purging and cleansing

my sister — yes, the recently married one — said to me the other day, as we were doing some window shopping in the big apple, in response to my exclamation that i was in the midst of a closet purge: “you’re always purging! when are you *not* getting rid of stuff?” her question gave me pause. was i always getting rid of stuff? and if so, why on earth was there still so much always around? im not a hoarder — of things of any kind — with one tiny, possible, seemingly unavoidable exception: paper.

PAPER!!!! (exclaimed as a silent scream — with the same energy as elaine’s pill-induced ‘streetcar’ moment — as i sit in this philadelphia cafe, and pump both my fists to the sky, or in this case, exposed beam ceiling.)

is it just a hazard of the job? i try to go paperless, even downloading the occasional ebook and hardly ever printing out an article to read, but the main culprit remains: revisions. REVISIONS!!!! i can get so far in the writing process with just fingers on keyboard and with the use of the very handy reviewing features on the various word-processing platforms i work my way through. but at some point — and there is always a point — i just have to print out the damn thing and scribble, doodle, and generally make a mess all over it using a panoply of colored pens. there are arrows, and stars to remind me where the changes should be inserted; underlines, strikethroughs, circles and more arrows.

this would be all fine and good if, when i went to clean and organize my apartment in preparation for the aforementioned subletter to move in for the year, i did not find not one, not 2, but more a few boxes worth of papers that were just multiple versions of various articles, published well over a few years ago, and replete with scribbles, circles, arrows, galore! but as i started reading through the jottings, non-sensical to anyone but me, i could recall things that i had read that brought me to a new idea; a conversation that inspired new questions or brought me to new texts. i let myself have the afternoon to sit with these writing memories, and i kept a few choice reflective artifacts. and the rest went out with the paper recycling.

but it wasn’t just my apartment i have been purging and cleansing. my email accounts, too, have become a sort of wasteland for all manner of annoying, frustrating, at times toxic messages. and while email remains a source of great joy — in the form of missives, news, and photos from family and dear friends — i have been making good use of email filters and the delete and unsubscribe buttons. it’s slow going, but i feel better, lighter already. my next big decision is whether or not to cut my hair, which is what i usually do at the end of a school year or after a key moment in life. i’d say this counts as such a moment, and yet i’ve gotten attached to the waves on my head. i may have to find other forms of lightness — a superficial antidote. of sorts, to the heaviness that calvino describes here:

“Whenever humanity seems condemned to heaviness, I think I should fly like Perseus into a different space. I don’t mean escaping into dreams or into the irrational. I mean that I have to change my approach, look at the world from a different perspective, with a different logic and with fresh methods of cognition and verification.”
– Italo Calvino (1993, p. 7)

for the past twenty-plus years, chopping off my hair has provided this Perseus-like flight “into a different space.” in other news, i had a fantastic ice cream sundae last week. who knew fluffernutter could be made into a fantastical yogurt flavor?! it was, and it was damn good. i would have a picture of it to show you, but i inhaled it too quickly. not to worry because it’s summer, and there will be more pix (and ice cream!) to come.

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3 Responses to purging and cleansing

  1. Anne says:

    Im actually quite surprised that you purged that paper; next time, you might want to choose one or two of the most decorative pieces and frame them as living room art. Yeah, I’m reading and making connections. You know the thing that people do in classes where they make a timeline for events in the world, events in the US, and then education related events and see how everything matches up? It would be something to make a timeline of your ideas, your clothes/hair, etc and see how they all match up.

    • sabonseine says:

      so basically you’re giving me homework. i get it.

      a timeline… so how my lazy, summer wardrobe corresponds to the women’s soccer team win, then loss; how purging paper shapes how messy i allow the bun on top of my head to get? … 😉

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