Tuesday, August 31, 2010

My own private archive

The other day in the shower I started FREAKING out about the class I am teaching this fall. The class that has been prepped and ready to go since June.

I asked Ben if he thought I was going to be okay teaching it and he was all, "Dude, that's what your PhD is in. Chill out."

So I did. Sort of. I decided I'd feel even more okay if I could find my old class notes on the subject, so I scoured my desk. I only found one notebook tucked away in a drawer that I must have moved from my old grad student office to my new office. It was from my last semester of coursework when I took a really cool history of sexuality class and read a bunch of fantastic books. I found some short papers I wrote for the course in the pocket of the notebook, and I read them in amazement. I used to be so smart. Wha' happened?

Today, this guy

Helped me go downstairs and clean off our entire rickety shelving unit in the laundry room so I cold access my precious, precious files and FIND THOSE NOTES.
But first, he needed to wear his bat boots.

After I got all the crap off of my shelves and found my giant stack of files, I realized they contained no notes or syllabi, just a thousand journal articles.

Then my helper, who noticed the Tupperware of snacks I keep on the shelves so I can grab something quickly if the kids are hungry as we head out, said he was too tired from looking at things and needed to eat some Teddy Grahams in front of the tube.

Even though I lost my helper I found some great memories

Including my prelims answers, which represent the time in my life when I was the smartest I could ever possibly be. Seriously, when a PhD candidate finishes coursework and sits for their qualifying exams, that's it-- the pinnacle of smartness. Sure, as an academic career progresses, you might become a renowned expert in your field, but you will NEVER be as smart as you were when you took your qualifying exams-- the breadth of knowledge alone is incredible.

Also, my shelves looked better when I was done.

At this point, I started to freak out AGAIN because I thought I tossed my grad school notes. I have grown up on the cusp of the internet-- not quite young enough to have had it always in my life, but not old enough to be a total luddite. I took my notes on PAPER with a PEN, for goodness sake. Who does that?? Seriously, our wedding pictures were not even digital, but everyone I know who got married after us had digital pics-- we are at the very edge of relevant.

Lucky for me, I checked our storage area and found more file boxes

And these boxes had the goods-- notebooks, syllabi, old Sims games

Even the box from my VERY FIRST iPOD!

Good thing it was not the norm to bring laptops to class in 2003. I would have Facebooked my way through school.

I also found my very first folder of Planned Parenthood pamphlets, the papers that started my obsession

In the end, I left the downstairs armed with notes, syllabi, old exams, and old response papers-- in other words, I am golden.

I was surprised how orderly all the boxes were, especially my notes and essays. It's like I am preserving my papers for future archiving, which Margaret Sanger totally did YEARS before she died-- I always liked that about her.

Harry and Jack and I went to campus so I could have my picture taken for the department website, which I have been putting off for YEARS (and rightly so--in the picture from today I have 3,000 chins and am very shiny), and we took a rainy walk.

They're totally worth the lost brain cells, by the way.

8 comments:

Virginia said...

I don't know what it is, but I love love love children with umbrellas. They should all be made to carry them daily.

Becca said...

Yes, compared to where I was at my qualifying exam I am practically illiterate. I just "went through" all my dissertation stuff, but it wasn't nearly as organized as yours so I just stacked the boxes up neatly and backed slowly out of the closet. Maybe when I have a real office?

sarah said...

I'm so impressed by the organization! But I have to say, you & I have the EXACT same handwriting--like to the point that it kind of freaked me out to see my handwriting on your files. Crazy!

I would love to take one of your classes--such a fascinating topic!

Amy said...

You're still wicked smart, girlie! I mean who else can keep a running inventory in her head of all sunscreens and their rank on the safety scale??? :)

Seriously, though, that is some awesome organization. You'll kick ass this semester.

lonek8 said...

okay, now just imagine how stupid you would be if you never did any of that PhD work, and didn't hold a job or even really go out in public to talk to adults. Like me. Sometimes I'm amazed I can even type complete sentences.

AJU5's Mom said...

First, I think the research is half the reason I gave up on a PhD - no desire to deal with all of that.

Second - Good organization! I have my notes from classes still, but I don't even know if I kept my thesis research!

Erin said...

Amazing - and it just confirms my theory that I am only getting stupider... And I haven't even gone through post-graduate studies! Man... I'm a lost cause!

Courtney Walsh said...

Sarah I feel dumber every time I read about your PhD and all your smartness. I am in total awe and admire you to no end.

And I am diggin' those Batman boots! :)