Saturday, February 25, 2012

on inevitability

I had several weird dreams last night. I dreamed I was in a cooking competition and won after I invented Spaghetti Pizza. Then my wife and I were walking around malls and talking about moving, but when we got to our place, we realized we only had two days to pack and get out. Then my old band Analog Revolution was playing a show, and, for the noise montage at the end of one of our more popular songs, I jumped on top of one of the line of tables and duckwalked its length as I created strange and annoying sounds.

I awoke with Micheal Jackson's "Man in the Middle" stuck in my head. After laying with my wife in my arms for a seven and a half minutes, we heard my girl cry out. I got up real quick, closed the door (so my wife could get a bit more rest), pulled on my dirty clothes, yanked a bottle out of the fridge, went to grab my girl...and she was back asleep. So I decided to eat breakfast while I could and check the interwub. I fired up the computer, and when my e-mail appeared, the top message was from my sister, telling me it looked (from the last photo of me and my daughter) like I wasn't getting enough sleep. An adequate amount of it even possible?

As soon as I sat down and tucked into my Greek yogurt and granola (made last night, with dried cranberries, raisins, and dried blueberries--party!), the MJ song went away, replaced by "Banditos" by The Refreshments...a much more appropriate choice for my mood lately, particularly as my frontal cortex was focusing on the line "Everybody knows that the world is full of stupid people." Think about that for more than a second, and you will know the kind of week I just had.

I'm busy beyond belief. I'm so dumped with work, chores, and tasks that I feel I may never emerge. I'm simultaneously being judged and being ignored. My mood is back to that as reflected in my November blog posts. I'm bursting with stuff to say and unsure of when I will have the time to say it. I have been making loud noises with my guitar and effects pedal army not nearly enough. I am behind on projects galore. I feel, in short, as if I've been knocked off the path permanently and have utterly lost any sense of direction.

I know I've always been in similar circumstances. I just thought things would eventually change. I keep forgetting, though: optimism is for chumps.

Friday, February 10, 2012

goodbye, artifacts

My parents tell me I always liked to read. As a kid, long before I could actually read, I would be sitting on the couch, thumbing through a book, staring intently at the pages. When my mom would ask me what I was doing, I would tell her I was "reading."

I don't remember this personally, of course. My earliest memory of books is thumbing through--scratch that, actually reading--several Classics Illustrated books. I remember reading A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court (which doesn't actually sound right, as it's a fairly gruesome book near the end, but that's what I remember). Later, there was the Scholastic Book Club one sheet order forms we got in school, which lead to a lot of classics, including an abridged Journey to the Center of the Earth. Someone (a fellow student? or was it in our English text?) introduced me to Encyclopedia Brown, which lead to Alfred Hitchcock's Three Detectives stories. Later, the fateful day in middle school library where I ran across The Hobbit...which led me to beg my parents to buy my own copies, and then, somewhere during my third read-through, have them cover the paperbacks with contact paper to protect them. Later still, when I found a Stephen King book in my high school study hall desk, my fate/addiction was sealed.

Somewhere during my growing reading obsession, I started to fall in love with the books themselves. Given the option, I would look for hardbacks over paper. I started to prowl Chamblin's Book Mine (the world's best used book store) for cool, unexpected titles, all the while wondering why anyone would not just keep their used books yet still being thankful for their oversight whenever I made another discovery.

My love became more obsessive and ornate. I used to drive up to the recently opened Barnes & Noble and spend whatever was left over in my paycheck. Whenever I found a leather-bound (or even pleather-bound) edition--particularly if on the bargain bin tables--I would swipe it up. Much of these visits was spent staring longingly at the leather-bound and lavishly illustrated Lord of the Rings collection, but I could never bring myself to pull the trigger. I would go to see whatever obscure writer my university would bring in, buy a book, and get an autograph. Eventually, I started dreaming of owning a house mainly so I could have my own library (wood-paneled, of course) of leather-bound and hand-signed know, a gentlemanly room in which I could dwell when I retired, maybe while wearing a tweed jacket and enjoying a snifter of cognac.

When I moved from Florida to Ohio, a good half of my U-Haul was paper boxes full of books. I had bookshelves in my living room, bedroom, and study that first year in my new apartment. Then I had to get a roomate, so there was a contraction...some books went to a used bookstore, others went for sale online. After another roommate, my then-girlfriend moved in with more stuff, so another contraction. Pulled by the allure of washer and dryer hookups, we moved to a smaller house...and another contraction. The more stuff we acquired, the more books went bye-bye. When we started to turn the study into a nursery, it brought on (you guessed it) yet another contraction.

Too many books have, through the years, gone away. I realized long ago I'm never going to have the wood-paneled library...hell, I'm probably never going to own my own house and certainly will never be able to afford to retire, so the lack of a library in which to hang isn't really a big deal. I still have a lot of those old and leather-bound editions, but I never read them. Hell, I hardly even think of them. Instead, when I think of books, I think of my fourth copy of Neuromancer, my second copy of Snowcrash, or my still-contact paper-bound Lord of the Rings set. I can and quite often do close my eyes and recall scenes, lines, whole passages from each. I can, however, do the same with the Bill, The Galactic Hero series and about fifty other books, all of which are considerably more low-brow...and all of which, unfortunately, are lost in the book-contraction breeze.

This year for Christmas, my parents bought me a Kindle. I'm relatively broke, so I immediately downloaded a ton of out-of-copyright classics. It now has tons of Twain, Burroughs, Verne, and Wells residing on it, just waiting to be (quite literally) thumbed through. Immediately, though, I thought about buying a copy of Neuromancer, my perennial candidate for best novel ever. It would be nice, I considered, to have a copy whose binding would never break. And then get copies of all my other personal classics. And then get copies of all the goofy sci-fi and horror I've plowed through. I could, on this one little device, hold the library of my dreams and the library of stuff I've actually read.

Then it occurred to me: if I could have every book I've ever wanted on this one device and back up said library on the computer...what did I need books for?

Artifacts are going away. I've already moved into a post-artifactual music collection. While I have some dvds, they usually remain in storage, as my dvr is a much better storage medium. My papers and teaching material have long been digital. I now store lyric and music ideas on a hard drive rather than cassettes and notepads.

What is my world going to look like when I finally make the complete move to virtual storage? My stuff is losing its tangibility...and I'm surprised to find myself perfectly fine with that.