Sunday, May 15, 2011

The Bottom Drawer

I know I'm rather bookish, but I had no idea until this week exactly how much paper I have in my house. I'm going to estimate 300 pounds. And I'm probably throwing out 250 pounds of that. Some of it is predictable stuff, like old tax returns and check stubs from 6 jobs ago. Other things are old cards and photos, some of which I probably should throw away but probably won't. And then there's the "bottom drawer papers".

The bottom drawer of my file cabinet has alway been full of oddities--articles I've clipped for various research projects, jokes, weird photos, quotes, old printed e-mails, and dot-matrix printed bibliographies. I even found some old pieces of writing in there. When the Internet was new in the late 1980s and early 1990s, I printed out a lot of things, because there really wasn't a great way to "save" e-mail. Most of my accounts were work accounts, and you're not supposed to save those kinds of things to work accounts (doesn't help when you leave the job, either).

Here is a sampling of some of the weirdness I found in my drawer:

An article from 1993 entitled, "20 naked people in car crash after police chase." Apparently they were Pentecostals who believed they had to give up everything, and cut no corners. And they had 5 naked children in the TRUNK. (That's the boot, for those of you not in the United States). The police were pretty casual about this, and they were written up for "minor traffic violations". All of them were from Texas. No, I'm not implying anything, just stating the facts.

An old bibliography on witchcraft from a local library, which is actually pretty decent.

A dot-matrix copy of "the Christian test". Sample question: "Ask for their money, all of it. Just ask for their wallet. Have them show it to you....etc.". The question references Luke 6:30, and Matthew 5:42, both verses that instruct believers to give their money away to whoever asks. If they refuse, they are not True Christians. Et cetera.

The General Final Examination. "History: Describe the history of the papacy from its origins to the present day, concentrating especially, but not exclusively, on its social, political, economic, religious and philosophical impact on Europe, Asia, America, and Africa. Be brief, concise, and specific." Or, "Music: Write a piano concerto. Orchestrate and perform it with flute and drum. You will find a piano under your seat".

A partial list of phrases that Dave Barry said would "make excellent band names". Some include, "Pinot Noir and His Nuances of Toast", "The Foliage Eaters, "The Radioactive Muskrats", and "The Flaming Salmonella Units".

An article entitled, "Do you have to love your lovers"?

A Peanuts cartoon that features Sally writing a letter. The letter says, "Dear Santa. I want a magic wand...and I want one that works".

A collection of notes I made in the late 1980s/early 1990s about working in the library Periodicals department. Noted--how people always bring 10 request slips when they need one item, and then write through the carbons on the other 9 unused slips. Also noted was how the job of separating request slips that were stuck together was going to be valuable training for my future.

A test MARC record written during a system migration that was being project managed by me. I think I was figuring out the editing function and was a tad frustrated. Here is the record:

100 1_ $a Who, Guess.
245 10 $a Test title.
260 __ $a Anytown, USA : $b Ihateunicorn Pub., $c 2070.
300 __ $a 333 p. : $b copious ill. ; $c 65 cm.
500 __ $a Why does nothing work the way it's supposed to in this system?
505 0_ $a Aggravation -- Putting out fires -- More aggravation -- Interruptions -- Even more aggravation -- 50 migration-related ways to kill yourself -- Thorazine for project managers.

An entire sheet of sticky notes with the words "Please Review", and little pictures drawn on each one. I believe this was made by one of my cataloging assistants about 10 years ago.

A quote from Aleister Crowley's Simon Iff:

"I never heard anyone talk like that before. Everyone knows it's wrong."

"In 1850 everyone knew it was wrong to protest against negro slavery. In Germany it's wrong to question the divine right of kings. In Turkey it's wrong to eat pork. In Hindustan it's wrong to eat beef. In 1500 it was wrong to say that the earth moved. In 1900 it was wrong to say it didn't. Time and space, my friend, time and space, the illusions, breeders of other illusions! Right and wrong are fashions, like women's hats".

A quote from Amma: "Self-control is never a hindrance to freedom. By observing spiritual austerities, we can enjoy lasting happiness and contentment."

A quote from George Bernard Shaw: "Religion is a great force--the only real motive force in the world; but what you fellows don't understand is that you must get a man through his own religion, and not through yours".

A "Letter to Dr. Laura" Schlessinger in response to her saying that homosexuality is an abomination according to Leviticus 18:22. A quote from the letter writer: "Lev. 25:44 states that I may indeed possess slaves, both male and female, provided they are purchased from neighboring nations. A friend of mine claims this applies to Mexicans but not Canadians. Can you clarify? Why can't I own Canadians?"

A article about the mayor of Inglis, Florida, who wrote a municipal proclamation evicting Satan from her town.

A bored librarian's list of quotes entitled, "Tom Swift, Gonzo Librarian." "There's a waiting list for that title" Tom said with reservations.

The resume of a Yale law school graduate who has had a psychotic meltdown.

One of my favorite fake ads ever, spoofing on Advil. It shows a woman with an anvil in her hands, about to drop it on her schlub of a husband, sitting around looking dopey with pizza boxes and beer everywhere. The caption: "One Anvil gets rid of even the worst headaches". I think I had it in my cubicle during my married days.

A Dilbert cartoon featuring Wally, the Pointy-Haired Boss, Dilbert, and Ted. Ted says, "I just found out that the committee across the hall is doing the same thing we are. All we can do now is hum 'West Side Story' and have a dance-fight."

A document with a drawing of a bear that says, "The librarians are slow. Please bear with us."

Ineffective daily affirmations: "Only a lack of imagination saves me from immobilizing myself with imaginary fears".

A Thelemic language lesson. Example: the phrase "Their camp is very independent" translates to "They're planning to overthrown the Grand Master and they've become born-again Christians".

A cartoon of a ghost reading a newspaper and talking on the phone. He says, "I'm calling about your says you're looking for someone really spiritual?"

An e-mail featuring some of Rich Hall's "Sniglets". "Disconfect: to sterilize a piece of candy you drop on the floor by blowing on it and rubbing it a little." "Telecrastination: letting the phone ring 3 times before you answer it when it's right next to you."

That's all for today. Back to cleaning out more files...I think they breed overnight.

1 comment:

harry said...

Frankly, I think you have found treasures. They may drown you in the end, but they were not chosen foolishly. They are no doubt also filed in the back of your mind-files somewhere, but not accessibly. This is not to justify clutter, but to understand why we k
eep things of value where we can get at them.