Saturday Essays: Confessions of a Packrat

Over the past month, I wrote about writing, wrote about why I write gay male romance, wrote about being a lesbian, wrote about books; too much serious scribbling jams my brain. Now I need to write about something silly. I want to write about my collection.

Or should I say collections? I have a confession to make. Time to out myself as something scarier than a gay romance-writing lesbian. Drum roll please—I am a Threat Level 10 Packrat. Worse yet, my partner is also a prime menace to domestic order. Yep, I’m also outing her. Now the world knows our true nature. We are loud and proud packrats. We collect. We amass. Our collections cover shelves, tables and walls.

My collecting started during my formative years. I collected rocks. Don’t laugh. The great thing about collecting rocks is the price. When you’re a kid, the collection budget is nada. If I remember correctly, back in the late 60’s I received an allowance of a quarter a week. The money went to comic books. Rocks sat around in the dirt waiting for me to pick them up, wash them off and add to my collection. During my formative packrat years, my parents indulged in modest vacations. We stayed at state park cabins sans indoor plumbing. But damn, I loved it because there were rocks in the woods, in stream beds, just about anywhere. Smooth, round fist sized rocks, coy little pebbles and my favorite, quartz. I confess to a quartz addiction. Ooo, shiny!

During the rare times we hit the beach, I collected shells because, bingo, they were free. I remember visiting my grandmother in Florida. Her friend took us to a remote beach littered with shell piles. Talk about the collection jackpot, damn, I sat and sifted. I found shells I had drooled at in those pricy tourist shops. My suitcase returned ten pounds heavier.

Those comic books I purchased with my allowance also turned into a collection. Instead of wanting a doll for Christmas, I asked for subscriptions to horror magazines like Creepy, Eerie and Vampirella. Luckily my parents indulged me. Back then they didn’t think reading horror magazines featuring vampires, ghouls, witches and mayhem would lead to me becoming a serial killer. See, they were correct. I only murder spelling and grammar. I read the occasional superhero comic, but creepy tales jazzed me. Do I still have those wonderful magazines? Yep, they rest in coffins, erm, boxes in my bedroom closet. Imagine, a few stories have influenced my novels.

As I grew older and accumulated more wealth from after school jobs, my covetous eye turned toward old candlesticks. Battered old candlestick sold for a dollar at cheap flea markets. I didn’t care if they were metal or wood or glass. After college, the wonderful thing called steady income entered my life. My tastes turned more demanding. The thing is when disposable income arrives, it rips the excitement from the collecting. Years ago when I paid 120 dollars for a pair of breathtaking silver Art Nouveau candlesticks coated in a poppy pattern (got them at half price!) at a collectables show, I hit a weird plateau. I felt like I cheated. I scaled back and returned to buying battered beauties at flea markets. Finding something wonderful for cheap is a serious thrill.

My candlestick love is still strong, but financial stress halts my collecting. Sniff, I have broken down and sold off a few pairs at the local antique store and on eBay. Not to worry, many stunning pairs and lone wolves still decorate the shelves in our house.

In my late teens, I started collecting wine glasses and unique goblets. They complimented the candlesticks. Naturally I don’t drink out of the prized items. Are you kidding? I’m too fearful of breaking them. Better they sit in safety and gather dust.

Along with the collections I mentioned, I also collected books. In my teen years, I used to purchase novels at a used bookstore and turn them back in for credit, even the books I loved. Silly of me, right? I ended up repurchasing Stephen King’s books because I wanted to reread them. Even when young I was a voracious reader. My reading teacher tested me numerous times since she refused to believe how I read in blazing speed and retained perfect comprehension. Remember the geek who checked out her limit of six books at the library and returned two days later for more? Yep, yours truly.

Eventually I wanted to keep my books. The library lost its allure. I also purchased reference books in case I wanted to look up a fact in the middle of the night. I still snack on books, big, thick books, although now unless I adore them, guess what, I trade them in at the used bookstore for credit. I do believe I will investigate the library again.

What else attracts this packrat’s fancy? Teapots, handmade mugs, action figures, beaded purses, gloves, hats, art glass vases and anything bunny related. When I find a bunny shaped teapot, my bells ring in delight. I also collect Playmobil toys, metal insect jewelry, dragon boxes, bones, puppets, Native American fetishes, and, well, too many other odds and ends. As I mentioned, finances have slowed the collection pace. This is not a bad thing. Between the stoppage and selling, some shelves are no longer five deep in items. I’m back to only paying a few dollars for small delights.

Still, a casual visitor stepping into our living room will gasp in either horror or amusement at the amount of items on display. People who suggest we need a dumpster never return for another dinner.

My packrat in crime also collects books. We could stock a used book store. She’s into stuffed toys with creepy rubber faces, taxidermy birds, antique clothing, mannequins, wind-up toys, rubber toys, scary old dolls, bobble heads and creepy religious icons. When an idea for a still life strikes her, she buys items to photograph. Her photography started the creepy stuffed animal and scary dolls trend. I’m sorry, I really hate dolls with staring glass eyes and teeth. Brrr.

A few weeks ago, I discovered one never forgets their first love. My partner and I visited Sunset Beach at Cape May Point, which is about as far south as you can go in New Jersey. Smooth pebbles litter the beach, and hiding among the pretty pebbles are Cape May “diamonds,” which are translucent pebbles naturally tumbled and polished during their long journey down the Delaware River. These adventurous pebbles wash up where the Delaware Bay meets the Atlantic Ocean.

I came away with the joy of breathing the fresh sea breeze and a bagful of sparkly little pebbles. No charge for either treat. Ahh, nothing beats collecting for free.

Speaking of collections, I’d like to share my most recent collection of words, namely “An Elf for All Centuries”, my new release from Silver Publishing. A pity; the main character only collects trouble. Silly elf.

Elven super model Prince Fabion's day is perfect until wizard Matradorian kidnaps him from his penthouse. Surprise, Fabion is a spiritual match for elf king Henda’s dead lover. Only he can save the dying Henda. The problem is Fabion lives in the thirty-ninth century. Henda lives in the nineteenth.

When he lands in the nineteenth century, Fabion controls himself from punching Matradorian, saves Henda and falls in instant lust with his romantic fantasy. After all, this is a romantic comedy.

When Fabion realizes his polluted, on the verge of ruin thirty-ninth century is gone, the super model pitches the temper tantrum of any century until he realizes sexy Henda accepts him as his true lover. Being the virile, handsome Henda's lover fills Fabion's emotional gap. Despite the lack of facials and hot water, the former super model adapts to living in the backwards century.

Soon Fabion learns the nineteenth century is more dangerous than his vanished thirty-ninth century. Who wants to kill him now? And why?

An Elf for All Centuries

By now you already know too much about me. What else can I say? I confess I never can decide between red or white wine. The same used to apply to my art. Creating visual art and word art filled my professional life until 2009. When corporate hell set me free, the desire to finally pursue my fiction triumphed. Five published novellas and novels later, my life is a fun quandary of too many romances hindered by slow typing skills. I accept the goofy challenge.

S.A. Garcia's World of Words

Facebook: Sandra Ann Garcia

Twitter: @SAGarcia_Writer


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