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The Jar Cupboard

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.

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Saving Jars

I save jars because my grandparents make homemade jam and always need jars to put the jam in.They make plum, blackberry, raspberry, and boysenberry. The plum is my favorite because all the others have seeds that get stuck in your teeth.

When I see an empty glass jar I think about the delicious jam my grandparents make and recall fond memories of spending time with them as a child.


Abraham Mertens, redroom.com

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Saving jars

I am a jar freak! As far as I'm concerned you are in good company.

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I feel a little bit better now, knowing that other people appreciate the beauty of clear glass jars. :)