Taming the Paper Tiger: Purging the Urge to Clip

10 Mar

In a previous post, where I assessed the scope of the paper hoarding problem, I referred to magazine and newspaper articles I’ve kept. I decided to record a sample of the articles I found in my files, along with the dates they were published and their source in order to analyze the scope of my behavior.

Basically, these articles fall into three categories: reference, “of interest,” and souvenirs. In my defense, many of these were organized by subject matter, especially the reference materials, and some of the “of interest” and souvenir articles, loosely by decade. But if you never refer to them, no matter how well organized, they just take up needless space.

Here’s what I found:


Sell Out: Buying a Car, 9/1972, Time Out, London. 1972? London? Really??

Buy Now or Pay Later, 9/1978, The Real Paper. (The pros and cons of buying a house in the Boston area in 1978, with prices going up!)  Ah, those were the days of the $65,000 houses.

Where to Find the Best of Autumn Colors, 10/1980, Boston Globe. With climate change, maybe the lines have moved.

Wine: A Special Report, 12/1980, Boston Globe. These wines would be 40 years old now! Either collectors items or vinegar.

How to Make Criticism Sessions Productive, 10/1981, Wall Street Journal. May still be timely, but I no longer have to supervise anyone.

The Simple Art of Stenciling, 9/1982, Boston Globe.  Lovely, but not my bag.

How to Use Transparencies: A Refresher Course. 7/85 (unknown source). Tranparencies! Now there’s a blast from the past.

The Fine Art of Speaking in Public, 2/1986, Working Women. Again, probably some good tips, but been there, done that, no longer want to do it.

Facing the Fats (mid 1980s, AICR). Bogus advice--avocados and nuts on the list! Don’t keep old nutrition advice.

Where to Pick Your Own Strawberries in Mass/NH, 9/1987, Boston Globe. They publish an updated list every year.

What to Look for in Your Favorite Brand of Crackers, 9/1988, Tufts University Diet and Nutrition Newsletter. Better look for a new list, if I care….

The Virtual Library, 9/1995, Internet World. A 20 year old article on sources the newest source of information—the Internet!!! Great for an historian.

Where to Find the Best Travel Bargains, 10/1998, Modern Maturity. 1998, say no more.

Less Stress Right Now, 1/2005, Boston Globe. Spa services 15 years ago.

Electricity Sellers Want You to Switch 2/2007, Boston Globe. The sentiments are probably still true, but do we need to reminded again?

Deep into Sleep, July/August 2008, Harvard Magazine.  A topic of great interest to me, and maybe still useful, but I’ve internalized the information.

Choose the Right Medicare Plan for Your Needs, 12/2009, Kiplinger’s Personal Finances. Um… I think these have changed since 2009.

Want to Seem Hip? Taste It? Sip it? Try it…. In Somerville, 8/2014, Boston Globe. Places come and go….

Made in the Shade—or the sun. 5/2015, Boston Globe. Container gardens—I have books on this topic.

30 More Ways to Say No to Hate, Spring 2017, Green America. Who can resist such an important list? This one is tempting to keep, but will I ever look at it?

Time Share Bandits, 9/2017, AARP: The Magazine, We got rid of our timeshare two years ago and are thoroughly aware of the scams out there.

What to Eat When You’re 70+, 8/2018, AARP: The Magazine. Happy to say I already do these things.

99 Great Ways to Save, July/Aug 2018, AARP Bulletin. These long lists generally only have one or two relevant items. Make a note and toss.

ACTION: All tossed!!! Read relevant ones, make a note of any important information, and ditch the actual article! With the Internet there is no good excuse to save reference materials. The only exception might be a recipe that you regularly use. File it under the type of dish it is so you can access it easily.  If you don’t make a recipe within a couple of months of clipping it, you aren’t going to. Therefore, make sure you date recipes.

Of Interest

President’s Trip: Visit to Good Neighbors. 2/1959, Philadelphia Inquirer. A full page report on President Eisenhower’s visit to South America, complete with a map. I could have been studying South America in social studies at the time.

Why Some of Us Get More and More Irritable as Time Goes By, 4/1976, London Times. Humor about unpunctuality, which the author claims has become an accepted way of life, equated with a certain power, and boring chic.

Research on Memory, 4/1985, Education Leadership. Can’t remember what it said….

Housekeeping for Working Women, 10/1987, Boston Globe. (Erma Bombeck.) “Dust was put on earth to measure time. You have to believe that or you will be rearranging it every day of your life, “Housework is a treadmill from futility to oblivion with stops off at tedium and counterproductivity.” This sentence is worth keeping.

The Fiction of Franzen, 1/1989, Swarthmore College Bulletin. Franzen is a Swarthmore alum. Note that the article was written some years before his best-seller, The Corrections, was published.

Turning Fifty, 10/1997, Time. About Hillary Clinton and the challenges facing Baby Boom women, especially as they turn 50. She is 72 now.

Men on the Verge 5/1998, Boston Globe.  A big section on gender politics, with a summary of key happenings, including movies, etc. by decade.

A Conversation with Maya Angelou at 75, 4/2003, Smithsonian. Love the woman but can find materials on her elsewhere if I need to.

Two’s Company, Three’s Even Better.  6/2013, Boston Globe Magazine. I think this one was about housemates later in life, but it could have been something kinky. I didn’t make a note and can’t recall!

Why We Believe Alternative Facts. 5/2017, Monitor in Psychology. Timely, to be sure. An interesting analysis.

ACTION: Initially tossed all, and then rescued the one on Hillary and the one about gender politics. I am allowing myself a small collection of articles I might actually revisit in the future. But I am resisting the urge to clip new ones.

Souvenirs (a small sample)

Death Plunge of a Great Ship (and several other articles), 7/1956, New York Herald Tribune. Photos and articles about the sinking of the ocean liner, the Andrea Doria, after it was hit by the Stockholm, in the waters of the Atlantic. My family was on another ocean liner, which was supposed to be one of the rescue boats, but we were a bit late. This was a huge deal to a young child like myself!

Comden and Green Throw Another ‘Party,’ 2/1977, New York Times. I love the musicals of Comden and Green. I think I might have seen the original production of their show “A Party with Comden and Green” during its short experimental run at Harvard’s Loeb Theater.

Life After Work, 12/2002, Harvard Magazine. Experiences of some recent retirees, including a friend of mine (with a picture of her)

Protestors Take to the Capitols, 1/2017, Boston Globe. This one was about the giant march that I participated in, with the pink hats.

Images that Conjure Memories, 12/2019, New York Times. A photo from 1964 with my late sister in it, along with a short piece I wrote about the photo that I happened to see in a special supplement of the Sunday Times a few months earlier. Do I need four copies?

ACTION: Mostly keepers for the time being, except for articles and reviews of shows I’ve seen. For the other items, too much emotional energy needed to decide what to toss, and unlike other pieces of paper, articles, with their odd shapes, are very hard to scan. Yes, some older articles can be found online but not always. As a slow-downsizer, prioritizing one’s time for maximum effect and success is important. I will return to this one when the drawers are emptier.

Of course, in this day and age, the paper clipping habit must seem outdated. The paper clippers have been replaced with the digital clippers, hoarding their favorite links (and sending them to others). Is this habit really any different even though it takes less physical space?

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