Sunday, May 29

Reverting to Original URL

The domain name for this place has expired. I don't think I'll renew it. is good enough. I don't do enough with this thing to pretend to market it as some sort of enterprise. It's just my... tedious little meandering writings on an unfocused group of topics, that's all.

Wednesday, May 25

Today We Mourn An Address Book

In the process of moving into a new place, in the process of taking things out of boxes and finding places for them to go, one is forced to reconcile with what one wants to keep or [donate/regift/trash].

Red Horseshoe (link in my sidebar)
provides many fun and exotic
accouterments for letter-writers. 
This process also happens when one is packing things up in the first place. One is compelled to touch and handle every single stupid object one has accrued, and after 10,000 repetitions of this action one has to wonder how much stuff one really needs.

We have augmented this process with a third step in the middle: placing all our crap into storage. It happens in the middle. We packed everything up, placed it in a climate-controlled storage facility, and now we're shipping it from the facility to our new apartment. When one puts things in storage, one is compelled once again to weigh the worth of each object and how badly one needs to keep it in storage.

I love Moleskine notebooks. I love them so much, I've bought too many of them. I've rationalized and bargained my way into getting more. Why? I dunno. I love the concept of them, I love the color and texture of the paper (though admittedly Clairfontaine/Rhodia is consistently better), I love the reputation that comes with them. I traveled throughout Asia happily penning (most of) my adventures in a Moleskine, and it was no rare occasion to see other tourists with their Moleskines doing exactly the same thing, as tourists have done for decades.

Not personal information: that's no longer my number,
and my name/e-mail are easily had through this very blog.
But if you use a notebook sufficiently, there has to come a time to get rid of it. Obviously I would never throw away a travel journal, but there is a point when an address book has outlived its usefulness. Like when you fill one up, lose contact with many of those people, buy a new one, transfer the addresses you need, and that new one also comes with a smaller address book that could be used for some special... addressy... purpose. Yet to be determined.

So what happens to the old one? You could tras-... no, you could keep it. It's like a souvenir of an era, right? A chronological souvenir of where you've been in life's journey. And you have to protect those addresses, too. Even if you're no longer speaking with some of those people, you don't want to just hand out their addresses, phone numbers, and e-mail addresses to anyone on the street, and if you put it in the trash you're basically doing that. Trash is public access, after all. TV and movies are full of people finding all sorts of things out about you by going through your trash, even stealing your identity. And that starts with knowing your address.

I decorated the interior with labels from sheets of collectible
 stamps, an original linocut, and misc. stickers.
That sounds good, but when the fervor dies down and your vision returns, you know you've got to get rid of it. It's no good keeping it. Small as it is, it's still taking up room and it still needs a place to go. I have a much better one and though those addresses are also going extinct, it's easier to paste over them with Moleskine paper from another notebook because this new address book is larger. So when you want to throw away something you want to keep, what do you do?

It's easier now than it was before: take a picture. In the past that would've meant turning film in for development and waiting a week to pick up another physical object to take up space in your life. Now, however, I can take a digital picture and store it on my laptop. So everyone can take a moment and meet one of my beloved Moleskines even as it's on its way out the door.

Monday, May 23

Getting Things Back in Place

This image from Minneapolis' history is going out
to a young woman in Toljatti, Russia.
Back in the States (with a permanent address) means back on Postcrossing!

Rebecca and I moved into our new apartment yesterday--a sublet for three months, during which time we'll search for another apartment or maybe even a house, or just a plot of land on which to build a small house; truly, the options are multiple--and I've re-upped my new address with the USPS so we should start getting personal mail intentionally sent here. And I think it harms very little to reactivate my Postcrossing account and start sending postcards out (my accrued reserve is massive) and begin receiving notes from around the world. That always was a delight for me.

Actually... I wonder how that would work, with a small house? If you just build a little structure on your land and it wasn't previously zoned for postal delivery, how do they manage that? I imagine one of those mail delivery trucks pulling up, two men in grey jackets get out, frown at the new house, walk back and forth, frown, then climb back into the truck and drive back to the city.

The next day, you start receiving mail and one parcel is a large manila envelope with your address angrily circled in thick red marker, letting you know none too gently that this is now your address.

Thursday, May 5

The Battle Rages On

Ugh, I haven't updated this in forever. I keep doing that, not-updating. Yes, very Zen, but not very entertaining.

We returned to the States one day after our third wedding anniversary and one day before my 41st birthday. ...No, I can't believe I'm that old either. Thanks, I don't feel I look it either. Very kind of you. Since returning I find some of my former passions somewhat diminished: I've completely slacked off on my photo-a-day blog since I don't feel anything I can do here will be as interesting as the last six months (not very generous, I know), and I've altogether stopped writing postcards or any kind of postal correspondence.

That latter is especially a crime, considering my love for this medium. Indeed, 85% of polled Americans say the USPS is their favorite federal department. (In return, the USPS says it's losing money and will have to declare bankruptcy and shut down in ten years. Can you imagine? I seriously cannot.) But after sending postcards from southeast Asia, complete with exotic and interesting postage stamps and postmarks using the Buddhist calendar instead of the U.S.'s Christian reckoning... what can compare? "Hi, I'm in Minnesota, here's a funny little card about a regional delicacy we call 'hotdish.'" "Greetings from Minnesota, we have a lot of lakes and even more mosquitos, if you can believe it." "Hello, guess who just discovered his cache of Forever stamps?"

That's not kind, I know, and it's not right. Writing a letter or a postcard is valuable no matter the origin. People love getting personal missives in the mail, period. Even moreso now, as it's increasingly attaining "novelty" status. I'm hoping I'll get over this blue funk and get back to writing regularly.

I did just finish a letter, in fact. This weekend sees the 80th birthday of my favorite author, Gene Wolfe. I've written him before and I wrote him today. I wished him a happy birthday, I apologized for not being able to visit him at the sci-fi convention in Wisconsin last September (that really crushed me, but we were packing up to leave the country and I had no free time), and I tried to share the most interesting anecdotes from our travels. Most other authors I admire to such a pronounced degree have passed on decades or centuries ago. It was imperative that I got over my shyness in the face of his auspiciousness and pen a letter of appreciation, the first time, before it was no longer an option. I've since urged anyone who'll listen to do the same.

And, truth be told, Minneapolis does have some awesome postcards. There's a big indie art scene here and some prominent creators have generated really excellent clothing, artwork, and stationery. This place is worthy of some "local pride" and investing in these artists' works is beneficial all the way around. For that sake, I love sending out postcards to my friends in diaspora--even though it discourages me that few of them have any interest in responding (some couldn't be arsed to send an e-mail or even a quick note on Facebook that they'd received my postcards from abroad). But that shouldn't be my motivation to write. Getting something in return is a terrible motivation to do something you love. The fact that I've selected a suitable pen, sought out an attractive postcard or writing set, and practiced several hundreds of hours of handwriting to create a little message to let a friend know I've been thinking of them should be the end unto itself.

My reasons to not-write are flimsy, and the reasons to write are multifarious. My path is clear, and the momentum to follow it is imminent, I just have to become the action. I will, I am.