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two characters in search of an exit

warning: everything's about to come out at once. expect no unity of theme, or unity of anything.

I have too much junk. I've probably indicated that previously. I'm now staring it down, though, so I felt compelled to talk about it. Unfortunately I've been feeling compelled to clean-up/ get-back-on-the-blog-horse/ record-music/ write/ get-in-shape/ focus-on-work. All at once. Such am I, a towering blob of do-nothing-forever followed by a tumbling stack of how-can-I-do-all-of-this-at-once. I make tiny stabs at setting goals ("Update the weblog every day for a month!", " Work out for an hour a day!", "Stop eating everything that's within reach!", "Throw away all the junk!") any one of which I dismiss sooner than I've strung the words together in my head. How I can work out if I'm updating the blog? How can I clean up all this crap if I'm working out? How can I not eat everything?

Right now, though, I've begun cleaning the basement. This shit's all been stacked here since we moved in. It shifts around the room as I dig through it to get to things. When I painted down here it all got pushed to the one side. While there it prevented me from painting those walls it was blocking. Every day more of it escapes the boxes, intrudes upon the livable space down here. Yesterday a box of CDs tried to eat me. I was forced to take a stand.

What is this stuff? Anyone but me would conclude immediately upon seeing it that it wasn't anything. But for some reason I don't see it that way. I mean obviously I DO fucking see it that way. I have no problem imagining that to anyone but me it's just crap. When I sit here looking at it all it's crap, that's what I see, is crap. But when I dig in and try to throw it away it WON'T FUCKING GO. I spent a couple of hours between last night and this evening arranging old cassette tapes. I made a pre-emptive strike last night, ready to dump the fucking box right into the... the other fucking box, that was supposed to be trash. But I had to go through them first to find the ones I should keep. So I ended up throwing away a sun-warped copy of a supertramp tape that I probably have on CD twice. I threw away a cracked-to-bejesus copy of a Nine Inch Nails thing that was probably my wife's. I threw away a tape that cost a buck more than ten years ago by a band called Private Life and I almost couldn't fucking do that because it has an awful acoustic-guitar and vocals rendition of Amazing Grace that... I'm pretty sure I never really liked it, but it stuck to my fucking fingers because of that song when I tried to toss it. I threw away a John Tesh CD that I bought at a dollar store when I was smoking crack. I threw away some cassettes I'd recorded from CDs I own so that I could listen to them in my car's cassette player back when I had Uncle Cletus and I didn't have one of those tape-adapter-thingies to plug in my CD walkman. (I kept two of those cassette adapter thingies because my wife still uses them and Cob knows we need to have at least three of them that probably don't work.)

I kept two copies of Duran Duran's Notorious on cassette. I didn't know I had two copies of Duran Duran's Notorious on cassette. I kept a whole lot of a whole bunch of other shit. It's all in one box. Sort of.

There's a ton of stuff that I'd be willing to sell on Ebay if it were stuff that seemed like it would sell on Ebay. Maybe this is somewhere in the vicinity of the heart of the problem. How did all this stuff become worthless? Old Guitar Player magazines and Discover Magazines and Spin... (hell, Spin was worthless to begin with, but I kept every last issue that came on the subscription that someone must've gotten me for Christmas in 1993.) I've got a box of comic books, many in great shape, most from the 1980s, some from before that and some from the 90s. I've got boxes of Star Wars figures. Nothing's worth anything, and I don't like that nothing's worth anything, because when I spend money on it it seems worth it at the time, and if it weren't here the stuff that I'd buy to replace it would seem to be worth what I was spending at the time.

After looking around on Ebay to find out what I should sell, I found that no one was buying any of this shit. At least not for enough to make it worth selling. But as a test I put up one CD, and it sold right away for five bucks. It took me about forty-five minutes to get it listed. Then the money went, via paypal, to a paypal account that I didn't have. It created a new one for me based on the email address I have on Ebay. I've got a paypal account, linked to my checking account, but it's got a different email address associated with it than the one I'm registered with on Ebay. I can't associate the checking account with the new paypal account because it's already associated with my other paypal account. After emailing them for a solution they suggested I cash out the account by having them mail me a check for the balance of seven bucks (five of that was the cost of the CD, the other two was the amount I charged for shipping it, which came out to be just about right.) I'm sure I'd get around to thinking about cashing that check three years from now.

Last night I threw away a check from x.com made out to me in the amount of $0.01. From 1997 or thereabouts.

I told some guys at work about my selling a CD on ebay and one of them told me how last year he'd sold about 2400 dollars worth of old D&D stuff. And that's the problem. I should have old D&D stuff in this pile of shit; instead that's in some other pile of shit that wouldn't fit in whatever I was driving at the time, at the house my brother lives in or my parents' house or... or maybe someone threw it away so thanks a lot, guys, that's like twenty-four hundred bucks you owe me. Why is the old stuff that I thought I should keep dragging around with me worth zero dollars? I spent way more than zero dollars on this stuff, I'm sure of it. I didn't keep track, exactly, but I know it was more than zero dollars. If I'd only spent zero dollars on this stuff then I'd probably have at least more than zero dollars in some bank account somewhere, or maybe in a paypal account I can't get to or in a savings account at the credit union or maybe I'd have had some pizza.

(X.com was some sort of new-thing, back in the day. An online bank! I have no idea, at all, what they did to try to make themselves useful, but I don't think it was anything along the lines of what an online bank is good for, like electronic payments and paypal sorts of things (which are good for having money you can't get to.) I had an account because they gave me twenty bucks to sign up. They gave me that, and an ATM card of check card or something. So I probably bought a pizza. Apparently that left me with a penny still in the account. I never used their banking services beyond that because the only thing I remember being able to do was to use their card to withdraw money from an ATM, or their traditional checks, the old-fashioned way. The fact that they were online basically meant there were no branches anywhere, and to make a deposit I'd have had to send them a check. Which really makes sense, when someone thinks about it. I imagine. It must have. To someone. Who wasn't me.)

(I probably kept the pizza box for three years.)

(No, really.)

This doesn't really explain what all the stuff is, but it's probably obvious why it's all still here. No, it's probably not. It would be really cool if I could come up with a reason. I can't, it's out of the scope of reason. It's gotta be sentimentality or superstition or fear or OCD or SIDS or SADDS or ADD or packratism or... it's not rational, it's emotional, and it's pissing off my emotional side that my rational side can just cavalierly say it's just emotional like he knows the first thing about me or what I need or don't need. Son of a bitch. I hate that guy.

There are bits and pieces of computers that go back fifteen years. At least. I probably have the boot floppies for the 286 IBM PS/2 I got in the late 80s. Though I'm sure I smashed that keyboard to bits in a parking lot before moving out of an apartment three times back. So that's progress.

I have the Dell laptop that I got after that PS/2 stopped being useful. It's a 486 with 8 megs of RAM. It's got a color screen that's probably eight inches by something. It still fucking works, though, goddamnit. I threw the manual for it away yesterday. Later I dug through the trash bag to get it back out so I could include it when I list it on Ebay. The manual's sitting on the desk in front of me, on top of the busted stereo that someone gave me in 1994. It's not really busted though, it still works. It's just that I had to replace the power switch, so I did that, with a toggle switch from Radio Shack. But I haven't yet found a way to mount the switch that'd be cool. So the switch is hanging there, and so the whole thing's still on this desk instead of upstairs in the entertainment center where it belongs. The thing is it's the only actual stereo in the house. The speakers that go with it are each about three feet high and are sitting on either side of the entertainment center up there. They're great for sitting stuff on.

No one's going to buy that laptop on Ebay. I won't put that laptop on Ebay because when I fired it up to clean up for selling I found the original editorial I wrote for the first issue of Insipid Irrelevence along with 3 megs worth of stories and poems and shit that I've probably backed up in five different places but that's too much to fit on a floppy disk now so I can be sure and when I tried taking it piece by piece by floppy to my current desktop I remembered (was reminded) that the desktop's floppy drive does a whole lotta nothing when I try to access it, but that while the computer's busy trying to figure out why there's a floppy drive attached that's not really attached the computer is not simultanously busy letting me do any other fucking thing at all for twenty minutes. That editorial was written back when I thought there'd be issues of this thing. (There were two, technically. I still owe some couple in Florida a printed copy. I'm pretty sure I still have the check they sent me for two dollars.) It was back when I thought this weblog was an editorial. Back before I had two copies of Duran Duran's Notorious on cassette.

I have trouble remembering things. I don't think this is your average trouble-remembering-things. Sometimes I talk to my younger brothers about shit that happened a long time ago and they seem to be able to talk about details. I can, if I'm lucky, remember that the stuff happened, but that's about it. These boxes of junk remind me that stuff's been happening. Something's been going on. One of the CDs I pulled out of the box of cassettes was Fleetwood Mac's greatest hits. It was the first CD I bought after our parents got a CD player for the family for christmas. I've got Pat Benatar's greatest hits in another box I came across yesterday, which is the first CD I got for free from Camelot music after getting twenty punches in the card where every CD bought earned a punch, and every twenty punches earned a free CD. I got a bunch more free ones that way, but that's the only one that I can remember for sure getting that way. These can't be important memories, can they? I treat everything like it's a souvenir.

I've made very few entries in here this year, I think. Looking through them just now to see if I'd already related the ebay/paypal story (which probably could've been hilarious if I didn't feel like I were just rushing to get everything out,) I saw that a few entries ago I talked about the one-entry-a-day-for-a-month thing, and I talked about this junk, and about ebay. I know I talked about this junk when I was trying to pack before moving the last time. I've probably talked about this junk here a handful of other times, too.

If I came home from work one day and it was all gone I'd be pretty upset. A week later I'd be figuring out what to do with this basement to make it into a comfortable working and living space. I'd wish I still had my CDs, though really it'd be about fifty of them or less that I'd miss. I'd wonder what tapes had still been here when the whole mess disappeared. I'd certainly miss the computer and the recording equipment, I'd need to replace that.

But the boxes of detritus; the toys and books and magazines that I'd sell on Ebay if someone would buy 'em, the old glue-stick that's right where I want to sit my glass of iced tea, the bottle of rubbing alcohol that's right next to that, the boxes of junk (yes, I have boxes of stuff that I consider junk. My grandfather had a junk jar, I remember that about him. My mother had (has?) a junk drawer. I've got plastic junk boxes. wtf indeed,) I don't think I'd miss any of it for long. I feel like I'd miss it, maybe. These souvenirs are really what I have. If memories are all we have in the end, and I can't seem to keep those, then I need a substitute.

I know it's not true. Probably none of the reasons are real. If I throw something away and the next week need just that very thing, I'll probably survive. All of it's rationalization for whatever's really making me keep the stuff. Clear as can be. I don't know if I'll beat it this time, I think maybe it's kicking my ass. An old cassette player that plays everything all warbly just bit off my leg. Retreat.

(I've got pictures of the decorations, some of 'em, and of a new weird-ass spider hanging around out front with the jack-o-lanterns; I'd like to talk about this mad epidemic of the fear of the flu... so here it is: new post, every day, for a month. Starting October 20th, 2004. If I miss any because I'm not here I'll double-post after. This is my stupid fucking stand. Doug Pinnick, most famously of King's X but in this case of Poundhound, has just sung to me, "if people would stop sucking, if people would stop sucking, if people would stop sucking the world would be a better place." Who needs CDs when we got these fancy MP3s?)