Friday, July 13, 2012

Life On The Outside ...

I had occasion recently to hunt for a recent receipt. I looked in my filing cabinet. I looked in my folder of household papers. And I looked in my important-papers box.

Do you have an important-papers box? Or a safe?

I should probably get a safety-deposit box but then, none of my papers are really that important.

Note to self: You're a chronological grown-up. It's time to have more papers of the important variety. Make that so.

But in rummaging through the important-papers box (no luck finding the receipt, by the way), I noted that some of the contents were old. Like "surely these are no longer important, if indeed they ever were" old. And so I left the important-papers box on my desk, so that I would be reminded to go through it and sort it all out.

Which I did, today.

Check registers dating back to 1994? Probably safe to shred those, yup.

Cards from an ex dating back to even before 1994? Those made the cut. I was touched by the memory of the Valentine's Day card he made for me in our fiction-writing class right after we had started dating. I couldn't give that the heave ho.

And so I rummaged and sorted and shredded and ended up with a much more spacious box for those important papers I should rustle up one of these days. I found pictures of my nephews and niece from when they were quite wee. Very important, those. (They will join the ranks of my other photos, so that I may feel more organized.)

I found a Christmas card from Bob and Dolores Hope. Well, Bob and Dolores Hope's people, of course. Every year, Christmas gifts went out to the media, and somehow, in my tenure at the Tribune, I became the lucky recipient. Bob and Do – I feel like I can call her Do – had their people send out some nifty swag. In the three years that I had that particular Trib gig, I received a letter opener engraved with their "signature," a compact umbrella, and a CD of Christmas music. Interestingly, no one seemed to point out that all of those items held more value than that of a keychain. That was the Trib's standard for what you were allowed to keep: anything worth more than a keychain was supposed to be surrendered. Then again, a keychain from Tiffany could be worth a few ducats. But the Trib intended to cite cheap keychains, I'm sure. And anyway, someone stole the letter opener out of my desk.

In any event, I was amused to see the card again, and am pleased to be able to share it with you.

Ain't it a hoot? They surely loved their dogs. And their dogs were good kids, to put up with the bows around their necks.

I also found an envelope of photos that had gotten separated from my photo stash, shots from a trip I had taken to San Francisco not long before I decided that my Tribune days would come to an end. I was amused, on my travels, to see a sign that read "Michigan Avenue."

I was standing in Alcatraz.

Oh, irony, you saucy wench!

(For those who don't know, the Tribune Tower is on Michigan Avenue.)

Also in the important-papers box were the cards I received when I left the Trib.

I share with you now some of the comments contained therein, names omitted to protect the innocent, though, who the hell are we kidding? They were probably fired long ago.

"It's exhilarating to see someone 'go over the wall.' "

"You're an inspiration! There's life after Tribune!"

"Lucky you!"

Lucky me, indeed. It was an interesting chapter of my life. I met some amazing people, to be sure. But their comments confirmed that I had made the right decision, to leave.

These cards, though, are headed for the shredder, too.

Just like the cards from the ex. After putting them back in the important-papers box, I decided they didn't merit keeping after all.

So into the shredder they went, cut into tiny bits along with old check registers and faded receipts.

And afterward, I felt great.

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