Category: Musing and Editorial

Monster Inside- the Hoarding Dilemma

Too many pens

I have a Monster inside me. This Monster likes to hoard things- stationery, papers, notebooks, pens, even food.

I was born with it- the Monster and I are one, but I fed it over the years and now it is a bloated, ugly thing.

Notebooks Hoard 1

These took just a year or so to collect.

Even as a kid, the Monster festered inside. As a kid, every Sunday my parents would take me to Gift Gate in Greenhills. At the time it was the only retailer of Sanrio goods like Hello Kitty pencil cases, pencils, and pads. I would buy one with my weekly allowance, where I would carefully store them. I never used them. The piles of pink pencils and plastic grew and accumulated dust in storage bins.

Twenty years later they still lay in my cabinets until I gave them to my sister, who promptly sharpened them. That’s the difference between Bea and me- Bea’s not afraid to use her things, while I fear running out, so I use them as sparingly as possible.

Brushpen hoard

Can’t have enough brushpens! Right?

I have an inkling of how the Monster started taking over my life.  Growing up in Indonesia in the 1990’s, my family could only travel to the Philippines once a year. At that time, Indonesia had very little in terms of books or imported and Filipino foods. During our annual visits, I would stock up on as many books as possible, while my mother would fill her cupboard with cans of Filipino sausages, hams, and ingredients. That was the beginning of the hoarding habit.

When I lived in the US, I would hoard art supplies and comics that I couldn’t find in the Philippines. When I came home, I carried about $300 worth of extra luggage in Bristol boards, brushes, and inks that I haven’t used yet- and this was ten years ago!

Bristol Boards

These Bristol board pads have been with me ten years- barely touched.

Even now the Monster demands to be fed. I continue to collect notebooks, papers, and pens- more than I can use.  Like a dragon guarding its treasure, I sit atop a mound of baubles that, honestly, I’ve probably lost interest in.

I am trying to rein the Monster in; I try limiting myself to a certain purchase a month, or occasionally destashing my hoard. It doesn’t always work. I keep obsessing over things I want to buy but can’t afford, or can’t justify.

pen refills

Even refills have to be stored by the bod.

I have to change my priorities. I’d like to travel, for instance. I’d like to gain new experiences. I’d like to be able to draw and paint without worrying where the next sheet of watercolor paper is coming from, or where I can get a new bottle of ink when the old one runs out.  I can’t do that if I continue to buy small, inconsequential things that just take up space in my cabinets, anchoring me to them, wasting money on small trickles that turn into rivers.

Sure, I’ll still buy things I like, but in smaller quantities. I’ll think doubly hard about whether I can use something. I’ll spend on quality things. I refuse to buy something for the sake of buying it or satisfying the Monster’s urge.

Most importantly, I’ll use everything I have at the moment. The hoarding must stop.

The New Year is a fresh start, and the Monster inside needs to change along with me.

Notebook hoard again

How will I even write enough to fill these notebooks?

Morning Rituals

Years ago, my mother would go to yoga every morning- that was her morning ritual. The class would start around seven and end around nine, plus the time spent showering after class (about an hour).  I would tag along with her and get dropped off at a coffee shop about ten minutes away.  There, over a cup of delicious Indonesian cappuccino (or two) and my iPod, I would draw.

Nothing serious, mind you: just cartoon and comic characters, silly dragon like monsters from my own head, fanciful weapons, that kind of thing, following the melody only I could hear. I would doodle with colored pencils (because I enjoyed the waxy feel of their lead). When I ran out of ideas, I would just trace over the previous sketches in another color, or with ink. For almost three hours, I let my mind wander unfettered.  Those were some of the best times of my life, putting me in what they call “the zone” of intense concentration and focus. It improved my creativity and just made me feel better, like a good workout.  So what if I couldn’t drag my fat butt into yoga? I was doing yoga with my mind, man!

When my mom stopped going to yoga, I lost my reason for tagging along with her, and that morning ritual of coffee-and-doodles fell to the wayside. I’ve tried to incorporate it into my daily schedule. Not every day is successful; I’ve also stopped for long periods of time because I became too busy, anxious, or bored with my art. I know the artsy part of my brain has become flabby and creaky from lack of use (well, so has my physical body, but let’s not go there).  I’d really like to get back into the habit of just sitting there and setting my mind free.

What’s your morning mind ritual?

Is it laying out your planner?

Jotting down your thoughts?

Or just closing your eyes for a second- trying to block out the noise and the traffic and the crowds, the social media notifications and the kids asking for their allowance- and just focus on the moment?