when the sales associate asks you, “do you need a receipt?” always take one because they print them anyways. if you leave without accepting, it will only use up another space in the trash can. a piece of crumbled paper layered on another until they overflow the plastic bag and end up on the floor. no one wants to clean that up. you could keep them in a journal and put them in different orders. organize them alphabetically or numerically or by date. you could also use them as a small canvas. draw sketches of the cashier on them. put them in an art gallery and name it series: grocery receipts. it’s modern art. draw each individual hair on their face. shade wrinkles in the clothing. curve the lips and lengthen the bridge of the nose. fill the ears with wax. scribble eyebrows and leave blank space. draw a background. only use triangles. the sketches can be highly detailed, or not. it’s all up to you.
“put them in an art gallery and name it series: grocery receipts. it’s modern art.”
when you have to spend money on food instead of journals, use the receipts as a place to store your thoughts. write about the avocados you bought at the supermarket, how you can’t stand the taste if they aren’t in guacamole, but your girlfriend thinks they’re heaven in fruit form. write about how the old man in the electronics store spent an hour with you trying to explain the differences in all the phones, and how you felt like you were the old man and not him. write about the coffee shop two streets away from your apartment, the protest in the library, the gum on the bottom of your shoes. write down the sentences you hear from eavesdropped conversations. make sure to put those in quotations. write about anything and everything.
when you are unsure of what to do with your hands, fold the receipts into different shapes. this activity will help to distract from any anxieties that may stir from interactions with others. it will keep you from scratching off your nail polish and peeling off the skin that surrounds your nails. when the nurse calls to say your father is in the hospital, put the phone on speaker and make a little frog that jumps when you press down on it. when your manager sits you down in her office to fire you, make paper cranes for the people you pass on the street on the two miles back to your apartment. when your girlfriend cheats on you with the dj from last week’s party, recreate a scene from your favorite animal planet documentary. preferably of a happy scene, something like a lioness and her cubs resting on a rock, but if you wish to make one of a cheetah chasing a gazelle, that is acceptable as well. never crumple up the paper, even if your creases are uneven and your folds overlap. it is important to accept the mistakes in order to move forward.