Everyone has one

The junk drawer.

Everyone has one.

I’ve been thinking about the little things that make up a life — the objects; the collections; the obsessions. Spending the vast majority of my time at work, my office is a literal shrine to Me. It’s filled with my stuff. Things — all these things — I keep “just in case.”

When I was sick last week, I was worried someone would have to sift through my office for all the work-related projects I’m in the middle of completing. On my desk are canisters of pens, highlighters, Post-It notes, red markers; I’m obsessed with office supplies. Scraps of paper line the many surfaces of my L-shaped desk, highlighting appointments I need to make and ideas for columns.

Considering we’re a newspaper, I live in a surprisingly paperless world — but even still, I have a physical “inbox.” In comes the daily mail, to which I add press releases that drift my way or recipes coworkers have shared. I also keep my notebook there — the place I scribble more notes to myself about the new software we’re implementing or tips from my bosses about new sections. My handwriting is everywhere.

But it’s my drawers — these drawers — that are most interesting. Even people who describe themselves as “messy” or “unkempt” have a method to their madness, I know, and I’m no different. Though not a neat freak, everything has a place in my office. My friend Brandon often jokes that he can’t run a finger across the surface without me noticing . . . because I notice everything. And I do.

In addition to a snack drawer (yes, a whole drawer), a drawer for more printed work-related sections and another office supplies space is my junk drawer. It’s the closest within reach, just to the left of my computer.

It’s my secret shame.

Taking one peek into this small, oblong-shaped receptacle is like starting into the eye of a hurricane. We have tiny lotion bottles, anti-bacterial hand soap, quarters for the vending machine. Lip balm in every shade and texture. Pay stubs. Allergy medicine. Mints, gum and Smarties. Extra headphones. Old prescriptions. Birthday cards, love notes and holiday greetings. A lapel pin of indeterminate origin; a pocket-sized 2010 calendar. Extra staples. A small ball of string.

None of these things make much sense to anyone — or anyone but me.

We’re not defined by our possessions. My things don’t define who I am as a person, but they don’t not define me, either. If I surround myself daily with clutter, miscellaneous objects, strange things that seem to do nothing but constrict the space in which I spend so much of my time — professionally, creatively — what will become of me?

I’m not saying I’m going to get rid of the junk drawer; you know, it does serve a purpose.

But I am thinking seriously about weeding out the “tiny things” that seem to fill every nook and cranny of my existence.

It’s spring. And I’m ready to clean.