View from Lodi, CA: Help! Joe A Prisoner Of Paper!

I am, by unanimous consent among all who know me, the
most disorganized person in America. I have become a
prisoner in my own home—held captive by my piles of
“crucial”
documents and “vital” possessions.

Should there exist an unfortunate soul somewhere out
there who is even less together, I extend my deepest
sympathy.

Disorganization is a curse. People ask, often in
hostile tones, “Why don`t you get organized?”

That`s a very insensitive question. People like me
long to be organized. For us though, the goal is
elusive.

I can`t explain it. My mother and three sisters
maintain normal levels of organization. My father—long
gone from this world—even had a sock drawer. His black
and browns were in a neat pile on the left hand side;
golf socks went on the right.

My case is so far gone that I do not allow visitors.
Although the living room, dining room and den have the
standard allotment of furniture, callers would not have
anywhere to sit.

What entertaining I do is done in the summer when we
can eat on the patio. Whenever I extend an invitation,
however, I issue this very serious warning: the
bathrooms are off-limits. Right now, they are storage
space for canned vegetables and unopened bank
statements.

Dust covered junk and scraps of paper with phone
numbers I no longer recognize overwhelm me.

Consider that just before I sat down to compose this
column, I surveyed the scene around me. On the top of a
pile of magazines on the staircase was, “California
State Roster and Government Guide, 1999.”
After
extensively reviewing the contents and painful
deliberation, I tossed it.

The next magazine, still in its plastic mailing
envelope, was

Arizona Highways,”
the special 1994
Christmas issue.

Since Arizona is close to California and looks like a
nice place to be in December, I kept it.

Look, I`ve tried. I own two organizers. One, the

Cowboy Journal,
has great western photos. I
planned to use it for personal engagements. The other is
a fancy leather

Filofax
with all the subsections:

notes, projects, diary and receipts
.

As of March 31st, the end of the first
quarter of 2004, I had no entries in either daily
planner. Wait; allow me to amend that statement. In the
Filofax, I have written under notes “milk, club soda,
limes, dishwasher soap.”

I may have written my list in 1995 when I bought the
Filofax. Or I may have jotted those notations down last
year. Who knows? Since the list represents pretty much
my standard grocery store needs, I see no reason to tear
out the page.

One thing about my Filofax is that I need to get
calendar refills every year. Unfortunately for
compulsives like me, the manufacturer puts out inserts
that are nifty but totally unnecessary. So although I
don`t use my Filofax for its intended purpose, I do have a
nice assortment of extras like maps of the London
underground and the New York streets. Great if you live
in

London
or

New York.

I, however, live in Lodi, CA.

But lately, a nagging pressure has been eating at me.
I cannot neglect my living conditions too much longer.
In the back of my mind is the constant image of poor

Patrice Moore.

Last December, the unfortunate Moore was hospitalized
with a broken leg when his collection of 3,000 1980
magazines and comic books tumbled down on him. Really, I
view 3,000 magazines as nothing but Moore lived in a one
room flat!

The New York Post headline screamed “Book
Worm

Squished
; Mound of Magazines Buries Bronx Man.”

According to the story, the unlucky Moore was
“buried alive in the buff for two days under heaps of
fallen debris.”
 

For 48 hours, stacks of
magazines and catalogues muffled Moore`s desperate cries
for help. When Moore`s door was finally pried open,
books poured out into the hall.

Moore`s landlord Bernie
Jones said: "I don`t even know how he could stand in
there."
Observers at the scene noted that junk was
piled from floor to ceiling, blocking the room`s one
small window and covering what appeared to be the only
piece of furniture in the apartment.

Firefighters, fearing the
entire floor might collapse under the weight of Moore`s
reading material, ordered the building evacuated.

Moore lived a solitary
life. But I am fairly visible figure in the community. I
couldn`t stand the humiliation if I had to publicly
endure what Moore suffered through.

Effective immediately, I
vow to clear a path so that the few visitors I do permit
onto my premises will not have to come in through the
front door sideways.

Joe Guzzardi [email
him], an instructor in English
at the Lodi Adult School, has been writing a weekly
column since 1988. It currently appears in the


Lodi News-Sentinel
.