Recyclers’ Guilt: How Do You Get Rid of Your Diaries?

"Bacchante" by Leighton

“Bacchante” by Leighton

I have always been a rumpled, indifferent housewife.  Now I have become the frenzied bacchante of decluttering.

“Hire a maid now so you can ask for help later when you need it,” my cousin suggested.   She has a maid come in once a week.  I always feel comfortable in her very clean house.

I started cleaning so I could hire a maid. Then, in theory. the maid comes in and does “deep cleaning.”

But once I started cleaning, I realized I could BE the maid. Might as well do it yourself.  Once you get started, it’s kind of fun.

Vacuuming, scrubbing the floor, cleaning the toilet:  nothing is harder than throwing out things.  Our basement is full of  junk we’ve kept because of  recyclers’ guilt.  Today I stumbled across a box of ancient vacuum cleaner attachments.  Good God, why?  I guess we were hoping the city would one day include them in their recyling program.

But mostly our mess is paper.

Sort the mail.  Neaten piles of magazines. Stick in recycling bin.   Put books back on shelves.  A big part of tidying here.

We are inundated with newspapers, catalogues, and, now, brochures from Hillary and Bernie (the caucuses are next month).  The worst paper clutter culprits are The New Yorkers.  They sit on a table in the living room for months, because my husband cannot bear to part with them. Some of them wander into the kitchen at breakfast.  I read them at breakfast myself.  He says he will sort them, but I end up holding each issue one by one in front of him until he assents.  Today I picked up the pile and dumped it in the recycling bin.  I left him three issues.   And he didn’t notice the rest were missing. He chatted about an article by Louis Menand on War and Peace. (I’d already read it online.)

But here is my biggest problem.  How do you get rid of your diaries? Open burning is against the law because of of toxic emissions into the air.  I kept a journal for fifteen years.  I wrote when I was unhappy.  And very dreary they are. I can imagine bored recyclers sitting around reading them.

While you solve my problem for me, I will share the one really amusing entry I wrote on a bike trip the summer I was  30.


Pedal and eat, eat and pedal.  I feel like some wacky scifi heroine welded to her  buzzy, zingy, creaky Schwinn machine.  It’s 4:00.  I’m binging on frosted molasses cookies picked up at a sleazy supermarket on a piece of highway called Bristol.

Cookie No. 4.  My husband had to ride back to the ranger’s station to tell him our site number.

Today I was extremely inattentive, a pedaling zombie. The road was boringly familiar from last week’s jaunt but my sleeping bag kept slipping off the back of the bike, DH’s brakes kept rubbing against the tire, and a million other mishaps.

Ate at Wendy’s in M,  A slow Wendy’s.  An Amish couple and a guy with a couple of tattoos who looked  like a regular civilian.

A lot of dead frogs on the road. Yuck. Squishy little varmints.


I hadn’t thought of that in years.