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Found Documents: Among Other Things

Cleaned up my files today. “Files” being a wicker basket of crap, four plastic in/outboxes of crap, and the dust-bunny-riddled piles of crap all over my floor.

Among the things I filed were the following:

the above Bazooka Joe comic;

a torn out page from a day planner, which I had found tucked in a library copy of the Odyssey and which read in part “Library: Check for Unibomber/ Get Video for history” and which accompanied a now-lost card or flyer for a prison rehab job service;

at least two fragments of cardboard torn from maxi pad boxes with the email addresses of the incarcerated of the April 15th police brutality rally, remnants of my failed attempt to facilitate our release;

a notebook with a frail brown leather cover stamped with the word “THINK” in the center and “G.B. ANDREWS” in the lower corner (my grandpa’s; I do not intend to mar it with further use);

a flyer for my favorite ballroom teacher’s upcoming show “Cool” (Sunday, April 1st at the Kraine Theatre at 8:00 p.m., call (917) 568-8766 for tickets if you have any sense and go go GO, he is a genius), in which for some reason he’s billed as “Chicago Louie;”

the quote “… PR Men, whose purpose it is to corruppt natural relationships for the purpose of making $,” which I (perhaps mistakenly) attributed to an Argentine writer named Marcos Aquinas;

a spiral notebook of interview notes from my never-published article on last year’s Geek Pride Festival, recording among other things an announcement from the festival organizer: “Folks, please don’t hack the network and take it down… This is IN NO WAY to be construed as a challenge” (he later called this the “Don’t Take The Brown Acid” plea for this zeitgeist);

half a dozen rub-on tattoos from the awful PBS cartoon “Dragon Tales;”

and a flashcard from my time in Sicily which says “Mi chiamo/ KEE-AHMO,” on one side and, on the other, “UMass students: ‘Tacobelle’ is all one word. It means Mexican Food. Also Cheap Food.” (I am pained that I don’t remember if this is my line or someone else’s).

If squirrels kept file systems, you’d find caches of manila folders labelled “DO,” “Receipts Early NYC,” “Stickers, Propaganda, and Mailable Art,” and “AFTASCHOO” — in other words, files just like mine — under every tree with the acorns. I am not a good filer. I use a perfectly orderly system; it’s just that I feel more compelled to keep things like the nitpicky handwritten letters from my landlady about how I am misusing the dish drying rack than I am to keep good files of utility bills, loan payments, taxes, and receipts. It also takes about three months for me to get any given scrap into the right file.

I feel terribly nervous about it. I was encouraged to keep a ledger of my expenses from the time I was six, and ever since I decided that recording each penny I found on the sidewalk was ridiculous and stopped, I’ve felt guilty. I look at a copy of my bank statement that has fallen from a chair onto the floor and been moved around under piles of clothes for weeks, and I hear my last boss’s cronelike voice telling me I should never let a piece of paper pass through my hands more than once.

The worst file is the one I think of as my “memento file.” The busted stub of the gourd rattle I broke in a vigorous moment at the Unpermitted Parade last December is likely to end up in this file. So are about a dozen nametages from IMCs where I have worked and the Apple “Think Different” ad with a picture of Cesar Chavez. Anything and everything can go in the Memento File, even things that aren’t flat, which means I end up not with filing cabinets of nice flat papers, but boxes and bags of wadded-up detritus which may not ever be of any use to me.

The one thing that didn’t go into a file today was the rejection letter I just received in the mail from Harper’s Magazine. I didn’t get the internship. (As far as I can tell they’re not even willing to consider me as an intern in a less competitive season than summer.) I did file four or five documents I had wanted to use in my internship application, but I didn’t find them in time to send it out. I also filed four or five letters to friends and family members which I’d never sent.

This, then, is the crux of it. I want to go to graduate school in anthropology or social science or some field where I can pore over documents and catch the telling details of human life. Right now, my natural tendency to do these things has got me so busy catching up with my own mess that I don’t have the time to send in an application.

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Worst Associated Press story ever.

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