So yesterday SDXB and NG (Semi-Demi-Exboyfriend and New Girlfriend) drove into town so we could get together to try out a new hiking area. We’d focused on an obscenely upscale neighborhood where we would find some mild grades with paved roads. This worked well — we strolled past $10 million homes that looked more like hotels than like dwellings, had a great deal of fun laughing at people with no better taste or better ways to waste their money, and got about two hours of mild exercise. Then returned to my house without the usual side junket to the sidewalk café at AJs, for fear of the plague germs.
A-n-n-n-d…before they could get out the door to head back to Sun City, what should happen but the doorbell rings! Here’s this elderly couple. Their daughter and her family have moved into my old house, three lots in from Conduit of Blight Blvd.
For reasons that no one can imagine, they’ve climbed up in the attic and found…yes! The several boxes of old freelance clips and journals that I “forgot” up there, on purpose, because I didn’t want to drag 200 pounds of paper down the ladder and because I didn’t want any of that stuff. I figured Celia, who bought the house from me, would throw it all out if/when she found it.
Somehow, they’d figured out who it belonged to and found out where I live. And they decided to drag all that junk over here!
Well. Frankly, I had no idea how I was gonna get it into the garbage can behind the old house. And I have no better idea how to get it into the garbage can here. If I’d wanted it, I wouldn’t have left it behind, would I have? Arrrrghhhhhhh!
They’re a sweet couple: they live in Payson. Daughter’s married to an Air Force captain. Two kids, just reaching high-school age. Apparently Dear Daughter hasn’t lived there long enough to register that the cop helicopters park over that house at 11 p.m. every Friday and Saturday night. And I sincerely hope the guy across the road, the one who was given to throwing the living-room furniture through the front window and to engaging in fist-fights with workmen in the driveway, has moved out. Surely the abusive son of the divorcee across the street has moved out — what a sh!thead that guy was… Her parents must be dead by now…I sure hope she’s not living there alone with that brute, a fine chip off the paternal block.
Well, I expect when the captain sees some of the shenanigans that go on there all the time, they’ll be movin’ on.
Meanwhile, this pair dragged these 15-year-old boxes of paper into the house and dropped them on the living-room floor. And you know that anything that’s been sitting in the attic of a house occupied first by the feckless Yola and then by a series of renters is full of termites!
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So this morning I went through all those boxes the new neighbors hauled over here. Interestingly, there was no sign of termites munching on paper — or of any other kind of bugs. I do not spray for these pests, which are endemic here, because I’m allergic to the crap bug guys spray around — and because a coworker who did hire regular spraying got very, very sick from the stuff and almost died from it. She and her dog, both. She almost died before, by sheer serendipity, the veterinarian registered the fact that her symptoms echoed the dog’s and alerted her doctor.
So we take our chances with marauding six-legged critters.
Having won that wager, I’ve now filled up Other Daughter’s gigantic alley trash bin as well as my own, and there’s still stuff to figure out what to do with.
One box was full of old Arizona Highways magazines that I wrote for or that I edited while I was on staff. I hate to throw those out. Old issues of Highways are worthless, because every little old lady in the state has jammed her garage with them. But there’s kind of a sentimental value to them. I guess. For me, and for me alone.
On the other hand, if I’ve survived the past 15 years without mooning over them (or having them stashed in my present attic…), there’s really no reason I can’t get through the rest of my life without them. And…I have no idea where to put them.
Then there are a half-dozen or more binders full of notes for articles I wrote during my journalistic career. Again: WHY do I need those? And remaining to be cleaned up and put away: a gigantic, fat binder full of correspondence from 1987-88. Back in the day before we had e-mail, letters were…you remember: letters. Apparently I kept a copy of everything I wrote to friends and to my mother-in-law…talk about obsessive!!!!
As for the journals? Twenty volumes of them, stretching all the way back to high-school years!
This morning as I was staring at this debris and wondering what to do with it, I noticed in a letter to my former boss at Phoenix Ragazine that I’d had a killer book idea: a guide for academics to writing for the popular media. My gawd! WHY did I let that one fall by the wayside? Jeez: $$$$$$$$$
I think my old editor Jennifer Crewe is still at Columbia. She’s a big cheese there now. Maybe I’ll send her a proposal.
LOL! Might have been the first to think of that back in 1988, but by now surely it’s been done. Still. It can’t hurt to ask.
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Good lord! Plowing through all this old paper — even in a superficial way, just to figure out what year we’re talkin’ about and what binder to stash it in — really brings back the memories.
Lots of letters and stuff from my late mother-in-law Henrietta. She and I fell out long before I left her son, but remained on speaking terms until then. She’s the one who lived to be 109 years old. God help whatever may remain of her, wherever it may be.
She had two sons, both of whom she doted on. One was my husband, who took after his grandfather, a level-headed small-town business owner. They say that with human males, one’s nature skips a generation: a man is more likely to take after a grandparent than a parent. And DXH was exactly like that. If he’d been born in the 19th century, he’d have been a clone of his grandfather, except that he wasn’t as outgoing and social as the old man. But otherwise he would have had a similar life and similar lifetime achievements.
She also doted upon DXH’s brother, of course. A long and in places tartly hilarious (in other places pathetic) story attaches to that one’s post-collegiate years, but we probably should not rehearse that here, since most of the principals are still living. Suffice it to say that those journals record some interesting and amazing customs of the Vietnam war years.
Every page of those journals and letters is full of crazy memories: graduate school, Phoenix Ragazine, Arizona Highways, the life of a society matron, academia, local and national politics, on and endlessly on. Can’t read a paragraph of that junk without being reminded of some saga, most of them best not reproduced for public consumption.
Someday, though, I suppose they’ll make interesting historical documents. Assuming my son doesn’t throw them out after he inherits them.