Unicorn bookmark by humanitarian photographer Laura Elizabeth Pohl

I have trouble throwing stuff out.

I’m not a pack rat or a hoarder, but when it comes time to decide if I should toss, say, that purple Trapper Keeper with the big heart on it or all my reporting clips from my college newspaper, I just can’t throw them out. I’ll remember how I picked out the stickers decorating the inside of the Trapper Keeper and how cool I thought I’d look at school. I’ll read through all the college stories I wrote and remember how thrilled I was to be working as a journalist. And then I’ll pack everything back in the boxes they came from. At least until several months later, when I’ll decide again if I should throw stuff out.

It’s a vicious cycle and it’s kinda crazy. And it’s ending now!

I recently realized that the reason I hang on to this stuff is because I like seeing the items and remembering the stories behind them. So I’m photographing all these mementos, writing little stories about them, and then periodically posting each item on this blog. Then I’ll donate or throw out the stuff. I don’t exactly aim to become a minimalist. I just want to stop lugging around boxes and boxes of random belongings whenever I move (for the record: 20 times since graduating from undergrad, seven of those times to other countries).


Item #1: Unicorn bookmark, circa 1985

As a kid, I LOVED my collection of bookmarks with yarn tails. People of a certain age out there, you might remember buying these at Waldenbooks or getting them for free with your order from the Scholastic Weekly Reader.

I don’t recall where I got this unicorn bookmark, but it was one of my favorites. I remember using it specifically for horse-themed books (because a horse is close to being a unicorn), classics like “Black Beauty” and “Misty of Chincoteague,” and books that nobody ever heard of, like “The Pony That Nobody Wanted.”

Do kids even use bookmarks anymore?