Part of being a starving artist has included giving up cable television in the last few months. I have never been all that attached to TV but I have been surprised by what I find myself missing. The shows winning Emmys are not on my list.
Admittedly, I always liked the show “Hoarders.” Give me the A&E version or even it’s TLC rival and I am set. I love watching the family dynamics unfold as the hoarders defend their material belongings.
“A Hoarder’s going to hoard,” was a popular refrain in my living room during the times in which the show was on. While I took a detached joy in watching what was often clearly a tragic situation, it wasn’t due to a lack of empathy on my part. I know that my cluttered shelves hardly qualify me but the tendency is there. How liable am I to collect the plastic cartons that previously held feta in theory to use again? That’s the tricky part, the theorectically green mentality of recycling and reuse becomes insanity when taken too far. I’d like to think Hoarding is in reaction to the abundance our culture has afforded us. A vestigial instinct perhaps…
Hoarders seem to come in two varieties. The Poor and the Traumatized. The first group hoards stuff because they feel insecure having once had to go without. My Mom fits this “Hoarder” mold in the sense that she grew up in abject poverty and is therefore unwilling to part with what other people would consider “trash.” she has in recent years furnished a vacation home entirely with materials she already had- she literally had a second house worth of stuff waiting in the wings.
Mom thought she was pretty much genius for not having to buy a thing. “That’s the point of keeping everything,” she has proudly said. It’s perfectly reasonable in that sense but also in direct conflict with our consumerist culture’s binge and purge cycle. Hoarders do great on the acquistion side of the cycle, but less well on the letting go part. Although, hoarding makes some sense on a bioevolutionary level. One might think Hoarders may be better off were an apocalyptic scenario to unfold. They’d have more stuff at least, assuming it’s not one of those really filthy situations in which most of the stuff is totally unusuable anymore.
I admit to a lingering paranoia of my own, in which right after i’ve cleaned out my car of things like empty water bottles and fast food silverware I think, what if I now get stuck in some sort of disaster (an avalanche? an earthquake? lost in the desert?) and the supplies I am restricted to are the items from my car? Bear Grylls has traumatized me. Wouldn’t I be sad to have tossed that silverware then?
Speaking of trauma,the other half of the Hoarders start collecting stuff to fill some emotional hole left after someone dies or leaves or robs them at gun point. I think those are the sadder situations but the “Hoard” usually looks identical. Did that noun always exist btw? Or did reality TV create it- “the Hoard!” I question the shows’ propensity for forcing these “trauma-driven Hoarders” to confront whatever ails them. I saw one episode in which the camera followed one lady back to where her life had been threatened. As she looked visibly shaken and began to weep, I thought, hmm, if her current coping skills consist of rabid retail therapy are we sure this is safe for her? Not retraumatizing perhaps?
I felt similarly overprotective watching an episode in which a mother whose baby died in infancy was encouraged to let go of her now molding baby clothes. I thought if I had a baby who died, good luck prying those onesies out of my hands. Why shouldn’t she get to keep at least one? The therapist argued that tattered clothing wasn’t a great representation of her daughter’s memory. In the confines of my living room I argued that sometimes that’s the best you’ve got. Material belongings are a poor subsitute but they’re something. Maybe i’m a Hoarder in training, one trauma away, look I’m already attached to my television.
In the continuing saga that is my fangirl relationship with Ms. Melissa Etheridge, I got to be a call-in guest on her Radio Show. It all started when post-bothering her at breakfast, I came home to see whether I might continue to bug her, preferably through social media. Though I was sad to find her missing from Twitter, some consolation was found in the discovery of her aforementioned radio show. Who knew she was a radio personality?
On the website for her show there was a contact form to fill out if you wanted to talk to her. They offered the chance to call-in to Melissa! Well, I pounced on the chance and filled out the form, explaining my run-in with her and how I’d love to talk to her about gay parenting.
In the end we did talk parenting a tad, but the gay part wasn’t mentioned. What happened was that they called me one morning and asked if I wanted to join in on a conversation about who I’d rather meet the president or a big celebrity. They mentioned that back in the day everyone would have picked the president but that it was no longer the case. I’d much rather meet Obama than Brad Pitt, but if it was Bush being talked about the story would be different. They said they’d call me back in a minute because the connection was bad.
I formulated some cool response about how it comes down to the impact people perceive either of the profferred figures had on their lives. Like people care to meet those that matter, that have somehow touched their lives. It used to be people felt the President, regardless of Party, had the greatest power over their lives. People might not feel that way as much these days given all the talk of corporate interests running things behind the scenes. I knew I wouldn’t get a chance to say all of that but I figure’d I could come across smart. They never called me back. I called them twenty minutes later, cold tea in hand, and they said they’d try to call a bunch of times but it hadn’t gone through. It happens sometimes, they said, and promised to give me a call again in the next couple of days.
I was bummed. But early the next week, as I was clocking hours at my own personal version of the office, aka the playground, who should call? The guy from the radio show. This time he asks me if I consider myself a patient person or an impatient person? I think I’m somewhere in between, personally, but since I was at that moment rather patiently following a two year old aorund a park I thought, let’s go patient. He asked if that meant that extended into my tech life- So I don’t pay the extra money to overnight things and such? I thought about my old-ass computer at home and how being broke really does train one patience wise. Yep- definitely not overnighting things. This time he put me on hold and when a few minutes later it reconnected, Melissa Etheridge was the voice on the line.
Hey, We’ve got Kellen on the line who says she’s patient and do I hear children in the background? Because kids will definitely require someone to be patient…We bandied about over the idea of patience being really tied to staying in the present moment and about how kids will force one to be present as well. She mentioned a line about the present being a gift.I said something about how I bet she was a great parent and she said, well, now you’re just being sweet. It was pretty sweet all around. Although, I didn’t get to mention meeting her. She has a real knack for framing short interactions gracefully, saying well, thanks for calling Kellen as she leads me off the line once I’ve given my soundbite on patience.
I call a mom immediately to brag about it. Afterwards a mother at the park tells me that she couldn’t help but overhear and did I really just talk to Melissa Etheridge? I’d say only in Hollywood folks, but I’m pretty sure you can call-in from anywhere.