There are time when I try to, about every year or so, but I usually get sidetracked by my wonder at the things I find buried among the detritus of my job. Today, for instance, I made some head-way: I recycled a whole stack of papers that were filled with red proof reading marks. I always keep these papers around, long after they are needed. I tell myself that it’s because I may have to refer to them later, just in case someone wants to know who the hell put that coma there. But I think the real, unconscious reason is that having stacks of papers on my desk, especially one scrawled all over with red marks and arrows and loopy “delete” marks, makes me look really busy.
So anyway, I actually managed to throw away a whole stack of these papers. Mixed in, though, were sticky notes. Ah, sticky notes! I use them (apparently) for everything: jotting down grocery lists, figuring out my taxes, making enemies’ lists, converting bushels to drams. This morning, I found a sticky note that contained a list that said:
Bistro du Coin
I can’t possibly imagine what this means, and I have no recollection of writing any of those things down. I haven’t been to Bistro du Coin in years, and I don’t recall having plans to go there recently. “X29435” might be a missile code of some sort, maybe even a launch code. Perhaps I was entrusted with it for national security reasons. Or maybe it’s someone’s extension. I thought about dialing it, but the missile code idea scared me a little (I could hear Joshua’s voice saying “Would you like to play a game?”). The “paper” may have been a reminder to buy paper, or a paper, perhaps a “news” paper (why, oh why, am I not more specific in my list making?). But combined with the “1500 cal.” I can only assume that I intended to eat paper. Quite a lot of it. Why would I do that? Maybe as a way of cleaning up my desk? I’m pretty sure I never followed through with it, though, judging by how far down in the stack of paper I found this particular sticky note.
Pondering this note used up about 45 minutes, but I managed to move on to another part of my desk, where I had a stack of sticky notes containing phone numbers. I suppose my plan was to enter these numbers into some sort of data base. The only problem is, most of the phone numbers had no name associated with them. Just the number, hastily written out in a shaky hand, as if I had been under some sort of distress. I thought about calling each of these numbers to see who answered, but the missile code idea still jarred me.
Among these sticky notes, I found another one that contained a long list of names. Next to each name was either a check mark or an X. I recognized some of the names, mostly friends. Others were more generic, like “Jim” and “Anne.” I have no idea why I made this list. I hope it’s not a hit list. That would bring up many psychological issues that are better left un-examined, not the least of which is my lack of follow-through; to the best of my knowledge, I haven’t assassinated anyone on the list, not even an anonymous “Jim” or “Anne.”
The discovery of this gruesome little list caused me to abandon my desk cleaning. I was afraid of what else I might find, especially in my top left drawer, which contains some bulging #10 envelopes. I hope they are full of money, but the chance that they might contain fingers or old cups of coffee or weapons of mass destruction or heaven knows what has left me daunted. Maybe next year.