What’s in a Little Pile of Paper Anyhow? Apparently, My Faith

Warming up with this itty bitty pile -- this is just the start!
Warming up with this itty bitty pile. This is just the start!

This year, I’m going to go through every thing I own–every book, every pot, every sock, every paper–and organize and purge. I need a fresh start after wallowing for too long in my whiny juices. Having a debut novel doesn’t change much of anything; my quirks and vices and neuroses remain the same. In fact, I have more now and the ones I previously had are more ingrained.

I’m itching to make my internal rejuvenation visibly tangible. Hence, purge and organize. I have a feeling it will take all year, but that’s OK. Last weekend I started with one dusty little pile that had been sitting there for over a year, semi out of sight, all the way out of mind. I found all sorts of good stuff in that pile: my cat’s rabies certificate, a Starbucks gift card, and a business card from a City of Portland detective (novel research). I also found random notes that were oh-so-important at the time. Most of them, thankfully, I tossed into the recycling bin. Yay!

Some notes, however, I set aside in what I now call my figure-out-how-to-organize pile. It looks like I’ll be investing in file systems at some point, which is OK too.

Then, there’s the in-between kinds of notes, like the names of two songs that I’d heard and liked, that I was going to download from iTunes because one of my never-ending goals is to update my music collection.

I have great penmanship, don't I?
I have great penmanship, don’t I?

After awhile, the question becomes: What to do with all these in-between notes? Years ago, I started a master list of songs to download. So, if I can find that list (I think I know where it is), then I’ll transfer the names of these two songs from one piece of paper to another.

Does this really count as organization though? My master list has got to be 10 pages long by now. What’s the point of maintaining it if I’m never going to get around to downloading the songs?

My best guess is that I want music to be more important in my life than it actually is. This is one of the conundrums of the purge and organize–letting go of what we imagine as our ideal selves in our ideal lives. Like, for example, that fancy juicer I own. In my head, I’m a healthy juicer girl so I’ve kept the contraption. But come on–hello?–when was the last time I used it?

I like to think of myself as a woman happily singing along to Vampire Weekend while making myself a carrot-kale-ginger-apple juice. I can see it, it’s totally me–or it could be. And it could be that keeping my master list of songs and my juicer is a manifestation of faith in myself–never giving up.

Or maybe it’s a delusion so I don’t have to throw things out and make room for the new?

And how could purging one itty bitty paper pile lead to this much angst? Sometimes a paper pile is just a paper pile. (This is going to be an interesting year!)

Are you a purger or a keeper or a somewhere in-betweener? What do you do about the in-between stuff?


14 thoughts on “What’s in a Little Pile of Paper Anyhow? Apparently, My Faith

    1. That’s a lovely way of putting it, Alexis. I feel comfortable with paper all around me — that’s true. I guess it’s a balance, and I’m WAY on the other side of chaos, practically in oblivion.

  1. The in-between stuff is always an issue. And sometimes I’m SO organized I can’t find what I’m looking (is that recipe under ‘Z’ for zucchini or under ‘P’ for parmesan?!).

    1. Hi there — I wish I had the problem of being too organized. 🙂 Sometimes, I’m organized kind of by accident. I’ll be looking for something, like my keys, everywhere, only to realize that for once I’d place them where they’re supposed to go. Hah!

  2. I can relate to this! I’m a keeper of paper too. I periodically purge and organize, but I never completely catch up. And losing some vital scrap of paper in a pile happens to me at least a few times a year, with much swearing and stomping around.

    I also have a notebook with a lengthy list of songs to buy (or albums to consider — they still make those things you know), so I think that’s a healthy hobby rather than a delusion. 🙂

    Lastly, a big shout out for mentioning Vampire Weekend!!! Great band!!!

    P.S. – I vote for keeping the juicer. The house we bought 3+ years ago has a naval orange tree and Fuji apple tree, and it’s awesome to be able to make fresh juice. Don’t give up the dream!

    1. Thank you thank you, Andy! I shall keep the dream of the ideal me alive. 🙂 On a funny side note, a friend offered to help me become DIGITALLY organized, which is to say, scan all my papers etcetera. Yikes. That’s taking it seriously indeed.

  3. I’m a keeper. It’s genetic, or so I claim — my father was the same way. I read articles about hoarders from time to time, with a certain sense of relief. I’m nowhere near that. 🙂

    If I was making resolutions, this would be a good one for me.

    I have been buying music, but there are other things I’m not doing. I keep thinking I’m going to read more books than I actually do — but at this point I’m okay with that. It’s like sometimes I think I should eat more salad, but then I come up against the inescapable fact that I don’t really like salad all that much.

    1. Oh, god, that show “Hoarders”? Have you ever seen it? I used to watch it in fascinated disgust. I’m nowhere near that either — in fact, I come from organized, de-cluttered stock. So I figure I have potential. 🙂

      Your salad to my gym. Too bad I don’t like gyms. 🙂

  4. I keep a lot of junk, but every now and again I have a major hankering for a massive purge. Actually, I can already feel one coming on later this month, but I have to save my strength for it. It is going to be a whopper!

  5. I bought a Neat scanner for my desk, and I am digitizing all the bits and bobs, as well as the big stuff, that I have clung to for decades. It is very liberating. BTW, I see the stone painting on the wall there that you got in Campilia Maritima, during my 50th BD bash in Italy. Aw…memories…!

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