One of the best things about returning home from a vacation is coming home to a clean house, and Max had cleaned house for us! But when I got home from NYC this past week, I had left myself a huge task: tubs and boxes full of all of the stuff I had brought back from my classroom. Two and a half years’ worth of binders, books, office supplies, posters, decorations, and odds and ends that I had packed up and dumped in my “home office” five days before were still sitting right where I had unloaded them on Friday. Max had been kind enough (or overwhelmed enough by the sight of them) that he had cleaned and walked around them all weekend.
I needed to move these boxes, and move them quickly.
They were filling up my psychic space. They were reminding me of all of the work that I had been doing and that I felt, to some extent, that I was leaving unfinished. And, in addition to the two boxes of binders that I had brought home from school, I also had a whole set of shelves on my desk here at home filled with binders from my undergraduate program, my Masters program, and my first teaching placement. All of these things needed to be placed elsewhere, whether in the recycling bin or the basement.
Second on my order of business, I also needed to work on moving my desk. Desk placement, as I learned in my classroom, is incredibly important. It can invite you to work, or it can prohibit you from it; just as it can invite students to walk around your desk and peer at whatever email is on your computer at the time, or it can make them feel uncomfortable even walking in your zone until you invite them back there. The arrangement I had before was much like I had at school. The desk, which can fit into a corner, was perfect to section off a “room of my own” in the house, or so I thought. When we moved in to this apartment, I had faced the desk out toward the dining room, with my back toward a wall. This way I could look out toward the rest of the house, and once back behind the desk, I would be trapped and it would be difficult for me to leave my work. Think again. I never got back behind that desk; I ended up doing almost all of my work at the dining room table, and therefore never eating at the dining room table because it was covered with work and associated with work.
Seeing as how I now want to spend time writing, and I need a space at home that is conducive to writing (I cannot be a Starbucks author, sorry Starbucks, I just don’t have your kind of moolah), I realized that what works for me in one setting doesn’t have to work for me in another. I didn’t get a lot of focused work done at school because my desk was set up to monitor students, that’s why it was faced out toward them. That was a conscious decision I made at the beginning of this past school year. And when I write, I like to have few distractions: no music, no videos, no thoughts of what I could be cleaning in the kitchen or the bathroom (um, this is really distracting right now to write that, I kinda want to go clean the dishes that are sitting in the sink). And so, I face the wall now. Here is a picture:
As much as it hurts me to throw things away (watch for me on Hoarders in a few years, those shelves of books are stacked two deep and there is another bookshelf that is overflowing in the next room), I did throw out/recycle some things that I will never use again. There were notes and binders from my undergraduate student teaching placement in a middle school that I have no use for (but I did keep the Frankenstein unit). The end result was I went from 1 Rubbermaid packing bin and 1 cardboard box plus 1 whole arm of my desk full of binders down to just the packing bin and cardboard box. Both of those have been moved to the basement and out of my psychic space. Maybe one day I will go through those and throw out all the duplicates and scan everything onto thumbdrive, but that is a project for another day.
I feel a little silly about holding on to all of these binders. I started a blog about my new journey and I am making a “big deal” about moving on, but I am holding on to so much of this former life. The fact is that I am still conflicted. I love teaching so much and for so many reasons (160+ reasons a year, very often). And it is the only thing that I have ever known how to do professionally. I am afraid to let it go. I don’t want to go back to being a professional server, but I will if the need arises. Hey, my ABC card, the license to serve alcohol in TN, is still good until 2014. That will buy me some time, right?