Am I a Collector, or a Hoarder?

I will be the first to admit there is a thin line between “collecting” and “hoarding.” Rather than open this post with the most stereotypical of openings, i.e. “Webster defines…” I’ll tell you my own definitions before I reveal these deeply personal things about myself.

Collecting is the accumulation of things that are inherently valuable and may increase in value over time.

Hoarding is accumulation of items that have little-or-no long term value and ultimately results in detriment to the “collector.”

Whether or not these are true, the term collecting has more of a positive connotation than hoarding does. I can imagine the reality show wouldn’t be nearly as popular if they were marketed as “Collectors.”

Here’s a list of the Top 5 Things I Collect… and the Top 5 Things I Hoard.


5. COMIC BOOKS – Yeah. Old school, I know. They’re locked in a closet in a fire proof bag. I think I have some comic book where Superman dies or something. I don’t really remember. Maybe everybody has that one. I’d be lying if I told you I’m still actively buying comic books, but it’d also be a lie if I told you I don’t thumb through the comic books racks when the opportunity arises.

tumblr_msx2ei5sjQ1rt7qgbo1_5004. KEYCHAINS – Who doesn’t collect key chains? No, seriously. Everybody has a boatload of keys these days, you gotta make your keys stand out! You know, “mine’s the set of keys with the rubber chicken on it.” Or so that farmers in upstate New York can put a Hawaiian keychain on their snowmobile set. You buy keychains to help remind you of your “happy place.” And then you lose them.

3. COINS – Everybody collects coins. It just depends on how quickly you “liquidate your collection.” I tend to liquidate on Friday nights. But really, I have some cool old coins. Buffalo heads. Silver Dollars. All sorts of metal traded for goods. I think I shelled out a good $20 for what could realistically be a bullet runover by a train. Who knows, but why risk it. Right? It’s circular, it’s metal, somebody’s gonna want this one day. Worst case scenario, I could always use it in the vending machine at work.

tumblr_m4aru7alSl1rt7qgbo1_500 2. AUTOGRAPHED SCREENPLAYS – Yeah, there’s one from left field. Autographed screenplays, particularly ones signed by the screenwriter, I enjoy collecting. It’s fun because they are, on premise, never intended to be seen by the general public, but rather solely interpreted through the images in the film. I equate this to having a building’s blueprints, signed by the architect.

1. FRIENDS – The number one thing I collect are friends. Corny? Perhaps. Valuable? Absolutely. Self centered? I hope not. Life is more enjoyable with friends around, and it is self centered to ask your friends to play a role in the movie of your life without giving back to them. Favors are always better than money because sweat, hard work, and friendship never decrease in value… just the value you give to it. Your best friendships are worth taking care of, ideally, you’re gonna have it for a while.



5. NOTEBOOKS – I can’t help it. I see a blank notebook and I see potential. I see the beginnings of something that I want to be involved in. I see limitless possibilities, so I grab it. I try to delve into the creativity lying dormant in the blank pages but I only get a few pages in before it lands on a shelf. Later I’ll cut out those pages with an X-acto knife and try to start over again. Either way, they are blank pages taking up space on my bookshelf. That’s hoarding, right?

4. DVDs – IDIOT! I know, spinning technology is on the way out, why buy DVDs? I can’t help it! I really got into it just as Blockbuster was starting to close stores, so I could get 5 for $20. I guess I buy DVDs because I love having a library of stories at my disposal. Books take forever to read, but a long movie takes around two hours! Worst case scenario, you sneak in a little nap while the story washes over you. I suppose I could burn them onto a hard drive, but do I really need Street Kings taking up valuable memory on a hard drive?

3. Ticket Stubs – I struggled deciding where to put this on the list but I ultimately decided that I hoard ticket stubs and receipts. I have every movie receipt, ticket stub, and airplane ticket that I have been “used” in the last 6 years. I have many more from before that. I figure that one day I’ll pull them all out, put them in chronological order and put them into one of the acid-based laminated picture books from the 1980s.


*BONUS HOARDING* Cigar Bands – I probably hoard Cigar Bands too. But in all honesty, they’re cool looking and I already have a binder of them started. Similar to a “binder full of women” but just cigar bands.

2. Fortune Cookies – I decided to separate out Fortune Cookies in particular because, if you think about it, it’s literally a small piece of paper with writing on it. That’s it. It has no actual significance other than the fact you removed it before eating a crunchy cookie… but most likely you broke it open, read the fortune, and threw away the cookie. I keep them. I’ll figure out a use for them one day.

1. Magazines – I’m pretty sure the first episode of “Hoarders” featured someone who had rooms filled with old magazines and newspapers. I’m not that bad, but I do have three or four boxes full. I used to collect Sports Illustrated, Maxim, Rolling Stone, GQ, Esquire, Vogue (especially September issues), Vanity Fair, Time, The Economist, Zoo, Ralph, Lacrosse Magazine, and a few other limited run and special edition rags. I justified my “collection” by claiming that I would use them as research, and I had over the years. But last summer, it was decided “enough was enough” so I gleaned the collection. I cut out articles I was interested in and threw out the rest.

So there it is, my catalogue of collectibles. Face it, we all collect something because we want people to understand something about us without having to tell them directly. Another form of subliminal messaging. I’m not sure what I want people to know about me based on what I collect (or hoard?) but I hope it’s something that paints me as an interesting human being and not a total weirdo.


P.S. If you must, the according to Merriam-Webster:

Collect: to get (similar things) and bring them together as a hobby.

Hoard: to collect and hide a large amount of (something valuable).

It seems I may have had these two completely backwards.


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