A hoarder’s daughter

I hate reality shows. If you want to know why the quality of TV has crash landed into the fifth circle of hell, blame Survivor. May 2000 kicked off the downfall of television- it’s why I’ve decided to stick to documentaries, Britcoms, CNN, CSPAN, British Al-Jazeera, and PBS. I hope all my favorite TV shows make it to DVD or onto a torrent site, because that’s all I’m willing to watch. I’m not even watching the Vancouver Winter Games because SLC and Torino were not only complete wastes of time, but boring as fuck. Scott Hamilton is now a member of the God Squad, Katya Gordeyeva is a bleached-blonde diva nutbar, Sale and Peltier are as snotty as ever, and USA Hockey is… well, USA Hockey (don’t look for any Miracles there).

Don’t you remember the good ole days as a little kid when your mom/grandma/godmother cuffed you in the back of the head and told you to mind your own business when you asked an insensitive personal question (even though you didn’t know what the fuck you were doing)? Now a TV camera has completely nullified the concept of privacy. Just because you sign a clause (and accept $50k) everybody is allowed to mind your business- all for the sake of making a quick buck and/or getting a cheap thrill.

Now you might say, “Hold up you hypocritical bi-yatch! You worship PBS and those news magazines! They’ve been following dudes around with cameras from the beginning!” And I’d say, you’re right. But there’s a stark fucking difference between a Frontline crew tailing the life of an AIDS patient and the Kardashian sisters going naked and sucking dick up and down Rodeo Drive.

Now as we all know- and are constantly reminded of sometimes- Michael Jackson died this past summer. It was sudden, sad, and- to me at least- unsurprising. I liked two Jackson songs, In The Closet and The Love You Save. Yes assholes, I know the latter is a Jackson Five song, I still have his ’91 CBS documentary hyping his Dangerous album on tape (conveniently on the same tape as the NBC miniseries Drug Wars)! But, let’s face it, Jackson (and his family) are a bag of mixed nuts. Oh God these motherfuckers are really outta their trees… I seriously doubt the child molestation charges are genuine considering Jacko was asexual and was probably unable (for psychological and physiological reasons) to keep a boner much less get aroused by any-fucking-thing let alone some goddamn kids. The abuse he suffered as a child, isolation as an international mega popstar, and being a member of the Jehovah’s Witnesses cult really stunted his maturation. His vitiligo was also complete bullshit. It was a cover for his obsession with skin whitening and his identity disorder- racial and (I believe) gender. Go into any ghetto beauty supply store and they will be chockablock with skin whiteners- soaps and lotions. How do I know this? Well the majority of my friends are black (and some use the products) and being that Dad is a dark-skinned Puerto Rican and Mom is a fair white Italian-Irish, li’l bro and I began developing skin tone issues after we were 20. We look and act white- we are white- but I’d always noticed that Dad had THREE different skin tones! His face was one color, his torso was another, and his legs were something different altogether. Mom knew it too, but didn’t understand why and even if she asked he wouldn’t have answered her.

So a few years ago Mom stopped to look at me and said, “What’s wrong with your arms?” I looked down (as the sunlight was streaming in) and saw long dark stripes down my arms. I honestly thought I was shedding. But no matter how hard I scrubbed, they wouldn’t come off. When our bathroom got remodeled with white tiles and better lighting I saw that I had uneven skin tone. Dark stripes down my arms, a white stripe bisecting my torso with different dark tones on either side. I wanted to fucking die! I’d been going to ghetto beauty supply stores for a while getting my nail polish, hair color, creme developer, and I’m a big Palmer’s lotion fan (goodies for good prices) and I didn’t understand what these French-labeled whitening products were about. So I went online did my research and now I’m a fan of Palmer’s Skin Success, Pond’s Clarant b3, Clair and White, SH-18, SkinWhite, Biolink (green papaya soap), Diana Stalder, and Roldan. You take risks with the hydroquinone, I know, but some people don’t have a choice.

But let me tell you The Jacksons don’t need any skin whiteners to act like wiggers! When Mom’s co-worker Sondra described their creepy-ass reality show as one big wigger-fest, I thought it couldn’t be that bad. Well as of this morning I have been proven wrong. I saw a taped ep. and can definitely say The Jacksons want to be The Osmonds, and The Osmonds want to be The Jacksons. My first and last foray into celebrity reality TV.

But then there’s the crazy people reality TV. My best friend is obsessed with Intervention, but HBO’s Addiction series really did it for me. I’d say it was on par with anything PBS has done over the last 25 years or so. Recovery is a lifelong battle, whether its drugs, alcohol, sex, food, porn- you fucking name it- you’re an addict for life. Drying out isn’t the cure-all. Relapsing is common, whether it’s 30 minutes or 30 years, one minute you could be clean (and determined to stay that way) and the next be chewing on the end of a crackpipe because one little thing can ring your bell and it’s over. So Intervention didn’t do it for me either.

But Hoarders did.

Why? I’m the daughter of a hoarder #mce_temp_url#. When we kicked Dad out Mom and li’l bro spent the entire fucking day cleaning out his room. There was so much garbage, we spent days shredding and bagging shit up. We found an 80-year-old typewriter, a piano teaching computer program with floppy disks, film reels, outdated college textbooks (including one on lesbian psychology), these gigantic video tapes (I don’t know if they were betamax or what), toys that were obviously put out on the curb, crap that he stole from the 99 cent stores, a heavy-ass box of TV Guides (when they were still cool little books), and other bullshit that’s too long a list to mention!

The room stunk of grease and dirty metal tools- which he also had- and we had to dispose of all the furniture. Mold and Dad’s stench from poor hygiene got into the wood and metal- even into the walls! Mom mopped down the floor and walls- she would’ve done the ceiling if she could- and we had to keep the window open for a few days to air shit out despite the dropping fall temperatures and the fact we haven’t gotten heat since late ’91. The thing is, we didn’t know what the fuck was wrong with him, and even when Mom started fucking Dad back in the day she didn’t understand why he was such a pack rat. As a kid I thought all the boxes of crap that he had in the hall closet was just a personality quirk and I didn’t want to know- I never got along with that bastard. He had a pile of the Wall Street Journal on a dining room chair that reached to the top of the backrest! The only reason why my neat freak Mom never questioned it was because nobody ever sat on that chair- there were four of us and our old table had six chairs- and it just didn’t get in her way. He had envelopes of bills and tax forms dating back to the late ’70s in file boxes- we weren’t allowed to go near them!

We had no idea about the kind of poverty Dad came from, and subsequently went back to. He also lied about a lot of things, making his family out to be working-class. I remember seeing a black and white photo of this ass-ugly kid with threadbare clothes, hole-ridden orthopedic shoes and horn-rimmed glasses. I laughed and asked what that was. Dad gleefully told me that it was a photo of him, but the laughter didn’t reach his eyes. He’d laugh off stories he’d tell me about his older brother and sisters kicking his ass, same glassy eyes though.

Dad’s father beat the shit out of his wife and kids, but like every family in Alphabet City this was the norm. He also fucked anything that walked, one of Dad’s sisters is from a mistress. Unlike his dark-skinned siblings, Dad’s older brother is white so combine that with all the other shit made him into a fat, abusive, compulsive eater (his wife is broken, his daughter is a divorced runaway with 2 kids, and his son is a suicidal headcase). His sisters were fucking around at young ages, so Dad was exposed to their shit as well (one of his sisters went through three husbands and her daughter’s baby daddy is a convict). His half-sister got off easy, she died in a nursing home at 54 from diabetes. His father lost his job at a glass factory after getting hurt (Dad played translator for him in court when he was about 10) so the landlord felt sorry for him and gave him the job as superintendent, getting off on the rent and having their gas and lights turned back on.

His desire to hold onto things rather than people- since they couldn’t be trusted- is understandable. As we found out (during the initial divorce proceedings) Dad suffered from Paranoid Personality Disorder #mce_temp_url# thanks to members of the PPD Yahoo! support group and psych sites that went into depth on the etiology of the disorder. Unfortunately Dad was yet another statistic turned out onto the street with no access to treatment having lost his employer-based coverage in ’91 and dwindling savings. So I think he’s still living with his sister in Gunset Park. If not, then his third BIL has dropped dead from heart failure and the two of them are shacking up with his niece in her Section 8 place in the city. But his conscious and unconscious damage has been done, and I’m not forgiving him.

But Hoarders has stayed with me since I may have been exhibiting that behavior as well. My room was a pile of piles! My desk was a riot of junk, but I managed to know where everything was (until Dad rummaged through it when I was 17 looking for evidence of my spying or having sex- he believed I gave it up at 12- I know, his sisters or possibly his father). I moved piles of shit daily to sit at my desk without a fucking thought! And then I took a real good, hard, cold-ass look this past August. And got disgusted. I’m a dropout yet again, bullshitting that I’m enrolled to keep granny (who paid my $7k debt to the school b/c I missed classes on account of all the dental procedures- that she also paid for- which kept me hopped up on Vicodin for two straight months, and my vodka fetish didn’t make shit any better) pleased. Li’l bro ain’t in school and has no job either. The only way we’re getting out of this mess if granny forks over the cash for a lawyer to get the $50k of workers comp my Dad was issued back in ’95 (I checked with a lawyer it’s still viable) to square off the massive credit debt he incurred, and he destroyed mine when I had no choice put to pay for a semester of school ($5k) on my perfect record platinum card since he owed me about $9k from the back rent I paid for him. He refused to pay me back and I’m in trouble. What a perfect reason to start hoarding.

So I spent 5 days in the blistering heat bagging 12 bags of trash! The books that I chose to keep went into the newly emptied drawers and bins. Shit that I swore I tossed before went out the door! The only regret I have isn’t donating all my childhood books and YA to the library. But that would’ve taken a car trip or six trips by bus or on foot. The two bags that I have now are going to the library, in fact tomorrow where I can just dump them into the book drop. But that doesn’t mean my legitimate book collection won’t expand! And I have to digitize my tapes- figure skating especially- and I will happily get rid of them to move on into the digital age. But I need a new VCR and a DVD recorder.

Money, money, money… but at least I’ll be neater.

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