Sunday, September 26, 2010

Moving Pains

Time's running out. We board our plane in 28 days, the first leg of our journey to Indonesia. Every day I find more friends and acquaintances who still don't know that we're leaving the country. I post pictures of receiving shots, getting fingerprinted, piles of boxes like this, and people still don't know.

Packing this stuff up is the hardest process of all. There's so much crap I've accumulated over the years, and Rebecca's got her own household of property as well. My timer says we've got 28 days left until we leave the country, but we're going to leave the apartment on the 15th so we have less time than that.

Also making things hard is reliving the history of everything I own as it touches my hands and I recall where I got it. I'm digging out old books that I borrowed from people and in the past two weeks I've been hunting people down to return their stuff to them. People are remarkably indolent about getting their stuff back: a couple people can't be arsed to meet me halfway and have requested go-betweens to manage their property for them. That's not how I'd react to someone packing up to leave the city who's trying to give my stuff back to me, but I'm not anyone else.

Tied to this is the awareness of who I used to be and what kind of person I am that I'd retain the borrow of something for several years. That's stupid and unreasonable. Simply having held onto it for so long makes me feel like a terrible person, and it's highly embarrassing to contact someone I haven't spoken with in several years (out of mutual neglect, usually) and ask them how to return their stuff. I know I've historically been a flake and I still am. I don't like that about myself and now, in a small part, I'm answering for it. I'm trying to make the effort to right these wrongs in the most basic way.

But I'm also confronted with who I used to be around certain people. There's an entire sphere of old friends and acquaintances around whom I was pretty exclusively a fuck-up. I look back on that era of my life with shame and regret, and so names are coming up associated with other names of people I've alienated or estranged, and I even found a pack of photos from an old Hallowe'en party featuring a gallery of some of these people. There's an entire sphere of people I've wronged and who've wronged me.

Rebecca tells me I've done everything anyone can do to rectify those regrets, and that's working at being a better person and improving my life. She says that beating myself up over these past events only holds me back and prevents the expansion of my character that would otherwise be taking place. Intellectually I can see the logic of that, but emotionally it's difficult for me to stop feeling bad about what happened, to stop feeling ashamed about having let people down or just acted like an ass. Rebecca says we all have moments of our history like that but that I tend to beat myself up excessively over it.

I can't say whether I do or not, because I don't know what the standards are for acceptable levels of self-punishment or how much other people do it. I'm just saying that digging into my past, which has gathered dust in deep storage all this time, is surfacing a lot of grief and ache which previously lay dormant within me.

Maybe that's why I'm so keen on hauling this stuff out to the trash.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Anna Gade - My Lunch

A glimpse into my history. Way back when I was first discovering the Internet, this was one of the ether-spirits that first haunted me and... I won't express what it meant to me. Reading it now, it couldn't mean to anyone what it meant to me then. You'd have to be inside my skull and go back in time to "get it."



Sept. 27, 1994
Subject: RE: my lunch

Snapple is too precious for lobbing. As for lobbying, my only class-consciousness is a super-structure reified in my mat and cupcakes and train schedules. society is progressive just fine here... you'd know that if you stopped to tell the time or even just look at the clock tower. you ask me to forgive your zodiacal romanticism, as if "goethe"were merely something to be dismissed with a "bless you," like a sneeze. but f your mind has a dull crust, then there is hope... as long as you remember which is your lunch and which is mine.

no historical precedents.
at last you tell me something i almost understand, like a Voice of America short story on my shortwave radio. but you must have noticed that they don't carry shortwaves around here, they say it scrambles the singing steel and then noone can appreciate the next invention of the chimes. i even tried once to watch the sin(da)bad here, but it was wrested away from me. what's worse, the humiliation or the deprivation?

there are no quantum leaps or time trax or even highlanders that *can* reveal me to you, because I'm just here on the mat, with my dictionary and my watch and my lunch... and if you're not careful, you'll knock over my vitasoy or get mud in my juice. and then irony will confound the astral plane.

Do you have any idea how long it's been?
yes.

"And if I had just a little time,
I could speak seven languages,
I could walk on water..."
you want timetimetime... you want to be the "Master of Seven Languages," (adding one to the six -- there *is* no Sanskritic precedent for that!)... and you want to walk on water... i hear that's not so hard for some, but i still try to keep my lunch well out of their way until they're finished.

i'll be waiting.

amg12@postoffice4.mail.cornell.edu
gad4@midway.uchicago.edu