June 8, 2022

Thoughts on Junk Drawers

The junk drawer is as American as apple pie. Everyone has one. It's the one place where you can throw in anything and (hopefully) find everything. Usually in the kitchen, near a wall where once a landline phone used to hang, so you could grab a pen, scratch paper, etc.

Here is my secret Superpower - Organizing my junk drawer. Believe you me, this has given me solace on many an anxious occasion. Simply dwelling on the amount of order in this relatively tiny space makes me feel in power, in charge, and in control, even if the rest of the world is in shambles.

Start by taking everything out of the junk drawer. Everything. Take the drawer out, shake out the crumbs, line it with fresh contact paper, the marbled one that hides the ubiquitous detritus. Notice the well oiled hinges, remove the fine layer of oily scum off the top brackets with a quick swish of the industrial sanitizer wipes. Put it to the side.

Begin to sort - Notice the appropriation of various tools used once, but too lazy to put back in the garage afterwards, end up here. Ask yourself, would I use it once a week? A month? Keep one screwdriver (the one that reverts between flat and Phillips head), wire cutter/pliers, small hammer, box opener, tape measure, and the big ass flashlight. Check the batteries of said torch.

Find your cache of empty Altoid boxes. These tins are the perfect size for credit cards, business cards, mini helpful people boxes, let alone the assortment now before you. Label them using a label maker if feeling industrious, or find some file folder labels, at least use a sharpie. Fill them - one will actually be Altoids, of course, next is paper clips, staples, rubber bands (but not your husband's hairbands, from experience), push pins, razor blades, twist ties, safety pins, miscellaneous seeds you picked up on walks in the neighborhood, most likely Icelandic or California Poppy.

Use the old greeting card boxes to sort the rest. We are talking not just three sizes, but three colors of post it notes.White glue stick, super glue, gorilla glue, at least one refill for the hot glue. Lighters, matches, birthday candles that must be over twenty years old because they go back to Amber's sixth birthday but, hey, they are still good. A size D battery that might be a part of the new automatic cat feeder.

Dedicate one to keys - spare keys, bike keys, neighbor keys, bike lock keys, padlock keys, fence keys, shed keys, storage shed keys (remember the pass code to get in, write it down, attach to key) keys you have no idea what they go to anymore but can't do be too safe don't throw them out. And of course a plethora of key rings.

Make a space for the scotch tape, duct tape, packing tape - both kinds, clear and tan. Then staples and stapler, too bad the three hole punch won't fit in, good thing the scissors are in the pen cup. As well as an exactoknife because the exacto blades are in the razor blades box. Honor that the toothpicks are in their own container.

Glasses cleaner - cloth, as well as the little packs of photographic lens wipes that Chip bought for his cameras, and the bottle of solution scored at a show in San Francisco presented by Money Magazine on the opportunities to invest in Marijuana products that is still somehow your favorite, maybe because the plastic container is peridot green.

Find a smallish recycled container, one that you've already lost the lid for (well that's true of most) just to throw in all of the remaining ephemera - Plastic bread bag closings you always want to throw away but somehow your husband adores: miscellaneous buttons that maybe match to something in your to-be-sewn pile: clothespins masquerading as clips for bags of frozen spinach or tortilla chips; the weird metal angle with the tiny nail you have no idea what it goes to; Xmas lite bulb fuses; The second knob for the stove because one broke but they're only sold in pairs; The big blue stick of chalk for writing FREE on the sidewalk anytime you have succulent cuttings or an office chair ready to be given away to the whims of the curb; A green felt cat toy that jingles softly.

When it gets cluttered, start again. Notice what piles up, what lingers. The ebb and the flow. The flotsam and the jetsam. Ask yourself the deeper questions, activate your inner Marie Kondo, be brutally honest - Do you really need that many Ikea Allen wrenches?

Close the drawer. Be at peace.