Monday, July 05, 2004

You can take it with you

Confession time: I'm a pack rat of epic proportions. When people line up to write my biography, there will no confusion, no mystery, no unexplained phenomena/motivations in my life. This is because I save every single piece of paper I've ever received. Seriously. There is paper everywhere -- in my car, in my apartment, in my office, everywhere. Yellow sticky notes, notebooks, scraps of papers, backs of envelopes, bills from 1998, you name it -- I've got it. If you ever sent me a letter or postcard, it's in a shoe box at the top of my closet -- I now have about 8 shoeboxes with letters going back to 1988, if not before. Other people collect stamps or postcards, I collect paper and seriously, am so not picky about the type/style/quality. I basically subscribe to the philosophy of "more = better."

The reason this all comes up is this weekend, I cleaned up (and note: the word 'clean' is being used very loosely) my stuff at the house, because my bedroom will probably go to my cousin and his daughter, aka Purple Bunny Niece. In a corner of the bedroom, I've had about 4 or 5 boxes of stuff just sitting there from my move last summer. Going through the boxes, I found my phone book from Grad School Town, my lease signed 3 months before my first semester, a receipt for gas from 1998, four very beautiful cheat sheets for statistics, and a phone number on a piece of paper -- but no name to go with the phone number (btw, if you've been waiting for me to call you for at least two years now, and I haven't, it may be that your name and phone number are in two different places).

Amazingly, in those boxes, I also found stuff from undergrad (now 6 years in the past), and high school (a decade ago). So this is all paper I've schlepped across three states and five towns and several residences. I assume if I looked hard enough, I could probably find paper from when we were overseas. The thing is, most people use moving as a way to get rid of stuff. Me, I just toss all the stuff into a box, put duct tape on it and stick it in a corner and hope no one ever calls me on it. Forget burying a time capsule in the front yard of your school -- just hire me and I'll turn your entire place into a mausoleum of receipts, expired insurance policies, test papers, random newspaper clippings, grocery lists and envelopes with cryptic messages/phone numbers scrawled on them. Archeologists will love you for your consideration.

So, while a bunch of stuff got shredded and tossed, the rest got put into an Eddie Bauer bag and was dragged back here, ostensibly for me to go through and figure out what all of this paper is all about; my mother even helpfully threw in a couple of binders to I can get myself somewhat organized (A co-worker at Very Big Insurance Company once said I was the most organized person he ever met and that it was no surprise I could always find what I was looking "because it was all in the same place." Who needs file folders and binders or drawers when you have perfectly good desk space? Hmmm?)

Incidentally, I have tons of paper here too -- I've stopped using all but a corner of my dining room table because the rest is covered in bills/notices/flyers/coupons, stuff that I've somehow formed a deep and meaningful connection with and thus, cannot bring myself to throw out. After all, you can never have too many coupons to Linens 'N Things.

Hello. My name is Seema. And I have a paper problem.

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