I'm in the process of sending my old notes from VC into the big dumpster next to the club. It's a fair amount of stuff because I apparently kept everything with the thought that this accumulated knowledge, this tangible wisdom, would be useful one day. It's not, of course, and my handwriting is only part of the problem. I pulled out graded essays (not many of them left actually) and one or two notebooks that seemed worth keeping (Darlington, Dickens...). The rest is either pitched or awaiting another trip to the dumpster. I did the same to my Birkbeck box. I kept the beautiful color-coded dissertation notes (too pretty to let go of yet) and the expensive roll of photocopies from the Newspaper Reading Room and the small notebooks from my electives. That's it. All together in a small box that once housed just part of my music and history notes.
I don't think I'm going to wake up tomorrow and regret this decision. Honestly, the notes were packed up individually after the courses were over and transferred to a desk drawer. They were then boxed up when I left VC and that box sat in a basement for a year, traveled across the country, were placed in a closet, and have sat there ever since. There's a larger box beneath the small academic box and the small box of childhood items my parents mailed to me several months ago (all the newspaper clippings of me being a "gifted" child, my high school diploma etc.). It's filled with high school and middle school notes and letters, the bits from the writing courses I took at CTY. I can't quite bring myself to sort through those boxes or the trunk in my closet in the bedroom that holds every journal I've ever touched. Mementos are harder to part with than notes scrawled in a class. They're too much like flesh. But what I've done is a big chunk gone, a heavy burden lifted. I still couldn't read the undergraduate thesis again - to think I put nearly 17000 words together in three weeks! I can't read the graduate thesis either. So much effort into researching and such a painful stalling with the writing!
I really feel that in this program I am so much more invested in my work. I'm proud of my work. I've stopped worrying that everyone in the course can see what I've created because now I actually put the time and the care into crafting something great. I do have a handful of what I consider excellent papers from VC and from Birkbeck. I just had problems finishing up. I left everything to the last minute. It's not been that way at UW at all. I'm on top of things and finding I'm actually retaining items. The drive to hold onto the manifestations of knowledge isn't so great when I feel that I've actually retained most of what I'll need.
I have a number of empty binders that can take on the notes I create in this program (makes sense to keep them now since I'm already seeing overlap between core courses). In due time they'll see the bottom of a dumpster. But I don't think it will be that bad.
It is that time of year again!
6 months ago