it's a restless urge in me, this time of year, every year. i noticed once that a drive to clean, purge, excise, and generally tie off loose ends always hits me between january and february. it's a thing that is signaled by the coming of a new year, often; my mother doesn't understand why i seem to take some chinese traditions as strongly as i do.

i don't have any conscious memories of being taught these habits, but maybe they were impressed on me. maybe it's just a stirring that reaches me when we're partway through the winter, when the other end of year/end of semester/holiday crush settles down, and i realize i was putting off sorting my mail, organizing my finances, restocking the larder.

this year, i made a pass at several boxes i've been dragging around through three, four, five moves; a shoebox full of art supplies, a banker's box full of notebooks, a beer case full of clothes i'll never wear again. i asked an old friend if she wanted to help me use up something i hoarded from our adolescence. i pulled blank sheets from the ends of unfinished notebooks to rebind into fresh notebooks. i threw out dried markers.

and then, in what i thought was an unrelated effort, i started combing through my collected email across the past decade of account updates, freelance, friends lost and gained, travel notes, coursework, rejections, windfalls. how much do i really need to save? what do i lose by refusing to move any of it? i have always kept my inbox as close to empty as possible, but i know that there are phrases i can search for that will instantly give me years' worth of personal history in one glance. do i want that? do i need that?

last year, i realized there was no reason for me to keep a three-inch thick stack of utility bills from several houses prior. it costs physical space to store it, physical energy to move it; it was easy to justify feeding that to the shredder.

i crushed several dozen old CDs of backups onto one microSD card, tucked into an empty film canister that i can sink into my safety deposit box. my safety deposit box is a physical storage location in an institution that is unlikely to go away, but i am unhappy at its monolithic existence and often unsavory business practices. i pay them for the service of holding documents that are incredibly difficult to replace. sure, i want that.

i would feel a very small pang of sadness if everything i owned was destroyed in a sudden disaster. i would not mourn for too long.

the year of the dog is coming. i like dogs.

10 February 2018 21:11

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