Apr 20, 2005
Please, let me keep this memory. Just this one.
I have been away for a while.
What I write and what I post and how often are a gauge of a great many things. Is it always that I can't be troubled to set the type? Is it always that I am so busy or that things are so wonderful that I can't be bothered to tell a tale about it? Is it always that I am so sad or so overwhelmed that I fear the making of a sentence will tip the scales in some disastrous way?
Sometimes it's just technical difficulties. I began this post, and my computer froze, with the first few paragraphs hidden from me on the screen. I had to recreate them from memory. And I wasn't really paying much attention when I started. I know it wasn't what you have just read. It probably wasn't anything like that. And not knowing what I have lost pains me. I embellish it in my unmemory, sure that it was precious and priceless and that it would have distinguished me if it had only lived. It's beginning to sound like to intellectual abortion. And if that is the metaphor, I guess I'm pro-life after all.
And then there's irony as a barrier.
I went and recreated this post again on my PowerBook, since my frozen G4 was still letting me see some portion of what I'd written. So I transcribed it anew into a Blogger post, and then I wrote more of what you have since read, and then I went to save it as a draft, and Blogger returned an error message. And when I went to reload, of course the post content was gone. And there was a notice that Blogger is unavailable due to planned maintenance. No one put it on my calendar, of course. And I get very cranky about things like this. But much of the time, when I'm writing anything longer than a sentence or two, I'm careful to copy the content to the clipboard before posting. It's a lesson hard-learned. And a conveniently un-numbered reason on a very long list of reasons why I shouldn't rely on Blogger to host my daily bullshit. Maybe one of these days I'll switch. I have nearly set myself up on several other services over the years. But these things are headache-ridden by nature. And I think my dance card is full up where headaches are concerned.
I was writing about why I write and about why I have not been. I think I started talking about how -- once I begin -- my brain enacts a digging process that unearths objects that I am not always in the mood to play with. Inevitably, even if I am just writing down something that struck me as funny, it stretches out its referential tentacles and grabs hold of memories I haven't replayed in a while, and the room fills with dust, and you sneeze and you cough, and that's a handy excuse for why there are tears in your eyes. You big stupid crybaby.
Is there any way to work a hedge maze metaphor into this?
So, I write about what I've done and where I've been. I keep track of unusual things that happen to me. It seems there is never a shortage of stories to tell. Ask anyone who ever talks to me. I'm so far behind even in that vein now. I went to Disneyland. I saw some movies. I went to some shows. I made some promises. I had conversations with strangers that needed to be written down. I overheard people saying things that made me cluck in my head. But I haven't been sitting down to the computer as much. I haven't been doing so many things that are part of my routine. And there is a list of things to do so long that it should have been started on trackfeed paper. Because everyone knows the list items on the back side never get gotten to. "Above the fold" is serious business. And you can't make a "welcome home" or "happy retirement" banner out of standard letter stock.
It is not just sentiment or sadness. I don't think it's those things. I don't think it's only those things. Things are unruly for me at the moment. I sleep strangely. Dream often. Remember much of it. Populate my dreaming with enough real people and places that I begin to get confused about what did and didn't happen. I need input but am lazy about it. I play a record and listen to side A. Over and over and over. There may as well not be a side B. I can't be troubled to find out. I need context, but the last time I drew myself a map, I was playing an Infocom game, and you had to do that if you were going to have any idea where you were.
I feel stuck, in a way. Repeating things. Unable to believe so much of this calendar year has already inched past me. It seemed as if I was holding my breath all the while. Sure that everything was going to be different or better or more. Mindful of patterns. Scornful of them.
But the wireframe inside the model is not these things. The story in my gut is not the list of places I've been. It's just that sometimes it's too gloopy and roiling and visceral to be shared with the casual passerby. It would be like holding your hand out to a stranger on the street and saying, "Look. I'm bleeding." In what universe would that stranger do anything but grimace and hurry past you. It's polite to keep the blood and guts to yourself. It's also easier to take less notice of them if you aren't constantly showing them off. I can hide them away. Tidy them up. Put a nice wide belt over them. They're coming back, you know. Wide belts. Diane Keaton might have managed to wait out fashion for one full iteration. She's a patient lady.
I, by contrast, am not a patient lady. I am impatient. To a fault. I am eager and urgent and frustrated and flailing. I am stumbling over one hurdle with my eye on the next one and the next one and the next one. Which is partly why I knock so many of them over or trip and end up needing a bandage. I'm always looking so far ahead, I can't see the sidewalk buckling upward at my feet. I eat it a good lot of the time. And I worry about how many people saw me fall and whether they are laughing about it.
But when I allow myself to live in memories, I get soaked. And I'm far less aerodynamic. I get a lot less done.
That being said, I live in my memories a lot. Or at least lately I get caught by them. Caught off-guard. Caught up. Caught adverb of choice. I post pictures because they take the place of telling the truth about anything. And because it keeps things moving and marks my progress and lets me believe that I'm still doing things even when I feel as if I'm not. And I post anecdotes when I think of them and when there's nothing else to say.
The other things -- the secrets, the shameful admissions, the ouchy -- I try not to speak of them at all. And when I do, I try to dress them up pretty. And I try to disclaim them by being self-aware and judgmental about them. But the truth is, I'm not always better than the thing I claim to hate. And I'm nearly never proud or pretty or perfect. I'm more often amazed at the end of a night when I have managed to smile and be smiled at and to have then gotten home without having embarrassed or condemned myself in some fatal fashion. Every day is an obstacle course. And I hate those. Even back in summer camp or P.E. What a stupid waste of time. Running through tires. Swinging over puddles. Climbing walls that don't bar anything from anything. These are not the obstacles I ever face. These are not the challenges I need to best. These are not skills I need.
I keep a lot to myself. I know that sounds like lying. Given how much I don't keep to myself. But I do. I tuck a lot away. And I let a lot go. And I wonder what people think when they read what I write. And I am surprised by how many of them mistakenly think I am writing about them. And I am always at least minimally aware of the possibility that I am writing about them after all.
"Please, let me keep this memory. Just this one." That was said by Joel in Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. It really meant something to me. I know that feeling.
Fucking Blogger. Fucking Mac. Fucking everything. If you are reading this, it is a miracle. And you should check and see if there is a likeness of Jesus burned onto your bed sheets.
posted by Mary Forrest at 11:54 PM | Back to Monoblog