So much for my ‘pencil’ box

Published 11:59 pm Friday, July 24, 2009

I fight a constant battle with myself to keep my home office neat. “Why do I keep all those pencils?” I asked myself as I looked at the cluttered desk. They were crammed in a little basket, so I decided to clean it out. It was a good start toward tidying my computer desk. It often looks like a hurricane blew over and dropped things it picked up along the way.

As I began sorting everything in what I called my pencil basket, I discovered a lot more stuff in there. It was not exclusively a pencil basket. It was a depository for numerous other things. Most, but not all, were things I didn’t know what to do with. I first noticed a plastic 12-inch ruler protruding in the midst of the pencils. Next to it was another with two inches snipped off. Hidden behind it were two more. One was 7 inches long and another measured 6 inches. I slipped a rubber band around them.

Next, I lifted a 3-3/4-inch-by-2-inch magnifying glass with a 3-inch handle out of the basket. (That was one thing I wasn’t surprised to find, since I use it often.) A brush with 18 bunches of rather stiff bristles fell against my hand. I haven’t a clue as to where it came from or what its purpose is. Beside it was a 6-inch sewing gauge. It disappeared from my sewing basket months ago.

Scattered among the above-listed items were 13 bookmarks: nine paper, three plastic, and one leather. Now why can’t I remember where a bookmark is when I need one? I sometimes wind up grabbing a tissue from a box at my bedside to mark the page of a book I’m reading.

The more I plundered the basket, the more surprising things turned up. I found two out-of-date driver’s licenses — one belonged to me, the other to my husband. I also found a 2008 Bible-A-Month Club membership card; a 2008 Habitat for Humanity HopeBuilder card; a “God Bless America” car strip from the Help Hospitalized Veterans organization; an American Bible Society magnetized card with a Bible verse; a letter opener; a scrap of paper with a Smithville, Tenn., address scribbled in my handwriting; an out of shape paper clip I’d used to punch out some paper stuck in my paper shredder; a dried up flip chart marker; a small emery board; a permanent marker; a small artist’s brush; a fistful of various-sized rubber bands accumulated and somehow misplaced when I edited a newsletter for several years; a china marker; one safety pin and three pennies.

When I had removed all that, two permanent markers and a bunch of ballpoint pens rolled around in the once-tightly packed basket. I tried each of them and discarded the dried-out ones. I bound the 15 that passed inspection with a rubber band. Only three CD markers, green, blue, and black, remained.

Well, is my desk neater? Not really. But my so-called pencil box is.