lightening my load

Luckily, I have one more week before classes start. I have to go into the office later this week, but I am putting it off as long as possible. I have a huge pile of office & teaching related things to do. But first I have to finish writing an article and reorganize my study. I've spent the last two days recycling or shredding tremendous piles of paper, and filing other piles.

There's an archeology to this: the papers from the recently concluded semester -- the plastic box of pre-sorted items from the last time I did a weeding (sorted, but never filed) -- the two boxes from several years ago when my depression prevented me from dealing with papers of any sort. Some of these things are easier to handle than others. There's an emotional energy to these documents -- positive or negative -- I sometimes feel like I ought to wear anti-static gloves -- or whatever the emotional equivalent would be. As I go, I've been dipping into the filing cabinet and weeding things out so as to make room. There I discovered bursar's statements from graduate school, drafts of dissertation chapters, and various other things that I thought were weeded out several moves ago. It's scary to find these ghosts from the past, but very satisfying to get rid of them.

I no longer have any written comments from my dissertation director in my files. (This is not too difficult, as he wrote very little on my drafts.) I am not keeping paper drafts of any of my old talks, articles, or book projects. (I do, however, have digital archives of these things.) I'm letting go of the materials from my post-dissertation, pretenure project so as to make room for my current projects. I'm a different person now, and I need different files. Just like getting rid of the jeans that don't fit any longer.

I have a bad history of starting to weed things out and not quite finish, leaving things half-sorted in plastic containers which produce a simulacra of neatness. But this time I'm feeling more optimistic. I think I'm making real changes this time.