Sunday, May 16, 2021

The week of finding things

This has been a week of finding things—and also re-finding things. A lot of the stuff was expected, much of it very timely, and one thing? Well, that was a bit unusual.

For weeks, and in some case months, I’ve been re-looking for things: Since I shifted into this house in January 2020, I’ve found lots of things that I knew I’d need (or, at least, needed to review), but I had to put them aside at the time for various reasons, such as, sometimes I didn’t find everything I needed (like all the parts of phone systems), or maybe I didn’t have any way to deal with the stuff (like loose hard drives my Mac couldn’t read because they had no cases). Unfortunately, I also sometimes misplaced things I put aside “so I’ll know where to find them.” This past week saw progress on all those fronts.

Earlier this week, I talked about setting up a phone system, and it was possible because I’d recently found the missing base unit, but also complicated because I was missing a couple handsets. I found those handsets earlier that day.

I’d also wanted to install my security cameras, and possibly add more devices (like a video doorbell), but first I needed to find the stuff I already had, stuff (like the extra phone handsets) that I’d put away “so I’ll know where to find them.” On Thursday, I found security camera stuff and discovered that its base unit can record to a local hard drive (which is why I need to be able to read those hard drives—I need one to use with the system). Fortunately, back in March I bought a device to read loose hard drives, which is also good because I found a lot of loose hard drives.

Those were probably among the more useful things I found. There was more—and stranger—stuff waiting for me.

I’ve found all this stuff I’m talking about because I’m trying to organise my office, a project I’ll talk about later (when it’s at least close to being done), but it’s meant going through things as I find them. On Thursday afternoon I found a plastic storage crate with what looked like old statements and such, the kind of stuff I used to put aside for shredding later.

That evening I started going through that plastic crate and realised pretty quickly that it was something I’d “packed” when we were decluttering our house (the one before the last one we shared) when we tried to sell it back in 2012. At the time, I had huge piles of statements and such waiting to be filed, because in those days we still got a lot of statements and such in the post (I get maybe a couple a year nowadays, so it’s no longer necessary to file anything). At that time, I bought a bunch of relatively small plastic lidded crates so I could use them as a base for a staged “bed” in my office to make it look like a bedroom (because we used two bedrooms as offices). Our realtor didn’t think that was necessary. So the plastic crates went into storage instead, and they remained untouched ever since, moving from one storage unit to another, then on to our former house, and then here (some of them were re-purposed in 2018 to file receipts in by year, as I mentioned at the time).

As I looked through the crate, I at first thought it held nothing interesting—mostly stuff that maybe needed to be shredded, but not much else worth paying attention to. And then, well, it became very different.

I kept finding receipts and notes from when Nigel and I were preparing for our Civil Union and party back in 2009. I remembered nearly all of that stuff, though maybe not the specifics (like how much we spent, or the various to-do lists we’d written). Basically, though, it was all familiar. I even found the receipt for my ring, something I still wear to this day.

That was all interesting to me, and I felt warm and fuzzy—right up until I found a print-out of the email from our celebrant with the second draft of our ceremony, including our vows. While it wasn’t complete, it did include stuff we’d added—and also our vows. Reading them again made me cry—for how wonderful the day was, for how much we loved each other, and for how much I’ve lost. I hadn’t expected that when I started going though what I thought was just a huge pile of old statements and such, but I suppose that sort of thing is bound to happen as I go through 24 years worth of stuff from two people.

However, the oddest thing I found was a knife.

The knife (an X-Acto Knife, and, yes, it was genuine) is in the photo up top, in the middle of my desk’s pencil cup. The pencil cup, minus the knife, was also in a photo I shared back in February 2019, and that’s how I know sometime before that is when Nigel borrowed my knife to do something or other with his CNC router. He didn’t return it, and when I needed it for one of my own projects, I asked him for it. He wasn’t sure where it was. I looked around the CNC router and didn’t find it. Later, after he died, and the family came round to help pack up the garage, I looked again, but didn’t find it.

A couple months or so later, I packed up my office, wrapping that pencil up in bubble wrap, placing it in a box and then putting the box aside to move myself (so I could find them easily after I moved to the new house). In retrospect, I think this was a weird territoriality at play, that because nothing felt under my control, this one one thing was worth seizing.

Time passed, and one day after I’d moved to Hamilton I was in one of our home centres and I saw something similar to an X-Acto Knife, something I knew was missing, and that I’d occasionally needed after my move. I’d found out years ago that finding genuine blades and handles in New Zealand was fraught, so I thought that what I found was better than nothing, and I bought it. Not surprisingly, it was cheaper than the real thing.

Then came this week, and I started work on my office, and part of that meant moving and opening the boxes I packed. I opened the box that had my pencil cup, unwrapped the bubble wrap, and there inside the pencil cup was that supposedly missing X-Acto Knife.

I know plenty of people who’d either be freaked out by this or else they’d assign something supernatural to it. The most likely explanation is that it had been there quite a while. I think Nigel must’ve found it and put it away, and I didn’t know that because he didn’t say, and I never checked again because I thought it was still in the garage. That means that it was probably there a long time and I’d simply missed it, something that’s supported by the fact that I’d shoved my “desk glasses” (reading glasses I kept on my desk) into the pencil cup before I wrapped it up. This explanation is logical and not a surprise: I wasn’t exactly at the height of my powers of observation in the first few months after Nigel died, the time in which I packed up my office, nor was I checking my pencil cup in the weeks before he died. All of which is without even considering my prescription-induced dodgy memory.

Even though I don’t see anything remotely spooky about the unexpected re-appearance of my X-Acto knife, I nevertheless take some comfort from it and all the other familiar things I’ve found over the past week: Finding the phone and security camera stuff allows me to finish long-delayed projects. Finding those Civil Union-related receipts and stuff lets me relive my much happier days. I also have more than enough X-Acto knives now, though how many is actually enough is a matter of opinion. Mostly, I’m slowly getting a tidy office.

This has been a week of finding and re-finding things. It was a bit unusual, but it was also very welcome. Baby steps, and all that. Still, I wouldn’t mind future weeks being a bit less unusual.


Roger Owen Green said...

An X-acto knife I used a lot when I worked at the comic book store. When I needed to ship products but the box was too tall, I cut the box down at the four vertical corners. But I'd cut the box horizontally, enough to make it bend over but not enough to cut through. It is one of my rare skills.

Arthur Schenck said...

The knives are incredibly useful for lots of things—a bit more controllable and and with more fine control than the bigger utility knives. I learned to use one doing paste-ups for printing (back when that was still a thing), and since then I've learned how useful they are for all sorts of cutting jobs where precision matters.

BTW, congrats on having the first comment to exit the Comment Moderation Queue.