Joe and I have begun what will be a complete re-decorating of our master bedroom. New paint, new flooring, new furniture, a new closet system, you name it. Of course, the first thing we needed to do was empty the room of furniture, which took up most of our day on Sunday. It was a multi-step process, which included removing every drawer from every chest of drawers. However my armoire had three “cubby” style spaces, each about 18” square, that needed personalized attention in the form of taking out each piece of “stuff” and putting it into a box or a garbage bag.

Those three cubbyholes were very much catch-alls or junk drawers so I got to sort through a bunch of items that I hadn’t seen in a long, long time. Part of me enjoyed the task because it was a trip down memory lane. However the rest of me is pretty sure that I should go to a psychiatrist.

Why? Because I think I’m a hoarder, you guys. No really, look at some of the treasures I found…

My yellow ID card from when I worked at The Disney Store (1996-1998). The one that I conveniently “lost” (note the air quotes) when I gave them my two-week notice. I never used it to get an employee discount after I left – but working there had been a dream come true for me at the time and I just wanted to keep the card.

Every tax return I’ve ever owned, starting from the very first job that I got, back in 1984. Yeah, because you need to keep your stuff from H&R Block for 27 years.

A dozen tins of Altoids. Various flavors, all sealed. Obviously different ages because some of them were the same flavor but had different decorations on the labels. They must’ve been on sale and when it’s a good sale, more is apparently better. Hey, Altoids don’t go bad, right? I might eat them someday.

Every piece of paper (vet bills, etc.) I ever got for my dog. No, not Dobby, the current dog. I mean Pippi – the one who died 2 years ago, at the age of 18. I still have all of her paperwork, dating back to when we got her in 1990. – the paperwork from when we registered with the AKC, every receipt for every can of her prescription food, the record of every vaccination, every visit to the eye doctor when she was elderly and ¾ blind, you name it.  Did I mention that I also have not one but two of her chew toys? Yeah, cuz I really need those. And god forbid I gave the chew toys to Dobby…because they were Pippi’s and Dobby might, oh I dunno, chew them.

My song flute from first grade. I was in an “enrichment” class and it was the early 1970’s, when the New York Public School System still had money to spend on music education. So everyone in my class learned to play the song flute – a plastic instrument that looked very much like a recorder. What’s more, I still have and keep it in the denim cover Mrs. Etkin had each of us sew to protect our song flute (I can even still make out the flower and the initials S.K. that I had stitched on). Considering that I’ve had it since 1972 and the song flute still looks and plays well, I think the denim cover has worked very well. And hey, I can still play “Mary Had A Little Lamb” and “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star” on it. If I ever want to take up playing a wind instrument again, I already have one.

A dozen or so hand-drawn-on-construction-paper “Happy Engagement” cards from my patients, from when I worked on the Psychiatry unit. I think my co-worker coerced them to make the cards for me as part of a group project after Joe proposed to me in March, 2000. From a psychiatry point of view, they are an art therapist’s dream, with loads of obsessive-compulsiveness and sexual preoccupation. From an occupational therapist’s point of view, they’re warm memories of a handful of the people I met in a place I worked for 11 years.

(Only a few people will “get” this one but that’s OK) $13 in donated cash to go towards the next Gathering brick. The fact that Disney hasn’t sold “Walk Around the World” bricks in well over a decade is not beyond me.

And those were just the tip of the iceberg.  They’re not in the armoire junk drawers, but I also have a long-sleeved leotard from when I took ice skating lessons (age 6-9), a T-shirt that my grandparents bought for me when I was 10 (geez, I was tiny!), and a half-dozen “chocolates on your pillow” candies from my very first trip to Disneyworld, when I was 12. Oh, and Dobby’s baby teeth – did I mention that I saved Dobby’s baby teeth? They’re in a Walgreens pill bottle. Those are all super-important things to keep, don’t you think? (rolleyes)

I realize that you may be asking, “So after she went through all of this stuff, did she throw ANY of these things out?” Nope. Why? Classic answer: they all held memories for me and if I threw them out I may not remember those memories anymore (especially with my bad memory). And nope, “just take a picture” wouldn’t cut it – it just wouldn’t be the same.

So I may not have 5′ tall piles of pizza boxes, mouse carcasses and garbage bags to squeeze through or climb over but really, you may as well just call A&E Channel now. I’ll just sit here, pop a 15-year-old spearmint Altoid into my mouth and play “Mary Had A Little Lamb” on my song flute until the TV cameras get here.

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