CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- I have bulletin boards on three walls in my home office. Occasionally, when I run low on pushpins (I buy them in bulk) or when one of the boards gets so heavy it begins to pull loose from the wall, I'll sift through the pierced papers to see why I saved them.
To the untrained eye, there may not appear to be an organizational system at play, but years of use have fine-tuned my methods. The board to my right is for receipts and anything tax-related. It's my most boring board, although it's brightened a bit by a red and white "Send Help" sign that dates back to Arch Moore's administration. (I have no idea where it came from. It just appeared.)
The hard-to-access board behind my computer is reserved for emotional baggage. It's mostly good baggage -- a drawing of a toothy executive-type sticking out his tongue; a collection of my parents' annual homemade Christmas cards; a critique of my writing from Chuck Kinder. It's also where I tend to tack envelopes filled with photos that need to be put in albums. (At the top -- a photo taken thinking I was capturing a curious cat playing with my new printer, but instead captured the printer's last moment ever as a working device.)
The busiest board is the one to my left. It's easy to access and located right next to the bucket of thumbtacks, so it seldom takes long for it to reach the point where I'm forced to unload it.
As I sifted through this latest load, I began to notice someone had written comments on many of the snippets I'd saved, in handwriting carefully disguised to conceal the identity of the offender.
For instance, under a quote I'd saved from John F. Kennedy, "We must use time as a tool, not as a crutch," was written, "Not as a crutch? I knew a guy once who used time as a crutch. He ... Sorry. I got nothing."
Added at the bottom of several short bits of writing advice, just below "Never use a big word when a small one will do," was "Never use a single word when two polysyllabic agglomerates will do."