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Columnist, Sheila Moss, is humor writer from  Tennessee. She writes  a weekly human interest column about daily life and the funny things that happen to everyone.

   She has written for  the Daily News of Kingsport,   Griffin Journal, Oakridge Now, Atlanta Woman Magazine, Aberdeen Examiner, Angleton Advocate,  and Smyrna AM, a supplement of the Murfreesboro Daily News Journal. She has been published by Voyageur Press, McGraw Hill, and the good folks at Guidepost Books.  Her articles have appeared in numerous anthologies and other publications, both in print and online.

    She is a former board member and past  Editor of  the, website of  the National Society of Newspaper Columnists, the oldest and largest professional organization for columnists. She is the Web Editor of Southern  and  a founder of the Southern Humorists writers' organization. She is writer, editor, and webmaster of

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The Hoarder....

The Hoarder

Some people find their niche in writing, some in teaching, some in computers, and so on. I'm afraid my niche is in hoarding junk. I am blessed, or cursed, with a large attic. The idea was that some day it would be finished into extra bedrooms. It never happened. Instead it gradually filled up with junk.

Need a place to put the TV that doesn't work? Put it in the attic. We can get rid of it later when we have more time. Changing around the living room? Just store the extra furniture upstairs. The kids don't have a place to store their extra stuff? Put it in my attic. No point in paying for storage.

And so it went. Years of accumulation: The shelves from the den that were too good to throw away; the Christmas decorations; the clothes that were too small right now, but that might fit again when I lose weight; the outdated set of encyclopedias; and miles of extra computer cable. All found the way upstairs, and soon became coated with a thick layer of dust.

It came to the point that we could no longer find things that we needed. It was easier to go buy a new item than to look for it in the attic. I needed a shelf in my closet. I knew exactly what I needed was up there --someplace. But I couldn't face the mess, so I bought a new one. That was the last straw.

In one of those surges of hormonal energy that women occasionally get, I declared that it was time to clean the attic. I donned old clothes and determined that my daughter and I would reduce the unsightly accumulation. Junk would go to the junkyard. Usable stuff, no longer used, would go to charity. Only the cream of the junk crop would be saved.

Boxes of books were opened while silverfish scattered in every direction. Furniture was scooted around. Bags were unpacked. Trash was thrown down the stairs. Dust flew. It was disgusting! How could anyone let things get into such a state?

I've read that people hoard things that they don't need because they are afraid of throwing away something that they might use later. Am I becoming a hoarder? Will they find five hundred empty mayonnaise jars in my attic when I die? I found five dozen canning jars that hadn't been touched since the vegetable garden of 1990.

I've heard that the difference between a collector and a hoarder is that collectors keep things because they give them pleasure, not because they are afraid to throw them away. Also, they are somewhat organized with their collectibles.

Organization definitely did not enter the picture where my attic was involved. Am I becoming one of those people that you read about in the paper? Neighbors complain about the smell and police find 100 cats inside someone's house.

Time to clean before the cats find me. Out, out, junk! Be gone from me!

After two days and numerous trips to the junkyard with disintegrated cardboard boxes, I began to feel hope. After untold trips to the local charity collection site with reusable items, I began to think positively. Funny, though, as I looked around the attic, I could not miss a thing. The attic was still full. Is the junk mating and multiplying?

Yes, unbelievable, but after two days of hauling stuff away, it looked exactly the same.

I want my attic back. I want the junk out of my life forever. I want only one Christmas tree, no extra tires that don't fit any automobile that we own; no boxes of used clothes to store, no computer chairs with cracks in the leather, no fodder for dust mites.

Someday I will finish the task. Someday I will clean the attic until it sparkles. Someday the dust mites will no longer have parties over my head. But, I just can't face it today.

However, if there were one bright spot to all this ungodly mess polluting my life, it would have to be that I didn't find any extra cats up there at all.

Copyright 2007 Sheila Moss

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