Monday, February 14, 2011

On Paper

Today is Valentine's Day and I'm watching Big Dave sort a ream of paper into stacks so that we can report how much money we don't owe to the I.R.S.  This is the first step of my Spring ritual of paperwork that makes me want to pitch a fit ala Veruka on Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory...only slightly less British.  After I get this information compiled and wince as I pay TurboTax a ridiculous amount of money to submit my tax forms electronically, I then have to sit down and complete not one...but two...FAFSAs for my two college students (yes, Brian is graduating in May).  I wrote in detail of my experience with the FAFSA last feel free to roam the archives of the blog for that gem in your spare time between 1 and 2 a.m.

After the FAFSAs are completed...I'm pretty much free to just do the normal maintenance of bills, receipts, and other general crapola that comes into this house at a rate that seems just absolutely breathtaking.  I realize that I could stop it by getting on some list that bars stuff coming in here...but every so often there is truly a gem among the rocks.  I mean...I got a coupon for a free bottle of Karo syrup last Friday...and a coupon for a free carton of yogurt one day last week.  So, I continue to let the stuff come into the house...and I try to get it back out of here before it grows roots and reproduces.

I'm seriously of the belief that if you cross a J.C. Penney ad with a newsletter from a non-profit organization...a Visa offer appears magically.  Or something like that.

I literally take trash out of here every day of my life.  The term "take it out of here" takes many forms, though.  I never miss a chance to drop stuff without my name or address at any given trash can in a retail shopping area or at Costco while I'm filling my tank.  I also take advantage of the trash can at Chick-fil-A (because it is so conveniently located just beyond the drive in window and it is like drive-thru trash drop off) for anything that might have gravitated to my car. 

Most days, I have something from either Victoria's Secret or L.L. Bean that must get out of this house pronto.  Those people are seriously killing trees at a most alarming rate if my mailbox is any indication of their marketing determination. 

A lot of what I receive has to be shredded or torn up into little pieces of confetti.  I don't know how many calories this exercise burns every day, but I suspect not nearly enough.  I also take some paper and pass it on if I can.  I learned this little trick from my parents.  They bring me old magazines to read...and then it becomes my problem to dispose of as I see fit.  I usually see fit to make sure that the address label is off...and then leave them (along with mine)...well, wherever.  One time, I actually got onto FreeCycle and offered them if someone would come pick them up.  They were gone that day.  Amazing.

Paper seems to be the medium that I revolve a good deal of my life around.  I work with paper.  My free time is spent with photography, scrapbooking, calligraphy, writing notes, writing in general, wrapping gifts, and reading.  That's the positive side.  On the dark side, there's junk mail, memorabilia that I haven't put in an album, newspaper clippings I mean to send to people, and other items that I just cannot part with at this point in time.  Like the three months of Southern Living that I have not made time to read yet.

I know.  I'm so bad.  I also have a Readers' Digest, two Ladies Home Journals, and five months of Better Homes and Gardens that have not been touched.  I've been too busy reading Jane Austen books on my Nook.  The Nook may not be paper...but it is an electronic extention of my preferred medium.

But I suppose that all of us have sirens that call to each of us.  Mine is paper.  My friend's is paint.  Another's is cloth.  Another one's is things that grow.  Yet another's is things she can cook or bake.  I think that all of us find something that makes sense to us because it just suits us.  Of course...this is all very good...but can be very bad simultaneously.  We just have to learn to deal with it so that it doesn't take over our lives.

Because sometimes that tends to happen.  Anyone ever had a craft room, garage, closet or room get overrun because the siren's song outran our ability to manage it all?  Yeah, me too.

So, right now, I am trying to manage this paper tiger and get everything lined up so that I can have a little bit of peace about it.  After all, there are far more positive things to do in the world of paper than deal with that which is in the land of the I.R.S.

Like enjoy a good book.  Clip some coupons.  Send an encouraging note.  Or receive a check in the mail. 

Yeah.  And to do that...I have to do THIS.  Guess I'll get back on those forms...

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