Sunday, January 6, 2019

The Magic of Throwing Crap Away

We made the mistake most of you have made when pressing play on an episode of Hoarders last night while making dinner.

We were at Matt's house. Skylar was in the kitchen doing something with fish that had nothing to do with salt or butter or oil or anything that makes life worth living, all because I foolishly told him that this was my Year of Health.

For Matt's part, he's making 2019 The Year of Taking Care of Myself, which so far has mostly consisted of sending Skylar and me 20 selfies a day and saying "look. I combed my hair again."

It's harder to get Skylar to take anything like this very seriously. Last year when a large group of friends went around the table on New Year's Day declaring their themes, each of them emotional, thought-out, and dramatic, we ended with Skylar, who said, "I would like to drink more water this year. No. I would like to try to drink more water this year."

I guess I admire his realism.

Also, in case you're wondering, he did not drink more water in 2018, but he says he did try, so his integrity is still very much intact.

This year is his Year of Abs, he says. When I asked him what he was going to do to get abs in 2019, he laughed and said "that's June Skylar's problem. I'm not even going to think about this for six months."

And so, with bland white fish cooking in the kitchen, we started the episode of Hoarders. It must have been the most disgusting episode of Hoarders that has ever aired.

Look. I've watched a lot of this show. One time I even tweeted "I wonder if my Mormon Pioneer Ancestors would be proud to know that I just spent 9 hours watching a Hoarders marathon on TV."

So I know what Hoarders is typically like.

Shopaholics. Collectors. The occasional animal lover, although, as I recall, those folks got their own show.

But I was not prepared for coming face-to-face last night with a man who hoarded his own feces. HIS OWN FECES! MONTHS AND MONTHS OF IT HOARDED INTO BUCKETS!


By the time the episode ended, we did the thing that we always do when watching the show: we made impossible promises to get rid of everything we own and never touch another object again as long as we live.

And usually we feel that way for an hour or two. But it wears off, and we don't actually throw a single of the non-working 26,000 pens out of the junk drawer in the kitchen.

But on the heels of setting goals for the new year and deciding we were going to take care of ourselves and become healthier and hell, even get abs maybe in June, it was like we had watched the episode while high on meth NTWKWTI and the next thing I knew, Matt was screaming at us about how he was coming over the next day to go through all of our closets.

This is something of a touchy subject. Skylar and I hoard in completely different ways. I have enough mugs for the entire Salt Lake Valley to join us for a night of hot cocoa and a rousing round of For He's a Jolly Good Fellow, and Skylar could clothe all of Siberia with his alarming sweater collection. We both try to get the other to give, and we both refuse to give. So our periodic attempts at dramatic dejunking barely ever put a dent in the problem.

For the record, neither of us are clinical hoarders. I've seen enough of the show to know what that looks like (see above). We are probably very average in this area. Well, very average Americans, which means we have way too much stuff, but not so much that any of you would be worried about us if you came to visit. So I don't mean to cheapen the very real psychological problem some folks have in this area. I only mean to explain that we are garbage people, just like most of you.

As promised, Matt showed up this morning and made us dump an entire closet and dresser of clothes into a large pile so he could hold up each piece of underwear one-by-one and say, "does this spark joy for you?"

I understand that he got this from that Japanese woman on Netflix (Magic of Tidying Up, I think?). I assume at least that line came from her, but probably not his frequent requests that we notice how good his combed hair was looking.

He even made us thank each item we were discarding via his pedantic barks about the importance of this step, of which importance he really couldn't explain.

Skylar was in a bad mood for a good portion of the first hour of this, mostly because he felt he was being attacked since he was being attacked. This is because he has probably double the clothes that I have. But since Matt was the one who was yelling at him "YOU DON'T EVEN WEAR THIS" rather than me, he was in a better place to concede. I've said it before and I'll say it again: every couple needs a third-party Matt to follow them around and mediate.

After two hours, there was this weird energy where all three of us were on some high from stuffing things into a GIANT green bag to be donated. So giant, in fact, that it took two grown men to carry it out to the car.

Now I'm in that mental state where I want to simplify everything in my life. I keep walking over to the closet to just look at how much it is not stuffed from floor to ceiling with stuff we don't use because we forgot it's buried under all the other clutter.

I wish I had a before picture so you could see how terrible this was. 

If only I can figure out a way to get Matt to leave before he starts opening the mug cabinet in the kitchen.

~It Just Gets Stranger


  1. A day early
    Khrystos Rozhdayet'sya! Since you are a person that loves Ukraine.

    1. Not use to that reply-
      Usually hear -
      khvalymo yoho

  2. What’s the phone number for mediator Matt? Also, I am �� here for when you low key insult us. Also, Marie Kondo had a book BEFORE she had a Netflix show, so if you want to put on airs while decluttering, you can buy the book to clutter up your bookshelf and that will make you seem fancy. #garbagepeopledofancy Also, I have been on a de-cluttering high for years now (but with four small kids it’s just a constant cycle of maintaining my sanity with the influx of WHERE DID THIS STUFF COME FROM) but I will validate you- the high that comes from sorting through what “brings you joy” and getting rid of the rest is so real. ALSO (how many times can I say also in this comment before it gets annoying?) I should probably have made this a numbered list comment, but it was my daughters 11th birthday and I have cake brain now.

    Evidence of cake brain: when you wrote that the abs would be June Skylar’s problem, my brain read “June Snapple’s problem” and I sat there stumped about this joke... for longer than I should have until I read it right.

    Also, I have a head injury, remember? Also, I think all you A named strangers will be fine. The curse only lasted those three days.

    1. I was also convinced it was a Snapple of the June variety he was referring to..

    2. #garbagepeopledofancy Haaaaaa!

      Also, I read it as June Snapple too!

      Also, ‘bland white fish cooking in the kitchen’...I thought that was a dig at Skyler somehow? Ha ha!

    3. I read it as June Snapple at first too. Haha.

  3. A) Props to Skylar - last year was my Year of Trying to Drink More Water too! I wasn't very successful at drinking more water but I TRIED!

    B) I purged almost an entire bin full of empty boxes I was holding to wrap things in after Christmas so I think my de-cluttering is done for the year.

  4. i only dare write this anonymously. In college i had a strange infatuation with prank wars. i would spend hours day dreaming about the perfect toilet papering or filling someones house with rabid goats.

    somehow i got the idea.... and i really don't know what possessed me. Somehow i got the idea that the ultimate prank would involve urine.

    at this point i should mention somehow i didn't realize the purpose of prank wars was to get a girl to pay attention to you. seeing how i had not attraction to them, but didn't' know it. i thought the purpose of a prank war was to inflict distress.

    anway. I had a dream. a dream of filling the tub in some poor girls' apartment with urine. Wouldn't that just be the best prank ever? really? i mean they come in and they find 50 gallons of urine dumped into the tub.

    yeah......... i don't think there are enough "."s to show how long that pause should be.

    so i started saving. gallons and gallons of urine stored in milk jugs. In the bathroom. and while my debauchery is certain, someone should also question why my roommates let me. why did they not stop me. if you see someone going down a distructive path, why do you not stop them

    so, i became quite fond of my urine collection. It got chunky. i showed it off. I was such a dumb freshman.

    one day, after i had amassed 40 gallons of urine, my roommate came to his senses. he begged me not to do this horrible thing. not to destroy these girls tender souls.

    i looked at my chunky urine, and realized they did not deserve it. they didn't understand what i'd been through to create the urine.

    so I hauled the gallons out to the dumpster.

    gentle reader, i apologize for not having a story that ended with the urine being dumped in a tub, or accidentally spilling in my own house. but for 2 months, i had urine stored in my bathroom. i'm not proud of it........... but i am also not ashamed.

    1. I could have lived a perfectly blissful life without the knowledge of what happens to old urine, but at least you did not go through with the prank. But my heart goes out for those that may have had to deal with your storage while emptying the dumpster.

    2. I laughed so hard I nearly peed my pants. That only made me laugh more. This would be a great story for Strangerville for sure.

  5. Matt needs to start his own renovation/organization/lifestyle YouTube channel!

    1. Matt just told me he might start an organizing business call "Make Room with Broome."

    2. Does Matt want a partner? In my second life I want to be an organizer/photographer.

  6. If that's the Hoarders episode I'm thinking of, my favorite line is from Matt, the cleaning boss. He says something like, "We're all just a bad decision away from a bucket of *-*-*". So true and scary.

  7. Hilarious. Also, WHEN IS STRANGERVILLE COMING BACK. There's a big hole in my life right now and I do not love riding the train to work on Monday mornings without you and Meg.

  8. Maybe the boring, plain, white fish was part of Skylar's Year Of Abs and your Year Of HEalth. As every trainer ever says: Abs are made in the kitchen, not the gym.

  9. Please tell me next year is going to be The Year of Hindsight.

  10. How is Matt at throwing away other people's emotional baggage?

  11. I will clean out our pantry, organize everything (baking, soups, starch, etc.) and then my family will come in and put something back in all haphazardly and then I lose it. "Don't you see you can't put the cereal back with the oils????? Were you born in a barn?"

  12. I will never have a de-cluttered home as long as my husband lives because we MUST, without question, FOREVER AND EVER hold onto his space-saver full of unsharpened pencils from 1993...and the like.

    1. I feel you! My husband has to save most everything, and it is all justified because his father does the same thing and WOULD YOU BELIEVE HE NEEDED THAT ONE OBSCURE NONSENSE THING THAT HE HELD ON THAT ONE TIME AND IT JUSTIFIES HOLDING ON TO EVERYTHING....

      Deep breath... I can get through this, and so can you.

      ...I wonder if Matt would be so effective with our husbands?

    2. They save it because SOMEONE MIGHT NEED IT SOME DAY! And they are sometimes right. My dad saved every bandaid tin, wooden box from processed cheese, baby food jar, cookie/cracker tin, etc from ever, because he grew up during the depression. And he used all those things to store more things...nails, screws, nuts & bolts, pieces of twine, elastic bands, paperclips, newspaper clippings, and other detritus. The thing is, he knew exactly where everything was. Now that he's passed I know if I need something I can go to my parents house and it will be there, but it will take me an hour to find it. My mom is clearing all that stuff out, donating what's still usable, throwing away the rest, and contrary to Eli's experience it is just making me terribly sad.

  13. We lived in a 900 sq-foot apartment for 5 years. in my husband, me, and my 3 dear children. My 3 kids shared the same bedroom - granted my husbuns made an amazing loft bunk bed so two were sleeping in the air while the third was in a crib beneath them, and we had room for 2 dressers PLUS an armoire in their 10x10 room! But that's the way we had to do everything. Creatively, snugly, and we had NO room for anything we didn't absolutely need. I will never forget, then, when we bought our house 2 years ago, a 2900 sq foot (what felt to us like a mansion!) beautiful family home. I was mentioning to a co-worker how empty it felt, because we had so little to move in to the new house. She said "oh, just you wait! Now that you have space to fill, you'll fill it! You'll start acquiring things you'll never use, just because you have somewhere to put it!" I took that as a challenge. I'm actually really proud of how little stuff we have in our house, even two years later! I get sensory overload with clutter, so I'm not afraid to donate or trash things that lie around with no purpose.

  14. We live in a very small house so cleaning out closets and drawers are almost a weekly thing. I have given away so much stuff to charity, good stuff, not just crap. *some of it is crap* In fact, as soon as the pulled muscle in my leg heals, I am doing a top to bottom clean out of all my cupboards. Thank goodness I don't live next to my mother-in-law anymore (I did. 12 years) Her idea of getting rid of anything, an expensive dress, a half eaten box of cereal was to give it to me.