Thursday, July 24, 2008


Stuffed a jack-o’-lantern, filed it away.

Aha! My evening activity has inspired a six-word memoir, something I have struggled to write for years.

Tonight I filed old recipe clippings in a three-ring binder meant to hold next semester’s schoolwork. For 90 minutes, I sat with a stack of stained newspaper pages, punching holes.

Over the phone last night, the “Organizing Wiz,” AKA Ilene Drexler, advised me to weed. Drexler belongs to the National Association of Professional Organizers and runs a practice specializing in cluttered Manhattan homes. I had just confessed my paper problem, and we were discussing magazine racks.

“You need to have a purpose for the things that you want to save,” said Drexler, on clipping periodicals. “It has to be something that you want to refer to in the future.”

My magazine rack currently holds the last three to six months of The New Yorker, a single Saveur dated January 2007, and various travel-related issues of T Magazine going back two years. I never reread old New Yorkers, but I like to use T’s exotic photo spreads for wrapping paper. Every once in a while, I pull out the Saveur to sigh over my dream kitchen, pictured in a photo-essay. Not lately though. It’s buried too deep.

Drexler reads home decorating magazines like Real Simple. “I pull what I want and toss it,” she said.

She also reads Mother Jones. In an e-newsletter she sent to clients last summer, she quoted two of its findings from July 2007:
  • “Magazines and newspapers are the 2nd most commonly hoarded items.
  • In 2003, a Bronx man spent 2 days trapped under his magazines before firefighters rescued him.”
So tonight, intrigued by the prospect of entrapment under the New Yorkers, I turned to the recipes. I never kept a diary, but apparently I have always kept menu plans.

I kept the menu from my sister’s bachelorette party three summers ago, a class with the Sensual Cooking Diva. That night we had mussels with saffron, chocolate fondue, and so much red wine I puked in front of my mother. I kept Luke’s favorite cookie recipe, oatmeal cherry. I kept one of the three pages of instructions I found on trimming artichokes. I kept the recipe for stuffed jack o’lanterns, which I made for a dinner party four Octobers ago. The shell was mealy and bland, so the following year I tried it with butternut squash. That was a hit. In the future, maybe next Halloween, I will pull out the binder, and remember them both.

No comments: