I'm joining all of the Red Room community in writing a short blog post on this week's topic: "What are your obsessions? Your passions? Your fixations?" This topic comes to us from Red Room Author Joyce Maynard; it's an exercise she does before writing a new book, in order to see what it's really about. The obsessions you discuss can be new or lifelong, and the entry can be a quick list or a detailed essay--the form and the content are up to you. Just tell us what's on your mind--a lot of the time. (We'll choose at least one of these blogs to be featured on Red Room's homepage next week. Submit your blog entry by Friday at 10:30 a.m. PDT [GMT-0700] for consideration, and be sure to tag the entry with the keyword term "my obsession" so we can find it.)
The Jar Cupboard
I have a personality that tends toward obsessions and fixations. I have many. Some of them embarrass me greatly--and since those are probably the most interesting obsessions, I'll write about one of them.
Glass jars. I love clear glass jars. I collect them. Well, that is, I have a difficult time throwing away any clear glass jar once I've emptied it, especially if it's interestingly shaped or very small. For instance, I particularly like a tiny hexagonal jar that once contained lemon-blossom honey from Italy. (When I bought the honey, I was already anticipating the day when I could boil the label off of the empty jar, the better to admire it.) This jar now sits on a shelf in my closet; it's where I keep safety pins. I keep Q-tips in a jar that used to contain artichoke hearts, I keep collar stays in an old Inglehoffer mustard jar (I adore those cute, spherical Inglehoffer jars!), I keep cotton balls in a jar that used to contain spaghetti sauce--and you can find a few other jars pressed into service if you look around my house. But if you really do some searching, you'll also find the kitchen cupboard that is my secret shame: a cupboard devoted entirely to clear glass jars that I don't use and rarely look at.
When the shelf gets too full, I'm forced to put a jar or two in the recycling bin. And it's not easy! Abandoning an old pickle or mayonnaise jar--after I have patiently cleaned it, removed its sticky label glue (I recommend a product called Goo Gone), and put it safely in my cupboard--is unpleasantly stressful. If I could, I would keep every clear glass jar that came into my home.
But that would be crazy. Plus, my place is small. So I limit my jar-o-philia to one cupboard, and that's it.
In fact, I am rigorous about not letting my beloved jars take over any more space. I'm familiar with hoarding behavior--the amassing of unnecessary objects to a point that is not only mentally unhealthy but also unsafe. A relative (who reminds me very much of myself, in many ways) has had to have interventions when accumulated junk mail and thrift-store purchases made her home difficult to move about in. So I am vigilant about fighting hoarding impulses. I know that the feeling of security a person can get from amassing physical objects is false--and, for me, the symbolic appeal of clean, translucent, functional objects is groaningly obvious. (Frankly, I'd like to believe I were more complex than that.)
When I think about my jar fixation (and I really don't like to think about), I consider it to be a safety release valve that prevents disastrous explosions of obsessive-compulsive crazy behavior. And it's harmless. I'm not hurting anyone--I mean, I'm not after your jars. (I desire jars only if I've consumed their contents myself.)
I also have two dresser drawers full of socks: hundreds of pairs, and many are years old but still unworn. I've recently put myself on a strict one-pair-in, one-pair-out program.
Causes Charles Purdy Supports
San Francisco Food Bank, Gay Men's Health Crisis, Project Open Hand, San Francisco SPCA, Smile Train, National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association...