Is it a Horcrux or is it Hoarding?

A meditation on being defensive and having too much stuff

Is it a Horcrux or is it Hoarding?

I would refer to my possessions as horcruxes. In Harry Potter lore, a horcrux is an object in which a magical being hides a part of one's soul, in exchange for immortality. My horcruxes had been scattered all over Tiong Bahru in the last couple of years, while my mind was eclipsed.

My now newlywed friends, A and L kept my prized bookshelf speakers, turntable, and vinyl collection. While, I and R (and their newborn), were the stewards of my rock collection, Bluetooth speakers (yes, different from the earlier aforementioned speakers), air purifier and hard drives, while another couple, R and J (and their dog) housed some of my art and ceramics. Everything else—electronics, art, and all such materialism encouraged by the convenience of e-commerce in Singapore—lived in boxes, in a storage facility in Eunos.

Last night, I met up with a friend whom I hadn't seen in years and I was sharing how I've recently been able to move most of my stuff out of the Eunos warehouse and into my little studio. When he asked what I have been up to, I shared that I have been spending these past weeks facing and living with my things instead of apart from them. I've been actively selling things on Carousell. He then playfully asked, "Are you a hoarder, Cat?" I sharply dismissed his question and I caught myself feeling defensive.

My original plan was to sell the whole lot in one go (à la Storage Wars), but this was not the norm in these parts and realistically, with the trips I had planned and the timelines I had set for myself—the task would have required resources and efforts that I didn’t yet have. I, at some point, even set-up a website to try and make a project out of it (—You get what you give me). I’ve spent a lot of time with myself now to admit that I had and have too much stuff. And I guess until the day everything is sold, I am a hoarder.

This is the bed I’ve made; I must now sleep in it.

I’ve watched episodes of the American television show, Hoarders with awe and horror, but I’ve also seen it play out in real life in friendlier forms. I know of a family who surrounded themselves with a maze of their stuff, but unlike most of the homes showcased on television, which appear dirty and chaotic, this family had housekeepers to neatly pile and arrange their things to make their excessive collections look more presentable. My own family had helped keep my hoarding in check. I once had to help a family member vacate and leave Singapore for good, and the experience taught me to be extra discerning on what I would personally keep stored. Apart from the stacks of unwanted receipts and curiously, items I recognised from my childhood (a blue Baby-G watch I adored in my pre-teens), this family member had also kept a framed piece of their hair a rat-tail (imagine a thin five-inch-long braid of human hair encased in a clear acrylic frame) and, an empty box of mentos, which was inexplicably also, framed.

After having spent the whole Saturday rummaging through my boxes (and boxes within boxes) as well as Ikea bags, I've thrown out odds and ends, expired cosmetics, and even got around to reformatting outdated gimmicky USB sticks from 7 years ago that contained obsolete files. Then, amongst my stuff, I found three capsules of air (yes, air) I kept as memorabilia from the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art's 2013 exhibition, Yoko Ono – half a wind show – a Retrospective.

3 capsules of air retrieved from vintage Gumball machines from the Yoko Ono – half a wind retrospective exhibition at Louisiana Museum of Modern Art in 2013.

Being surrounded and feeling suffocated, by all such things, in my new home, it hit me how we are all collecting "large amounts of something and keeping it for [ourselves], often in a secret place"*. From dust (or air) to data. My home, my sanctuary, is a cozy (read: tiny) little space. It has been the perfect spot to shed environmentally and spiritually harmful habits such as accumulating unused and unappreciated stuff, and to commit to the practice of letting go.

I'm cat cortes and I’m a Horcrux Hoarder. Please help buy my crap and Yoko Ono's capsules of air at our next Yart Sale. Please.