1. Acquired: 1995 ish
Old tee-shirts I can at least shove in a bin and store in the closet using the old “One of these days I’m going to make a tee-shirt quilt!” justification, but I have no idea how I’ve rationalized hanging on to my old library cards. I left Yorktown in 1997 and Durham in 2000, and while there’s a slim chance I might check out and forget to return a book while visiting Durham, the odds of my ever being in Yorktown for longer than a day at the battlefield are slim to none.
Thrown out: 2011. Throwing out bits of plastic seemed like a waste of dinosaur bones, so I googled “what to do with old library cards” and discovered that both the Durham and York County libraries have huge eBook & digital media collections I can access using my old barcode numbers, which I’ve saved in an email to myself.
I also discovered that there’s a kid who collects library cards. If I hear back from him (her?) in the next week or so, I’m donating my cards to the collection, already 3000 strong, where at least they’ll be part of what I’m pretty sure is a world record.
Hoarded for: about 16 years.
Pain at loss: I was a big reader as a kid, so it looked like tossing these was going to be irrationally painful until I found out about the eBooks and the kid who collects library cards.

    Acquired: 1995 ish

    Old tee-shirts I can at least shove in a bin and store in the closet using the old “One of these days I’m going to make a tee-shirt quilt!” justification, but I have no idea how I’ve rationalized hanging on to my old library cards. I left Yorktown in 1997 and Durham in 2000, and while there’s a slim chance I might check out and forget to return a book while visiting Durham, the odds of my ever being in Yorktown for longer than a day at the battlefield are slim to none.

    Thrown out: 2011. Throwing out bits of plastic seemed like a waste of dinosaur bones, so I googled “what to do with old library cards” and discovered that both the Durham and York County libraries have huge eBook & digital media collections I can access using my old barcode numbers, which I’ve saved in an email to myself.

    I also discovered that there’s a kid who collects library cards. If I hear back from him (her?) in the next week or so, I’m donating my cards to the collection, already 3000 strong, where at least they’ll be part of what I’m pretty sure is a world record.

    Hoarded for: about 16 years.

    Pain at loss: I was a big reader as a kid, so it looked like tossing these was going to be irrationally painful until I found out about the eBooks and the kid who collects library cards.

  2. Acquired: 1999 (play the slideshow or click through to read my high school principal’s attempts to sooth worried parents.)

    In the spring of 1999, high school kids all over the country were uneasy in the wake of the Columbine shootings. Rumors of imminent violence were rampant at my high school. Some students were more on edge than others; at least one kid scurried under his desk when a mohawked friend of mine walked into class wearing a trench coat. The anxiety was pervasive enough that bomb threat pranks (mostly ignored before the tragedy in Colorado) were now being “taken very seriously” by the school administration.

    Beginning in April and continuing through final exams in June, the start of our school day was delayed at least once a month after a threatening phone call or, once, a note taped to the school’s main entrance.

    The administration usually managed to corral most of the student body onto the tennis courts, containing the teeming masses of mildly freaked out but mostly amused adolescents behind the tall chain link fence while bomb sniffing dogs canvassed the school for signs of an explosive. I was almost always wily enough to get the hell off campus before being herded into the containment zone.

    Bomb threats usually meant a de facto excused absence, so I’d spend the day truant; roaming the mall or raiding someone’s dad’s liquor cabinet. In May, in one of the nerdiest displays of teenage rebellion ever, some friends and I escaped to the movie theater to catch a morning showing of The Phantom Menace.

    No bombs were ever found. 

    Thrown away: 2011. 

    Hoarded for: Nearly 12 years.

    Pain at loss: Almost none. Digitizing bits of paper makes getting rid of them easier. I’m also beginning to I think that I kept a lot of this stuff out of habit rather than true sentimental attachment.

  3. Acquired: 1994-1998

    Yeah. That was my big Sarah McLachlan solo, leading right into another girl’s rendition of that damned Titanic song. Here’s a pile of elementary and middle school choir/drama programs, and this isn’t even all of them. I forgot that schools in North Carolina & Virginia can actually just go ahead and sing songs about Jesus during holiday concerts with little to no outcry. (Not that I think there should be outcry. I mean, if not every student’s a Christian, just keep adding songs until everybody’s included - no big. Atheists too. We can add that one song from Community; "Sennnnsible Night, approooooopriate night…")

    Eh. Glee would just rip it off.

    Thrown away: 2011. Folded up and tossed in the kitchen trash.

    Hoarded for: 13-17 years.

    Pain at loss: Not a lot, though I briefly pondered keeping the pink “Spring Concert” program, just in case my old schoolmate Maurice (soloist on ‘Let it Be’ back in 1998) blows up after his speaking role on Chuck. (Fun fact: I may have finished high school in California, but almost all the people I know who’ve had any real success so far in the cesspit that is Los Angeles are from back home. True story.) 

    Also, I’m not even really into Chuck (I’ve seen all of two three episodes), but it turns out Linda Hamilton & Timothy Dalton are involved so maybe I’ll give it another shot. 

  4.  
Acquired: 1997/1998
Charming in its own way, The Graham Cinema is one of the few old theaters I know of that hasn’t been turned into a wedding venue or a restaurant (yet). But the real appeal of the place is the proprietor, Tim Bob, who uses the theater’s information hotline to tell (often terrible, sometimes in poor taste) jokes in his heavy Carolina drawl. I used to keep this unused, un-expired (I think) free admission ticket in my wallet. When we first moved west, sometimes I’d call the Graham Cinema hotline just to hear a southern accent.
Thrown away: 2011. I’m throwing this in the trash next week. Right now, it’s in an envelope on my desk. Since the expiration date was crossed out, there’s a decent chance this thing is still good. If you’re in North Carolina and you want (maybe) free admission to a picture show at the Graham Cinema, use the “ask” button to contact me and this sucker’s all yours.
Hoarded for: 13-14 years.
Pain at loss: None. I saved the number (area code 336) to my phone.

    Acquired: 1997/1998

    Charming in its own way, The Graham Cinema is one of the few old theaters I know of that hasn’t been turned into a wedding venue or a restaurant (yet). But the real appeal of the place is the proprietor, Tim Bob, who uses the theater’s information hotline to tell (often terrible, sometimes in poor taste) jokes in his heavy Carolina drawl. I used to keep this unused, un-expired (I think) free admission ticket in my wallet. When we first moved west, sometimes I’d call the Graham Cinema hotline just to hear a southern accent.

    Thrown away: 2011. I’m throwing this in the trash next week. Right now, it’s in an envelope on my desk. Since the expiration date was crossed out, there’s a decent chance this thing is still good. If you’re in North Carolina and you want (maybe) free admission to a picture show at the Graham Cinema, use the “ask” button to contact me and this sucker’s all yours.

    Hoarded for: 13-14 years.

    Pain at loss: None. I saved the number (area code 336) to my phone.