homework literati

why every person and/or kitchen needs a junk drawer

November 12, 2013

I remember the junk drawer in our house when I was a kid–I was kind of obsessed with it. It wasn’t in the most practical location–the drawer sat at the very bottom of a built-in inset china hutch and was filled with all kinds of random junk… playing cards, toenail clippers, coins, bandanas, an old LED calculator, a weird analog motorized poker game… just tons of cool random shit. (Cool to a 9 year old.)

I scoured ye olde family photo album archive to see if I could unearth a photo of the junk drawer of yore… and lo and behold I found one. Comically, the photo I found is also of me standing in front of the junk drawer wearing an amazing wig (straight out of a John Waters film), a red denim skirt, and where in the world did those patent leather go-go boots come from? And Jesus, I think I still stand like this.

I digress.

fab wig 350px

I’m unaware if said junk drawer survived the trip after my family moved from Wisconsin to the deep south. There was, however, most definitely a junk drawer in our new home’s kitchen. Either I lost interest, or the kitchen junk drawer was filled with less interesting things, i.e. chip clips, menus, corn on the cob holders, leaky pens. (Not cool to a 13 year old.)

I would love to see a website that was dedicated to just photos of random junk drawers. Real junk drawers. None of this perfectly organized Pinterest style shit. The beauty of the junk drawer is the chaos… it’s where receipts, notes, business cards, personal ephemera, back sides of earrings, faded photographs, out-of-date eye glasses, all that shit… it’s where it all goes. The best part is that within all of the ordered order of our lives, it’s the one place that’s designed to function in complete anarchy.

Until today, I realized that I didn’t really have “a drawer”. A drawer to call my own. A drawer with no expectations or agenda.

I realized that the closest thing I had to a junk drawer was akin to an “open faced junk drawer” consuming the top portion of our flat file. Somewhat unsightly.

A little history on this flat file:

fit for a flat file

In 1996/7 I was 24 living in Albuquerque, New Mexico and, among other jobs, was a visual associate for a furniture store. “America’s Home Furnishings”. It was my job to create household living arrangements using shit that the furniture store sold. So basically my job was to create life-sized dioramas using heinous gaudy over-stuffed furniture, garish paintings of SouthWesty things and, oh… lots of kokapelli’s. I took a side-trip with the warehouse manager to a recently abandoned America’s Home Furnishing’s office building (probably since converted to loft-style apartments). It was filled with flat files, old office chairs, drafting desks… all kinds of amazing shit. The warehouse manger told me it was all going to a landfill… are you kidding me? He told me I could take what I wanted. Unfortunately at the time I had a 1983 two-door Volvo 240, but I knew I was getting one of the flat files home one way or another.

Because it was just me and my lowly back, I removed all of the 11 drawers and stashed them in the backseat. Somehow I managed to wrestle the washing machine size frame of the file into my trunk which lowered the backend of the Volvo just inches above the ground–this thing weighs around 650 pounds. (Why do I have back problems again?) If I had been smarter I would have rescued all of the flat files, powder coated them and made a fortune.

Since then the flat file has traversed this great country of ours from Albuquerque to Tucson to Providence to Boston.

Present day.

It was so obvious, how did I not figure this out sooner? Just put my shit inside the fucking flat file. Of course this meant shuffling some stuff around.

But first, let’s examine my shit:

IMG_0751 numbered


  1.  Wallet by FC Goods – up cycled from old baseball glove
  2. Don’t be fooled, I’m not a big reader but this is next in the queue, The Wind-Up Bird, by Haruki Murakami. I just ordered What I Talk About When I talk About Running.
  3. Dress form
  4. Vintage music box, I wound it too tightly no longer plays but stores all of the safety pins from my running bibs.
  5. Vintage lamp from the most amazing estate sale I have ever been to.
  6. Canon 50D not in its case for some reason. This will not go in a drawer.
  7. H&M gloves… survived five winters now. How is it H&M shit lasts either 2 weeks or FOREVER? I love these gloves.
  8. Aluminum letters left over from old ZV Creative studio sign.
  9. Wooden box made by my friend Woody Polk. Stores my earrings.
  10. Curated out-of-date graphic design magazines.
  11. Fisherman’s Friend cough drops.
  12. Lady sunglasses from TJ Maxx. So what? You gotta problem with that?
  13. Horrible ear buds… the L&R are actually wired wrong so the ergonomic properties are specious at best.
  14. Man sunglasses from the 90’s. I am forbidden from wearing these, hence the lady glasses.
  15. Thank You card from Uniform–clothier/men’s shop in Southend.
  16. My first running trophy crafted by SKT ceramics in Brooklyn.
  17. Boston Athletic Association medals–these will not leave the open-faced drawer.
  18. Freitag key chain.
  19. Forerunner watch charger.
  20. Diesel watch, or as my coworkers call it, my Wonder Woman bracelet.
  21. Garmin Forerunner 10 running watch.
  22. Leather bracelet from Ball & Buck.
  23. CVS brand knee compression sleeve.
  24. Unsent birthday card.
  25. Warby Parker eyeglass box.

So, now to consolidate. I decided to go with the top drawer that was previously filled with various paper stock. (The paper stock drawer got bumped down a few spots.)

paper drawer

Obviously this is just a start, but now that I have propagated the drawer with the seeds of chaos I am hoping within a few months this drawer will be a total mess.organized drawer 1

open drawer 2You know… just some random guy’s shit…  iPod, pre-amp tube, espresso punch card, sparkly pink nail polish…

uncluttered 2

Open-faced drawer no more. Just a few of my favorite things.

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