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Mrs. Jiwaku and I have had a crazily busy week. I’ve spent the last few weeks sorting through my books, because of all my worldly posessions, my books are the most numerous.  However, clothing and papers that haven’t been sorted through in ages come a close second!

Came, actually. I’m terrible at getting rid of things. Just let me paint a picture like this: among the boxes I left in the attic, I found letters to George W. Bush–regarding the invasion of Iraq–that were written back when I was still in Iksan, that is, in 2003. I found the flight ticket for my flight from Vancouver to Seoul, when I first came to Korea in December 2001. I found unsent letters to friends from September 2001, like, months before I left Canada in the first place.

Okay, that’s a bad example, I’m actually not trashing that till I get a chance to reread it. It’s a kind of unsettling-but-interesting snapshot of my mindset and feelings at the time. But… I have trashed a lot.

But it’s always a struggle with me. Mrs. Jiwaku, on the other hand, is downright talented at this–different life experience forced her to get good at it–and she helped me out. By which I mean she slowly walked me through the process. At first it was hard, and I had justifications for every damned thing, but by the end, I seemed to have really picked up on how to do it. I was throwing clothes into the “donate” pile with little to no hesitation. Today, I did the same thing with a lot of papers in the boxes from the attic. Not everything, of course: some papers are important for practical reasons, others for sentimental ones.

I found, in a folder in my office, the manuscript paper I’d searched for over a couple of weeks in my apartment — old compositions from another time, which I couldn’t believe were there. (I’d assumed they’d been lost someplace.) That’s exciting, as I’ll be able to scan them, notate them electronically, share the PDFs of the scores, and  then get rid of the originals.

I’ve still got a lot of crap to go through, but I feel like I’ve finally kind of gotten a handle on something here: that the less random, unwanted and unuseful stuff you own, the better your life can be. I don’t mean you need to get rid of everything you own, like the guy who was featured in Wired Magazine as owning only 40 objects including his clothing. I’m just saying that I could have sorted through all this crap slowly, over the eleven years it was accumulating, do that it didn’t accumulate. I could have processed things so I wouldn’t be spending a few days next month scanning documents all day long. Minimizing your junk is a kind of zen, workflow thing. I get now that it’s doable, and desirable. I just need to implement that better.

So anyway, I’ve managed to sell off a lot of books. I’ve managed to throw tons of clothing into the donation pile, to be picked up on Saturday. I’ve managed to junk a lot of papers, though I have a lot more to deal with, still.

But I still have a number of boxes of books that I didn’t manage to get through. I have a ridiculously big pile of them slated for reading in the days before we leave –those days when I’m supposed to be scanning stuff and copying CD-ROMs to hard drives and so on–and I suspect I’ll probably just end up throwing those books in a box and leaving them with a friend who recently volunteered more office space as storage space. (The profs where I work have unusually large offices, and container storage in Korea is both expensive and notoriously poor in terms of quality: Mrs. Jiwaku says online comments emphasize the amount of mold that grows on everything in the average storage space… so that works out well for me.)  In the end, I’ll probably be unable to bring all the books I want to bring, but I can have some shipped down to me at what is, considering the price of new books, very reasonable. In the end, I’d like to trim down my library a lot, too: many of the nonfiction books I have on hand, I expect to use for research for a couple of major projects, and then–unless I still find myself thumbing through them regularly, I’ll probably be sending them on their way.

From here on out, I plan to try buy ebooks whenever I can… well, once I’ve gotten through all the paper and ebooks I already own.

Anyway, in terms of donating and trashing what I don’t need, and packing what I do or what is worth keeping even if I can’t bring it, things are coming along nicely. I feel less stressed than I did the other day, though there are still a few days of really hard work ahead of me. (Especially indexing what books are in which box, a job to which I do not anticipate with joy in my heart.)

Oh, and for those following our adventures from farther away, I should clarify: Mrs. Jiwaku and I thought about moving to Berlin for quite a while, but ended up settling on the idea of Chiang Mai as being more reasonably within our economic limits, without impeding the kind of productivity we’re hoping to achieve. I’ll say more about that when the time comes, but for now, it’s time to get back to packing, and maybe finish off the bulk of the stuff I need to get done this morning, if I’m lucky.

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