The Colonel’s Plan – Supply Demands

April 10, 2019

Dear Daddy–

It’s been another busy week–or how many days?–since I wrote last. Taxes still loom over me. I have to delay paying until my next paychecks come tomorrow, and then I have to scrape together enough money to keep my credit card from maxing out completely. I really hate that I’ve got a maxed-out card. I don’t think I’ve ever had one. But I didn’t quite expect a $9,000 tax liability. And Lazarus still needs medical care, even though he’s healthy for an old man. Two visits this month for antibiotics to kick a UTI–you can relate!–and he needs a lump removed from his neck. Not helping lower that debt.

I own your truck now. Did I tell you that? Hard to remember. I do feel age creeping into my brain. It’s hard to know what I’ve said and what I haven’t, and I’m often asking people to repeat themselves, not because I’m hard of hearing, but because I just can’t process what they’ve said to me. I need to hear it again. Anyway, I just loaded up your truck with about a quarter of the waste wood from my old deck. I think I’ll hold onto it for a while, as some of it came in handy building Mother’s ramp. I’m going to drive it over and store it behind your garage, though.

I’ve been keeping busy indoors, too. Now that Mother’s office is no longer really an office, and your library is looking a lot more like an actual library, it was time to tame my office.

Let’s talk about office supplies. They always make me think of you. You bought them in bulk–pens with the company name, Manilla folders, hanging folders, staplers (my God, the staplers!), and, of course, Xerox paper in every color. That’s not an improper use of a trademark, either. You ordered your paper from Xerox. Can’t imagine what you paid. I still have that case of mutli-colored paper you bought in 1984. I think I was the only one who really used it, to print fliers for zines.

I acquired a similar office supply fetish. From the day you brought the big copier in, and I got the bug to publish fanzines, and then to run a convention, and then to try and release audio dramas on CD, I also became a keeper of office supplies. So now, in 2019, when I decided to clean out my office and make it usable again, instead of just a storage heap for papers and unopened action figures, I first had to contend with all the now-unused office “stuff.” Will I ever again need a three-hole punch (I have a few!), a GBC binding machine and combs (maybe to restore some old zines?), my own drawer of colored paper, not to mention laser CD and (heaven help me) VHS cassette labels, DVD clamshell cases, CD jewel cases, iron on transfer stock, photo paper…? (I mean the printable photo paper for desktop printers, not the actual darkroom stock that you insisted on keeping 40 years past its expiration date. I still have cleared most of that out of the darkroom at your house, or off the tops of all the cabinets in the basement.

Honestly, I don’t need any of this stuff anymore. It’s so rare that I print anything out that I don’t even have an office printer. Renee has Ethan’s from college. I guess it works. But these days, if I need physical media, I go to a print shop or order some on online source.

I’m not throwing anything away. I’m keeping the GBC Binder and the three-hole punch. They can sit in state with Granddaddy’s adding machine from his country store, his Remington Rand typewriter, my TRS-80 computer and the Mac II that Christian has mysteriously named “Barry.” But they’re icons of the past. Technology has changed. Paper has become a novelty. And, well, my life is very different now. Less oriented toward producing things and more about sharing ideas.

I gave a lot of your office supplies to Goodwill. They weren’t ever going to be used. And I put your eleven file cabinets in the basement, where only about half of them still hold your papers. The others will hold kitchenware and supplies. My two file cabinets will probably follow them. All I really need to keep on paper are old manuscripts, and even those have mostly been digitized.

I’m trying to simplify. Age is creeping up on me, too, and I don’t really want to be sitting in the middle of a refuse heap when I’m 94 years old. No offense, but cleaning up after you was (and still is!) a chore, and you had to be depressed, living that way. Trying to learn a lesson from that.



PS: Why are they called, “Manila” folders? Apparently, they–and the large envelopes used to ship documents or route them inter-office–were originally made from Manila hemp. The hemp is derived from a banana plant which grows in the Philippines. Huh. I wonder if any business has ever had an issue with employees attempting to smoke them?

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