Tuesday, August 12, 2014

What do you hoard?

Oh my gosh, guys. There is something so wrong with me.

Evidence: Now that I've got my own apartment and I'm living alone for the first time in my life, I decided it would be a good time to gather all of the stuff I've accumulated in my past 29.5 years of life, stick it all in one place, sort through it, and purge.

I love the idea of simplifying. But that's just the idea. Turns out the actual process is less fun.

And you find out some weird stuff about yourself as you're doing it.

For example, who knew that what I hoard is not clothes or shoes or little collectible figurines. Nope. I hoard stuff I've written.

How narcissistic is that?

It's like I'm subconsciously imagining that one day someone will actually want to sort through my "papers." My conscious self knows that no one will ever again be interested in how I did on a ninth grade timed essay. Not even me. Except maybe as a curiosity to pick up in another 29.5 years. But somehow I still can't let it go.

Because the thing is, it's not just a grade on an essay. I've left a little of myself in every scrap of paper and blot of ink I've ever written on or with or whatever. Of course, not all of my writing is good. Most of it, especially the high school stuff, is terrible. I feel so sorry for my English teachers over the years.

(Side note: How do English teachers keep reading essays and not become violent? Or maybe they do?)

Anyway, that's what I hoard: papers. Good. Bad. Ugly. I've got them all.

But it's not just essays. I've got notebooks from most of the classes I've ever taken. I've got organizers and college assignments I never really finished. I've got letters and journals galore, as Ariel might sing.

And I've got this thing that I call my writer's file, which grows anytime I have an idea that I think I might want to write about someday. I jot down the gist of the thing, write "Writer's File" on the top, and promptly forget all about it. I don't actually file this stuff. That would be way too logical. My writer's file is a nebulous, incorporeal thing amidst all my other non-important writings, like to-do lists and doodles and notes from whatever lecture I was supposed to be listening to at the time.

Ugh. It's a mess.

All I have to say is: thank goodness for Gmail and its lovely search capabilities. Writing myself emails hasn't completely stopped my obsession with writing to myself on paper. But at least it's helped. And having an archive for things like my nebulous writer's file is a definite plus.

What I should really do is scan all these papers that I think I can't live without. That way, while they won't be searchable exactly, I'll at least have a way of preserving my teenage handwriting. And I can eliminate some of the several boxes of notebooks, papers, and whatnot that are living in my closet.

But there are so many accumulated documents that even scanning seems daunting. Sigh.

On the bright side, I did come up with one criterion for eliminating some of those school papers. If I got less than 80 percent on the assignment, I toss it out. I mean, why keep all that negativity around? Plus, this way if someone ever does decide to study my "papers" because I really do become that rich or famous, I can just let them think that I never got less than a B on any of my assignments. And there will be nothing to prove otherwise.

Now comes the real question: To scan or not to scan?

I think I'd better go back to high school English and brush up on my Hamlet...

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