Friday, August 22, 2008


My dad has been here all week to help me move forward on some home improvement projects. Sort of a last minute birthday present. What was a little surprising is how much work it took to prep for most of the projects so they could get done so I could finally get to the cupboards. It involved moving just about everything I own in the living and dining rooms, it felt like.

The major change was moving the 4X4 grid shelf from the dining room to the living room. When I moved in, I put it in the dining room because it fit the wall space. But it didn't fit the function, and I needed a big piece in the living room. I'm much happier now that it's moved as it leaves the dining room as the prep area for the kitchen. This is more sensible functionally and doesn't get in the way of daily activities so much. Also the pumpkins I've stashed on top of it can be seen by visitors.

Even with teflon skids, my dad thought it was best to remove most of the contents from behind the doors, and it did make it easier to scoot. But then I had to put all the papers back in. Since he'd taken them out in order, it wasn't so hard to do, but I did look through the stuff going back in. Most of it went fast. I tossed a couple items I was less than thrilled with that were coherent items. Then, I remembered the incoherent pile. It was a pile of papers I moved with and had no room for so I crammed it in the empty cube. Somehow it multiplied and needed 2 cubes to fit back in, so I had to suck it up and sort it.

One of the first things I found was something I was looking for last week, so I wound up giving the stack more attention than anyone on TV does when they do this task. The result was a list of things I think about intermittently as time allows. I came up with keepers and trash in most all categories, divided roughly as follows:
  • Science articles
  • Political opinions, letters to/from MA elected officials, and varied publications showing that yes, people really thought the PATRIOT act was a bad idea and gay marriage a good one.
  • Financial. Why I need monthly updates of 8 full pages for 1 account with 5 similar mututal funds that I bought once and let sit is beyond me. That was most of the trash.
  • Book related stuff: recommendations, early chapters, reviews, deleted scenes, and interesting travelogues by college friends who would probably now blog. (I should look them up.)
  • Fitness records and workout plans
  • Health records, including a scary printout of my weight history since 1996.
  • Puzzles
  • Souveniers like wedding invites, holiday cards, tickets, pictures, and a list what my hamster Leroy liked to eat during his short life.
  • Maps
  • Other "continuing ed" articles in feminism, sustainability and economics.
Stuff that was just trash included catalogues of gift ideas, weekend papers showing what's going on in Boston in 2005, directions to parties where people no longer live, already reimbursed health expenses, ATM and other receipts like the receipt for Leroy's healthier $9.99 replacement, Pinky, and did I mention overzealous financial updates?

After reading that list and seeing both my place and my desk, you might guess that dealing with paper is one of the hardest things I do every day. So I try not to deal with it every day. The book "Taming the Paper Tiger" was a lot of help. Then my friend J helped a lot in setting up a filing system that still kinda works, but needs a serious purging. Having a bookkeeper is also great for this stuff. But every time I get stuff cleaned off, more crap comes in. And it's not possible to just not bring it in, although I do try - most of the mail goes directly to the recycling after I pull out the 3 coupons I actually use and the 6 I always intend to.

Thanks again to dad for helping scoot stuff around, build things, patch things, and hang things. It really does go better with 2 people, although I was still pretty good at finding other stuff to do instead.

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