Source not recorded: At least as old as 04-Jun-1992 23:06
There are several typos, which I've kept as-is.
by Stephanie Bush, syndicated columnist
(appeared in Seattle Times, 1/1990) [ 1 ] Presumably "1/1990" means January 1991; day not known.
Wading into The Pile: This has been my fervent ambition every January since I was a tiny child. It probably will be my ambition as long as I live.
The Pile is that migrating stack of papers (Christmas cards with the envelopes missing, tax records, overdue bills, dental notices) that seems to have a life of its own in any household.
My theory about The Pile is that, like yogurt cultures, it cannot be killed off, but lives in some mysterious way to procreate itself. All we can do is nibble and hack away at it.
Every normal U.S. household consists of a nubmer of key Piles, in locations that are commonly recognized as pile-friendly spots: There is the venerable Hall Table Pile. The famous, daunting Home Office Pile. The ever-colorful Bedroom Nightstand Pile.
People sometimes say to me, "If you were smart, you would at least get a cleaning professional to come in and take a run at some of those piles."
But give me a break: What's the first thing you always say to a cleaning person, if you are a pile-o-phile? "See that pile, Consuelo? DON'T TOUCH IT." Then, if you are me, you try to explain "death rays" in whatever language your cleaning person speaks, and then make emitting motions from the direction of the pile.
Much as bees cross-pollinate flowers, humans cross-pollinate their own piles (which tend to be incredibly fertile) in a not entirely involuntary fashion.
In the course of what's euphemistically called "straightening up", the piles often get together and mate and create new life-forms (or pile-forms), so that you often get a Master Pile, which is usually the baddest pile that can ever be assembled, and which is virtually annihilation-proof.
There are all kinds of theories about where these piles orginate, since no one can ever seem to recollect where a particular pile first showed up in a given household.
One theory is that they originate in Central Asia, and then are gradually dispersed across great expanses of land and ocean, until they settle in coastal areas of New Jersey and California, and then migrate inland.
Another is that the original pile arrived from another solar system and that every pile now in existence is a descendant of this orignal "Proto-Pile" (which is thought to have begun with a mailbox flier from Manny's Shoe-Repair Two-for-One-Special).
Some people belive that piles begin their life in office buildings: Many people have "seed piles" at their offices. They plant these seed piles in their briefcases, and when they get home the piles have erupted exponentially in under 24 hours' time.
One thing I find about piles: You try to systematically break them down by category. You say, "I'll put letters from Mom one place, and the mortgage bill in another place, and all the magazines will have a pile of their own."
But according to Newton's Seventh Law of Piles, "A pile, like matter itself, cannot be created, or destroyed." There will always be one item at the bottom of the pile that defies categorization. And this item exerts an invisible force field toward all other uncategorizable items in the house.
There are of course seasonal fluctations: Every year at Christmas, my mother comes to visit, and I find some of my piles have been tampered with (under the guise "just cleaning up a little"), which is utterly nerve-wracking.
There are now bare spaces in my house that obviously have not been designed to BE bare spaces. I find that after awhile all the gleaming, smooth, bare surfaces in your home start to undergo pile deprivation, if they have been left along too long. In my own home, I've come to believe that piles represent security.
When I go to people's houses for parties, I often wonder, "Where are their piles?" and get a creepy feeling. 1 think they must use pre-party "pile exterminators" who come in and spray the property, or something.
One reason I have stopped subscribing to decorating magazines is, all the piles in the photographs seem false. (They are art-directed, sanitized piles.)
Now that most of us are deeply into the computer age, there is no reason to have "mountains of paper". I work on a computer, and I keep everything on compact, minature state-of-the-art computer disks. Just now, I am gazing fondly at a year's worth of black, space-age disks. I keep them in a nice pile.
(Copyright 1990, Washington Post Writers Group)
|^ 1||Presumably "1/1990" means January 1991; day not known.|