Monday, December 19, 2011

Coat Clutter

It's amazing the things that you find when you go through coat pockets. They're like little memories of where you used to go. Tonight I found a bank receipt for $60 from the TB Banknorth on Spring Street in Williamstown, Mass., from 8/18/07. (And I had an available balance of $2,331.22; how did that happen?)

Finding these bank receipts is a painful reminder of the days when I was flush with cash. On 1/21/10, just before I was laid off, my checking balance was $3,770.02. Even if the rent check hadn't yet cleared, that's still pretty good. One from a Brooklyn Bank of America on 2/16/09 shows a balance of $1,751.56. Two years later I'm lucky if the average balance is more than $1,000.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Old News

During the year between college and the rest of my life that I spent living at home, I collected a lot of newspapers. (Why should that chapter in my life be any different from the others?) Some of which are only now being excavated from their rest place of the last 20-plus years.

I collected a lot of pages from the classified section in those days as I looked for work. I'm trying to figure out why I saved page D17 of the Sunday, May 16, 1993 Morning Call. What work was I interested in under the "Miscellaneous" section? The Highlite Models call at the Easton Sheraton? More likely the Lehigh Valley Donor Center ad for paid blood/plasma donors. Fifteen dollars for a half-hour's work? That's more than I make in 2011.

I also saved page B39 from the Saturday, June 19, 1993 edition. I appear to have been setting my sights a bit higher that day: I think the ad I was responding to was for
"Writers: Needed for proposed up scale regional magazine. Free-lance calendar editor & feature writers. 717-264-1856.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

I finally sold a lot of 12 New York magazines on eBay. It feels like an accomplishment even if it's not helping me cut the clutter as much as I would like. The buyer requested that I put two pieces of cardboard between each magazine. What?!? I don't keep a surplus of cardboard around, but I will do my best. However, I think my best may only be one piece in between the magazines. Still, this gives me ample opportunity to rid myself of whatever stray cardboard I have hanging around. Like an old Priority Mail envelope from March 29, 2000 sent in Fillmore, CA. (Was this the Homicide I bought from eBay?)

Saturday, October 22, 2011

The heat finally came on yesterday, which meant it was time to pull out a heavier coat. It's always like taking a trip to the recent past. I reached into my pocket and found a post-office receipt from April 22 (we did have a very cold spring) for $2.28 for a package that I sent to Birmingham, Alabama, exactly six months ago.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Receipts That Won't Go Away

What makes letting go of clutter so hard is that it's connected to memories. By extension, getting rid of it means throwing out my past, and while one shouldn't live in the past, that doesn't mean it should be forgotten.

Take, for example, the "Notice and Demand for Payment of Tax Due" that I received from New York State in 1997 when I was living at 47 Croton in Tarrytown--for $2.15! I'd completely forgotten--I think that was the year I bought a "Taxes for Dummies" book and did them myself--and I didn't contest the findings. (The stub that I returned with payment is missing from the last page.)

What I love is that the state sent five pages to collect $2.15. Including stationery, postage and printing costs, how much was spent to collect such a measly amount?

Even more recent receipts hold memories, like the one for Kotex tampons from the Tampa International Airport dated June 28 at 7:01am. Nothing like being surprised with your period when you're on vacation.

Then there are the ones that are wonderfully serendipitous. I found a receipt from the Fort Hamilton post office dated 1/28/10 for a couple of packages--one shipped to Fort Wayne, Indiana, the other to Glendale, Arizona--the same day that I noticed I also had one for 1/28/12, for a Media Mail package to Wheat Ridge, Colorado.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Duty Days

Until tonight, I never threw away my jury summons from 12/20/2001. If I recall correctly I got it postponed until February, because it was so close to Christmas. I've had this so long that I've already been called back to jury duty!

And the best part is, it's from when I lived in my old apartment, so not only have I not thrown it out in 10 years, I've actually picked it up and moved with it.

Friday, September 30, 2011

Times Gone By

I should throw out the pages of this old New York Times Book Review from 1990!

But I can't do it without noting that I wrote down, in red ink, three sets of numbers above a full-age ad for the Folio Society offering their seven-volume Jane Austen set:


I have no idea what they mean but I thought they might be noting.

Atop another page I've written "Nov. 23, 3:12, 610-434-3661." Another mystery. A voice-mail message? I didn't get anything when I googled the number.

It's interesting, though, that the hardest things to throw away tend to be the things I've kept the longest, even if they're rather useless. For example, there are pages from an April 1992 issue of Parade that I still have because they're attached to an article about bartering. Not sure if I wanted to do an article on it or try to do some bartering of my own to save money. (In those pre-eBay days I was trying to think of something I could do to save money.)

Attached to it is part of an article in which young people were asked their thoughts on gays and lesbians. Nice to see how progressive most of them were...reading it now I'm not surprised at how much better things have gotten in the 20 years since.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

When I Was a Joiner...

The first time I heard the word e-mail was 1991, when I was a journalism student at NYU covering a story. Shortly after I graduated I joined networking groups like the International Radio & Television Society because at that time my career goals were in broadcast journalism. How times have changed! I'm quite knowledgeable about e-mail these days and any organizations that I belong to contact me through that address.

One downside to the old way was it was yet another way for me to accumulate clutter--some of which I still have. But it's definitely time to throw out the yellow mailings from the Under-30's division, or at least use the blank side for printer paper. I'm not sure I ever attended any of the events: There were happy hours, analyses of news coverage during sweeps, career exploration nights and a seminar from a gender-dynamics expert named Jayne Tear who "examines how traditional male/female learning patterns play a direct role in success or failure in the workplace." In 2011 that sounds positively quaint.

There's also a 1992 renewal invoice that I guess I didn't take advantage of because I still have it. Membership would have increased from $30 to $45, since I was no longer a student, quite a steep jump in those days for an unemployed new college grad with a lot of student loans.

Friday, August 19, 2011

I need to make room for someone in my life, and right now my messy apartment does not seem to suggest someone who's ready to do that. One of my clutter issues involves coupons. If there's even a remote chance that I might be able to use it, I'll keep it until it expires. So the easiest way for me to get rid of coupons is just to let them pile up and toss them out when they expire.

That's what I'm doing tonight, tossing aside a Benjamin Moore paint coupon that expired in 2007 (when I moved into this apartment!), Hertz car rental coupons (same year), a receipt from the Cosi by NYU from 11/20/09 (was I teaching that night?), a receipt from Chicken Barn from 1/6/10 18:38 (must have been seeing a show that night), and a receipt from the Dunkin' Donuts on Smith Street from that same day 3:19 in the afternoon for a latte (oh, yeah, I was still working at RT then!).

More to come, I promise...

Monday, February 7, 2011

Saying Goodbye to Jackie

Jackie Kennedy died of cancer just a few months after my grandmother did in 1993. And I must have bought every tabloid newspaper I could lay my hands on that put her or coverage of her death on its front page. (There wasn't any Internet coverage to speak of back then.) In an oddly morbid way, there was something comforting about it. I felt my grandmother has passed before her time--she was only 71--and wondered if things would have been different if she'd had more money and thus could have gotten better medical care.

As twisted as it might seem, that Jackie had money for the best doctors and still passed away at 64 made me feel ... if not exactly better then at least less despair. My grandmother had pancreatic cancer; even a top-of-the-line Park Avenue surgeon might not have been able to do much for her.

But that's a wound that, even if it hasn't completely healed, doesn't hurt so much anymore, so I decided it was time to part with the papers. And it turns out there's an eBay market for them. I've managed to sell five Daily Newses and Posts, including one for $10.50. Apparently there's still a market for newspapers--what's printed today may be worth something in 18 years.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

My attempt to eBay my way out of clutter continues. Before Christmas I reorganized one of my closets and pulled out some things that I thought I could sell, including a 1994 Dramatists Guild Quarterly with an interview with Stephen Sondheim. (I hope it went to a good home.)

But to send an issue of New York Post commemorating Jackie Kennedy or a Green Stamps catalog from 1981 off to its new owner requires packaging. Not just a box or an envelope but something inside to wrap it or keep it from bouncing around. Often I use a plastic bag or the plastic or paper that was stuffed inside my last Amazon or Fresh Direct order. But as I did the closet cleaning I noticed that not only did I have a lot of old papers, but some of them happened to be stuffed inside large envelopes and folders that could be used for mailing.

So an issue of The Star from 1982 with Liz and Dick on the cover was sent out in a large manila envelope with an old postmark from September 1994 on it. It initially contained something that A.R.T./New York sent to Back Stage when I worked there. A New York magazine with articles on Kelsey Grammer and Bebe Neuwirth was wrapped in an old envelope from the Institute of Children's Literature, from which I took a correspondence course when I lived in Jersey City. (It had been awhile since I'd seen my old Garrison Avenue address in print.)

What will I find in the files for the old Port Charles breakdowns I saved from my days at the soap magazine? I can't wait to see. Whatever it is, it will be one less thing taking up space in my home.