Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Confessions of a Pack Rat in Training

I began cleaning out my desk at the senior's call room the other day in preparation for moving out by the 15th, and I was amazed at the amount of stuff I had managed to accumulate over the past 3 years.

I was literally immobilized by my bafflement for a good thirty minutes as I pondered how I was able to fit in so many things in the small area that is my desk and how I was to go about bringing everything home.

The inevitable solution was not pretty... I was going to have to throw some of my stuff away.

I admit it. I am a pack rat of the worst magnitude. The thought of discarding anything that can still be remotely useful or sentimental (if only in my own mind) causes a twinge in my pack rat consciousness. This explains why my college chemistry and algebra textbooks are still taking up space on my already overflowing bookshelves at home, why my obsessive-compulsive notes from high school Spanish and cans of letters from friends written during elementary school are still somewhere taking up space in our bodega. My room at home is still recovering from the impact of all the things I couldn't throw away and hauled back home when I moved out of my apartment.

Very good reasons why I have to fight my primal impulse to simply bring everything home.

Simply put, I desperately need more room, but I just can't bear to part with the stuff.

I do try to clean out my personal spaces every now and then, but the effort it takes is tremendous -- there's just so much stuff that it takes me an entire day just to sort through all the clutter and the dust. It's a painfully slow process, made more so by the time I take to examine every little thing and debate the whether to toss it or keep it. In the end, I keep almost everything anyway, making the whole process an exercise in futility.

I have managed to clean out about 75% of my desk, and of the 75%, I've managed to chuck out about 30% of my stuff. I still brought home a good number of unused prescription pads and pharma company patient record pads for future use (yeah, right!) or as scratch paper. I wanted to bring home the little notebooks, too, but thankfully, one of my batchmates asked me for them so she can give them away to her nieces and nephews. All of my drug samples are still unsorted, but I've resolved to turn them over to the incoming 1st year residents so they can use the stuff for their patients in the wards. But looking through the remaining 25% left on my desk, I anticipate bringing the rest of it home.

Frankly, if I could bring my entire desk home with me, I would.

My pack rat tendencies extend to my computer hard drive (my heart broke when my dad threw out our old DOS PC before I could rescue my files from it) and my iPod (where I have 2600 plus songs - 10 Gig worth - and no plans of deleting any of them). It makes me wonder whether there are other things, thoughts, and attitudes in my life that I am compulsively holding on to.

Having been a student of human behavior made me curious, so I did a little bit of research on it. I found this article that fellow pack rats will find interesting. The scary part about it is, while I don't think I've reached the status of compulsive hoarder, there are glimpses of me in small doses all over that article.

Obviously, it's high time to start cleaning up and throwing useless things away - not just from my desk, my room, and my closet -- but from my life. And I'd like to think that I've already started on that by refusing to take the path of least resistance. It's painful work, but it has to be done. I sure as heck do not want to end up becoming the lonely old lady surrounded by and eventually buried by all her stuff!

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