Things I’ve Held Onto: Paper

Things I’ve Held Onto: Paper

Malina Rodriguez


A travel journal from our 7th grade trip to San Francisco and the itinerary for a 5-week road trip in 2006. Every letter my grandma sent to me. Every letter I sent to my grandma that she saved in her desk. Currency from other countries. Performance reviews from my first job as a file clerk. Thank you cards from directors, designers and students. Maps of the places I’ve lived and hiked. Transcripts from Cal Poly Pomona. My SAT scores. Letterhead from grandpa’s job at Admiral. Assignments from Madam Adam’s creative writing class printed on a dot matrix printer. Ticket stubs. Yearbooks. Doodles and cursive from crushes. Drafting assignments. Birth announcements. Pa’s graph paper and grandma’s carbon paper. Articles about Pomona that my mom sent me after I left home. Anything with Blake’s writing on it. A business card from a NY choreographer I met when I was 18. Notes from my first meeting with Greg, when he welcomed me to Atlanta and advised me where to find work and which artists to follow. Show files for every dance I designed lights for.





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I have saved every program from every show I’ve ever seen or worked on. This collection started in high school, when I first started seeing my friends in plays and musicals. They convinced me to work backstage my senior year, and my name appeared in the programs. Theater nerds: how many times can you get your name in the program? In college, I became a fan of Erté while preparing a project for costume design class. Grammy said she saved a program from a show she went to in Paris – the cover was designed by Erté.

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When I was 9 years old, I wrote a letter to the makers of Pop Tarts (Kellogg’s) begging them to make Lemon Pop Tarts. My grandma, champion of almost all of my ideas, helped me compose and type up a solid proposal. They sent me a postcard but failed to answer my proposal.

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I re-upped my campaign for lemon pop tarts in my mid 20’s while working at Portland Community College. When I left that job at age 29, my students gave me an epic going away party. They conspired to make lemon pop tarts with frosting. Mike was a student who gave me one of my first grey hairs and he gave me this recipe.

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I went looking for my birth certificate recently, thinking that I might be asked to prove my citizenship. I want my wife to be able to find important documents amongst these mountains of preserved paper objects.

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My grandmother exposed me to culture, literacy, travel and art. She gave me this dictionary and she gave me encouragement to become an artist.

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Artists give me life. Nicole Livieratos gave me this card during a performance of “Origami” at Whitespace Gallery in 2011.


ASK, and ye shall receive.

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Our 5th grade teacher gave us Prayer Request Booklets. He taught us how to pray and what to pray for. We catalogued our prayers in the booklet, giving them a checkmark when they were answered. Mr. D assigned us our Goals for God. In order for God to love us, we needed to accomplish these goals. He said my Goal for God was to be more feminine. I wrote my prayer request in code: mtblag (me to be like a girl). The next day was picture day. I wore a frilly blouse. 

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 religion, routines, and other round objects

religion, routines, and other round objects

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Why fails?