I don't expect to be reincarnated,
so I'll blog about dying and death (with appropriate irreverence) while I'm still alive.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

I can't take it with me, but I'm not ready to throw it out.

When I moved from an apartment to my first real house in 1977, I felt that for the first time in my life, I had enough storage space for all of my shit. Unfortunately, I failed to realize a basic fact of life: shit expands to fill the available space, and then it overflows.

The move to our second house in 2001 required FIVE MOVING VANS, plus about 70 trips in our own minivan, plus the disposal or recycling of about 50 CUBIC YARDS of crap, junk and trash.
  • Shit is stuff with value that is mostly sentimental.
  • Crap is stuff that can be eliminated with little debate or tears.
  • Junk can be eliminated with no debate or tears.
  • A collection is a bunch of junk which can be classified and displayed.
  • Trash should have been thrown out, not stored for later debate.
  • Garbage usually is disposed of promptly because it starts to stink.
  • A husband's shit may be considered junk by a wife.
  • And, vice versa.
One good way to classify stuff is by applying the 90-day rule (or one-year or five-year rule, or whatever time interval you select). If something has not been used in the last year (or other time interval), there's a good chance that it will not be used in the next year, and can be eliminated.

Unfortunately, if you have enough space, the 90-day rule can be easily extended to become a 30-year rule.

Our second house is huge. Most people think it's much too big for two people and a dog. It's not. A house can never be too big. Not even Buckingham Palace.

Well, we've been in this house for over 11 years. The house now contains a lot of both shit and crap (plus lots of stuff and things). The formerly cavernous attic is almost impenetrable. The three car garage has become storage space. It has about 10 cartons that have not yet been unpacked from the 2001 move. (A shelf in our laundry room has a carton containing a silver serving thing which was packed for a move in 1975 but never unpacked.) A guest room has no room for guests.

I know it's summer, but it's time for spring cleaning. It's always time for spring cleaning.

We have 14 huge bags which were supposed to go to Goodwill by the end of 2010. I hope they get there this year. They're supposed to go today. I'd rather write, go in the pool, watch TV, and try a new restaurant. I also should visit my mother. What the heck. Goodwill is open tomorrow, and the next day, and the next. 

I'm faced with a major decision.

I have a growing stack of early versions of my books which were marked up for corrections. I don't want anyone to read them, so I can't sell them or give them away. I can't throw them away, because destroying books is one of the few (or maybe the only) sin that I recognize.

Sometimes, when overcome with egomania, I have a vision that some future literary critic will analyze the stash and proclaim to the world, that "AHA! -- in version 3.68, Marcus changed a comma to a semicolon in the last sentence on page 254."

I realize that there is little likelihood that this will happen. But just in case, I'll keep the books. Besides, retention is better than sinning.

The next time I move, I want to go horizontal, feet first, in a black zipper bag, with a tag on a toe. I'll let the next generation decide what is valuable shit and what is mere crap or junk.


Sunday, July 1, 2012

Am I losing my mind -- already?

My mother is nearly 90 years old. She was always super-smart. Like my father, she attended a high school for the "gifted," and she earned multiple college degrees.

In the last year or so, she's had trouble with conversations. Like many people -- even young adults -- she sometimes can't think of a word she wants to use.

My mother, however, instead of merely hesitating, sometimes substitutes words. She may use a general term instead of the specific -- like "fasten the apparatus" instead of "buckle the seatbelt." Or "I need a new thing for the thing" instead of "I need a new cushion for the wheelchair."

She sometimes merely substitutes a word that is the right part of speech, but makes no sense, like "produce" for "bank check" and "poster" for something I never figured out.

Other times -- actually pretty often -- her conversations are perfectly normal.

When she was younger, she read three or four books a week. She recently stopped reading. When she was in high school, she won an award for penmanship. Now she has trouble writing a check.

Although I am "just" 66 years old, I've lately been worried that I might develop my mother's condition.

I never learned how to type the "real" way, but about five years ago I degenerated from being the world’s fastest six-finger typist to a pretty-good two-finger typist. (I actually have ten fingers but I’ve never used them all for typing.)

Now I'm a terrible two-finger typist. I produce a lot of typos -- often pressing an adjacent key, like "v" instead of "c." I frequently hold down the shift key as I press the key to insert an apostrophe, and end up inserting a colon. I often type “i nthe” and “fro ma.” I now tap the Caps Lock key a lot by accident, the semicolon instead of the apostrophe, and the “Page Down” key instead of “delete.” I seldom produce an error-free sentence. [The first time I typed that sentence, I typed "arror," and then I corrected it to "errror."]

A more recent -- and much scarier -- sign of degeneration is that I sometimes substitute words at the keyboard, usually with the same initial letter, like "party" for "path." Sometimes I use the wrong letter sequence, like "nad," "hsould" or "writign."

TRhis is an uncorrected sample of my typign. Anr here is another sample senterncer, and some moer. Today is Sunday and I'll havelots of newsapers to read. I wnatto spend some time writing, readign and editing books, too; and neeed to vacuum the algae for mthe botto mof the pool.

This is really scary. Is it an early sign of dementia? Is part of my brain DEAD? Tomorrow I'm going to call my neurologist and maybe an occupational therapist.

(above) Aging Baby Boomer’s Low-Tech Secret Weapon: If you remove the Caps Lock key, you can’t tap it accidentally.