Junk drawer, by Audrey Keith

junk drawerEveryone has one—that space, usually a drawer, where you toss all those stray keys, extra screws, odd-shaped pieces of metal or plastic that you know belong to something, small tools, tape measures, tubes of glue, a couple of buttons, a piece of a jigsaw puzzle, Cracker Jack prizes, and various other homeless items. That’s why it’s called a junk drawer.

Once in a while what you are searching for is right on top, but most of the time it is way in the back, on the bottom. Sometimes it’s wedged tightly into the seam.

Every five or ten years you dump everything out and throw away the partial tube of dried-out glue, the warranty card for an appliance that died three years ago, and maybe even the rusty screws and nails. In an extreme fit of neatness you may even put in dividers and sort everything. It will stay sorted until the next time the drawer is opened.

Then one day you’ll find a screw lying on the floor and tuck it neatly into the front corner of the drawer. When your husband decides to replace it, he will go through the contents like a side-delivery rake, looking for that screw. Failing to find it, he will decide it isn’t really that important, and go do something else.

junk mindThe junk drawer in my cupboard isn’t much of a problem, but I also have one in my head. It contains a lot more junk than the other and is just as poorly organized.  Old songs, poems, names, bits of movies, memories, both good and bad, and odd phrases that make no sense now that I’ve forgotten the context.

Like the drawer, sometimes what I want to find is right there on top, but usually I have to rummage through childhood memories of playing in the pasture trees, picnicking in trees alongside a gravel road, being driven cross-country to school in snow so deep the team didn’t trot, but lunged. Or memorized poems and song lyrics—maybe Beautiful Ohio, that we used to sing on the way to town—country and western favorites, popular or classical music. They persist in covering the information I am searching for.

Unlike that drawer, I can’t just dump everything out and discard those useless bits of knowledge: how to find grease zirks, or harness and hitch a team. I hope to never again have to clean and cut up a chicken, but the memory is there. Starter buttons on cars and seams on nylons are long gone and not missed. Nor forgotten.junk

Last night just as I was drifting off to sleep I had a wonderful idea for a painting I was beginning. This morning I can’t find it. I suspect it’s hiding under the words to Annie Doesn’t Live Here Anymore.

About Audrey…

I can’t remember not loving to read. It’s a harmless addiction unless the house is on fire or someone is bleeding.

I did finally gather the courage to take a correspondence course in writing through a state college, and I even submitted a few stories – an action about as comfortable as parading down Main Street in the nude.

My first publication – a humorous story about remodeling our old farmhouse – was in Woman’s World in the July, 1972 issue. Later I wrote mostly rural humor; think Erma Bombeck on a tractor. I have been published in The Fence Post, a farm and ranch magazine based in Colorado, Grit, Capper’s, Farm Journal, North Dakota REC Magazine, North Dakota Horizons,  Good Old Days, and in two anthologies, Why Farm Wives Age Fast, and Leaning Into the Wind.


You might also like –

Kristen Lamb’s blog – Writing and the junk drawer of life

Apartment Therapy – Organizing the junk drawer


Filed under Blogging, Guest Writers & Bloggers

8 responses to “Junk drawer, by Audrey Keith

  1. Fun read, Audrey!
    My mental junk drawer is more like a junk dresser! 🙂

    • karenrsanderson

      I feel that way, too, Denise. I need more than just a drawer for the stuff that’s floating around in my mind. I have another junk drawer of story ideas, many that I probably won’t ever get to.

  2. I loved this post, Audrey, and while it made me smile, I confess that the realization that my brain shares so many traits with a junk drawer is a tad unsettling.

    I have heard people advise a daily “brain dump” right at the end of the work day. It would be sort of a list of all the things on your mind, especially the tasks still on your To Do list. The idea was that it give you some peace of mind that nothing would be forgotten and therefore allow you to give yourself permission to relax, forget work, and sleep soundly.

    Your bio is one of the most engaging I’ve ever read. Well done!

    • karenrsanderson

      I don’t have that problem with work – when I walk out the door, I forget everything immediately! But the one I keep at home – story ideas and all the other stuff I need to get done on my personal side…that’s always a huge list. And yes, I keep a lot of notes at home.

  3. Audrey Keith

    Mine is a big drawer, Denise, and it’s crammed.
    Thanks, Elizabeth. I can’t seem to master the “brain dump.” What I get rid of is what I really need to keep. The junk stays.

  4. Audrey Keith

    I keep notes, too, Karen. Sometimes I can even read my own writing.

  5. Somehow I have lost a junk drawer, once we moved in the little log house here. Space is so limited. However, that means that junk spreads out insidiously throughout – aw lawd! Which means, that is how it is in my head as well *laugh*

    Love this post!

    • karenrsanderson

      Even though I’ve only been in this apartment for under a year, I have several junk drawers (though they are oddly organized), and I have one huge “writing junk” drawer – those slips of paper with fabulous story ideas.

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