I certainly can’t complain about 2023 so far. It’s gone smoothly and Vancouver is back to its normal rainy but mild weather pattern. To prepare for our move later this year, I’ve been going through file folders and recycling papers I no longer want to keep. It’s turned into an interesting and nostalgic exercise.
Before my mother’s dementia took over her life, she was an avid reader of newspapers, mystery novels, and Maclean’s Magazine. For my American friends, Maclean’s was, and perhaps still is, one of the most well-known news magazines in our country. For years, she would bring me all kinds of articles clipped from her weekly reading material. While I read and discarded most, some things I kept in a “General” file folder. Many of these articles are no longer relevant, however, there’s one special edition (not a Maclean’s) magazine I couldn’t part with.
It’s called ‘Heroes of the Heartland’ about the Oklahoma City bombing in 1995. The photo of an emergency responder holding a baby girl in his arms is still heart wrenching. I think of all the acts of terrorism since then and the children who’ve been killed, and somehow I can’t let this one go.
On the upside, I had no trouble recycling expired warrantees, old newsletters and correspondence. To my delight, I’d forgotten that I’d already cleared out most of the bottom drawer in the 4-drawer filing cabinet you see in the photo, back in the summer. Those files included all the submissions, rejection letters, and other correspondence from 1980 to 2000.
Now I have the next decade to recycle. After these four drawers are completed, I have three more 2-drawer cabinets to go through. I was surprised that I still had handwritten performance reviews, not to mention numerous course certificates when I worked in retail twenty years ago. Do I need reminding that after a good review, my salary was bumped up to whopping $9.83 an hour? I think not.
Then there was the ten-year-long breast cancer study I took part in during my forties. After my sister’s bout with breast cancer 20+ years ago, I was invited to take part in a ten-year study to determine if the fat intake in the average North American diet increased the likelihood of contracting breast cancer when compared to women on a low-fat diet. I was placed in the low-fat group. If you’re curious, the study found no significant increase in the rates of breast cancer diagnosis compared to the low-fat group. Anyhow, I wound up with a thick folder containing newsletters, recipes, meeting notices, and so forth. It’s all in the recycling bin now.
You might wonder why I wouldn’t want to keep at least some of these memories? The answer is that I have in my journals, where there are detailed accounts about the study and many other events in my life. I also have my submissions and rejections recorded on an Excel sheet, along with detailed records of publications, books read, courses taken, and so forth on the computer.
Going through all this sorting might sound like a lot of work, but it’s not arduous yet. My approach is to do a little for about 30 minutes after dinner, four or five days a week. Writing still takes up most of my day and I have much more to say about what’s happening with that next week.
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