I'm sitting in my newly clean office, waiting for the husband to arrive to help me cart off three boxes worth of stuff (mostly books and papers, of course) before I have to turn in my keys today. In preparation for getting a new infusion of stuff, I also started to clean out all the boxes of class materials and notes I have in my home office so there will be somewhere to put everything.
Going through my undergraduate and graduate notes and papers was an odd experience. On the one hand, I kept having visceral memories of certain classes as I uncovered my notebooks or assignments, which was great as far as undergrad was concerned but mildly unpleasant as far as grad school was concerned. I mean, I loved, LOVED undergrad, because I'm a nerd like that, and there were fabulous moments in grad school, but most of those took place out of class. On the other hand, it was, I don't know, disheartening? to realize how much of my grad career has turned out to be absolutely useless in the grander scheme of my life. Not that I didn't know that already, but tossing folder after folder of useless information into a huge trash pile has a way of bringing that kind of realization home starkly. And when J started trying to chew on that stack of trash after it tipped perilously close to him, I thought it was a symbolic moment on many levels!
So now I'm at my work office, doing much the same thing but with better results. Because what I have here, my assignments and grading rubrics and student papers and handouts and textbooks as well as some of my personal research and writing from the last while, has, in fact, been very relevant in my life. And it's more rewarding to review the accumulated evidence of my teaching career which, unlike grad school as a whole, has been very useful in my life thus far. All of this packing, unpacking, and tossing just reaffirms the sagacity of my decision to leave behind some parts of academia (the insular scholarship or the publish or perish rat race) while embracing others (teaching and research for research's sake). I eventually ended up doing exactly what I should have been doing.
And now I'm doing something else entirely, exactly what I should be doing now. And it requires very little of anything in any of these boxes!