Friday, February 1, 2008

The Secret Weapon

It’s been nearly a week and I’ve finally gotten to the final phase of the damned filing cabinet project. I’ve been to the office supply store and I am now stocked with hanging folders, labels for same and a whole new approach to this stupid, horrible mind-numbing project. I also bought the one weapon that will give me a big old “V” for Victory on this one…a paper shredder, the Paper Monster Junior. (Insert maniacal laughter here) There’s ABSOLUTELY no backing out once it’s been through the shredder. My husband is not to know of this particular item’s existence until the deed is done, we shall not speak of it. This, of course, also means that Charlie (the eight year old) is not to be alerted to this purchase.
Charlie considers it his sworn duty to keep the general public informed of any and all developments, misdeeds and ongoing events that enter his awareness. He has been known to call 911 and let them know that his mom has bad heartburn from that evening’s pizza. He has taken it upon himself to inform the patrons at the grocery store that root beer makes his dad burp really, really loud. One of his more memorable news flashes came at a family gathering at my parents house. I believe it was a Thanksgiving when he let the assorted cousins, aunts, uncles and various family friends know that his mom told his dad that she’d never understand why Aunt Wendy ever married a jerk like Uncle Gary. Since then, we tend to watch what Charlie gets to overhear.
Now armed for the coming battle, my enthusiasm restored and a fresh approach to the whole process, I attack the tottering piles with renewed vigor. I am out of time if I'm going to call this month a success, both projects completed and my journey to total bliss remaining on track. Several hours later I am nursing several paper cuts and a deep, burning resentment for whoever decided that keeping records of any sort was a good idea. The precariously balanced piles of earlier in the day have been re-sorted from the “KEEP” and “THROW” piles (you may have noticed the “CONSULT WITH HUSBAND” pile has been skillfully taken out of the equation) to smaller piles of related subject matter. That’s it for the day, this really is going to take a while. I’m thinking the weapon of mass destruction is going to have to stay safely hidden for another day. Tomorrow, we inaugurate the paper shredder…I can’t wait.
My husband notices my improved mood over dinner but wisely doesn’t pursue it any further than, “You’re pretty chipper tonight”. I think he suspects something.


This is it, D-Day for every unnecessary piece of correspondence in the house. Even the children sense something as I’ve made cinnamon rolls on a weekday morning when it’s not anyone’s birthday and we don’t have houseguests. I think perhaps I scared them a little bit when I started humming “Battle Hymn Of The Republic” and giggling from time to time over my coffee. They got ready in record time and fifteen minutes before the school bus was due, headed out into the dark, frozen morning to wait at the corner. I peeked through the curtains and saw them talking seriously as they shot nervous glances back toward the house. After watching carefully to make sure they actually got on the bus, I closed the drapes, locked the doors and turned my attention to the stacks of nonsense that have been plaguing me for the better part of two weeks. Like a scene from one of those senseless action movies the men in my life adore, I suited up. Instead of rounds of ammunition crisscrossing my chest, I have rolls of self-sticking labels. I wield neither machine gun nor grenade launcher, choosing instead to brandish a stapler and paper clips. I have no hidden cache of C-4 to pull out at the last minute to save the day, I need nothing more than the shredder, which I’ve decided to simply call “Junior”, to finish off my enemies. Appropriately attired and armed, Junior and I stepped into battle knowing the enemy was formidable but with no idea of the combined power it faced.
Four hours later, I have reduced the overwhelming mass of sheer crap in the office to one and a half drawers of neatly filed, labeled and chronologically sorted essentials. Poor Junior may never recover from his inaugural run; he rests in the corner, the overload light blinking forlornly, stray pieces of confetti littering the floor and two kitchen sized garbage bags of shredded documentation standing like sentinels on either side of him. One of the things I’ve learned from this particular project is paper shredders get quite hot when they feel they’re being overworked and will actually set things a-smolder when pushed past their limit. Note to self: Junior gets timely breaks next time. I now have two and a half empty drawers where before there was absolutely no way possible I was going to be able to jam one more piece of paper into the file cabinet. It may be a trick of the light, but the cabinet looks somehow friendlier, like a new companion, an ally, a beacon of hope to look to during what may be the dark and troubled times that lie ahead.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Long Live The Resolution

Now that I've tackled the wallet, purse and keychain, I can't put off my organizational dream any longer. The wallet is well in hand, my purse is smaller and I now know the purpose of every single key on my keychain, having tossed all 6 of the mystery keys.

I think I’m going to start somewhat small, the large file cabinet in the office has been driving me a bit mad for some time and as I’m here at the computer, it’s kind of looming over me right now. It may not seem like a major project, but trust me on this one. With a deep, cleansing breath and a slight dash of fear, I open the first drawer. Or I attempt to, it seems terribly resistant to the impending purge. Oh dear…it’s with a sinking heart that I realize the file cabinet has been locked, likely by one of my well intentioned, button happy children. Examining the lock, the sinking feeling is intensified by the fact that I know exactly where the necessary key currently resides…the landfill. Okay, this is a minor setback, I can deal with this. Calling the local office supply store is no help at all, this kind of file cabinet hasn’t been made over twenty years and they don’t even know if the company is still in business. Fine, I’ll take care of it myself. Two hours later, cranky, sweaty and finally having wrestled the lock mechanism out of its natural resting place, the damn file cabinet is open and will never lock again. I have managed to use a hammer and screwdriver to punch the lock out and disable it, yippee. I think I need to remind myself why this whole thing is a good idea.
Breathe, deep cleansing breaths and remember the Zen bedroom. That is the goal. A spotless, organized and perfectly color coordinated house is going to make everyone’s lives better, happier and more productive. Okay, the goal again clear in my mind, it’s time…I will not be defeated by a project as small as a filing cabinet. Three hours pass and I’m sitting on the floor of the office surrounded by every official looking piece of paper we’ve been sent since the day we got married…twelve years ago. This has GOT to be my husband’s doing, I’m pack-ratty about sentimental stuff, he’s paranoid about someday needing the insurance policy on a car we haven’t owned for nine years. I’m really not even going to ponder the need for saving a printout of every stupid email forwarded to him since the inception of the internet. Or the pile of equally inane faxes of dirty jokes, lame cartoons and the like.
Three hours and I’ve only made it through the first drawer. This is going to take longer than I thought, time to abandon this one for the day.

Fine, I'm not going to put it off, I will not let the first project send me back into the dangerous land of procrastination, I have lived there far too long. Time for another deep cleansing breath and:

This project totally sucks. Just letting you know that this file cabinet could actually be a deal breaker on the whole organizational odyssey I’ve set myself. Finally got through all the drawers and had stuff sorted into piles…”KEEP”, “THROW” and “CONSULT WITH THE HUSBAND”. That third pile was my first major mistake, I might have been drinking a teensy bit tonight when I decided to let him anywhere near my precious piles. Suddenly, the “KEEP” pile is towering dangerously close to the top of my head, the “THROW” pile has magically shrunk to the instruction manual for a long dead VCR, three envelopes containing offers to refinance at ridiculously low rates, a phone book from 1979 and the owner's manual from a 1976 AMC Gremlin. How did this happen? I’ll tell you how, in a burst of wine-induced pride, I decided to show my beloved how much progress I’ve made and may have casually mentioned that one of the piles needed his attention. Silly, silly slightly tipsy me. Here’s today’s question: Do I go with my original plan and toss the lot or do I save the mountain of absolute crap he thinks we’re going to maybe possibly need after we’re dead?