Monday, March 21, 2011

Day Five Hundred and Fifty-One

Whoops ... looks like I missed Day 500!  I didn't forget about the blog, but I did get a little stalled out.  Several of the items left on the list are quite large, or expensive, or not-bloody-likely (e.g., learn French).  I have gotten a few more done in the last two months, though, and here is one of them for your entertainment.  Item #73 (get all the paperwork off of the office floor) is finished!

Now, please understand that I could have taken the easy route through the truck-sized loophole I left for myself.  I could have gotten it off the floor by putting it willy-nilly into a cardboard box and carefully balancing the box on top of a bookshelf.  (I am guessing that my mother is probably remembering similar incidents in my childhood, in which a room was magically "cleaned" in five minutes, but the closet door was bulging suspiciously.)  I could have "gotten it off the floor" by buying a new file cabinet and putting things into folders with helpfully ambiguous labels like "Financial Stuff - before 2000" - "Financial Stuff - after 2000" - "Insurance Papers" - "Receipts" - "Medical" - "Important Documents" - "To Be Filed" - "Miscellaneous" - "?????"

I could have done that, but for once I decided to actually buckle down and do it right, in a more permanent way.  I am a little embarrassed to post this, but here is a picture of the rather dire corner that prompted me to put this item on the list in the first place:

Yes, it really looked that bad.  Every day.  All the time.  And I just walked around it because it made me tired to even THINK about dealing with it.  Not one of my finer moments.

In the process of repainting this room, a lot of the stuff in that corner got moved around, the papers were separated from the toys, and some of it was given to Goodwill.  (There were candle holders under there!  Who knew?!)  There were still a LOT of papers, though, and I took a deep breath and decided, in for a penny, in for a pound, and grabbed the overflowing box that had 16 years' worth of tax returns in it - every receipt, every utility bill from the years when I had a home office, every pay stub, ALL of it.  It was all organized, but much of it was no longer necessary.  So I put this excellent article by Liz Weston of MSN Money up on my computer screen for reference, turned on season two of "Monk" on Netflix Instant Viewing in the main window, made a pot of good strong tea, and set to work:

It wasn't pretty for a while.  But I did it.  All of my paperwork, both business and personal (old cards and letters, recital programs, etc.) now fits into the file drawer in my desk and the two-drawer filing cabinet next to it.  Everything else was recycled or shredded and will be hauled away tomorrow.  I put it all in a big bag, pictured below with a soda can next to it for scale.  (Also, you can see the new paint!  What do you think?)

So if you ever wondered what 15 years of paperwork looks like, now you know:

It looks like a cross between Jabba the Hutt and a coconut macaroon!