $25 just because they had John Belushi on the cover. Anything with Traci Lords or John Waters on the cover sells almost immediately. People seem to like anything with Pee Wee Herman or Devine on the cover as well. And I just LOVE getting $5, $10 or even $15 or $20 for magazines I paid $3 for. It’s like pulling money out of the air. Some of these magazines I haven’t opened up and looked at since the late 1980s or early 1990s.
I’ve still got a lot of magazines I find painful to sell. I’ve got a dozen or so HELP magazines that are almost as old as I am, three large heavy boxes of National Lampoons and just cataloging the inventory is a time-consuming business; sometimes I spend all weekend doing it.
But to hell with it; if other people enjoy them and are willing to pay for them then it’s a win-win situation for everyone involved. It makes paying for the storage unit less painful and if I have any money left over, then hooray. Our eventual battle plan is to move to my wife’s native Canada; I’m not getting any younger and America is certainly with each passing day becoming a shitty place to retire.
We currently have Presidential candidates promising us that if elected they will keep pointless wars going FOREVER in the Middle East and to do away with the ACA and while it should be ludicrous to take these bozos seriously as human beings, I’m actually seeing people driving around with bumper stickers with their names on them. Are Americans really stupid enough to actually elect these guys? If so retirement will come early for me and We’re Outta Here. And this is where Ebay just might help make this happen for us; I certainly can’t take this ton of pulp paper with me.
I can’t touch my 401K for another couple of years and every spare nickel and dime helps us get closer to leaving. So far we’re doing okay; I’m making regular trips to post office clutching bundles of 9 X 11 envelopes. I’m not getting rich off of this but a few extra bucks every week certainly helps us pay the bills and stay fed. And these days that’s a balancing act not everyone can deal with, but we’re doing okay so far. Sometimes being a hoarder can actually pay off.