The anthology Dancing at the Shame Prom: Sharing the Stories That Kept Us Small, edited by Amy Ferris and Holly Dexter (Seal Press) is shipping now from Amazon and includes my essay "(Mostly) Not Ashamed," about hoarding, a follow-up to my Salon hoarding essay. The book will soon be in stores nationwide and I believe will be available as an ebook, but I'm not seeing that listed online right now. I will be reading from my essay on October 11th at 7 p.m. at the JCC in Manhattan at 334 Amsterdam Avenue at 76th Street (my name isn't listed on their site, but I am reading). It's $10 for members, $12 for non-members, with wine and cheese. Find out more at theshameprom.com and check out their Tumblr and share your own shame story at dancingattheshameprom.tumblr.com.
Here's the first three paragraphs of my essay, and please do check out the whole book. Aside from my participation, I'm truly eager to read the whole book as soon as I get my hands on it. Actually, I feel that way about all books by Seal Press, and plan to raid their offices tomorrow when I'm there (kidding, sortof).
I make a living writing about things that most people would find too private, personal and uncomfortable to reveal. I left law school for a career writing about sex and dating, in erotic fiction and first-person accounts. I've covered everything from my bukkake fantasies to hooking up with a Top Chef contestant to mommy play. I've posed nude and gotten hate mail. Being open about sex has never felt unnatural, but it took me a very long time to come to terms with the fact that I'm a hoarder, and even longer to share the word with others.
Hoarding, for most people, conjures up gruesome images. Mention it and you're likely to hear about the Collyer Brothers, who died trapped by their own stuff. Hoarding isn't something I take lightly, but I've finally learned that it's not something I can walk around feeling wracked by shame by or chained to my apartment, constantly sorting and cleaning and feeling guilty. Take me or leave me, but you can't take me without my stuff.
As I type this, I'm sitting in my "bed," which is now just a deconstructed mattress on the floor. The frame, which I've been meaning to throw out on the one designated day my Brooklyn apartment allows large items of trash, is tilted sideways against the wall in the middle of the room. Scattered around are hundreds of books and dozens of articles of clothing, along with random items like pillows and padded envelopes, an ironing board that used to support the mattress, an overturned chair, papers from the early 2000's, neatly placed in labeled files with names like "taxes" and "travel," from back when I made an attempt at organization.