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The other day, a friend posted a link to a LifeHacker guide on how to let go of sentimental stuff, which is one of the layers of stuff I need to deal with. Well, that, and all of the academic papers.

I'm going to tell you a story about academic papers, and then come back to the stuff-matter.

When I started as a workstudy student in the Psychology Department at Tufts, I had two main jobs. One job was to keep the secretary company. The second job was to enter journal articles into a computer database for one of the professors in the department (my future undergrad advisor, as it turned out). After I or another student finished entering in a stack of journal articles, we would trudge down Boston Avenue to Bacon Hall to file away the articles in this professor's filing cabinets. That part of the project was a nightmare. The bank of 8 3-drawer filing cabinets was so full that it was almost physically impossible to shove more paper in the drawers. My fingertips would hurt after afternoons of trying to squeeze in more papers. We used to joke that one day, we'd come in to Bacon and we'd just see an explosion of papers coming forth from K's office.

Also, many of the articles we set out to enter into the database were duplicates anyway. But it was a job that paid money, so I did the job.

Anyway, back to the layers of stuff, including my own collection of journal articles. I think I've said this before, but it seems to me that a lot of the websites focused on helping people downsize help with a lot of the mechanics of downsizing, but without necessarily addressing all of the whys of downsizing. Probably because the whys are multifaceted. For me, the downsizing continues to come from a desire to be intentional. In the kitchen, I want to be able to cook and eat food, without getting too caught up in dealing with food waste or the mental overhead of dealing with the remainders of that collection of exotic ingredients (used the last of the rosewater today). With respect to projects, I want to be channeled and focused on creative projects so that I bring things to completion that I am happy with. I also want to give myself time to read books, and write letters, and think.

I might not wind up having a whole lot of time for a whole lot of the above in the upcoming months, because of two other large priorities: preparing myself to ride in the Paris-Brest-Paris again (going to be very hard both physically and emotionally), and my work life. It actually feels good to have research feel this all-consuming, a sensation that was rare in Texas. It's probably because of the rate at which I am learning new things here. I still also need to keep working on the more difficult aspects of work, however, such as the next leafcutter manuscript (which I think will be good and impactful work), analyzing and writing about the cricket research, and thinking ahead to the upcoming projects for my next postdoc adventure (details on that still forthcoming).



( 6 remarks — Remark )
Mar. 27th, 2015 12:38 am (UTC)
Marie Kondo's book seems to have made getting rid of stuff more fashionable lately.
Mar. 27th, 2015 01:37 pm (UTC)
I was reading something about how her book has happened to arrive at *just* the right time. So I don't think it's necessarily that her book has caused that, as that it hit at the right spot for a lot of people. I see it as an extension of things like the tiny home movement and minimalist living, which may have been more on the fringe, but which have been gaining momentum.

Kondo's book *can* be distinguished, though, in its spiritual aspect. I read some other commentary on how her criteria for "keep" vs. "get rid of it" has some ties to Shintoism, in that she treats one's objects as items with individual personalities (i.e. thank the object for what it has brought to your life before releasing it back to the world). She also hit on the emotional aspect of thing-ownership really well, in terms of the thoughtful and simple criterion for whether to keep or let go of things (does this item "spark joy"?).
Mar. 27th, 2015 02:32 am (UTC)
How can we, as your readership, support you in your PBP (or PB&J, as I think of it in my head) quest?
Mar. 27th, 2015 01:44 pm (UTC)
You know, thank you for asking this question. That, in itself, helps gives substantiation to this dream for me. My father has said some related things, and I'm so grateful for the support.

It's going to be a challenging journey from an emotional standpoint as much as a physical standpoint, because of course I have a lot of vivid memories of trying to complete it in 2011 with S, right after defending my dissertation, right before moving to Texas. There were also many conversations just after the PBP(&J) where I felt like my experiences were drowned out by the experiences of others, which makes it hard to feel like my voice and my experiences are authenticated.

So maybe one of the larger things will be continuing to listen as I process these feelings and think about what I hope to accomplish by riding again.

It's a hard decision, to go back. Traveling to Europe is tremendously exhausting, draining both physically and of non-renewable resources. I deeply appreciated the opportunity to experience French culture and hospitality, though, so maybe that's the important connection I wish to reestablish. There were aspects of the previous trip that were incredibly violent to my personhood, so I also have some desires to make peace with myself by going back.
Mar. 27th, 2015 03:52 pm (UTC)
Do you plan to go with others?

Mar. 27th, 2015 04:09 pm (UTC)

None of the people that I know well are planning on going, so I am making travel arrangements on my own, for just myself. I do loosely know randonneurs from Arizona and Texas who will be there, and I expect to meet randonneurs in Nebraska and Iowa who will also be going.
( 6 remarks — Remark )

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