It is 1:30am and I am writing this from the discomforts of a table (the only one I can find without any clutter on it and isn’t buried in junk) that is far too high for any of the low quality, crap-grade chairs in the house. I would normally be in bed by this time, except I’ve just been woken up by light filling the room. In a sleepy and ranty murmur, I instinctively mumble “what the hell is going on”. At this point, it should’ve been a rhetorical question and there’s no point in asking: I’m spending another day living in the shithole hoarder house when I should have booked an Airbnb for my vacation.
With every moment of time passed in this hoarder house comes a new surprise that’s guaranteed to make life just that little bit more annoying, anguishing, painful and inconvenient than before. Today isn’t an exception, just yet another reason out of literally hundreds that exist to not live in this house ever again. Due to the lack of living space in this 2,000 sqft house, I sleep in the same bedroom as my mom. Thankfully on my own bed, unlike my 2 siblings and grandparent who have to uncomfortably share two beds in the other bedroom (there is no physical space to fit a third).
While turning on the light in the middle of the night usually means there’s a cockroach that just crawled onto someone and needs to be smacked down, tonight is different. My mom claims she can’t sleep – and is hence clicking and typing “silently” away with the “dim” bedside table lamp that’s placed high up on a table and unfortunately within line of sight of my eyes as I’m lying on the bed. It’s probably the only place where the lamp can go – given the limited space. She tells to just close my eyes because it’s not that bright.
But at this point I’m already awake and I’m triggered – not just by this but the entire thought of having to spend another few weeks in this house when I should have planned for a shorter trip and lived in an Airbnb instead. I start tossing and turning because the combination of no airconditioning and getting pissed off is making my body physically heat up. Within a few moments, my mom has “considerately” turned off her laptop and light but unfortunately I’m already fully awake and now I’m the one who can’t sleep.
I take a super-quick shower to rinse the built-up heat off, grab my laptop and bring it into the common area outside the 3 rooms, and start writing this deliciously real blog post. It’s a rare luxury to be writing this post on an actual table, no matter how non-ergonomic and never mind the fact my wrists will hurt tomorrow morning as a result. I spent most of my teenager years without any table at home whatsoever – I would sleep on the bed, study on the bed, use my laptop on the bed. In fact, I was forced to spend so much time on the bed (I literally did everything except eating there) because of lack of any other place to do anything, that I now have a noticeably deformed bone on a part of my body. Isn’t that delightful?
Anyway, yes, my privileged position – I’m only here on vacation and I get to use a table. Not even my 2 siblings who have been living here on a long-term basis (forced to, I should add, by still being young and not as financially flexible) have a table to use at home – they still do everything on the bed which is why they try to spend as much time as possible away from the house nowadays. But I only have myself to thank for this table, since I would not be using it had it been up to anyone in this house. Shortly after I arrived, I cleaned a bunch of junk and reshuffled the piles of stuff to make way for this table that was once stuck in a corner, unused, under piles of stuff and junk.
As I’m typing this, I realize that the new Vornado fan, the only high-quality fan in this house of aging, dilapidated appliances, is blowing warm air around me. Strange, since the air usually isn’t this warm. And then I realize the ventilation in this house, which is already horrible during the day time (see “no ventilation and lighting” section in this post), is far worse at night since there’s no activity and all windows/doors are shut for “security” reasons (because some weird robber might want to rob a house full of worthless junk from 1+2 hoarders) and the house turns into a self-boiling furnace.
Props to myself, again, for the Vornado fan by the way – it traveled all the way from Europe where I bought it for 65 EUR (the price in a local Malaysian store is MYR 1800, or close to 400 EUR). My mom would never engage in my kind of disgusting spendthrift behavior and waste money buying a new, modern, properly functioning anything when the aging, half functioning existing appliances are working just fine (she only replaces anything, in the kitchen, that breaks). My dad might buy new appliances from time to time, but this is rare. And usually it goes straight into the back of the guest bedroom, I mean, storeroom, for reasons similar to the above – patiently awaiting the day it will replace a broken appliance as it rots in the presence of cockroaches from the kitchen and their eggs, time and temperature from the surrounding junk blocking the poor ventilation into the room even further.
Ah yes, the timeline of a typical day
Sorry, where was I? I went off on a little tangent there. I could tell you stories that will go on for days just recapping the living situation from this vacation alone, but I won’t do that now. You’re here to see what it’s like on a typical day in 2019, living in this hoarder household run by abusive parents. So let’s go:
- Wake up at 7am because I’m a morning person. And also because I cannot sleep in:
- My grandmother makes coffee for me every morning out of habit and “because she loves me” despite my efforts at letting her know I can make my own coffee and that she can just chill out. The coffee gets cold if I were to wake up past 7:30am and the microwave barely works.
- My mom, who shares the room with me and uses the table in the room, will wake up and the light will be on (and in my eyes) usually as early as 8am.
- Also, chances are that I’m starving by 7am because unless I went out to eat, I probably had a huge portion of homecooked barely anything (it’s a type of meal in a hoarder house with a dirty, mostly broken kitchen) for dinner.
- Have coffee and either nothing or barely anything for breakfast:
- Once upon a time, I used to have toast for breakfast while living in this house. That was over a decade ago and the toaster is long gone. We have not bought a new toaster since, nor is there any space for it in the current state of the kitchen.
- Eggs or anything involving cooking is not an option: The built-in stove hobs don’t work properly anymore so cooking anything involves dragging out an extension cord and portable electric induction stove. Plus everything in the kitchen is nasty and cleaning up is going to be hell for various reasons (sink was built far too low for any normal height person to comfortably wash the dishes, the house has never been renovated, there is not enough physical room for a kitchen drying rack that’s adequately sized for a family of 5-6, etc).
- During previous vacations, my daily breakfast was 2 pastries from the bakery. However, those things are loaded with calories and I’m trying to lose weight this vacation.
- It’s difficult to eat a proper healthy and low calorie breakfast, given the circumstances, so I turn to having 9 pineapple tarts (if I remembered to buy them) which only total 250 calories.
- It’s now time to change out from my pyjamas so I head into the bathroom:
- First a pitstop by the 2 x 2 x 1 ft chest of drawers overstuffed with all my clothes. I sift through the shirts and underwear, but usually end up picking whatever’s on top because it’s very hard to see what’s available and no surface that’s clean and nearby to place clothes on as I take them out.
- I start by brushing my teeth. Not much eventful here, aside from the fact had I not purchased proper Sonicare toothbrushes and brought them back years ago, we’d still be using the third-rate MYR 50 (12 USD) electric toothbrushes with not enough brushing power and “easy gunk and mold” function around the battery compartment because my mom would have thought it was ridiculous paying 80 USD (320 MYR) for an electric toothbrush.
- Taking a dump highlights the most annoying, hallmark feature of the bathroom in this hoarder house. The toilet flush hasn’t worked since 2006 and the toilet has to be flushed by physically lifting a bucket and pouring water in, and then refilling the bucket after. Rinse and repeat if the initial “flush” wasn’t strong enough.
- After the manual labor like it’s 1960’s Malaysia, I can finally take a shower, using a hose attached to a waist-level faucet (also like 1960’s Malaysia). Water pressure is low, because it’s a 30 year old house that was also badly-designed from the start (due to construction cutting corners), and I can use only one hand to wash my body as I hold the hose up above my head with the other hand.
- As I finish taking a shower, I have to scrub the soap off the shower area floor with my foot since the tiles have lost their texture and are extra slippery with soap. Very important since this bathroom is shared with my grandmother, and also mom and my 2 siblings.
- All this is assuming that there is no “higher priority” from any of the 5 people who need to share this bathroom (e.g. siblings have to get ready for work, someone has a stomach ache). Why do 5 people share one bathroom? Because the other one upstairs used by my dad is just as dysfunctional and the bathroom downstairs (not like it’s in significantly better shape) is completely inaccessible due to piles of junk both inside it and in the room that leads to it.
- I typically have three things I do while on vacation in Malaysia: go workout at the gym, clean up the hoarder dad’s junk and fill in the time gaps with being on the PC (both productivity and video gaming).
- As of this vacation, I’ve decided to stop cleaning up the hoarder’s junk. Having spent at least 300 hours on cleaning as much junk as practically possible over the past 5 years, I feel like I’ve hit the peak of things I can clean up. More on this in another post.
- I usually go workout first, since it’s only a matter of time before I go hungry from the 2 cups of coffee and large serving of barely anything. So I go do that.
- You have to go everywhere in a car in Malaysia (for the non-locals reading this) – it’s 30+ Celcius (90F) and mostly sunny year round, and when it’s not, it’s thunderstorms with lightning. Every time I go out, I contemplate just calling a Grab instead of using my dad’s car – my parents are huge guilt-trippers and even with no present ongoing conflict, anything I say or do, can and will be used against me with 100% certainty in any future arguments. I have completely stopped using my mom’s car for this reason (she’s a significantly more big-time guilt-tripper and extremely calculative, frequently reminding my siblings and I on how we “owe” her for various things down to “giving birth to us kids”).
- Every time I go out of the house, I’m reminded even more (not that I’m not reminded enough from every second spent in this house) of the incredibly ridiculous living situation: most middle-class Malaysian houses are equipped with a gated carport that fits 2 cars. But we’ve never had a car parked in here for nearly a decade. Instead, it’s filled with plants, enough to fill the most of area for two cars, leaving only a small walkway from the house front door to the gate. The gate hasn’t worked for over 12 years – the cars have to be parked by the roadside in the roasting hot weather, and going out is extra tedious. We also have an untrained dog, a “gift” nobody asked for, and the porch smells like dog and/or dog piss all the time.
- Will you look at the time, it’s almost noon. My household has been eating out or buying take out for lunch almost exclusively for the better part of the last decade. But make no mistake, it’s not an upper-class thing, it’s a necessity.
- Given the nasty, rundown state of the kitchen, nobody can or will use the kitchen to cook except my grandmother. Even then, the most she will do is fry a few vegetables and occasionally boil soup.
- Cleaning and keeping clean is impossible. The kitchen sink was misbuilt to be too low from when the house was built 30 years ago, there is not enough physical space in the kitchen for an adequately-sized dish drying rack and everything has to be stored in containers since the kitchen is home to many cockroaches (a combination of poor initial construction, aging kitchen and poor cleanliness).
- As a result, the household is forced to limit eating at home to once a day, that’s dinner.
- Most of my day is spent at home on the computer. Despite being a stationary activity with very minimal requirements (a computer and internet connection), this in and of itself is a stressful activity in a hoarder household:
- For the longest time when growing up in this house, I never had a table – I did just about everything a normal person would do… on the bed.
- In the last few vacations, I’ve had a table for my monitor and desktop, paired with an extremely uncomfortable chair. Still definitely superior to lying on a bed and having your spine continually screwed up.
- Since last vacation, my mom (who uses said table while I’m away) has been complaining about having to use a crappy 90 cm wide metal desk in the same room during the weeks when I’m back on vacation. Essentially I got the hint that she doesn’t want me in the same room and doesn’t give even half a shit that there’s no other place for me to use my computer, since her excuses have ranged from:
- The metal desk is too small and cramped… even though she seemed to be fine using it for a good 10 years or so prior to the existence of table in point 2.
- The metal desk is situated in the corner of the room, therefore it’s too hot and stuffy. It’s an 11 x 11 ft room with a ceiling fan AND floor fan. And again, it seemed to work out fine for her for years prior. Also, the whole house is hot and stuffy in general (more later).
- The desktop gives off too much heat and is making the room extremely hot. Despite the fact I barely game nowadays and even at full load, the PC uses 300W, which is slightly over the 200W of the gaming laptops we used to use ages ago.
- She finds a “high number” of electronic devices (2 laptops, 1 desktop, 1 monitor, 2 phones) in the room to be “worrying”.
- My mom has helpfully suggested that I use the 120 cm desk situated in the upstairs living area. And I did manage to access the desk after clearing out the piles of junk on and around it. Except the desk is too high for any of the chairs in the house (we have crappy “customer waiting” chairs my dad brought back from an old office, designed to discourage people from lingering on them for too long, and dining chairs which are taller but still too short and far too hard for extended periods of sitting) and there’s no other location for it to be placed, other than where it is now in the upstairs living area that has a crappy wall fan and no airconditioning.
- Long story short, I’m once again without a table and have been relegated to using a laptop on the side of a bed, that I sit cross-legged and use while hunched over because the screen and keyboard are too far forward relative to my body.
- The combination of the extremely poor ergonomics (understatement) mentioned above, with the horribly stuffy, dusty, warm and dim situation in the house make me very unproductive as a result.
- As mentioned in my previous post, just about all windows and doors in the house are closed at all times, with a majority of windows inaccessible due to clutter.
- All curtains are also closed and strictly remain so under my mom’s supervision – previously it was the “fear that evil-doers might see into the house and try to rob us”, more recently it’s been “fear that outsiders will see the disgusting mess and clutter in the house” (well, not like they can’t see the situation of the porch and deduce the interior of the house from that).
- As the house is 30 years and has never been renovated, there’s insufficient wiring for lighting fixtures (so 1 light bulb per bedroom). Due to the clutter, there’s also not enough room for any floor lighting.
- Throughout the day at home, I have to avoid the trolling, guilt-tripping behavior of both my parents. That usually stems from (but is not limited to) the toxic “forced accompany” culture that’s been strongly planted in this household since my siblings and I were young. Typically my mom and dad will (separately) want to go to certain places like the mall, bank, restaurant, etc to run errands and force us to accompany them, despite us serving no role or purpose at all. Saying “no” will lead to a lot of guilt-tripping and usually an ensuing argument that can last literally for days. Either way, a lot of wasted time as a result. More on this in a separate post on the toxic behavior of my parents.
- Despite this happening less often nowadays (because we have learned to avoid feeding the trolls), my siblings and I like to spend as much time as possible outside of the house. That and we don’t have to look at the hoard, breathe in the stuffy, dusty air and put up with the miserable state of the house for at least a few hours.
- By now, it’s dinnertime and we’re once again faced with the “what to eat” question (see this post for the full details on the shitty state of the kitchen and dining area which make them mostly unusable for cooking and eating).
- Usually my mom will go out and buy 2 dinners’ worth of ready-made meat dishes from the “economy rice/mixed rice” stalls. These then go with rice and homecooked vegetables made by my grandma.
- In recent times, due to the lack of space for preparing food in the kitchen, the abnormal micromanagement routine of dragging out extension cords for the electric stove top and my grandma’s general age (she’s over 80 years old), she only usually cooks a small bowl of vegetables and rice.
- This usually results in dinner being yet another deliciously huge serving of barely anything. I am encouraged to eat biscuits and other junk food stored in various non-airtight containers to fill myself up.
- Since I share the same room as my mom and she’s up doing stuff until at least 9:30pm to 10:00pm, bedtime is usually anytime past that time. If I want to sleep earlier than that, then I’m forced to put up with 1500 lumens of lighting – which is too dim for an 11 x 11 ft room with two people but bright enough to keep you awake – in my face while lying on my bed.
- I wake up several times during the night to take a piss – this is normal for me. What’s abnormal is having to occasionally chase a random cockroach with a bottle of anti-pest spray in the bathroom. Again, yay decrepit unrenovated 30 year old house with tons of hoarder junk and poor cleanliness.
- While living in this hoarder shithole in Malaysia, I can also wake up due to excessively hot conditions caused by:
- The house, as mentioned, is already hot, stuffy and dusty by default due to lack of ventilation and excessive junk.
- The ceiling fan being 30 years old, plus the poor condition of the house, means it can’t be used past Speed Level 4 (max speed is 5) or it wobbles, makes a horrible creaking sound as it spins and feels like it might actually become detached from the ceiling.
- The inability of my parents and grandma to use the timer function of the airconditioning unit, plus their refusal to learn, plus their excellent ability to screw up a preset timer setting with random button pressing of the aircon remote control.
Want to learn more on the toxicity of my screwed up parents and how a hoarder adversely affects the lives of everyone living in the same household? More to come in future blog posts.