Overcoming a hoarding mentality

Perhaps the was the vast pile of stuff I realised I’d accumulated when I moved flats last year should have indicated something to me, but no. It wasn’t until my sister criticised me via Twitter in the autumn that I had an inkling that I might possibly be something of a hoarder. [I had discovered the letter sent to me informing me of the prizes I won at my school speech day the summer after my A-levels. Apparently ‘people’ just don’t keep ‘those things’…]

Obviously, I insisted she was wrong. I only keep the important things. Doesn’t everyone keep important correspondence, photos, diaries and travel journals? What about tickets to plays, programmes, random notes and cinema ticket stubs? [She continually brings up the fact that when we moved house in 2004, I discovered cinema tickets going back to 1996. I, on the other hand, was impressed to find one that revealed that I’d been watching Romeo + Juliet the day our neighbour gave birth to their third child.]

However, a couple of weeks ago I noticed a tissue on my bedside table. I moved to throw it in the bin and paused, realising I knew exactly when, where and who had given me it. I hesitated and left it there for sentimental reasons. When you discover you’re hoarding tissues, something has become an issue! [This is loosely true. I have now thrown that tissue away, but the thought process was there, which is terrifying.]

A tissue is one thing. Two archive boxes full of five years’ worth of academic work is quite another. I’d planned, while in Belfast, to locate my A-level RS notes and see if there was anything that might be worth keeping for my current theology degree. Of couse, those notes were right at the bottom of the box and by the time I’d got there I’d reached the conclusion that if I hadn’t needed any of it for 13 years, it probably wasn’t worth keeping. Once I’d rescued the RS notes, I figured I’d move on to my box of undergraduate notes. All I kept was marked essays and my dissertation notes – it was incredibly cathartic and produced a massive pile of recycling:

Along the way, I discovered a few things:

  • I’d actually gone to the effort of creating A1 size revision notes for my European History course. 
  • My multi-coloured revision timetable pointed towards a misspent study leave. 
  • Over the years, I have learnt a lot of stuff that I simply have no recollection of. My only essay to receive a 1st was on the Congo – honestly, I had no idea we’d ever covered the Congo in my degree! (On reflection, I suspect I wrote it the same year I read the Poisonwood Bible.) 
  • Essay comments were a major source of amusement. One lecturer remarked (on an essay that was slightly below par) that I had the makings of a good writer, if only I could learn not to waffle – not entirely sure if that lesson’s been learnt yet. Another began their comment with the statement: “You have clearly read Augustine’s City of God thoroughly…” – I can guarantee that this was almost certainly not the case!
  • The most interesting things were the bits of paper found amongst the files and the files themselves. I discovered the ‘Prefect Code of Conduct’ I’d had to sign before I could accept my Prefect badge and various bits of graffiti – most telling of all, the ornately designed ‘HELP!’ just inside the cover of my Philosophy & Ethics file.
  • I apparently go for men who have nearly identical handwriting. Spooky.

Best of all, the RS notes that may be useful were located in a ring binder that is typical of a teenage girl’s stationery c.1998 – surely all of us experienced the joy that was file collage? This was actually the only one of my folders to get this attention (though I believe at the time I had a matching notebook and pencil case), so at least I had some concept of time management aged 16…

Yes, basically all my 16 year old self cared about was Friends and Brad Pitt. 
I don’t think that was necessarily a bad thing.

This great purge now leaves me with virtually nothing left in my parents’ under-the-stairs cupboard. Literally, all that’s there now is: a small box of teenage memories; a larger box of primary school stuff [I chucked some of it last night, but didn’t have time to sort it totally]; a wicker basket of ‘sentimentally significant or culturally interesting’ toys; and a box of children’s books. I mean that’s practically nothing, right? 

Friday Fun for me

Apologies – a day off and general life passing me by-ness caused me to be tardy in my Friday Fun posting. Life gets particularly busy during the last week of July, as it’s when all the best people have their birthdays. As mine is tomorrow, today’s post is in honour of all the things that I like and find fun. (I appreciate that as this is my blog, what I find fun generally rules here anyway, but still…)

Firstly, some truly classic TfL geekery which I’ve been sitting on for nearly a week. Found via Going Underground’s blog, this link will take you to a half hour film chronicling the work done to adapt Oxford Circus station in the 1960s as part of the Victoria Line extension. It has everything – from diagrams and cross-section models, to straight-talking slightly dull business people, to gratuitous shots of half naked men working underground. Honestly, you won’t regret watching it! Personally, I discovered three significant things:
(i) That the August Bank Holiday used to be at the beginning of the month.
(ii) Engineering techniques in the 60s were scarily basic.
(iii) That more people than you’d expect find this stuff fascinating. I happened to mention it at a party last weekend and waited for the tumbleweed to roll – instead, there was a clamouring for the link. Amazing.

Next, a fabulous combination of my profession – research – and one of my all time favourite TV shows – Friends. In fact, in honour of my birthday, E4 decided to schedule The One Where They Turn 30 tonight, which wasn’t depressing in the slightest… I am in awe of the person who came up with this idea – just in case you ever wondered which character in the show had the most sexual partners during the show (who had to have actually appeared in an episode in person), there is now a chart that chronicles each friend’s conquests in full, colour-coded glory! (In case you were wondering and can’t be bothered to click through, the answer’s Joey with 17, but Phoebe’s only one behind.) The level of detail in it is extraordinary – that’s one devoted Friends geek!

Finally, a couple of simply fabulous stationery discoveries. I can be supremely nerdy about stationery, heck, there’s a set of Swiss colouring pencils in my cupboard that I’ve had since I was 8 which are still in the correct colour order. Thus, when I was sent the link to these pens, my heart skipped a beat.

Pantone twin markers – 150 of them! 

Ok, so they’re $483 for the set, but they do also come in smaller, cheaper sets. And they are beautiful, aren’t they? 
The other thing I have a passion for is notebooks, I’m positive that you can never have too many of them. You should have one for every possible occasion – which is handy because that’s exactly what Archie Grand’s collection of notebooks does. I’m torn, but two that I’d find plenty of use for are these: 
 Bloggers I Met And Liked & Londoners I Met And Liked
It’s unfortunate that searching for images of these beauties led me into the dangerous online alleyway that is the Liberty’s stationery department. Oh. My. Goodness. 

Sticky and childish Friday Fun

To quote HM The Queen on Twitter this morning: “Thank Crunchie it’s Friday.”
I couldn’t agree more.

Some of you may wonder how I find inspiration for Friday Fun (I wonder myself actually). In the dim and distant past I used to rely upon contributions from friends whose discoveries I would disguise as my own; in these days of Twitter and The Hairpin, it’s more a case of keeping track of things that I like – which I usually do via a Post-It on my desk.

I love Post-Its, which I believe I may have mentioned before. Therefore I rather loved a couple of Post-It related videos I discovered yesterday:

1) Post-It Love – for the hopeless romantics amongst you.

2) Ode to a Post-It Note – A beautiful, award-winning short that reunites a humble yellow Post-It with its creator. No word of a lie, it nearly made me cry.

While on a bit of a YouTube kick, one of my favourite YouTube innovations has been the growth of the tutorial. We already know that you can find tutorials for practically anything (in fact, some ballet ones are helping me learn terminology and moves) and that some can be quite unintentionally hilarious – in fact, last year I even had a go at making one of my own. However, it comes to something when a 5 year old girl’s favourite game to play is ‘make-up tutorials’…

At this point, I would logically link to the videos, however in the last 24 hours they’ve been removed [i.e. in the time between me drafting this post last night & editing it this morning] which is gutting. So you’ll just have to believe me that at one point they existed. A few minutes ago I emailed Annabelle to tell her of this disappointment (she’s a fellow Hairpin addict and I figured she’d probably seen it) and she fabulously came to the rescue with this contribution:

I am a 4 year old – people lists questions that a 4 year old then answers. For example:
Q: If you had a whole day to do whatever you wanted, anywhere in the world, how would you spend it?

A: I would be the king! And I would kill everybody else except my family.
Fabulously, when asked “What’s the scariest thing ever?”, his response – “A green man changing into aliens who can shoot things out of his mouth and throw up and the throw up can turn into guns and start shooting people.” was then drawn by someone.
Finally, the Friday cupcake story. I’ve recently got into Groupon (I say ‘got into’, I’ve not bought anything yet, thought am very tempted by a deal on a massage today – especially as that would tick off another First) and at the moment they’re offering a cupcake decorating workshop. I spent some time yesterday investigating this, ultimately deciding that I’d prefer a (free) tutorial from my friend Mills and some experimenting at home, however, the company (Cocoa Box) in question also happened to have a cupcake related blog which proved to be rather interesting reading… 
In amongst tips on cupcake frosting and recipes for chocolate cakes (and breads, weirdly) was a post that caught my attention. It seems that a bakery in Soho (of course, it has to be Soho) is making erotic cupcakes. That really takes the cake…but would anyone be up for visiting Cox Cookies & Cake with me at some point? (They do sell non-erotic cakes too apparently.)  
In more staid cupcake news, new Hummingbird daily specials came out last week and are well worth a trip (I say that solely based upon photographic evidence – haven’t tasted one yet). I’m particularly excited about Tuesday’s S’moreAnne cupcake which may be the closest I can get to my all time favourite cupcake (purchased from Magnolia bakery during my last hours in New York), combining chocolate cake and meringue frosting. Yum, yum and yum again. 
Happy Friday people. 

Tape – of a double sided and sticky variety

There’s something terribly exciting about double sided sticky tape.

It’s possibly owing to its novelty factor – I’m guessing that I’m not alone in growing up in a household in which it didn’t feature as a stationary staple? But also probably owing to its Blue Peter craft project infamy – it featured in so many projects and seemed to be so vastly superior to regular sellotape…

It was an exciting day when I was first presented a role and ordered to spend a couple of hours playing with it – not least because I was being paid for the pleasure. My bookselling days had islands of creative display crafting moments in the midst of a sea of ringing tills and re-stocking the shelves, and I lived for quiet afternoons when I could get on with a project and use as much double sided tape as I could lay my hands on.

This week has had its craft frustrations. Last week’s Office Christmas Tree Project took a bit of a tumble on Wednesday, so I had to rebuild it on Thursday – an edict was issued to colleagues forbidding touching or moving, was that a little full-on?

But yesterday’s crafting brought joy to my soul. After a Christmas shopping expedition, I spent a few hours at church assisting with the rather massive mission to decorate the building ready for Sunday’s carol service extravaganza – it’s so massive a mission that this was the third day running that people had been working on it. From the moment I arrived and was handed a roll of double sided tape, I knew I’d come home.

It seems my crafting sensibilities amuse those who are simply there to perform tasks. Paired with a worship leader (whose idea of moving lights using a microphone stand in a kind of piñata style, rather than just climbing a ladder and using his hands is perhaps indicative of the commitment he had to the project) to decorate tables with tinsel, my suggestion that we use double sided tape so as not to ‘disturb’ the tinsel was greeted with hoots of laughter. But really, would you want the tinsel to look disturbed by putting tape over the top of it?!

I’m easily pleased – someone could buy me a roll of double sided tape for Christmas and I’d be happy. In fact, my mother’s gift of A5 Post-It notes last birthday was easily one of my favourites (I’m saving them for something important). Sometimes, my specialness concerns me…

Stationary excitement

The above photo might look like a typical conference sight – the large sheet of paper adorned with assorted Post-Its – I believe it is a golden rule that every single away day/team building/general gathering must involve some such activity. However, this is on a far bigger scale…

That’s an A1 sheet covered in A5 sized Post-It Notes. Just how exciting is that??
[Incidentally, for non-Brits unfamiliar with paper sizes, there’s an amazingly fascinating Wikipedia entry on the subject of international paper conventions.]
When I mentioned my excitement at discovering A5 sized Post-It Notes in a Facebook status this morning, I had no idea at the number of people who would share my joy. It’s been stationary geeks of the world unite!

A5 Post-Its were pretty impressive – they come in multi-coloured blocks in the style of the original – and would be well suited to leaving very important messages in a highly visible locations. I think I’m going to have to buy some, I need them in my life.

A few minutes after this discovery, my excitement level multiplied eight times upon realising that the A1 sheets being used were none other than giant Post-It Notes! Truly immense and awesome.

In case you cannot believe that others would appreciate this discovery, here’s a selection of the comments that followed my two (yes, two) Post-It statuses this morning:
Have they made the sticky bit stronger to cope with the extra weight?
Wow, that’s amazing! And is there really enough glue for the A1 ones? [Two, separate, weight comments – surprisingly they’ve sorted it out, they’re clever people those sticky-note creators…]

WHAT!?! Do A5 and A1 post it notes exist??? I want both!!! [This person’s getting married later in the year, perhaps some obliging person could give her a truly cool gift of huge Post-Its?]

Wow… A1 post it notes… [I know, I know!] 
Oh, and just to be fair, one person called me a geek. Then I posted my second status and she called me a double geek – to which I quickly rebutted that I’m in fact an octuple geek, what with A1 being eight times the size of A5… On reflection, perhaps I’m an octuple loser. 
Thinking you might be dubious, here they are with a reference to scale and context:
(In case you’re wondering, the ‘scale’ in this photo would be the glimpse of me in the mirror they’re stuck to.)