Collecting or Hoarding?

The best way to keep a grip on some of my remaining sanity is to just throw everything out.

My apartment is a Barbie apartment. By Manhattan standards it isn’t small but for the rest of us …..well let’s just say you have to go outside to change your mind. In fact yesterday I was going thru the top drawer of my only chest of drawers (storage here is a major issue). This particular drawer contains: undergarments but also pj’s, socks. a thin cotton robe, hosiery that is perpetually mating, (if only they would give birth to peds those are always in short supply) dance stuffs and the ties and pocket squares I bought for the guys in my band so we can have a uniform look and a few other odds and ends.

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The contents of the drawer are not organized because socks and underwear won’t be corralled. Today while rummaging thru looking for something I found kitchen tongs. The long ones that you can stand a bit away from the item you are cooking. I had grabbed them from the kitchen which is next to this chest to help me pull a piece of clothing that had gotten caught up in itself because my own arm wouldn’t reach to the mid of my back. Being in a rush and late because of my dressing glitch, I just left them in front of me which was in the open drawer. I feel like my living situation is a sliding puzzle.

I have fantasies about a truck with one of those big shovel/scoop attachments coming into my apartment and treating my home like a giant cat box and all my things are scooped up and thrown out. There is a part of me that wants to live a spartan monk existence. A monk who doesn’t have to rise super early to pray. (Is God really a morning person?) And with a set of 800 thread count cotton sheets, because those robes look itchy.

This desire to scale back has made me look around and take inventory of what is needed and what can go. Unfortunately I wear a lot of hats and they all require different paraphernalia.

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I only have one “collection” which is ironically….. hats.

Looking at my own stuff (and I use the word to not only mean my things but also my inner crazy person.) I don’t have a hoarding mentality or personality. Some of that is because my place is so small. I can’t just close that back room/office/garage and be separate from my junk. Nope, it has to have a seat at the very small table. And the clutter seems to make me feel worse and more anxious. Isn’t it ironic that so does getting rid of the “stuff.” For me, I feel slight pangs when letting go of something but it is replaced fairly quickly with a feeling of being lighter. Oh man, that feeling is more pleasurable than a new hat….but not better than a new microphone.

My limited living space does keep me in check but music is hoarding’s bosom buddy. I have some sheet music that I have had for 30 years. If you are a bandleader you have your books of music, there are duplicate copies of songs in the files so if you need to grab copies you have them. There are albums/cd’s/reels and the devices to play those things on. Tech gear: Amps, cords, microphones, music stands etc. And if you play an instrument well I won’t even open that can of trombones.

These are tools of my trade. I have no choice but to have them. But it’s funny how it can morph from tools, to a mass that you are still calling your “collection”….….till one day you are screaming at company, “You can’t go into that room!”

I think in general my music collecting friends and colleagues think of themselves as collectors not hoarders. Then again hoarders don’t think of themselves as hoarders. The music that moves us was made 70 or more years ago. Many that love the music also seek to keep hold of the period. I myself love history. I love vintage “things” they make me happy.


For me it’s not to live a “vintage” lifestyle. I have a love of older things because not only are they often beautiful but that they survived to tell the tale. (Hope someone feels that way about me someday) and I have loved Art Deco for as long as I have had an opinion (imprinted by the early musicals….. all Deco) but for me it’s about holding an item with history. Where did that hat go? Who wore it? Oh if that hat could talk.

Before I sang a note of hot jazz I was into collecting old sheet music to frame and put on my wall. Early 20th century beauties. About 15 years ago I happened upon an old book store and in the bottom of a file cabinet was a stash of oldies I grabbed almost all and paid the 5$. I did recognize one title “Hand Me Down My Walking Cane” They are mostly on my wall in frames but one of them I never used. It had no art I grabbed it because of its date. It’s not of a size that fits into a binder it’s oversized. I believe it to be the cover and first few pages of an anthology of popular music. It’s a tune called We Sat By The River, by Claribel. The publisher is H.S. Stedman and it is dated 1872. I can’t get rid of it but if I don’t find a safe spot for it I am sure to spill ice tea on it.

Recently Andy (editor in chief of this fine paper) was saying he couldn’t play his piano because there were two vintage radios on the piano bench. “ I didn’t want the darn things to begin with but……well I couldn’t pass them up at that price ” Nowadays thanks to eBay you too can join the Collyer brother fraternity. People in love with a bygone era can’t seem to pass up the beautiful objects from another time. “If not me? Then who will care for this?” I look at it and I think oh that is so pretty I want that. “Yeah????? Where you gonna put it Miss Kitchen Tongs?”

When I look in the dictionary for the definition of hoard this what I got.

Hoard: a stock or store of money or valued objects, typically one that is secret or carefully guarded.

I mean who doesn’t want to have a stock of valued objects?

The line between collecting and hoarding is so narrow that you’d have to move that waist high pile of books, the piano with missing keys and the old Remington to find it.

Randi Cee is a bandleader and a swing and hot jazz vocalist living in LA. Her CD, Any Kind of Man, is available via To see clips from her acting and dance career watch this video. For booking information, write: [email protected]

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