This week I cleaned my office.
Big deal, you say. Some people do that sort of thing all the time. They file papers, pay bills, answer mail, and even dust their desks.
Well, sure. Some people wash their cars every week, too. And wash windows twice a year. And clean out their refrigerators before stuff evolves into fuzzy green new life forms. I have more urgent things to do. I’m not sure what they are, exactly, but I know they have a higher priority than cleaning.
But this wasn’t that kind of cleaning. This was get-rid-of-clutter cleaning. Serious spring cleaning. Inspired, no doubt, by the six-plus inches of April snow piling up outside the window.
I started my excavations in the antique oak wardrobe. It held an embarrassing amount of stuff. Floppy disks that no computer of mine has had a drive for since 2003. Instruction manuals for printers I no longer own. Yellowed old greeting cards and mismatched envelopes. Two plastic boxes—one still marked “1977” on the front with permanent marker—intended to hold cancelled checks. Old bank statements, obsolete computer parts, and newsletters from an organization I no longer belong to. A box of stuff from a failed political campaign.
A padded envelope holding several “Ross Perot for President” buttons. I’m keeping those. In another 20 years I’m sure they’ll have gone from “oddity” to “collectible,” and—assuming I remember they exist and assuming I can find them—I can sell them and take a cruise around the world.
A plastic bag full of “Pecos diamonds,” thumbnail-sized quartz crystals from New Mexico. They’re pretty, they were fun to collect, and I have no need whatsoever to keep them. Do you suppose it would confuse the geologic record if I tossed them out into the front yard to mix with the plain old South Dakota gravel in the driveway?
Then it was time to do something about the file cabinets, long past their prime. Which, since they were cheap metal ones, hadn’t exactly been “prime” to begin with. The drawer I used the most opened and closed with a shriek of anguish straight out of a B-list horror movie. The other cabinet, presumably squashed in one of my frequent moves, had a top drawer that could only be accessed by prying it open with a pancake turner.
I bought a new file cabinet. The box said “some assembly required,” which I realized meant the drawer handles needed to be attached. The handles were included, of course—tucked safely away inside the bottom drawer. Which couldn’t be opened because it had no handle. No problem; I had a pancake turner and I knew how to use it.
After a day of sorting, tossing, organizing, and wondering why on earth I ever kept that, my office makeover was complete.
Now, I have my files moved to the new file cabinet, which sits inconspicuously inside the closet. The wardrobe has been tidied, rearranged, and relieved of at least 50 pounds of clutter. I have tossed three trash bags full of stuff. I have a box of things to take to the Salvation Army. My desk is organized, dusted, and invitingly bare.
And the three unopened photo albums are stacked neatly on top of the two boxes of unsorted photographs. Oh, well. That’s a project for another day. Maybe we’ll have another spring snowstorm—next year.