a shred of evidence

As Jeff pointed out, this past weekend we indulged in an orgy of shredding, taking a first step into the daunting task before us–to move cross-country in the next six weeks, and all the affiliated activities that entails*, while working full-time the next four. Before we start packing in earnest, we first are culling and tossing the stuff we don’t plan to take; Saturday we spent hours going through old papers, bills, pay stubs, and the like. I had all my credit card and utility bills and bank statements from 1997, the year I moved into my condo: shredded. I had a bag of receipts and ATM statements: shredded. I also had every pay stub I’ve ever received since my first job post-college in 1984 (ok, those I didn’t yet shred, and they don’t really take up that much space, forming a stack measuring only about 9″x3″x6″). I haven’t even finished going through all of my old paper detritus, but already we filled probably twenty plastic grocery bags with shredder confetti.

I’ve filled two boxes with paperback books that I’ll give away, thrown out another box of obsolete computer software manuals, and amassed two large groupings of hardcover books I won’t take with us; one pile in the middle of the computer room is so large that Jeff says it “looks like a fort.” Meanwhile, he’s recycling stacks of magazines not all that much smaller.

I also tossed most of a large box of audiocassettes, keeping only a couple dozen of particularly sentimental interest–my high school graduation with my valedictory speech, my 12th-grade performance as Albert Peterson in my high school’s production of Bye, Bye Birdie, performances by the Harvard Glee Club, the mix tapes given to me by another Jeff (the first person with whom I fell truly, madly, deeply in love), about 16 years ago.

There’s so much to do, and the initial steps actually seem in many ways to make things appear worse, as stuff moves out of closets, drawers and storage to open spaces on tables and floors. We did make some progress, but the tasks ahead still seem almost overwhelming.

* [like researching, hiring and scheduling movers, scheduling a day off to help my sister and brother-in-law load and haul away most of the furniture that we’re giving away, scheduling the loading dock and freight elevator for the furniture haul-away and our move-out; buying and installing a new dishwasher, installing new carpet throughout, repainting the condo, cleaning the condo, having the heat pump serviced, minor plumbing repairs; changing or cancelling electricity, telephone, DSL, DirecTV, TiVo, magazine subscriptions and services; letting everyone know our change of address; finding a tenant and negotiating a lease; getting stuff from my safe deposit box, opening a new bank account, closing my existing account; packing hundreds and hundreds of books, DVDs, CDs; packing my huge collection of mid-century dishware and glassware; sorting, donating, and packing clothes; changing the homeowner’s insurance for the condo, getting renter’s insurance for the house in California; visiting family; getting the car serviced, buying a new cat carrier, updating auto insurance for California, registering the car in California and notifying Virginia that the car is leaving the state, driving cross-country, … And that’s just off the top of my head; everytime I turn around I think of something else that has to be done.]