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Charlie Hatton
Brookline, MA

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Howdy, friendly reading person!
I'm on a bit of a hiatus right now, but only to work on other projects -- one incredibly exciting example being the newly-released kids' science book series Things That Make You Go Yuck!
If you're a science and/or silliness fan, give it a gander! See you soon!

The Neverending Storage

(Hey, everybody — it’s science time! Secondhand SCIENCE, and this week we’re feeding our GAG reflex.

No, not that one. Step away from the spoon. We’re talking about glycosaminoglycans, also known as GAGs in biochemistry laboratorial circles. Fun times. Go see.)

There’s something magical about the junk you cram into a storage unit.

I’m not saying it’s the good kind of “magical”. But it’s magical.

This weekend, I’ve been tasked with cleaning out one side of our storage unit in the basement of the condo building. Later, I’ll be tasked with putting the junk back into that side of the storage unit, which all seems like a Cool Hand Luke-style psychological torture to me, but I’m assured it’s for a good reason. I’ve learned not to ask too many questions. Keep’n my mouth shut over here, boss.

Meanwhile, I’ve piled all this displaced stuff in our back room — and it’s fascinating. A lot of it is sort of hazily familiar. We moved into the building six years ago, which is a helluva long time to go not seeing something you were once familiar with.

(And my memory’s not so great. After a year away at college, I couldn’t remember my dog’s name. I spent the whole summer after freshman year saying, “heel… buddy” and “stay, pal” and “roll over… you”.

If she’d actually known any of those commands in the first place, it could have been really awkward.)

Most of the junk is just sort of random; trinkets and nonsense not worth keeping track of. Oh hey, look, there’s an old lamp we stopped using. And a milk crate full of textbooks I didn’t read when I was supposed to. And a box of hanging folders.

“I’ve never used hanging folders. I don’t remember buying hanging folders.”

I’ve moved maybe eight times in my life. There’s always a box of hanging folders. I don’t know why. I’ve never used hanging folders. I don’t remember buying hanging folders. I just assume that after every move, I look at all the boxes and junk to unpack and think, “Man, this is never gonna happen. I need something to help me organize.

And then I buy hanging folders, toss them in a box, shove them in the storage unit with half the unpacked shit I just moved and get on with life again. It’s a process, apparently. The pointless hanging folder process.

Then there’s the stuff in storage you forget about, but rediscovering it is so awesome that you get distracted from the actual work you’re supposed to be doing. Hey, is that… a guitar? Right! I own a guitar! Ooh, I should totally tune it and bring it upstairs and learn Driver 8 real quick, before the next trip downstairs.

Even better is finding half of something cool, which means even more work that isn’t the work you’re actually supposed to be doing. I found a stack of vinyl records I haven’t heard in years, on the side of the unit I was “authorized” to clear out. So of course those have to be listened to. I mean, obviously. That’s the rule.

All I needed was my old turntable — which, of course, lives somewhere deep in the pile of stuff on the side of the storage unit I was not supposed to be cleaning out. So that was unfortunate. For three hours or so. Because vinyl records. Come on.

But my favorite — and also least favorite — stuff is the junk in our storage unit that I would swear, under oath and penalty of organizing the whole unit alphabetically, that I have never seen before in my life. We own (apparently) some contraption with metal rods that slot into plastic holders, and I’m sure assembled it forms some amazing structure or piece of furniture or device for dialing up the mothership, but I can’t tell what the hell it’s for. And I don’t have any idea where it came from. Disassembled, it fits under the chair in the back room. That’s all I know, or care, about the thing.

We’ve also apparently collected a Whitman’s sampler of paint cans, in colors that do not appear to currently exist in our condo. Maybe we brought them from the last place. Maybe the previous owners left them. Or maybe that other contraption signaled the mothership, and it beamed them down in a supply crate. I don’t know. But they’re heavy. And I’m just waiting to spill one. Because that’s going to happen.

And since there’s more to haul up, I’d better stop wasting time here and get back to it. That’s the responsible thing to do.

Just as soon as I turn my LP to side 2, and sort out the fretwork for the bridge in Don’t Go Back to Rockville. Priorities.

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Me on Film 'n' Stage:
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