Wednesday, September 15, 2010

One Man's Treasure...

Working in an antique shop, I think the phrase I hear most often is a variation on 'We had these when I was a kid'. Or, 'My mom had this when I was growing up.' Always, 'my mom'.
At first my retail-tuned ears would perk up at this, thinking that now they would obviously have to buy it. With an emotional attachment to the object, how could they leave it behind? But leave it behind they did. In fact, they usually leave the store pretty soon after. I think today I finally realized why.
Seeing a memory from their childhood, an object tied to their past and their mother and their precious individual experience among the stacks and stacks of other peoples' crap, of course they leave. This commodifying of their personal history must at best jarring, at worst painful. It doesn't really matter how I arrange the objects, or the care I put into writing the tag. The bottom line is that I have placed a monetary value on a piece of their past and have lumped it in with what must suddenly seem an offensive conglomeration of stolen goods. Sitting innocently behind the counter marveling at all the history in these treasures and trinkets, it somehow escaped me that the objects themselves don't just have their own stories to tell; they also bear the heavy burden of others' stories.


It certainly casts the two rings I bought earlier this week in a new light. I wonder what damned spots they bear.


Sunday, September 12, 2010

Morbidity & Whimsy

I have this quality that I have been trying to define forever. This is my latest definition.

I am morbid, very morbid, and it is at odds with the overwhelming wonder and delight I have in my surroundings. At night I watch the shadows on the walls and think about horrible deaths, and am paralyzed by fear. In the morning I am woken by a golden light that seems to beautiful to be true, and am overjoyed. These sinister thoughts (which I often feel incapable of reining in) and my more whimsical ponderings (which also roam free without my consent) are typically contradictory. Reading this I am sure you are hypothesizing that I am manic. But do not fret; sometimes there is a union of these two qualities and it may be when I feel most whole.

My February 22nd post included a photograph that entrances both sides of me, the morbidity and the whimsy.

On one hand, I am terrified. The deepest black is in that doorway. The white stairs, they lead to nothing. What is below? Is it glass, or the stillest water, the most sinister lake. Above the door, these angry angles, is the building folding in on us, are time and space at an end? Am I?

On the other, I am sinking into that lake. It seems it would be so lovely and cool. And when I reach the other side I will look up beyond the stairs, beyond the doorway, and I will know the depth of those perfect angles. Placing one foot at a time on each of those stairs I will feel the most incredible anticipation. Each concentric ring on every toe will forever remember this smooth white climb.

This union of morbidity and whimsy, this is when I feel most overwhelmed by beauty. I have been thinking a lot about this because of three things:
1) I live in Ohio, again. If this place were a color, it would be dusty goldenrod. This is one of my favorite colors. It is beautiful and sad beyond words.
2) It is the beginning of autumn (my favorite season). Everything seems to be dying very slowly, but I know that really it is just the start of a most beautiful slumber.
3) I am reading Miranda July's collection of short stories, No one belongs here more than you. I can only read one story at a time, sometimes it is a week or more before I can pick it up again. These stories absolutely bowl me over in their beauty and pain. The book is bright yellow. I treasure it.


Tuesday, September 7, 2010


Do you remember BusyTown? Richard Scarry's overstimulating creation of a fantasy-land in which all creatures happily interacted throughout the day as they navigated the streets running errands. These errands were, it seemed, the bulk of their responsibilities in their chosen profession. Well, wait, not 'chosen'. No, because it seemed obvious from the clearly marked labels and their perma-grins that their profession was not chosen by them, but by a higher authority. If you were born a dachshund, then you were a painter. If you were born a beaver, then you were a book printer, of course.

I guess what I'm trying to say is this: Mr. Richard Scarry, I blame you. Your delightfully illustrated books entranced me and as a result I believed wholeheartedly that there was a profession out there that would just choose me. Eventually I would stumble across it and my mouth would stretch into a life-long expression of contentment and satisfaction; I would finally be found by my true calling.

But, it's not that easy. I'm on a strange and winding path and there are too many forks and bends ahead to know where I'll end up, or if I'll ever even 'end up' anywhere. I guess the thing to do is to recalibrate my expectations. I do not need to find 'my calling', but I do need to set some standards for myself, some basic requirements.

So, here's one:


And another, please?


That'll do for now. Don't want to be greedy.