academia, Education, ivory tower, phd, professor, Starting Over, Uncategorized, university, Vanderbilt University

Cleaning Out The Office


I cleaned out my office today. In the movies, this action is usually accompanied by security guards. But our administrative assistant were helpful and cheerful. And of course I’d chosen to walk away, making the whole affair seem much more festive. In fact, my colleagues kept walking by, congratulating me.

Still, it was a reminder that by God I was actually doing this, and I soon enough I wouldn’t have a paycheck.

My office had most of my “keeper” books in it. I packed them up during the day, then went back at night to load them into the car. I found myself trucking box after box through a winding hallway to the elevator, then shuffling backwards through the front door, then maneuvering around to my car. Repeat as needed.

I wonder if my students would think all of this activity was stupid. Now that thousands of books are portable on one device, why waste our energy with all this physical labor? Maybe this really is the next stage of evolution, where cloud computing will make all physical labor seem downright unnatural.

But I have a method to my madness. Since I knew it would be my problem to drag out any books I wanted to keep, I did a careful cost-benefit analysis. It would cost a lot of money to replace the Greek and Latin texts I’ve accumulated. There’s also the matter of effort and rarity. Some of the best editions of classical authors are no longer in print, so if you’ve got one you’d better hang on to it.

Because, yes, I do hope that I can still read Catullus on occasion. Vergil, not so much, so I’m not quite sure why I’m keeping him. Only time will tell.