THE GOODBYE PROJECT: Letting Go is Good, Yo! Episode 6–Archaeology

About The Goodbye Project:

There are so many of us who can’t part with objects because of the sentimental attachment we have to them. You know—the graduation tassels, the barfed-on stuffed animal with the missing eye, the coat your late father bought for you because you begged. So what do you do when it’s time to let go of these beloved items because it’s absolutely necessary?

I’d read someplace that one of the best ways to let go of an object is to know that you have a photo. Sure, you can photograph it before you get rid of it. The Goodbye Project takes the idea a step further: go back and find photos of yourself actually with, using, or wearing that object, and blurb a bit about the memories it invokes.

Why? Everything has a story.

And because of that, the object deserves more than just a hasty trip to the Goodwill or the trash without a second thought.


Update: June 27, 2011 Shortly after this post was published, I got a note from my friend Rob, who wanted to adopt the book on the Ramapo because he is doing research for a novel he is writing, as well as any of my books that were heavily highlighted. I was excited about this and am happy to report that both the Ramapo book and the Archaeology book are now part of his collection.



Me digging at Gallows Hill in Redding, Connecticut, with other members of my Archaeology Class from Norwalk Community College in November, 2002.

In the Fall of 2002 I was looking for a kick-start with something new. I was enjoying my time volunteering at both the Maritime Aquarium at Norwalk and Mystic Aquarium, in fact, so much that I was considering finishing college for something in the sciences.

I was at the SoNo Arts Festival that August and discovered a booth run by Ernie Wiegand, who runs the Archaeology department at Norwalk Community College.* A couple of weeks later, I signed up for his Archaeology 101. After all, although I loved the marine sciences, I still felt the ages-old pull of geology and volcanology. Archaeology seemed as good a place to start as any. If I didn’t like it, I could always drop out.

Turns out I loved it—I learned how to read layers of dirt, what finding pieces of shells meant. I loved digging in New England in the fall, that smell of leaves, hot coffee, and loam with the bite in the air. I met other students who were walking history books. It didn’t only exceed my expectations, it was magical.

I did well in it, too—although I soon learned I don’t have much of an analytical mind when it comes to solving mysteries. Or maybe I just didn’t have all the knowledge backing me up. At any rate, that semester remains as one of the greatest eras of my life. Being a shovel bum was pretty cool.

I continued to do research after the class was over and had even thought about exploring some areas on my own. But that was nine years ago—I never went further, and it’s time to let go of my books and tools. The hardest to let go is the textbook. I honestly read that thing from cover to cover and highlighted the hell out of it, and believe it or not, had always thought I’d sit down and delve into it again someday.

If you want to read my final Site Report (December 18, 2002) on the Gallows Hill Dig, you can read it here in PDF:


*The current course catalog online at Norwalk Community College’s site doesn’t isolate the Archaeology as an Avocation program in a convenient manner, so here are two screen shots of what that page looks like. To access the full catalog and find out more about registration, please visit:

And now…on with the story…

My textbook. It was tough to let this one go.


I didn't keep a record of all the passages I highlighted--only my favorites.

In 2000, I had written a short story that keyed around 18Rabbit. I did finish it, but had always wanted to improve it. I probably had planned on using this information to beef up the backstory. Who knows. Want to read the first draft of the story? It's right below this picture as a PDF: "Shorn." Enjoy!


This was one of the books I used for research for my final site report.

I don't remember where I purchased this book, but I do remember it being one of the most interesting books I ever read. It did inspire me to do some exploring on my own, which I actually never got around to.

I can always tell how much I love a book by how many Post-It Notes I use.

I took a map of New Jersey and tried to pinpoint the burial ground noted in the book (the book may have given me the actual coordinates; I don't know).

Obviously, I had planned on trying to find this place, because other places in New Jersey which were familiar to me I marked so I could try to get my bearings.

Me, digging at Gallows Hill, Fall, 2002.

The woods at Gallows Hill. It was in an isolated residential neighborhood, and the houses were far enough apart that it felt like being in The Blair Witch Project.

Heather, one of my classmates. She was calculating depth or provenience, I don't recall which now.

Christmas, 2002: My housemate put together an archaeology kit for me as a gift. At that time, I was planning on furthering my studies.

The kit contained knee pads, safety glasses, gloves, hand cleaner, and, not pictured because I'm keeping them, tools such as a really nice Black and Decker tape measure.

The hand cleaner.


Safety glasses.

About kristipetersenschoonover

A ghost story writer who still sleeps with the lights on, Kristi Petersen Schoonover’s fiction has appeared in many magazines and anthologies; her traditionally published books include a short story collection, THE SHADOWS BEHIND. She was the recipient of three Norman Mailer Writers Colony Residencies and holds an MFA in Creative Writing from Goddard College. She serves as co-host of the DARK DISCUSSIONS podcast, as founding editor of the dark literary journal 34 ORCHARD, and is a member of both the New England Horror Writers and the Horror Writers Association. Follow her adventures at

Posted on June 10, 2011, in The Goodbye Project and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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