Thursday, June 9, 2011

Will You Take a Quarter for This Blog Post?

With temperatures in the nineties, accompanied by a heat advisory warning by the National Weather Service, I spent the last few days as any practical and precautious person would: doubled-over and wheezing while producing gallons of sweat within my unairconditioned garage.

Oh sure, there are some folks who probably sought a safe and comfortable refuge from the hazardous heat. They retreated to their home's central air or cooled off in a neighborhood swimming pool. Pfft. I decided nothing could delight me more than spending Every Freaking Day of my one-week summer vacation inside my attached two-car sauna.

Nobody knows how to have a better time than I do. So, for the hottest week of the summer, I scheduled a garage sale. And because I enjoy a seriously good challenge, I did nothing to prepare for it until just days before the event.

For those of you who have held a garage sale, you know that if there's anything even more fun-filled than actually hosting the sale, it's the cleaning, organizing and tagging that comes first. For the average person, this results in a somewhat tiring project. For people like me, who have not touched most of their household belongings for nearly twenty years, it is as wearisome as the Republican Party's search for a decent 2012 presidential candidate.

Some people scrap-book; others play tennis. I like to consider "collecting loads of shit" a bit of a hobby.

Astute readers might recall my kitchen cupboard purging escapade of this past February. Although I had high hopes for offers from TV game show producers, I've been forced, sadly, to move on with my life.

Specifically, I moved on to cleaning my basement. And I'm fairly certain that this time, the producers of Hoarders will not let me down.

I have never understood the adage "Less Is More." Is having $50 to your name truly better than having a million? Is a third-grade education more beneficial than a college degree? Hell no. So why own three kitchen spatulas when you can own twelve? Why pay for food and veterinary bills for one pet when you can have the satisfaction of paying for six? Why drink two margaritas when you can drink... (Wait, is there actually some limit?)

My recent basement purging was not unlike my kitchen cabinet cleansing--except instead of discovering twenty-three beer koozies, I discovered an endless bounty of toy action figures. At best guess, approximately 503 of them lay dropped and discarded across the basement floor.

Among these was every Happy Meal toy made between 1990 and 2000. I'd like to believe this is a sign of a loving and doting mother. In reality, it's the sign of a woman who apparently didn't prepare a homecooked meal for ten years.

I'm told that some of these items are collectibles, garnering big bucks on eBay. I'd like to believe choosing not to do so is the sign of a busy professional person with no spare time. In reality, it's a sign I'm lazy.

On the rare occasion that I've cleaned out closets, cabinets and toy bins, I simply hauled everything off to the Goodwill. This time, I decided I could use the money. (Still paying off bills from my Month of Financial Hell.)

Today was my garage sale premiere. I made a total of $63. At this rate, I should make about $150 over the course of the three-day event. Not a paltry sum. Until you consider the countless hours I spent sorting, washing, organizing and pricing. Given the time invested, I figure I'll net roughly 25 cents an hour.

This garage sale gig is way less lucrative than selling my body on the streets. A middle-age, overweight, unenthusiastic body at that.

I'm thinking of looking for an evening job instead, fit in somewhere between the day job and my extracurricular writing. Maybe McDonald's? After all, Mickey D positions are plentiful and the hours are flexible. In a fully airconditioned environment.

If I'm lucky they also offer an employee discount on Happy Meals. Because by Sunday, after I've finished sweating and wheezing, I expect to develop an ache for some cheap plastic action figures. Damn, those tiny toys are cute. I hear they do well on eBay.

And I'll bet not a single customer will ask, "Are you willing to take a quarter for this cheeseburger?"

Are you a hoarder or a purger? What are you willing to do, legally or illegally, to make a few extra bucks? Any big interest in a twenty-year-old food processor or some plastic Pocahontas toys?

Note to my fellow (and far more talented) bloggers: Between my recent writers workshop and the garage sale hell that followed, I am way behind in my blog reading. I promise to stop by your way this week...)


  1. I'm a purger married to a hoarder - it keeps things interesting.

  2. All I can say is I'm thankful I never fell into the Beanie Baby trap! It's bad enough I denied the kids the joy of opening their Happy Meal toys so that I could cash in to pay for college. Those same toys were in the FREE bin at the last garage sale. Oh the garage sale stories we could sell! Hmmm, there you go Sherry! Toni

  3. I come from an honest to goodness hoarder family. My mom, my aunt and my grandma all have houses FULL OF STUFF. Stuff that just sits there.
    Since we just moved into our new house we are trying to get rid of the stuff. I don't care if the place looks bare. No unnecessary stuff!!

  4. I'm like Downith. I'm a purger, married to a hoarder. My husband gets it honestly.

    My husband's mother is a recently-professed Food Hoarder. My in-laws are 80 yrs old, and only the 2 of them live in their house. Yet they have 2 refrigerators and 3 freezers, and all 5 of these are so PACKED with food you cannot find anything and stuff literally falls out when you open the doors. She noticed our frustration recently and said, "I know, I know. But if I'm at the grocery store and I see a really nice roast, I HAVE TO HAVE that roast."

    Here's to you, Sherry, for cleaning out that garage. You must have needed the Heat Challenge to do it. Good for you!

  5. I have been going through closets and the basement for the past few I feel your pain. On that 100 degree day, I actually saw you in the garage and thought to myself "now that's dedication". By the way, my car's air conditioning was on full blast !!!!

  6. You are brave. Even in these desperate times, I've resorted to ebay, but no garage sale. It may happen yet, but I don't know if I can part with the complete set of mini Barbies we've hoarded from all those Happy Meals.

    P.S. I laughed out loud at the line about being a woman who didn't prepare a homecooked meal in 10 years. When I shift the Rubbermaid bin holding all those action figures from one place to another, I share your 'shame.'

  7. Sherry,

    This is the moment where I simply have to say that I love you. Your posts brighten my days and clear my sinuses through the involuntary applcation of carbonated beverages.

    My worldview wants to be you when it grows up.

  8. Downith: Glad to hear you've decided to keep HIM though...

    Toni: Yes, I'll be placing the "Free" sign on the tiny toy bin tomorrow. Hmm... unless I decided to donate the remaining 487 of them to some church preschool. Can I get a tax write-off for that?

    Amanda: You are wise, my friend. All that running must be building your brain power as well as your muscles.

  9. Teri: Wow. At first I smiled, and then I thought it was more than a bit sad. Were either of them really destitute growing up? Wonder if they'd notice if you snuck away with a couple loads to donate to a food shelter?

    Kim: I'm glad to hear you thought "Now that's dedication" instead of "Now that's lunacy." Come on over during tomorrow's thunderstorms and join in the fun!

    Lisa: So glad to find a kindred spirit in shame. Somehow I'm not surprised it's you.

    Sarah: Who are you calling grown up? (And thank you.)

  10. i love your voice.

    as a former food addict (or is it recovering food addict), i binge and purge depending on whatever i'm working through. these days have been filled with a lot of purging. just tonight we took pictures of a Lazy Boy chair and Toddler bed we're listing on craigslist.

    speaking of...anybody want lazy boy chair in excellent condidtion or a toddler bed that can be transitioned into a baby bed as well? i gotta deal for you.

  11. I must say, Sherry, I also love your writing voice. Nothing like a "two car sauna" to make a girl's dreams come true! :)

  12. Amy and Teri: Thanks. After all those years of school teachers who disapproved of my mouth, it's nice to have someone appreciate my voice. And Amy, I will give you 460 action figures for that Lazyboy chair.

  13. Oh, Sherry--I'm a purger. Nothing gives me more relief and sense of peace than going through a closet or a drawer and just saying buh-bye. Sometimes I think I can get carried away, of course. And that's not to say I don't have my fair share of keepsakes (oh, but I do) but I still have this bizarre fascination with little spaces and minimalist living from years of living alone in tiny apartments.

  14. Erika: Hurray for you! This whole cleaning and deliberating-a-move thing has been a life-altering experience. From now on, if I haven't used something in a year, it's out of here. Off to the Goodwill though. No more garage sales unless someone holds a gun to my head. (And even that might be a toss-up.)

  15. Although I can purge with the best of them, I am, at heart, a hoarder. I think it comes from never having enough of anything. My mother was a hoarder, too. She used to collect soy sauce packets and tin take out containers from Chinese food restaurants. It was pretty horrifying.

    I agree about your voice. It's so distinct. I feel like I could pick it out from a line up.

  16. MSB: I must admit I have several soy sauce packets in my desk drawer at work. And although I've done a few things to deserve being picked out from a line up, I never imagined my writing voice might be among them. I'll take that. Thanks.

  17. Oh, the dreaded garage sale. I need to have one, I mean, seriously how many stuffed animals do three children possibly need?? And the MickeyD hit the nail on the head with homecooked meals. It's proof of madness. I'll be in the next cell painting watercolors chuckling under my breath about action figures.

    But then there's the unique situation with my stepdaughter. I have this thing where because she moves between two houses, when she outgrows toys they get shoved in the basement. The boys' stuff gets given away more times than not, but with her...even though we've never discussed it, I wonder if there isn't some part of her that feels that when she's not at one house she's forgotten. I'd hate for her to decide she wants to play with something that she hasn't in years and have it be if we clear out when she's not looking.
    It could all be in my head, but when it comes to my girl I err on the side of caution. So, the barbies and polly pockets stay until college and then, oh baby, it's all going.

  18. Lyra: That's really sweet of you. It's amazing what they want to hang onto. The beloved stuffed animal they slept with for years? "Meh--pitch it." A broken game they played twice? "Wait--you can't throw THAT out!"

  19. We've been planning on having a garage sale in the fall, but after reading your post, I'm not sure if it's worth it though! Maybe we should take the tax deduction instead...

  20. Margo: If you're selling baby equipment and kids' clothes, you're golden. That's what 90 percent of the women were shopping for. The men wanted tools and guns. Guns? WTF? Is that even legal? "Here's a nice toaster. Five dollars. Never been used. Oh, and this here's a terrific little Glock. Just 75 bucks. Never been registered."

  21. I'm so late to the party! One would think with all our moving there'd be nothing left, but it just ain't so. I am a former hoarder turned purger and am successfully converting the husband. Give us another 20+ years and we might get organized.

  22. Deb: Let me know when you decide to get organized. If you threaten a garage sale, I'll be right there to talk you off the ledge.