I decided to send Ginny a book this week. So I went to Amazon and looked it up and there it was. As an ebook, or for Kindle, or something else. I just want a book. With a cover and pages. Buying a book is yet another thing that now requires lists and twice as many decisions. Who has a Kindle, who has a Nook, who reads on the computer. I suppose if I was both a good and thoughtful friend and way more organized, I would have this information listed next to my contacts so if I want to send the most considerate form of book for each person, I can make all the right clicks. I chose a paperback that was relatively cheap from a seller with a high rating. I do have her street address, so off it went. A book. I do that now, send it directly to the person. For a long time I would have it sent to me and then sent it to them. That’s about as far into this century as I have gotten.
Well, to be honest, I do now have a Kindle. A free one that is on my computer. I had to get it so I could buy a book a childhood friend of mine had written. It took me quite a while. Aside from everything else, I hate to click on things that you have to choose “run” or “save” for which all those warnings come up flashing up about. I went and googled “free Kindle from Amazon safe download?” and a couple more things a couple of times before I actually clicked on everything and got it done. I hate the feeling of doing things that could result in things that I don’t know how to undo or at least fix. A lot of what could go wrong with the wrong clicks are things I not only might make worse trying to fix on my own but that I wouldn’t even really be able to explain properly to anyone who might try to help. I need a reference book on “clicking dos and do nots” to keep by my computer, those little windows just end up confusing me, or worse, I click on them for some reason and the page I am responds instead.
I was so proud of myself that during my next conversation with my son I told him about having gotten this Kindle. I realize that many, many people, many of whom were born in a year the first digit of which is 2, making them not only much younger than me, but actually not more than 12, consider this just an every day, five minute click, click, click. Not something to mention to anyone, and, as my son explained, not something many of them would bother with. Although his year of birth does start with a 1, the first digit of his age is a 2, and so he is a part of all the many people who think this is just click, click, click, and do not really have a lot of use for a reading tablet that isn’t on an actual tablet. And as it usually does, this led to a suggestion for more ways to enter the world that in my mind is still sort of “of the future” but that is actually here. He tells me that he has just gotten a great scanner and is going to start scanning every piece of paper in his home into the computer and will then shred it all and that will clear up all kinds of drawer space and counter tops. Once he has it all done, he will notify the few companies from whom he still gets a piece of paper of any kind that he no longer needs it and just go completely paperless.
I have at least four boxes of pieces of paper of various kinds. Old letters, old taxes, paperwork from several deaths, and all kinds of other records of all kinds of things. And some things I have more than one copy of, like, for example, death and birth certificates. And then I have clippings. At least a box is mostly those, old newspaper articles or pages torn from magazines. And announcements of art shows. Programs from plays. Ticket stubs from movies. Recipes. Invitations. Cards, and yes, postcards. I even have some empty envelopes that have a reason for being in a box. And those are the things I have received. I also have stacks of stationary, mine, my father’s, my mother’s. And I have a stack of 8′ by 11′ drawings, some of thousands my step father would create as we sat and talked late into the night. I also have cards, carefully chosen to be on hand for any occasion, or for no occasion other than I want to send someone a pretty reminder that I am thinking of them, or just something to make them smile.
I have literally been surrounded by stacks of paper all my life. My mother’s desk was full of paper to type on and yellow legal tablets for longhand. My step father had not just the smaller paper by the ream, but large heavy pieces for larger works, or to paint on when he wanted a different texture than on canvass. My father finally was successful in business after finding an incredibly economical and profitable way to print a product that people both wanted and needed. I spent many hours watching that publication roll along the printing presses. I know, just by holding a piece of paper, about what the weight would be. I love the feel and look of things done on just the right paper, and when it is on glossy and done right, nothing more impressive.
I am sure that it would be very helpful for me to start scanning all this into my computer. My son says not to worry about somebody hacking and stealing any information, and that he will help me set up something called “outside storage” which I am guessing has nothing to do with a locker. I wouldn’t need copies, I could print them. I wouldn’t need to search through boxes to find things. It would not only clear up clutter, but would get me more organized. It all sounds really good. And I am going to give it some thought.
But here’s the thing. As annoyed as I get when I can’t find something, or when I realize that my closets have no more room because they are full of boxes and filing folders filled with papers, I would miss them. I would miss looking for something and seeing other things that I haven’t seen for a while. The scent of some, maybe very faint or maybe even more imagined than actually still there, I would miss that. And I would still have the drawers full of cards and stationary because things that you send on the computer are not the same. So I am going to go through it all and make some piles of things that I can scan in and then shred. Something tells me that they will be much smaller than the piles of the pieces of paper I really, really need to keep.
And just a question for my son and all the other shredders who are looking to create these paperless drawers and counter tops: what exactly will you fill that space with? Clean and tidy counter tops, okay. But what will go in your drawers? Maybe this is becoming paperless leading to becoming “drawerless.” Really, that’s how things happen. This particular thing, unless and until having paper or having drawers is against the law, will not be happening in my house. I may scan a thing or two, but that’s about it. It will still take me a while to find whatever it is I am looking for, I will still have to handle some things really carefully because they are so old, I will still have less room everywhere because I have “too much paper,” and that’s just fine with me.