I spent some time yesterday sorting through boxes from the closet of doom.
Yes, the closet of doom. I had one. You probably do too. Maybe you have several. Maybe you have a whole storage shed or a rental unit of doom.
It has been the last closet I tackled. About 7 years ago, we sorted stuff into boxes and threw a lot of stuff out, like undergraduate notes. We reorganized a closet and put the boxes into the closet. Until lately, I couldn't have told you for sure what was in there, except for some memorabilia and photo albums.
I've been sorting and sorting and sorting. We have more types of paper than I expect to ever use. Paper with granite-like nubbles, paper with high cotton content, paper in colors, and of course, reams of regular paper.
My spouse and I both had several boxes full of grad student papers, notes, syllabi--all sorts of detritus. I sorted through those boxes yesterday. Why did I keep every syllabus I was ever given? Why did I keep all the papers I wrote, even the ones I didn't particularly like?
When I was in grad school, it must have been fashionable to have students all share their various bibliographies with each other. I have several folders that had those bibliographies, compilation after compilation of secondary sources of authors I vaguely remember.
Notebook after notebook after folder--boxes and boxes of these things. I have thrown them all away.
I have also thrown away lots and lots of rough drafts: handwritten versions of poems that would later be typed into the computer with very little changes. Not much need to continue to hang onto those. I get the same thrill of recognition from reading the finished draft as the rough.
I must confess that there aren't a lot of changes as the poem moves from rough to finished draft. No need to keep the originals.
I did keep paper copies of manuscripts (bad novels, mostly) that were written on computer equipment that no longer exists.
Now it's on to the harder decisions. So much memorabilia from childhood: a troll with neon hair, various pieces of jewelry (first ear piercing--that kind of thing), race numbers from road races that I ran, scrapbooks and on and on it goes. I may just box it up and keep it.
If I can only figure out where to put it.