Friday, January 19, 2007

Pack Rats-R-Us

I've only been at my current job for about 19 months, which isn't a whole heck of a long time, really. But I'm switching departments, and today is the day I pack up my desk. I thought it would be easy - throw my itty bitty pics of stepson and hubby into a box with a couple of paperbacks, a couple of pens, my coffee cup...and move on. To the new desk. Where I can whip out my pics, pens and cup and be right at home. How soon I forget what is in my DNA.... I come from a family of pack rats. A look at my grandparents house, my mom's house, my house, my sisters' houses...we do NOT like to throw anything away (although somehow, my oldest sister has escaped the severity of the gene. Her kids haven't, though, so it's obvious that she was at least a carrier). And while we all laugh and throw out my grandfather's Depression-era rationale for keeping every thing from bread wrappers to the twisty ties that hold hundreds of toy parts on slabs of cardboard to every single box that has ever come in our line of sight ("It's just the thing to have if you ever need it!"), I think that secretly we all like it. Once in a while, one of us will wake up and realize that we have 200 boxes sitting in our attic, and that no matter how long we live we will never give THAT many Christmas presents that need to be put in a box. Or their husband will tell them that their attic is a pile of kindling waiting for a match, because really? All that cardboard? It's just begging the fire gnome to come for a visit. But the rest of the time... the rest of the time we compulsively squirrel away things that will never have value. And if there's any kind of sentimental value attached to it, I'm already determined to keep it. I have ONE ROSE PETAL left from my bridal bouquet. And it is sitting in a shot glass on one of my bookcases, because I CANNOT throw ANYTHING away. Sure, it makes cleaning the house a lot harder. Especially when you know there's something in the back of your closet you need but first you have to get through three years of accumulated "stuff" to get to the sweater that you just KNOW matches your new skirt. Only to find the back of the closet sans sweater and find three other items of clothing that you completely don't remember buying. How many times have the members of my family muttered the words "so that's where that ended up" when we're looking for a screwdriver and come across the owner's manual to an oscillating fan that hasn't worked in five years? And if you're one of the hard-core members of my family, the fan that hasn't worked in five years is probably still sitting around somewhere...either because you hope one day you can talk your dad into fixing it, or because you're the dad and one day you just know you're going to fix it. How long did that broken TV sit in our garage in the house in Pelham?. Anyway, I'm packing my desk. And I find...
  • A two inch long plastic jelly fish, that one of the librarians gave me after finding out I'd been stung by a Portuguese Man O' War on my vacation;
  • Five books that I had forgotten I owned that I picked up at the thrift store, brought to work and shoved into the bowels of my desk in case I ever need something to read on my lunch break. Because even though I work in the biggest library in the Department of Defense, I might one day need something new to read;
  • A bottle of tums that expired two months ago;
  • A steak knife that matches our old set at home; apparently I thought I might either A) Eat a steak at work one day, or B) Need extra protection. On a military base. Sitting in the middle of the most public building on base, surrounded by at least 20 people at all times. And that if I did, my cheap-o steak knife would do better on human flesh than it would on the cheese that it wouldn't cut at home;
  • The ribbon from the present that my husband gave me for Valentine's Day last year, that I wrapped around my ponytail for the day. Is it in my drawer waiting for February 14 to roll around again? Because it needs to give up hope - it's had my decorations for St Patrick's Day, 4th of July, Halloween, Thanksgiving AND Christmas put on top of it since last year. But...if I ever need a heart infested ribbon...it's RIGHT THERE next to me.
  • My 2005 & 2006 desk calendars. Because one day, when I least expect it, the CIA might come into the library and say "What were you doing at 10:35 AM on July 12 2005?" And I will be able to magically find my calendar in the middle of all my crap, whip it and open it, pointing gleefully and saying "I was working the reference desk from 10:30-11:30 that day!"
I'll stop there. Because I need to go pack up my dry goods drawer. I have canned pears, pineapples and peaches...vanilla pudding...popcorn...salt and pepper...canned tuna...Because when something happens and I'm forced to live in the library for days on end, with no way to get to food or water, I'll be ready. I'll be PREPARED. I will survive.

2 comments:

Karen said...

What the hell kind of place is that, when they commemorate PMOW stings by giving you fake jelly fish? That's just wrong.

And. Do tums really expire? How do you know? Do they give you a more upset stomach?

And. You're on a military base. Shouldn't you be stocking MRE?

Is it 5 o'clock yet? Surely somewhere, it is....

smdrm said...

Boy, do you have us pegged!!!