I’m beginning to realize that getting used to the idea that there’s less direct impact on my city of a pandemic is as gradual and intense a process as getting used to the idea that there was. Slowly figuring out how to be cautious without being panicked. Finding the reliable sources and techniques for managing risk. Finding the appropriate and sustainable level of attention my safety requires.
Some of it is unknown; how much additional protection my vaccinations gave me as an immunosuppressed person is still up in the air. But the science is getting clearer on how COVID-19 spreads and how to keep it from doing so. N95 mask and outdoors is very, very safe. Outdoor and unmasked with a vaccinated person who is reasonably careful (not going to bars or being unmasked around people who do, for example; 1% risk per year adherent using microCOVID.org specifically) may be safe if I haven’t taken on a lot of other risk that week.
Like everyone, I’m frustrated to have to figure it all out and nervous about getting it wrong. But I’m a lot less of either than I was a year ago.
I was able to carefully enjoy my first fine dining experience since March 2020, taking advantage of the nice parklet setup which Absinthe has. So good to have that French onion soup again!
On the home front, I’m consolidating my “cold storage” cupboards. Favorite old books and physical photos and souvenirs are now packed snugly in the least easy to access cube of my wall storage system, along with genealogy and the few required papers to save from old tax returns, etc.
Pulled out from that awkward cupboard were about four cubic feet of papers to be gone through to see if they merit saving, either digitally or physically. They’re now in smaller boxes and I’ll be working through them at least 30 minutes a week until they’re dealt with. Then the genealogy items, as a hobby I’m not engaging in and don’t really expect to return to, will get their turn under the Discardian microscope. That’s a little slower process because I want to make sure I don’t have any info or documents which my uncle, the family genealogist, doesn’t already have.
“Pick the low-hanging fruit” is a valuable Discardian lesson I’ve learned. Do the easiest stuff first and the energy of accomplishment will fuel the next step.
So, wait, a sec; I’m a Discardian. I’m the Discardian. How can I have clots of old stuff that need to be gone through? The answer is simple: I’m lucky and I’m following the other Discardian principle of not making myself suffer needlessly. I’ve never lost stuff in a disaster and I’ve always had somewhere to stick a few old boxes of papers and mementos. I’ve also been kind to myself about working on the stuff which will bring me the most immediate benefit. So though old boxes may have gotten slightly pruned down over time, the hard decisions or the least urgent space-saving moves haven’t had to happen.
Now I’m ready to really clean house of this stuff. My priorities are clearer after an eventful half decade and the experience of the pandemic. I’m old enough to know that at some point I’ll be helping my older relatives out with decisions about their stuff and that’ll be mentally so much easier if I’ve got my stuff figured out. Most significantly, I’ve pared my activities down to what really excites me and makes me happy, so it’s time to make what I have support what I do.
Also, I’ll be getting my Wildlands Kickstarter reward later in the year and I need a couple more shelves free. Might as well use that as a catalyst to overall improvements.
So, as I sit and my desk recovering from hefting things from cubby to cubby and shelf to box to closet, it’s time for the digital equivalent, a bit more closing out old retroblogged posts.
Here are my cousin and I and a relative in cute tropical print dresses (which maybe she made?) posing outside my house. I kind of think my dress might have ended up worn by a mannequin my grandmother gave me, but I’m not certain. Again, the posing suggests a fun occasion but not nearly as much fun as getting muddy in a pair of overalls.
Jump ahead from June to Christmas and here’s toddler me in red and white striped pyjamas of which I have no memory, standing next to a baby bassinet toy of which I have no memory, holding a big eared, stuffed animal tiger of which I have no memory. There’s the wreckage of opening packages around and a little tree, bigger than the Charlie Brown Christmas one, but not huge and maybe not real like the ones we got from the tree farm later in my childhood. Some lady with loads of dark hair, swirled around the top of her head and cascading down to her shoulders is looking at me as I stare at the photographer (probably Grandpa). I know from context and those familiar hands that it’s my mother, but neither of us looks really like the person we’d be in a couple more years. Ah, but in her hands is an old friend. A new doll, toddler-ish like me, but the rich color of dark chocolate in her skin where I am so pale and washed out in the picture you can’t even see my nose, only big eyes and a slightly open mouth matching the red stripes of my pyjamas. I do not remember the name of that doll, but it might have been Charlotte, after Laura’s doll in the Little House books. She stayed around in my toy collection until the end, though whether she was donated or left in the house my folks sold as-is with some boxes of stuff unwanted by us I don’t recall.
Another picture from that Christmas, back at home based on the big tree and the fluffy Keeshond dog Guenevere in the bottom of the picture, with my father and mother. Both in navy blue and I in a dress of the same blue with a white block-print or batik pattern suggesting pine trees. They’re young and nicely put together for holiday time, he with tidily trimmed beard and mustache, she with a neatly buttoned high-collar dress and a bit of eye makeup. He would become shaggier with time. She would gratefully drop the eyeshadow and mascara. My lashes are as big as hers—I had so much hair for my tiny size—and I’m looking down with delight at two Fisher Price peg people I’m holding. Many many many hours of play with those toys and their kin. Behind me the tree has a popcorn string and homemade decorative balls, silky fabric spheres adorned with braid trim and pearl beads held on with long straight pins. The happy magic of Christmas time. A lovely mood and one which echoes forward through many end of year holidays with my mother. She does Christmas right and I’m lucky for that.
Hop forward to the next year and here’s my parents in that same living room. My father has shaved his beard and kept long sides to his mustache and long sideburns. Mmhm. We are entering the 1970s for sure! They’re clearly hosting a party or some occasion is taking place. My mother has her arm through the crook of his arm and they both look at someone just off the left edge of the picture. Her expression is closed mouthed, polite but perhaps cautious. He is grinning. They are not in perfect sync, but they’re going through the right motions. They would divorce the next year, though I don’t know if they had yet begun to realize that was a possibility. I turn from the picture with loving thoughts toward those two young people—not yet 30—and admiration for their bravery in stepping away from the social script toward what they really wanted.
Time hopping to that year or the previous. A camping trip, perhaps at Yosemite. Here is a Dinah I begin to recognize. Long pants in a practical green or gray. Red flat sneakers—Keds or a knockoff, more likely since I grew through the toes so fast—and a pinkish long shirt, untucked. My hair comes down to the top of my butt and my shoulders only come up to the top of the log where my mother is sitting near me. Purple bellbottoms and a blousey green shirt and 2″ heels on her black shoes, with a black handbag nearby. Her hair only comes down to her shoulderblades, but both of us are wearing it straight now. A little bit hippie, but with a job. 😄
Contrasting my blowing straight hair in the next picture—a picnic in some windy spot—with my practical grandmother holding her hair down with a round wrap around her head, over her sunglasses, and my great aunt with a beehive do and shades. I’m bundled in some grownup’s windbreaker jacket and though it appears from the table that the picnic hasn’t even begun yet, I sure look done with this cold and windy nonsense. I guess I’ve always enjoyed being cozy.
About the same time, me at Magic Mountain, photos by my grandparents. Wearing red tights and a red, navy and blue striped dress my mother made, I ride in a yellow boat on an automated ride in actual water and flat-handedly feed grain to a black-faced and black-legged lamb in the petting zoo. Excellent good times for a little kid and no doubt joyful for my grandparents watching me have fun.
Transferring shared images to shared thoughts about images is like the formation of memory. Altering as it goes, distilling, but also sometimes releasing, diffusing, discarding.