Sunday, April 08, 2007

How do you solve a problem like this paper?

There are lots of good things about having gone to school for twelve hundred and three years. Really. Lots.

Those things aren't coming to mind at the moment, because all I can think about right now is the debris that's been left behind. Seven years of graduate school makes for quite the mess -- binders, books, flashcards, articles... Oh, the articles.

While I was writing my dissertation, my wasband and I started referring to articles as my arch-nemesis Articles (pronounced ar'-ti-clees). And let me tell you something, I have got so many binders full of Articles, it's ridiculous.

As we sit here, those binders are occupying a large parcel of real estate in my home -- precious space that could be inhabited by yarn or fabric or other crafty items. How dare Articles continue to monopolize my life, lo these many years later!

I am going to gain the upper hand with my arch-nemesis once and for all. You'll see.

One small problem, though: It would seem like throwing perfectly good money away if I just got rid of them. Even if I recycled the paper, I would feel terrible about tossing thousands of dollars' worth of resources right out the proverbial window.

You know we have the internet now. You can just look stuff up if you needed to.

Sure. Yes. Ok. Maybe. But that's hardly the same. Does the internet have my very own highlighting and notes in the margins? Don't think so. Are the syllabi from courses I've taken on the internet? No. No, they're not. How about all my carefully-taken notes from classes? Not gonna be able to Google those.

Why would you need any of those things?

You never know. I might just... I don't know!

I'm thinking of scanning some of the more important articles, burning those to a CD, and recycling the rest. How does that sound? Space-saving at a minimum. Time-consuming at a maximum. But, I can't think of a better solution.

What have other people done with all their old school stuff? Do people mostly just chuck it?

I'll tell you what I will not do: get a storage unit. If Articles wants his own place, he can pay for it himself. I am not paying rent for Articles. That dude has cost me enough already.

Seriously. Any and all ideas (except for the aforementioned storage unit) are welcome. You'd think that with all that schooling I could figure this out. But you know what? It's always better to collaborate.

With the power of the internet and the pressure from my crafting supplies, together we will overthrow Articles once and for all! Who's with me? Huzzah!!


Ashley said...

Cautionary tale: when my (academic) dad retired last year, I helped him clean out his 5 filing cabinets full of ar-ti-clees, some of which he swore he hadn't looked at since the 60s. The 60s! Point: research interests change; you might not care about that marginalia very much next year, or in 2 years.

(That said, I never throw anything out.)

Nora said...

NO!!!! Don't do it!
It will haunt you - trust me!

PS: The lounge pants are from the Amy Butler book "Stitches" (I think). I'm just going to use my own PJ bottoms as a draft. Y'know, pin on top of fabric and cut around them. Should work...

vt said...

I say throw that shit away. I recycled most of my school stuff and it was awesome. If there's stuff that seems worth keeping, and you have the enery, scan it, like you said. I would never actually do it, but you might. And if you do, more power to ya. I'm very impressed w/ the organizing!! It inspires me to start up again.

Anonymous said...

VT is nutz. I agree with Nora...although I have no particular opinion regarding the pj bottoms discussion.


I'm just one man, but this is how the world should work:

1. A major downsizing should never occur until the items are at least six years old. And even then, no more than 40% of the stash should be disposed of. The remainder can be reviewed for further downsizing at the end of each sucessive year.

The exception is: unless things are a mess. But if we're talkin' papers that are actually IN BINDERS, you gotta put that stuff back on the shelf until it's time, my friend.

2. There's always room under the bed.

2a. If there really isn't room under the bed (which there should be) then take the papers outta the binders and lay them out under the mattress. There's always room under the mattress.

3. Satellite offices. Again, I'm just one man but I still have notes that people pinned to my door in college. Many of these gems are neatly stowed in Chicago. Parents = satellite offices.

4. 7,000 pages? That's like 14 reams of paper, right? Take the pages outta the binders and bind them up in bundles of 20 using saran warp. Tile the bathroom and kitchen floors. It'll give you something to read next time you're on the commode and it'll be easy to wash. Bundle the remaining pages in bundles of 500 and use them to elevate lamps and television sets. Buy a bust of someone famous. Whatever you own, put it on top of a ream of papers. You won't even know they're there.

5. Or saran wrap the entire library and make an ottoman.

We can run from our past, but we can't throw it away. Or something like that.

I am a problem pack rat, though. I admit this. Sooo...mebbe you might wanna ask for other opinions before you go spending money on a bust of someone famous.

Leopold Bloom

Kim said...

I'm also on the verge of throwing out old stuff from grad school. But in computer science, the articles really are all on the internet. Also, I worshipped the paper and didn't make any margin notes. But my class notes? Much more separation anxiety.

Ben said...

Dear friend,

Throw as much of it as you can away. Fill the empty space with things you love, family photos, new books, borrowed books, used books, and photo albums.

I have a job where I refer back to articles all of the time, as part of my job! Recently, when I had to move, I also had to leave boxes and boxes of paper articles behind. And notes, yes, and syllabi that I myself had written. All gone, gone gone.

And guess what? I just started right up accumulating more, and have never once missed the paper I left behind. And don't get me started on the comic collection, sold, unlamented, and replaced immediately by a book collection.

So, the bottom line, from one who cares, is to embrace the cycle of it all. Go ahead and accumulate stuff, and at the same time do not be afraid to leave stuff behind. It will not haunt you -- no, it haunts you now. Throwing it all away will free you.

FFC said...

Lurker here!

How about origami?

Ha Ha! See Kristy's Ok!WhatNext blog.

Dr. B. said...

Wow! I had no idea this would be so productive!

Thank you everyone for all your ideas. It was nice to feel both validated for my choices thus far and at the same time liberated to make new ones, should I choose to.

This blogging thing is awesome.

Criquette said...

Am I too late to comment? I just stumbled across your blog. I, too, had numerous years of graduate school ar-ti-clees, notes, papers, etc. that took up 2 4-drawer file cabinets plus 4 boxes not to mention all of the text books, etc. I have now been graduated and in practice for 10+ years and have jumped through all of the post-doctoral hoops I will need to jump through. I also feel secure enough in myself as a professional to finally have tossed out everything that (a) has no relevance to my professional career, (b) no longer has scientific relevance as new theories have come along, (c) is not something I have personally written, and (d) is something I no longer have interest in or would remotely need for my career or anything closely related. So have managed to get rid of about half the stuff I had been keeping. It helped when I realized that I had NEVER gone back to reread any of this stuff (this does not apply to things that did not meet my 4 criteria). I will go through and purge again in another 5 years (or so). And yes, the purge did provide me with additional space for yarn and assorted craftiness! Love your blog, I'll be back.