Incredibly Shredible

The litter of your life

The litter of your life

It’s turning into the incredibly shredible summer in our home and it has nothing whatsoever to do with coleslaw.

It is time to clean out the boxes full of boxes in our house and decades worth of printed flotsam.

In the room I use as an office sits a beautiful old burled walnut desk. It once came out of the head offices of Canada Trust. Remember them? Anyway, one day long ago when I was in my twenties, I was prowling about a warehouse full of surplus goods with my Dad (one of the world’s truly instinctive prowlers) and we came upon four of these gorgeous hunks of furniture. He suggested I pick out the one I liked best and buy it for my first apartment. I think it cost me $400. I can’t go to Ikea now for $400! Pretty much everything I have ever written…over my 37 years of pounding out scripts…has been delivered from my mind to my fingertips and then to the typewriter or computer keys at this desk. I have moved it across the country ever mindful of its rich finish. Its magnificent weight has been wrestled from house to house and from one room to another.

So I love the desk. But inside are drawers full of receipts and memos and pay stubs and all kinds of stuff that should have been jettisoned years ago. It is an odd feeling to shred what basically amounts to your career. I have pay stubs from my first television job. Did I really work for so little? Why am I keeping all these business cards? There are hundreds of them. I just ran across one from the Mongolian Ambassador to Canada which I think has been in the drawer for more than 25 years. After all, how many times do you meet the Mongolian Ambassador to Canada?

The desk

The desk

I have also shredded many, many memos and correspondences. Some of them were from people I respected and others from people I, quite frankly, grew to despise. What does it matter now? I will confess to a tiny thrill at finding a layoff notice from someone who was eventually laid off themselves…and then downright dismissed. Ah yes, there are always axemen coming for the axeman. Karma in broadcasting is alive and well, but sometimes it sure takes its sweet time showing up.

I have discovered all kids of scripts and proposals I pitched for various types of programming. Many of these strange notions fell on deaf ears and even less functional imaginations. There was a written outline for a show about anthropologist who discovers a bigfoot while on a camping trip and decides to take him home.  A couple of years after I sketched it out they brought out a movie called Harry and the Hendersons ! Timing is everything.

There are lots and lots of personal cards to be shredded. Do you have a hard time throwing away birthday cards? What’s the minimum time you have to hold on to such a thing? It’s almost impossible to cavalierly shred something from one of your children…although, I’ll tell you, I don’t think their generation is nearly as sentimental as mine.

I have the time now to be quite reflective about my life in broadcasting.  I’ve had a pretty good time.  I have a bit more to do but right now I’m just trying to kick back and enjoy the summer. And I’m still shredding. Yes sir, yes sir (so far) three bags full.

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7 Responses to “Incredibly Shredible”

  1. gailcarey Says:

    Oh how I wish you would write your memoirs Dave. I can see why you would love that desk. They don’t make furniture like that anymore. I think you owe it to the desk to tell it all about YOU and your Dad and your life. Please, pretty please?

    • I did actually write several chapters of a prospective book…and had a publisher take a look. They said it looked like a series of recollections rather than a proper ‘book’. Ah well, c’est la vie.

      • gailcarey Says:

        Did you keep it? What about self publishing? Isn’t that what a lot of writers are doing these days? I have just finished reading Angela’s Ashes by Frank McCourt. I loved the story and his writing style so much that I will probably read it again someday. If you haven’t read it yet I highly recommend it. The title always turned me off. Hope you’re enjoying the summer Dave. I love reading your blog. Regards, Gail

      • Many thanks. I did keep the chapters I completed. Glad I wrote it down before I forgot most of it. I know there’s self-publishing, but often that looks a bit like a vanity ploy. Frankly, my public profile has never been great enough to justify or realize much income from a book.

  2. I should take a page from you… but I don’t need to ‘cos I also have an accumulation that need to be shredded/recycled. And yes so many cards! I’m sentimental too Dave . Thankfully my grandmother was a saver so we got to enjoy lots of letters to her from my grandfather who wrote in rhyme, from her sons who lived abroad, and relatives who supplied answers to family genealogists today. Only problem is now I’ve got some of hers and my Mom’s too. I’d rather shed coleslaw.

  3. Love the desk! I am presently preparing my house for sale…. oh how I wish I had kept up with the shredding and de-cluttering… it is taking MUCH longer than I ever imagined!

  4. Allan Holmberg Says:

    Dave, I’m enjoying the feeling of honesty in your blog and look forward to your broadcasts. No, don’t shred too much; it’s only now that I’m going through Mom’s ‘treasures’ that I’m learning more about her and Dad’s life,and finding answers to some of the questions there wasn’t time to ask.

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