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Friday, September 9, 2011

Living In A Hoarder's Hell | an ALL MY DONUTS story

Welcome to the launch of my Internet Soap Opera - All My Donuts. I've been waiting to get this going for quite some time. Today seemed like a good day to start the ball rolling. And there is no better place to start than the place that gave me the motivation to get out and do something with my life, because I am Living in a hoarder's hell. (Originally published on 7/20/11)

I'll give you a little background on how I wound up where I am.

In 1996, I moved to Las Vegas to do stand-up comedy. I worked several of the comedy clubs on The Strip. My girlfriend, a graphic designer, who eventually became my wife owned an ad agency. I was tired of the road after nine years and went to work for her agency. We eventually broke away in 2000 and formed our own agency, Blazic Design, based out of our home.

We had a great home, a great business, a young daughter, a daughter from her first marriage, cars and all the amenities that come with being successful. In 2004, we were doing great. Then, in the first three months of 2005, my wife left me, my father died and my cousin died.

When my wife left, she was the Design part of Blazic Design. I kept the business and paid her a lot of money to keep MY name. But, I couldn't find freelance talent that was as good as her, and the business eventually went under in 2006.

From there, I fumbled around for a while before getting into trading stocks and options with my own money. I did extremely well for a short period, and bought a big house and life was looking great again. Then, I just couldn't make enough to pay the bills. Eventually, my house went into foreclosure, I lost all my money, I had to sell my possessions to keep the lights on and my health was getting worse and worse from all the stress.

In early 2010, my brother and sister in Ohio decided that they couldn't help me being 2,300 miles away. So a plan was worked out for me to return to Cleveland, OH and live in a "vacant" house an old high school buddy had.

On March 18, 2010, I arrived in Cleveland, but the house was not ready. It didn't have a toilet, sink or tub/shower in the bathroom. I had to stay in a hotel for a week, and the toilet was finally put in. I lived there for months without a shower or sink in the bathroom.

My buddy, Fred (Not his real name), who owns the house, hasn't lived there in about six or seven years. He has another house way out east of Cleveland. This house, though, has been a storage facility for him for more than ten or fifteen years. It was and is full of crap. And you don't dare try to throw anything out. Fred will go ballistic.

Being a person who was suffering from deep depression, stuffing me in a storage facility didn't do anything for my mental state. But I learned to accept my lowly lot in life - broke, living on food stamps and relying on charity from family to pay my bills.

After a brief stint in a psychiatric hospital in October of 2010, I went into a severe depression, which lasted for almost five months. I just sat in my La-Z-Boy chair and watched TV the entire time. I didn't do anything. I didn't go anywhere. I just sat.

Then, on March 7th, 2011, I decided that I HAD to get out of Hoarder Hell and do something. So I went to a nearby Dunkin' Donuts and started writing. In the last four months, I've pounded out over 300 blog posts and have taken my main blog from obscurity to levels I never dreamed possible.

My hatred for the Hoarder's House From Hell is what motivates me to get out and work, day and night. I'm on a mission to build an Internet based business. Blogging is just stage one.

Since most of what I write on my other blog is humor, I thought I'd have some fun on this site and start an Internet Soap Opera. Most of my time is spent at Dunkin' Donuts and there are plenty of interesting and strange characters that come through here, I thought I'd call the series - All My Donuts. It makes sense.

For this first installment, I thought I'd take you on a tour of my lovely accommodations.

I reside in a small bungalow in Cleveland, OH.

Fred's house in Cleveland. I live alone.
The house has a detached garage. Fred is a "car guy" and he owns about fifteen cars that are stored all over town. One car is in the garage and one is in the driveway. I don't get it - all these cars are just sitting and rotting. But he says he has a master plan.

That's a vintage Buick wagon. Whooo-hoooo.
About twenty years ago, Fred had a fancy deck put on the back of the house, which included a hot tub.

I don't think this hot tub has been used in 15 years. I'm afraid to look inside.
To the right of the hot tub are French doors that enter into an addition Fred put on the house about eighteen years ago. It used to be a nice room with a big sectional couch. We used to watch TV in there or listen to music. Here's what it looks like today.

This is what you see when you open the back door and enter the house.
Fred is really quirky about where things should be stored. Here are some pieces of drywall, a ladder, a lawn chair and some other crap that he felt was best stored in the kitchen. And I can't move it or he'll lose it.

The crap is next to the stove. The door goes to the basement. The scary place.
I do have a little space in the kitchen. However, I've never been able to unpack any of my stuff and put it in the cabinets, so I have no cooking utensils, pots or pans. I can only use the microwave. I cook a big pot of food once a week at my sister's house, who lives two streets away from Fred's Pleasure Palace. I live off of that one pot of food, some fruit, yogurts, and an occasional deli sandwich from the grocery store.

I know two of the burners work on the stove. However, the oven is dangerous.
If you stand at the stove and look at the "Family Room" it is quite a site.

Love the garbage can. It's a freakin' construction site.
If you do an about face and look into the dining/living room area, you'll see all of my boxes that I had shipped from Las Vegas. There is no place to put any of the stuff, if I tried to unpack them. So, I just do without my possessions.

Nothing has moved since March of 2010.
Of course, I had more boxes than just this pile and the only place to put them was in the bedroom.

There is a bed in there on the left. I don't sleep in it.
With all the boxes stacked around the bed, I suffer from claustrophobia. I feel like I'm suffocating every time I lay down in the bed. I've only slept about 30 nights in the bed in the last sixteen months.

In the winter the room is freezing and in the summer it is sweltering. There is a tiny closet, which has the handful of clothes I can wear. The rest of the stuff, there is no place to put any of it, so these boxes have been in the same spot for sixteen months.

There is a spare room that is full of Paul's crap.
The spare room would have been a great place to stash my boxes, but Fred has been working on this room the entire time I've been in Cleveland. As you can see, there is still a lot more to be done before you can even walk into the room.

Fred's idea of an ideal bathroom.
Probably the biggest joke in the house is the lone bathroom. It took Fred three months to get the tub and shower to work for me. Then, a few months later, he was so proud to tell me about the incredible pedestal sink he bought, which means there is no storage under the sink. He also got a great deal on a really cool mirror, again with no cabinet space behind it. Above the toilet he plans on putting some glass shelves.

Now, I'm no real estate expert, but when he plans on selling this house down the road, there won't be a woman in the world that will buy a house with a bathroom that has NO STORAGE. None. Zippo. I keep my toothbrush, toothpaste, deodorant and the rest of my toiletries in the hall linen closet.

Last year, my brother was coming in to town from where he lives in central Ohio. Fred said to me, "We ought to get the guest room cleaned up so he can stay here." Ha! Take a look at the "guest room" - comfy.

This sheet of plywood is over the stairwell. You have to duck to get by it.
Then, of course, there is the master suite for the guest. It's the same bed Fred slept on in high school back in the 1970's.

I think my brother would have loved curling up with these boxes.
And if you want a real blast from the past. Fred still has all of his vintage 1970's stereo equipment. I don't think he's used any of this stuff in 30 years.

"More Than A Feeling."
Earlier in this post, I mentioned the door that went down to the basement. This is the scariest part of the house. I never go down there. I had to fight through cobwebs, just to take these pictures.

The view from the third step from the bottom, heading into Scary City.
Fred never throws anything away. He has stacks of Doonesbury cartoons that he clipped from the paper. They are yellowed and frail. I told him, "You know they have all those cartoons in books." He didn't get it.

Oddly, Fred knows where every freakin' thing is in this dump heap. If you move anything, he knows it.

There are model cars that have never been built on top of this pile.
One of my favorite sections of the basement is Fred's shirt collection. He 's picked up a commemorative T-Shirts throughout his life. There are about sixty shirts on hangers, covered in dust. The funny part is that Fred has blown up like a balloon and not one of these shirts fit him. My buddy Jim and I keep saying that we should tell Fred we sold all the shirts on eBay for 50¢ each.

The priceless shirt collection.
More dusty crap.
There is a washer and dryer in the basement, but I have no idea if they work. My sister does my laundry for me. There are too many cobwebs for me to want to mess around with trying to get the washer and dryer to work.

Maybe they work. Maybe they don't. I won't try to figure it out. 

Now that you've seen the house and how crammed full of shit it is, you have to be asking, "Roger, where do you stay?" I live in a 200 sq. ft. area in the living room. I eat, sleep, relax, read and write in my worn to hell La-Z-Boy chair.


My home. The blanket covers a huge hole in the top.

I have two creature comforts, a Bose Wave radio and a small flat screen TV with an antenna. I can only get about eleven channels on the TV - four of which are PBS, one is Hispanic, three are networks - ABC, NBC and the CW, another is a weather map, and there are two really horrible channels. So, I watch a lot of PBS.

My chair (home) is strategically placed in the living room. It faces a blank wall. It's the only place I can look and not see boxes or crap. It's the only thing that keeps me from going completely insane.

View from behind my chair.
It's been tough living in a place like this. When my computer died, I was literally going nuts. There is NOTHING to do. NOTHING. I have no crafts, hobbies, books or magazines. I used to love to cook every day. But I can't cook in this crazy house. So I live on my one-pot meal all week, fruit and some granola bars. It's meager, but I get by.

Fred's Pleasure Palace was the impetus behind me getting out and starting to blog again. I just couldn't take it, sitting in that house day after day. From great pain come good things.

I spend every waking hour I can at one of my WiFi hotspots, writing.

Now that you know where home base is, in a future installment, I'm going to take you on a tour of the PLACES - the places where I connect to the Internet and do my writing. After that, I'll start to introduce you to the FACES - the colorful people who are All My Donuts.

In the meantime, I'm still living in a hoarder's hell, but I spend as little time there as possible. 


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