Wednesday, April 6, 2011


Tova was posting about cleaning out her mother's basement and finding all sorts of old stuff and trying to figure out what to keep and what to get rid of.

After living in dorms for the last two years of college, I spend a couple of tense and uncomfortable months living with my parents over a summer before moving to my new apartment for grad school. When I made that move to my new grad school city, 2 hours away, my mother told me that I should bring whatever I wanted with me cause she was throwing everything else out (which she did- I left behind some artwork I had done in college and a pair of steel toe boots, and she threw them + the artwork away. I really felt the love in that family).

I threw away/donated/gave away 22 years worth of stuff when I moved out of my parents house that last time. I gave away clothes, books, and threw away years worth of letters, including some I had gotten from people over the summer as a child during the two summers I spent in Sternberg sleepaway camp (before I was kicked out, ha), old dolls (including some I had sewn and embroidered myself when I was very young- a skill I have absolutely no use for as an adult- which I wish I had kept), lots of clothes from my goth days, and pretty much all the decorations and posters and trappings of being an adolescent.

I decided I would keep all pictures, all yearbooks, the two glasses filled with stuff from my bat mitzvah and melted over with wax (assembled by some classmates) that was all the rage when I was getting bat mitzvad in 1994, some tickets and playbills, some stuff from ex boyfriends, and my diary from when I was on birthrite. I put these all in a box I labeled "big box o' nostalgic crap." When I was in grad school I left this box in my closet, except a few times when it came out and I looked over the stuff in there- sometimes when old friends were visiting, sometimes to show to new(ish) boyfriends about what my life was like back in the day.

I also kept a box of sefarim (religious books). I actually gave away a whole lot of sefarim when I made that move (most just went to my family's library), but I kept my tanach (old testament), the artscroll chumash (the torah) which I used in high school chumash class, that 5 volume blue version of the chumash, two machzorim which I had gotten as a bat mitzvah present and which had my name engraved on them, a couple of siddurs that I had used frequently as a child/teenager, a couple of books of tehillim and some benchers from my brother's bar mitzvah and from some weddings of friends.

In grad school those sefarim took up the bottom shelf of one of my (4) bookshelves, under a shelf that had lots of books on Buddhism, ancient Greek religion, Quakerism, lots of yoga stuff, and some philosophy of religion books from my "reading lots of stuff about religions" phase in college. When I moved to the South last summer I brought the sefarim with me. When I got here and I was unpacking the books, I decided these books didn't need to be out, they could stay in a box. I had put the big box o' nostalgic crap in one of the closets in one of the spare bedrooms (which we don't really use), so I decided to put the sefarim in there too- on the highest shelf (out of sight, out of mind)

Of course I strained my back, lifting a heavy box like that over my head. It hurt for weeks.

So as I moved into my new house here in the South, my old baggage was still causing me pain, even as I was trying to put it on the shelf.

How symbolic.


  1. Did you really get kicked out of camp?? If so, please share details! My husband has horror stories of his Jewish sleepaway camps and I know we'd enjoy reading ;)

  2. Look out "abandoning eden" we just may head past your street for some GDP shots. Hopefully, we can get out that way this week!

    Thanks for reading and commenting!

    Hope you are well. You haven't posted for a while. Could be those IHE end-of-semester trials and tribulations!

    All the best,


  3. I just saw this post! Thanks for the link to my blog. In case you're wondering, I *did* end up throwing out the depressing tznius lecture material.


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