I am moving. I didn’t realize I was a document hoarder until now. You don’t realize how much stuff you have until you try to put it in a box and lift it. Document hoarding is about anxiety. We keep stuff because we fear that we will a) need it someday or b) forget the memory if we release ourselves of it. I have concluded, after 2 weeks of shredding my old dissertation stuff, applications for licensure, paystubs from 2002, and the last 10 years of student loan statements that: a) Shredded docs make for great packing material, b) my dissertation was ridiculously long and many, many trees died for me, c) I will probably pay off my student loans just in time for my future children to go to college and d) I am a document hoarder.
But back to behavior. I asked myself, with each document, “Is this useful or beautiful?” and if the answer was no, it got shredded. I probably kept more than I even should have, but I have bureaucratic OCD. I still fear that UC Berkeley will come back and request further documentation that I completed my dissertation, or that there will be a random audit of all my paystubs and benefits from when I worked in a previous district. That latter one is not paranoia, given where I worked. I still get requests to update my TB test results and I haven’t worked there in four years.
The best part of revisiting documents of yore is the memories that can come up. I came across all my students’ letters to Obama. Useful AND beautiful! Keep! It was so fun reading them again. Then I came across a behavior contract between me and my ex-boyfriend. WHAT???? I do not even recall drafting or signing this document, but here it was, in black and white, filed in with my student loan payment stubs. You will never guess my luck. It was a contract from 1999 stating that he would pay off all my unsubsidized student loans “no matter what our relationship was, unless she cheats on me.” So many questions.
a) Why only unsubsidized? b) Why can’t I remember this contract?!? c) How did I have the foresight to know that I needed this in writing? d) How organized am I to file it in the appropriate spot? e) Why did he feel he needed a contract to ensure that I wouldn’t cheat on him? As if he needed to provide a financial inducement for me to be loyal?!? And I agreed in writing like it was a perfectly normal thing to do? f) OMG, how did this conversation even come up in the first place??? (see point b)
For a nanosecond, I imagined having the conversation:
Um, hi, this is your ex-girlfriend from 10 years ago. We need to talk about my student loans and my fidelity to our relationship in the 90s…
Clearly, I'm not holding him to this contract.* I'm not that loan SHARK-y! (pun intended, insert reader's groaning). The whole thing is so weird on so many levels. Plus, I didn’t think to get it notarized. Shoot.
There is no deeper lesson on behavior contracts here. It’s just plain funny. Now, back to shredding…
* [Aaaaannnnnd....Cut to all of my ex-boyfriends' fearing they signed this after a night out at the bar sighing a collective sigh of relief]