One of the reasons I’ve been neglecting my blog is that I’ve been busy, busy, busy cleaning up my act.  When I view my three newly-neatened-beyond-belief kitchen drawers, I undergo a religious experience; I feel pure and righteous.

As a recovering pack rat, this process has been indescribably painful for me.  I’m one of those people who holds on to almost every scrap of paper that has ever crossed my path.  I’ve kept notes from the classes I’ve attended for the last twenty-five years; I’ve  saved information from my days as a Docent; I have diaries from many trips beginning with my post-college summer in Europe. I keep letters, greeting cards, and thank you notes, and I find it impossible to discard Xmas cards that display family photos, even though some of those beaming children now have children of their own.

I especially cherish words of praise for any of my good works and achievements.  Who doesn’t love being singled out for praise?

And old clothes! I have garments in every closet of the house.  I have pants and belts that no longer go around my waist. I have scores of shabby T-shirts that I swear I’ll wear around the house one day. I save anything that commemorates visits to far off lands.  My black cashmere sweater from high school has moth holes and is more than a wee bit snug, but I find it a great comfort.

What better way to lighten the load than to shred every last piece of extraneous paper I could find—and there are a plethora of those.  At first, I read through years-old bills, remembering favorite trips and dining experiences, sighing over purchases from Nordstrom.  Soon the nostalgia bit grew old, and I realized I was wasting precious time. Even after speeding up, the shredding seemed endless and bo-o-ring.

After my first shredder died, the local office supply store kindly replaced it with a larger free-of-charge shredder. To save wear and tear on the machine, I discarded envelopes, tore off the blank parts of pages and threw them in the waste basket.  But the wear and tear on me grew and grew.

Then I learned that a store was offering free shredding for the first five pounds and charging seventy-nine cents per pound for the rest.  My initial visit proved to be only one pound over—not a bad price.  The second load weighed in at ten pounds; paying for five pounds still did not seem bad. That deal ended, and I began accumulating trash bags full of business records, health records, and purchase invoices—oh my.

When I heard of a free shredding event to be held at a local shopping center from 9 to11 a.m. on the coming Saturday, I attacked a garage cabinet and found folder upon folder containing business data. I madly began emptying said folders, beginning by laboriously opening each folder, removing the contents and making a pile of them before depositing them in a trash bag. It’s amazing how efficient the process becomes with practice; in short order, I unloaded the folders directly into the trash bags. “Now you’re cooking,” I told myself.  Even so, the process became extremely time-consuming.

The shredding day flier cautioned that they would only accept five banker boxes per car. Having no idea what banker boxes are, I worried that I would be turned away for not using the proper receptacles;  I also worried that I would exceed my quota. Nevertheless I woke early to beat the rush and drove my load to the appointed spot. My fears turned out to be groundless; the shredding personnel didn’t seem to mind how much material I had or how it was packaged.

“Aha,” I told myself.  “Methinks I will gather more. And so I raced home to my garage where I spent another hour emptying additional folders and delivered my bundles just minutes before the event came to an end. This time the workers gifted me with a free tote bag that has lovely pockets and closes with a zipper.

I’d better end now; there’s work to do.  Another shredding event is coming up next weekend.  I wonder if I’ll get another free tote bag?

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