Tuesday, August 26, 2008


It would be so easy for me to move to another place if I were not afflicted with the Paper Curse. Some old hag must have bent over whatever served as my cradle and muttered, "This child will always be at the mercy of stacks of paper," because I always have held on to reams of the stuff. Old letters, old photos, old manuscripts, bits of writing, newspaper clippings, cards...on and on the list goes, stuffed into drawers, into boxes, waiting for the day that I begin to pack up my life and have to go through every scrap, deciding what to keep and what to toss.

Every morning now, while I have coffee, I sort through the accumulation, shredding old paystubs, bank statements, utility bills, by hand of course because I am way too 20th century to have acquired a paper shredder. I am so good at not accumulating--except for old report cards (handed over to me by my mother, in case anyone wonders where this curse actually came from), old notebooks, and I promise not to enumerate the entire list again. Let it be enough to say that my hands are drying out from handling it all.

I tell myself that I've learned my lesson--I have a huge amount of writing on my laptop, and I now own a digital camera--but of course I'm deluding myself. We who suffer from the Paper Curse will never succumb to the joys of the Paperless Office. If we can't handle it, it's not real--and the undocumented life is not worth living.

It's truly painful to throw out the papers that I'm callously discarding. But I know there will be more to fill the gap the minute that I'm settled in my new home. There has to be. That's the only way I ever feel rooted to a place, to a time, to my life.


Matt Brown said...

The bits of paper that are more painful to discard can always be collected and dumped upon your children for safekeeping. I know I've got room in my storage unit for another box or two.

Just a thought.


cat said...

I also have the paper as well as the photo curse (pre digital).

One day I'll get all my photo albums under the same roof.

One day I'll go through and itemize a growing collection of digital photos.

I might even name some. And print others.

But until then, part are in the UK. Another part are here. Each waiting for the other.

Jessi Cotterill said...

Hi Janet

It's Jessi if you still remember. I love to read what you write, so I'll add you to my blog list. You can check it out in my blog on the right column. This way I can easily access to your blog and know right away whenever you update your blog.

If you don't want your blog to be in my blog list, just let me know and I'll delete it. Thanks.


Janet Brown said...

Good luck, Cat--you're a better woman than I even to think about doing this!

Janet Brown said...

Hi Jessi--
Of course I remember you--I still dream about your gorgeous cakes! And I love your blog--wish I could read Thai so I could enjoy your other writing. Thank you for adding my blog to your list--I'll do the same for yours with the greatest of pleasure.
Hope we can meet someday--

cat said...

Small world! I know (of) Jessie.

I featured her husband's blog (he's amazing) on my design blog quite awhile back.

Or I was thinking about doing it anyway...

(forgive, it's been a looooooooooooong day)

Janet Brown said...

Yes, the Cotterill family is a talented one.

Sarah Mackenzie said...

I suffer from the same affliction. Metro tickets are so interesting to me - tickets of all varieties actually; and my son's drawings; old photos of course; notebooks and just scraps of nice paper!