Labor Day Monday I awoke to a moderately toned
coming from the bedroom closet.
Yep. Our hot water heater bit the dust.
I’d say we got off easy, though not without cost. Over the years I subtly prepared for this eventuality by adjusting clothes and boxes for the least amount of damage once the dreaded occasion arose.
All that to say, due to a unique ricocheting leaking process, water puddled on top of the big red plastic bin as well as on the floor beneath it.
Fine. Except not really.
I placed a sturdy U-Haul cardboard book box filled with my latest & most special composition books, journals and pieces of writing atop that big red plastic bin in order to keep it from being soaked in the event of such an eruption.
Best laid plans…it was soaked.
However, no clothes or shoes were ruined (big sigh of relief) and the damage to the notebooks numbered three journals soaked, with manageable wetness on another handful.
Honestly, minimal damage on that front. Though of course, those three notebooks soon became the most important of the entire lot.
At first, I thought, ‘Okay, time to just let my decades of journals, Morning Pages, etc go. At the very least, grab the earliest entries, skim and toss.’
But then…let’s just say that one of the soaked three was nearest and dearest to my heart. It contained my Summer of Dad entries – including those made during my last days with him.
The other two, though not as poignant, proved hard to let go of for a different reason:
The Pandemic “lockdown” and its historic if not creative significance in my myopic life at the time. One even contains pre-Pandemic scenarios morphing into the unrelenting reality of the early months of the Pandemic. Thus, easily highlighting the contrasting paths of life interrupted in one compact composition book.
Last page, last paragraph taken from the 1/2020 – 4/2020 journal:
“The myriad turn of events and the speed with which they’ve occurred is phenomenal…Just within the pages of this compo book we went from being in business negotiations poised to buy that new business in San Diego, to finding a rental home in Austin to be closer to business partner, to changing plans & gearing up for a move to Las Cruces, NM fully pre-approved and in pursuit of purchasing our chosen home, to being packed and ready to move once all i’s were dotted and t’s crossed, to almost death by Symbicort*, to dealing with the cold reality of life in the time of COVID.”4/21/2020 (annotated)
I spent most of that day blow drying those three drenched journals. Focusing on my Summer of Dad one, which emerged a questionable save. The other two are reasonably saved. But what of those now puffy, ugly, hard-to-read and unwieldy three? What of those outer visual reminders of the broken times contained within?
Some practical things I learned:
- School glue-sticked articles, photos, magazine pictures and other creative extras used to decorate and punctuate the pages release their hold once wet and then blown dry.
- Of course – that’s why it’s for school use!
- All except normal Bic type pens are subject to performing the disappearing act when exposed to drenching water.
- But even then, writing on both sides of the paper becomes all mixed together and harder to decifer.
- I’m not ready to go through those accumulated journals (which were in that big plastic bin) and am no nearer a resolution on what to do with them all before I die.
This singular event spun off re-dedication in going through ‘important’ papers, projects, not just the journals. The ephemera of a life mindfully collecting said ephemera!
To clarify, I am a periodic purger, so it’s not like this stuff hasn’t been scrutinized and gone through multiple times over the years – organized and available for use if and when needed.
In my case that includes many published articles in complete, virgin condition magazines and other publications. Plus, multitudes of concert programs, printed reviews, promo materials, permission to record requests, proof of said permissions, etc, etc, etc.
In short, the curated files of a life’s career before, during and after digital replaced paper – which actually added to the paper and created the Rabbit Hole of associated computer files.
On top of those considerations, I keep hearing the mantra: Purge your Portfolio. Which means making certain that whatever is kept, should reflect best efforts at the very least.
Seriously, I do purge old recordings, score attempts, early drafts of anything on a regular basis in order to clear the clutter of creative thought. But sometimes, it’s handy to see the progress of the process during a certain project’s creation…
How do you reconcile the legitimate stuff to keep?
Input? Ideas? Help!
*my doctor casually handed me free samples of Symbicort to supplement my asthma rescue inhaler treatment, to which I had an immediate life threatening serious reaction…obviously I survived.