Benny Jay: Scrapbooks

December 16th, 2010

Heading into day four of the great clean up – clearing through the rubble of my room, thirty years in the making.

Going through folder after folder buried beneath more folders after folders and shoved into the corners so I can proceed with my existence under the illusion that there’s order as opposed to chaos in my life.

Sorry, got a little carried away….

It’s after eight. Been at it for an hour. To my right sits Carol Woodworth, methodically putting labels on files.

If you recall, she runs a company called Optimal Organizing, which means she sits by your side and makes you throw the shit out.

Doing a great job, I might add. You wouldn’t believe the progress I’m making. A few ago she got me to clean up my desk. Now I’m working through the folders, old newspapers, magazines, notebooks and scrapbooks dumped into cabinets and book cases or piled on the floor….

Inside a folder, I find inside a transcript of an interview I did with the late Mayor Harold Washington.

The great Mayor Harold Washington….

If it’s the one I’m thinking of, it took place on St. Patrick’s Day 1985 in his office at City Hall. When I got home from the interview, I transcribed it by hand. Yes, by hand – on both sides of five pieces of paper, which I stapled together and stuck into a file.

Damn, forgot all about it.

I’m hoping to find a valuable painting – perhaps by Pablo Picasso – which I can sell for a few million bucks.

No such luck so far.

The great Sandy Koufax….

Mostly odds and ends of shit you wouldn’t believe. Like my Cub Scout scrapbook from 1965. It’s filled with pictures, clipped from the newspapers. Got a few pictures of Sandy Koufax. I can understand that. Right next to a picture of Pakistani presidential candidate Fatima Jinnah.

Why her? I have no idea.

Also finding lots of letters. Love letters. Break up letters. I hate-you-letters. You- fucked-up letters. Rejection letters from editors and publishers (way too many of them). Old essays I’d written on a typewriter in the 1970s.

Come to a big stack of notebooks of clippings from the newspapers in the early 2000s. Must be three hundred articles on Chicago politics that I clipped and kept.

I think about it. On the one had, it’s a valuable resource, having all these articles at my hand when I need them.

On the other hand – all these articles are on the Internet.

I throw them out.

Put them in a plastic garbage bag. Carry the bag to the alley and toss it in the recyclable bin.

That’s it – done for the day. Cleared away a huge pile. Feeling all good about myself.

Have dinner. Talk to my wife. Walk the dog. Brush my teeth. Go to bed. Just about to drift asleep, when….

The notebooks! I might need them!

Out of bed. Flip on slippers. Put on sweatshirt. Walk to the back door….

It’s freezing. The wind’s howling. Am I a lunatic? Walking to the back alley to retrieve some old notebooks that I can’t possibly need in the middle of the night….

Get a grip, boy….

Next morning. Up. Eat. Drive to dentist. Drive home. Park car in garage. Walk by the garbage bins.


Look left. Look right. Nobody coming.

Hurriedly open the lid of the recyclable bin. Yep, the bag of notebooks is right where I left them.

Scoop it out and carry it into the house and stash the notebooks in a hidden spot where they’ll be when I need them — you know, just in case.

Whatever you do — don’t tell Carol….

2 Responses to “Benny Jay: Scrapbooks”

  1. […] through the rubble of junk in my office, as part of that massive cleanup I’ve been writing about, I found this piece of paper from […]

  2. […] the real frustrating part of the deal. As you know, I’ve been clearing out my room so I can find stuff when I need to and yet when I finally go […]

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