When we moved to the new place, for some months it was a house-sized Rubik’s Cube. Can’t get some of the furniture out of the garage until we make room for it. Can’t make room for it until we make some decisions about this stuff. Can’t decide about this stuff until we get that area squared away. Can’t do much of anything until we get the floors done. Can’t get the dining room worked up until we do the library. Can’t really get the garage work area in good shape until we get this and that out of the way. Etc., etc., etc.
We have battled through it despite the fact that it sometimes resembles a more comfortable, larger version of a Survivor immunity challenge. And the last obstacle to the library reaching its eventual beautiful state is the boxes of filing that we stacked in the back. Why did we do in such a way? Because we could take them out to the garage, but that would run counter to the goal of making room for my wife to park, yadda, yadda, yadda. But now we have excavated the file cabinet, situated it in my office, and it is time to sort it all out. What to retain, what to shred, what to recycle.
When I put my mind to it, I’m the world’s best office assistant. Fast typist, at least for a male. Natural organizer of files. Never run out of anything important, ever. Have the proper implements to hand, and take good care of them. Spare toner? One of each, on the shelf. Date stamp for bills. Special shelf just for tax stuff I will need next year. Another special shelf for bills, stamps, envelopes, address labels. Can’t stand fingerprints on my screen–if you’re with me in my office and you extend a finger toward it, I will grab a capped pen and offer it to you as a pointer.
For the last few years, in part, I haven’t put my mind to it. The important filing, I dealt with. The rest is a quagmire extending back into my twenties, much of it consisting of piles of paper-I-did-not-see-fit-to-bother-with, which accumulated until Deb or I shoved the whole thing in a banker’s box in hopes it would evaporate without giving off hazardous fumes. Magazines ten years old. Phone books three years old. Statements from banks that no longer exist. Wedding announcements from people who are now divorced. Empty envelopes…kept why for the love of pete? Old grocery lists. Annual privacy statements, which mostly tell me about the ways in which a company feels free to violate my confidentiality. Insurance that expired during the Clinton administration. Investment statements. Reams upon reams and reams of crap, some of which I should keep.
Enough. I am done with warehousing paper that I don’t need. Will I ever need to review my GTE bills from the 1990s? Why, no; no, I will not. I am going to end up overheating my shredder again before I’m done with this. But it’s do this, and do it now while getting set up, or continue in this inefficient and slothful pattern. It cannot continue.
Oh, and I’m working on three actual work projects, one large and two small, and seeking to keep all three moving with emphasis on knocking the small ones out sooner rather than later. So I edit for a while, until I come to a point where I don’t feel right, then I dig into another banker’s box. File hangers salvaged. File folders’ old writing labeled over, and salvaged. Another big bin of recycling, ready to dump. Did I really keep that self-serving, insulting, condescending nine-page letter from a relative? Why would I ever want to read that again?
Spirits of crap banishment, I herewith summon, stir, and call ye up. Lend me the ongoing strength to continue muddling through this ocean of useless paper, sifting out the stuff that still matters, and make the rest go the hell away.