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I fully intended to leave work a little early today. By early, I mean at 4:00 p.m., my usual time to check out, rather than after 4:00. I wanted to catch most of Oprah. Today’s topic was compulsive hoarding and followed the story of a particular woman’s hoarding habit. 10,000 square feet of stuff was hauled from her house. Oprah’s stage was stacked with a mountain of orange storage containers that I’m assuming represented the amount of stuff this woman had collected. I say assume because something came up right at 4:00 that I had to deal with, so I didn’t get home until after 4:30.

While some might think that working in a museum makes me a natural hoarder, it doesn’t. I hate clutter and actively work to keep our house clutter-free. At least twice a year I sort through our children’s dressers and pull out anything that doesn’t fit. I’m perpetually filling bags to head to the Goodwill. I regularly shred old bills and unneeded papers. If it’s not being used, out it goes.

Don’t get me wrong – I have my collections, notably books, fabric and yarn, but all three are well-organized. That is one quality of a good museum worker – we have professional organizational skills. We have to in order to retrieve the information that is requested of us. In fact, organizing is a task I periodically have a strong urge to engage in and won’t feel satisfied until I do. All of this is the long way of telling you that I don’t hoard.

Oprah made a comment toward the end of the show that she figured people would be watching and making judgments, tsk, tsking hoarders. Not me. The subject is fascinating and is one that I’ve thought about incorporating into a story. However, I’d give it a bit of a twist, not making the act of hoarding something that’s a disorder, but a manageable and integral part of the character’s life. After all, another word for hoarder is collector.