Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Life lint

You may recall I'm on a bit of a mission at the moment--a mission to bring some semblance of order and organization to my house, to find a home for all the stray bits and pieces that sit in cluttered piles in my office or kitchen or bedroom simply because I've neglected to find any better place to put them. I'm also trying to thwart the pack-rat gene and purge the things taking up space in my surroundings for no good reason. It's not even just the usual suspects--the brown dress shoes in my closet that I'm certain I'll never wear again or the CDs I haven't listened to since the week I bought them. No, it's also the little things--the bits of lint from my life that I didn't even know I still had.

Case in point: while cleaning out the decorative box in which I keep stationery and spare cards and such, I found not just the pads of Mickey Mouse and Garfield paper that I will surely never find cause to use; I also found a name and phone number scribbled on a piece of scratch paper from lord only knows how long ago.

Because my mind is like a steel trap for the things I'll never need to recall (and like a sieve for the things it would actually be useful to remember), it actually took only several seconds for me to remember who Kirk was. Kirk was a guy I worked with shortly after I moved to the Twin Cities (a full ten years ago at this point--back when we had only one area code instead of four and therefore a seven-digit phone number was actually useful). Kirk was, by nearly all definitions, an idiot. I had nothing in common with him save the same mail stop address in our building. But I also had few friends in town (at work or otherwise), and since I had rarely been mistaken for pretty or popular at that point in my life, the attention he paid me was fairly new. I went to lunch with him a couple of times... I don't remember where we went, but I do remember that he tried to impress me by popping into his CD player a supposedly brand new band he was into at the moment (a band that had already been receiving loads of radio play for months... you may have heard their big hit a thousand times or so).

I never called Kirk (never even had any intention of calling him), so I cannot explain why his phone number came with me from apartment to apartment to apartment to current house. It's in my recycling bin now, but just the fact that I unknowingly held onto that scrap of paper for so long made the amateur archivist in me pause at least a second or two before I tossed it.

I can't explain where it comes from--this need to save the unimportant or useless. But then again, maybe I can. It's that aforementioned pack-rat gene, of course.

My grandma has been in a nursing home since shortly after her stroke, and since it doesn't look likely she'll return to her own house, my mom and little sister have been preemptively cleaning and organizing the place a little bit. Recently my sister sent me an online album of photos--various still lifes and objects around my grandma's house. Looking through those photos, I had one of those enlightening, self-awareness-building moments, an "it all makes sense now" light bulb of "Oh yeah--this is where I came from."

I know now that writing reminder notes to oneself must be hereditary (even if I haven't resorted to "Lights off; lock door" reminders just yet).

Lights. Lock on.

...as is the hope of saving the possibly unsaveable. I still have, for some reason, the tie-on towel I was unable to replace; my grandma still has a pile of stained, old towels she was unable to get clean.

Not clean yet but can't get clean

And those too-tight and also hopelessly out of style brown shoes in my closet? My grandma holds on to that sort of thing as well. At least I haven't labeled my old brown shoes "too tight." Also, I know how to spell "waist." Yay for that, anyway.

Tight waste

Hands down my favorite photo in the collection, though, came from my grandma's freezer. What do you do when you open a can that you hope is peas, only to find lima beans instead? Well, obviously, you freeze them in Tupperware to annoy yourself for all eternity, with a note in permanent marker on the lid:

Lima beans. Dammit.

In case you can't read that, it says, "Lima Beans. Dammit."

Sweet Jesus, I love that crazy old broad.


Anonymous said...

Holy crap. Seriously, "Lima beans. Dammit" just made my day. Wow. That is just... amazing.

Aaron said...

Dude, your gramma rocks. There's no two ways about it.

Your random phone number reminded me of the weird crap I found when I cleaned out the glove compartment of my old car before trading it in this past September. Directions to the houses of ex-girlfriends and one-time dates?? Weird.

3carnations said...

The random phone number reminded me of a phone call I got many years ago as I headed out the door for a group camping trip. It was the middle of the afternoon on a Friday, and it was some guy who offered only a first name and said we had met at a particular bar. I remembered being there several months prior, and I remembered sitting at the bar and talking to the bartender and a married guy whose wife was a teacher and talking about his wife and her teaching job most of the time. I did not give anyone my phone number to the best of my recollection, nor do I recall talking to someone else. After him trying to explain who he was for 10 minutes, finally I had to say "I'm sorry, I don't remember you and I'm on my way out the door." Never heard from him again (shocker). I think that's what happened when you wait MONTHS to call someone - They forget who you are.

shelleycoughlin said...

I love, love, love that your grandma not only recorded that there were lima beans in that Tupperware container, but also her feelings on said lima beans. In permanent marker.

Can you please set her up with a blog of her own?

Anonymous said...

I love the fact that Kirk's number came with you from apartment to apartment.

I have been going through my own cleaning and organizing and purging at my house over the last month or so. I can't say I've come across boys' phone numbers, but I have found a fair share of jewelry and clothes that I forgot that I owned. It almost makes me want to hide things on purpose just to make me happy several years from now when I re-discover them.

Anonymous said...

I have a big sign on my door that says "Heat!" so I remember to turn it down when I leave the cottage. It was not until I read this post this morning that I realized my home is currently nice and toasty warm, and I won't be back there until later tonight to enjoy it.

Love the lima beans. That was an LOL.

Stefanie said...

Abbersnail--I know. It is still making me laugh, too. Lima beans. Dammit.

Aaron--I have to clean out my glove compartment once a year or so for the same reason. Last time, I found directions to a friend's house in a town she has not lived for six years. Why??

3Cs--I've had guys wait MONTHS to call, too. Only once did I give in, admit I knew who he was, and go out with him. In retrospect, I shouldn't have bothered.

NPW--Seeing as she's probably never even touched a computer, that's unlikely. How about I just keep providing commentary on the amusing things she does? :-)

Pam--That's happened to me, too. And then I get mad because I wonder what else I have hidden somewhere that I've completely forgotten about.

Noelle--I actually used to have a "Heat!" note by my door in my old apartment too, for the same reason. (I remember thinking at the time that it was way too similar to something my grandma would do, but also necessary and practical.) Now I have a programmable thermostat. If only technology had a solution for some of the other elements of crazy in myself.

3carnations said...

I have had a programmable thermostat for years, and only this WEEK have I actually started programming it. I'm such a control freak, I needed to turn it down when I leave each day and up when I return home. No machine was going to do that for me. Hubby has been complaining about how cold it is when we get home at night, so rather than keep it warmer during the day when the house is empty, I broke down and started programming it. It IS kind of nice. :) I think I'm really learning to let go of some of the control. Ha.

-R- said...

I am inspired to label some of my clothes. The labels are going to say, "Have you lost 10 pounds yet? No? Then you don't fit in these pants."

lizgwiz said...

I love your grandma. She reminds me of one of my grandmas. Yes, the one from whom I inherited the packrat gene. And that gene is HARD to combat. Like lima beans, apparently. Dammit!

I'm going to picture your old pal Kirk as Kirk from the Gilmore Girls, if you don't mind. Hee.

L Sass said...

I love that the lima beans included commentary!

Michelle | Bleeding Espresso said...

Hilarious! I can so see myself doing these things someday. Saves a lot of hassle actually to *know* which dishtowels I'll never get clean. Excellent idea ;)

Jess said...

This is awesome. I'm totally calling Kirk, now that you've posted his phone number for the world to see. As soon as I figure out his area code.

Poppy said...

Stef, seriously, this needs to win a Poppy award. Let's figure out how to make that happen.

Best post about lint?
Best post about lima beans?
Best post about Kirk?

How about...
Best post about lint, lima beans, and Kirk?

Ohhhhhhh yah.

Anonymous said...

I was at a bookstore at lunch and saw this new release: A Perfect Mess: The Hidden Benefits of Disorder--How Crammed Closets, Cluttered Offices, and On-the-Fly Planning Make the World a Better Place. This is like permission for us to go on and be bad with our messy selves.

PS - Is Kirk still single? Girl can't help but ask!

Kim said...

I've been trying to organize too. It was actually a New Years resolution. I can't for the life of me figure out why I need to keep sweaters that I shrunk so much that they wouldn't fit a doll.

Oh, and I LOVE your grandma. I'm pretty sure I'll have a container in the freezer labled "Lima Beans. Damnit." in my future.

Stefanie said...

3Cs--First online banking, now this? What modern technology will you let make your life easier NEXT?? :-)

R--Mine will say "Really? This sweater? AGAIN?? You really ought to buy some new clothes."

Liz--I actually would have been more likely to go out with Kirk from Gilmore Girls than this Kirk. (Only a LITTLE bit more likely, but still.)

L Sass--I know! It totally explains why I do similarly foolish things--like add a little frowny face in the register when I need to transfer money from savings to checking.

Bleeding Espresso--I know, right? It'd be way too simple just to throw them away!!

Jess--I actually hesitated about posting that, as it wouldn't be too hard to figure out what the area code was. The likelihood of him still having the same number ten years later, though, is slim. Still, please don't call him. If you do, please don't tell him I wrote about him on the Internet. :-)

Poppy--It's time for the Poppy awards again? Yay! As I suggested earlier, how about "Best post with grandmas swearing"?

Pam--Oh my god; I LOVE that!! That book sounds dangerous.

Kim--I already have notes like that in my house, so I'm sure a "Lima beans. Dammit" one is not too far off.

Anonymous said...

My grandmother also writes crazy notes, and has the exact same old-lady handwriting.

Bet yours didn't have a note posted on her back door that says "bad, non-barking dog inside." Even though she lives out in the country in the middle of nowhere, she is afraid someone is going to come harm her. There is no bad, non-barking dog, of course.