So I see this letter sitting on the dining table the other day. Usually, I go through the mail and shred and rip and recycle as soon as I pull it out of the mail slot; I have a type of OCD that won't allow me to function if there are sheets and piles of papers lying around; I feel like I'm going to have an anxiety attack. And I grew up in a household with newspapers, post-its, and little slips of paper with notes, recipes, and future articles to read, etc. etc. Every time I go home my mom has "saved" something for me to read and has it sitting on the dresser in my old bedroom. Everything from how to paint kitchen cabinets, how to divide perennials, coupons for cat treats, inexpensive hotels in Paris, to background information and the history of garden gnomes.
My mom would make a great librarian. Or a C.I.A. analyst.
Seriously, if it's out there in the world she will FIND it.
Author Neil Gaiman once said, "You can know anything. It's all there. You just have to find it."
Mr. Gaiman was talking about my mom. Obviously.
The information is always useful but the amount of stuff lying around the house horrifies me. Horrifies me the way normal people are horrified by the thought of being covered with greasy sewer rats. I'll take the rats, but put me in a room with newspapers dating back to the Eisenhower administration and I will go berserk. I feel the same way when I walk past some of my coworkers cubicles: the unorganized files and piles of papers make me want to toss a lit match on their desk while I jump up and down and shriek with delight.
I guess I have a small issue with disorganization. Maybe.
When my parents came to visit last weekend, she brought Matt a little piece of paper from the employment section about a job she thought he would be good at.
It was in La Crosse.
"Um," says Matt.
"La Crosse is nice," my mom tells him.
"Um....yeah," says Matt.
She also had a little piece of the USA today for my brother, Jimmy. It was a story about a black bear that had trapped a park ranger in an outhouse on the Apostle Islands. It turns out that it was one of my brother's co-workers.
So then I read this letter.
It's from the city of Minneapolis. The city inspector came down our alley and deemed our garage to be a disgusting pile of crap; a blight on our fair city, and we should be thoroughly ashamed and disgraced, or something to that effect.
It said we have to take care of the peeling paint on our garage. I had planned on doing that; after I noticed this spring that large sections of paint had blistered and peeled. The funny thing is that our garage is not nearly the worst one on the block. But then, it isn't the best either. I hadn't been looking forward to scraping and sanding and priming and painting, but knew it was going to have to be done sooner or later. Turns out it's sooner.
"Did you see this?" I ask Matt.
"I knew we'd have to do this."
"What, do we have to scrap it all off?"
"Just the bad parts. I don't think the last owners primed it. That's why it's peeling off again."
"Well, we better do it right away, even though we have until next June."
"What if we don't?"
"Then they'll execute us."
"Or fine us $100."