Collections of Everything and Nothing

We have multiples of everything. Growing up, if couldn't find something in the house, like a nail clipper, my mom would tell me to go out and buy another one. It was more time efficient than looking, she said. My mother claimed to have learned this from my dad's mother who was famous in our family for shopping. It made sense at the time and I didn't question it. And I thought that's was what everyone did.

Twenty nail clippers later, I know that's not what other people do. As an adult I have realized that other people didn't live like us. They had organized shelving, they got rid of things they didn't need, and they didn't have multiple karaoke machines. I thought organization was keeping things in tidy piles that didn't bother anyone else. Shelving was a revelation I discovered in college. It was how my dorm mates kept clean. Amazing! An aspiring organizer friend once told me that organizational habits do not pertain to any particular class, region, race, or gender. People of all walks of life can lack organization skills and live like crazy pack rats. True dat. Poor people can be tidy, rich people can be crazy messes and everyone can be everything in between. I used to think that my mom used to keep so much crap because she grew up poor, but I've been told by relatives that they grew up quite comfortable in Taiwan. Then why all the stuff? I guess people keep stuff for all kinds of reasons.

As I go through the Garage, I keep finding multiples. Seeing the same things over and over again I can see a pattern, a method to the madness. I used to find it irritating that my mom would keep ten of the same Casual Corner overpadded business blazer in multiple sizes and colors, but only wear one. But now that time has passed, I find the situation absurd and slightly hilarious on good days. On bad days I wonder how I'm still in this mess. Most people can't fathom how I've inherited 10+ houndstooth suits or washed silk button down shirts. Or all those nail clippers.

Here are a few collections, aka things I have multiples of. I'll post more as I find them.

Collection 1: Ladies Houndstooth Suits

I love that the suit on the right is made by Sterling Cooper, Don Draper's ad agency in Mad Men. I like to imagine that after the agency folded in the 70s, they were picked up by mall chain Casual Corner for a dime. 

Collection 2: Change

I'm always finding stashes of change, in small change purses, shoeboxes, tea tins like the ones below or in plastic bags all over the house. I'm trying to consolidate now. 

My parents' never knew about Coinstar. I went to my first Coinstar a few years ago with change found throughout house and cashed out at around $160! 

The collection below is totally pre-Euro! Deustchmarks, Francs, Japanese Yen, Lira, Taiwan NT, arcade tokens... No cash value! The arcade token says "buy a vintage 80s video game" and has Ronald Reagan's face on the other side.  

Collection 3: Chinese Take-Out Containers

This collection is definitely due to the O.C.D. of my late grandfather. After he died I'd find plastic bags of Whole Foods napkins and styrofoam. He kept them in tidy bundles. 

The cardboard pieces are what Chinese restaurants use to stack take-out boxes inside slippery plastic bags. I had more tin foil before but I threw it out a while back. Whew. 

Do you have collections of anything? Especially anything crazy? Buttons, matchbooks, safety pins? I'd love to know and send me your photos. Would make me feel better.


sukjong said...

Raina, I love this blog! it's very poignant... as I've moved three times in the last year, each not involving more than 50 feet but flights of stairs, I've discovered the life of my things... and I love going to my parents' home in chicago for this very reason.

My collections: old keys, all the keys i've ever owned since 18. 2 plastic bags worth of danglies. stockings with holes in them (pink black, beige). single orphaned socks. free nyc postcards, for the 'day when i mail them.' hardware store paint chip cards over years and years - of the colors i've always considered (but then went with white instead)... everything is slated for 'future undetermined art project.' but it means i have piles of stuff...

Raina Lee said...

hi sukjong! you understand piles o stuff. like if you keep it you can do something cool, but what? it's something i grapple with on a daily basis. after living in NY you know that we don't need much...but what can you do? send me your photos of stuff... anyway, thanks for reading and hope to see you soon!

Lan said...

no pics, but my mom's collections: buttons, rice cookers, irons, my baby teeth (http://www.flickr.com/photos/venguyen/3543828152/in/set-72157618428766410/)...

Raina Lee said...

WOAH, TEEF! pretty awesome. did you keep wisdom teeth too? i wonder how much that will fetch on eBay

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