Death in the news

Maybe it’s because it was fairly close (Roanoke is about a hundred miles away), or maybe it’s because I’ve known a fair number of reporters in my time, or maybe it’s  because I’ve known a lot of people who work in broadcasting, but this morning’s shootings are getting to me more than these things usually do.

And what really disturbs me here is that I just typed “more than these things usually do” as if random gun violence were a pretty regular and otherwise unremarkable thing. Which, of course, it is here in America, where every crackpot gun nut in the trailer park (or on the golf course) believes himself to be a one-man “well-regulated militia.”

There’s no way in hell you can convince me that we’re going to solve this problem by arming even more people. And the next person who tries to compare this to the shootings in Charleston may get smacked for being an idiot with whom I no longer feel the need to be patient or tolerant.

A productive sort of Thursday


Sometimes you have to take a day or two off just to catch up with your life.

Today was that day for me. I knocked out a huge pile of things that have been hanging over my head, related to the sale of the house and to my mom. I no longer feel like everything is so out of control. And I’m thinking I may actually take a day off this weekend (and not use it to write an article like I did last weekend).

That said, the disposition of the house has been delayed, maybe for several weeks, due to a storm this week that forced the contractor to push back the oil tank removal. No comment yet from the buyers, but I think they’re pretty invested at this point and they apparently love the house, so I’m thinking things will be OK.


Got rid of a car today, and a shitload of stuff leaves tomorrow to help Habitat (or to line the pocket of the junkman). Just for reference, you can sell a car without a properly notarized title transfer in North Carolina as long as it’s for salvage and the car is more than ten years old. You apparently cannot, however, donate it or sell it to someone who may actually want to register it. As I’m all about making things as simple as possible these days, I opted for the $175 path of least resistance. The extra cash will cover one or two per cent of the oil tank removal cost.

Also for the record, no one (charity shops included) wants big, useless entertainment centers or particle-board computer desks. And Greensboro is much more advanced and it’s a waste management program than Winston-Salem. By “advanced”, I mean that recycling is easier and everything else is generally less of a pain in the ass in Greensboro. Unfortunately, most of the stuff I need to get rid of is in Winston-Salem.

Getting rid of stuff makes me strangely happy. So I should be ecstatic tomorrow night. Maybe I’ll even splurge and do this. I saw them a couple of years ago and they do put on quite the show.

Sentiment and deaccessioning

The approved librarian term for weeding collections is “deaccessioning.” Contrary to popular belief, we don’t hold on to every item we have until the end of time. We have to get rid of things periodically, and this is usually done through some set of criteria based on how useful the items remain over time. Sentiment can factor in to the process, but shouldn’t really be the primary factor.

I’m moving right now. Actually, I’ve already pretty much moved, but I’m consolidating the two houses (and a few leftovers from the one in Pittsburgh as well) and getting rid of a lot of stuff in the process. There are a few specific items that have some sentimental value for me and I’m having to consider whether they have enough value to justify keeping them. This is a process I wish my mom had gone through at some point in her past as well, but in a sprawling, suburban place like the American Sunbelt, it just doesn’t happen–at least not for settled residents who own their own homes that they can fill with limitless collections and accumulations of crap.

In fact, the ability to hold on to things like this was something that attracted me back to the whole detached single-family home model nine years ago. I like hanging on to things. It was also apparently attractive to my ex, since a not insignificant proportion of the stuff I’ve been “deaccessioning” was originally his. When you think you have unlimited space, it’s easy to avoid making decisions about what stays and what goes.

Until some event like a divorce, or a death, or a “geographical realignment” forces that decision, that is…

For me, the consolidation of the houses is the current incarnation of that event, and I’m using it an opportunity to get rid of tons of things I really have no use for. When a letter or a photo or a small toy has some special meaning or memory attached to it, it’s not unreasonable to hang on to it. But what if the thing that has sentimental value is a bedroom suite that–apart from the memories–you don’t really need or like that much? Or maybe a box of items that you otherwise wouldn’t have any real use for? is there really any reason to hold on to things like that when they actually start causing you stress rather than giving you pleasure? How important are things that you keep in a box in the basement and never look at except when you move or need to “rearrange” them to make room for more stuff?

I have several large pieces of furniture like this, many of which I have offered to sell or give away to Facebook friends. Some of these friends have suggested that i really “should” hold onto items because they were my grandmother’s or because they pertain to my childhood or whatever. But these are big, bulky things that take up space and that I would never acquire on my own given the opportunity to do so. Why should I keep lugging them from place to place and stepping around them when I really have no good use for them? It’s not like I’m going to forget my grandmother if I sell this bedroom suite that’s too big and not my style. And why do I need boxes of newspapers that I’ll never read and whose content is really of no interest to me just because they remind me of a specific trip I took in 2008 or because I think that I’ll eventually forget what newspapers look like if I don’t keep them?

I won’t even get started on the pressure I’ve gotten from some of my cousins to hang on to my dad’s guns. It’s great that he loved them. i don’t. They make me nervous and I don’t want them in my house. Case closed. And the funny thing is that these cousins are strangely hesitant when I offer to give them the whole fucking arsenal.

So I’m being pretty ruthless. I’m only hanging on to furniture that (a) I really like or (b) serves some useful purpose in my life. And I’m not feeling bad about deaccessioning items that match neither criterion. I’m selling what I can get rid of with minimal effort (I can’t be bothered with yard sales or Craigslist) and calling Habitat or the junk man to get rid of the rest. The funny thing is that once I made the decision, the process got so much easier! I think it helps that I was a city kid who lived in cramped urban quarters for many years; interestingly, I buy groceries like a city kid too, with multiple small trips rather than big weekend excursions.

I’m learning to do the same thing with people.

Over the past few years, I’ve reconnected with lots of old friends, some of them people I haven’t talked to in twenty years or more. I’m incredibly excited to be back in touch with a lot of these people. I’ve missed them and we were able to resume our friendships with ease. With others, I have–how shall I say this?–quickly realized that there was a reason why we’d lost touch.

In some cases, it’s because they became batshit crazy lunatics or never grew out of the “drugs, drama, and divahood (divadom?)” of their twenties. With these, I pretty much manage to lose touch again as quickly as possible because I have anough bullshit in my own life without taking on the additional bullshit of someone else who adds nothing positive to my life in the process. I have a few interesting Facebook anecdotes I can share if you want illustrations.

With others, I find that they have just moved off in a different direction and I’ve discovered that we really don’t have much to talk about anymore. Reminiscing about drinking in bars in 1989 is only interesting for so long if you have nothing new to add to the conversation. Usually, I think they realize it too and we just sort of back off again, realizing that our “friendship” will be the modern equivalent of running into each other downtown every few years, having a five-minute “catch up” on the street corner and then moving on. I have no animosity, but there’s no need to expend effort cultivating a relationship that clearly offers no real benefit to either party.

Like my house, my life is cluttered enough without feeling the need to maintain relationships that really don’t make me happy anymore. And I have way too many stressful relationships that I can’t ignore for one reason or another to hang onto additional ones that can be avoided, especially if we’re just friends because of fifteen or twenty years of inertia or a shared experience that ended years ago and was never replaced by anything new.

Now if I could just get a little better at letting go of grudges. And pictures. And cans of green beans…

Randomly Tuesday night

A few updates before bed:

  • I’m in the inspection and repair phase on the house. Assuming I get the state rebate for removing that oil tank and assuming the general repair list does not cost more than the current estimate from my handyman, I may manage to end up with a little bit of cash (albeit a good bit less than even my downpayment) after closing. I’ll still be selling the place at a significant loss, but at least I’m not underwater. And it’s worth it to finally close that chapter of my life.
  • I lucked out in that a couple of things I thought would be big issues–primarily some stairs the ex built that are sinking and have become a major eyesore but would also cost a fortune to remove, and some paving on the other side that drains in the wrong direction–were not fixes requested by the buyer. i dodged a bullet on those.
  • Even better, I’m doing surprisingly well selling the furniture, which gives me cash and makes moving easier.
  • Nashville was pleasant enough, all in all. My presentation went well and actually got a lot of positive feedback. I was able to do some Groceteria research and I may actually return for a weekend at some point, although I have no real desire for anything more than a weekend.
  • I’ve had a pretty prestigious publication accepted. More on that later.
  • I’m pondering my annual Thanksgiving trip to Toronto. I’ve been traveling a lot this year and I’m wondering if another big trip is a good idea. But I think I deserve a reward once the house is sold and the articles are done…and in general after the really shitty summer I’ve had. And the loonie is at an all-time low, so it’s a really good time to visit. I’ll keep you posted.
  • I didn’t sit through the Republican debate last week. I started watching for laughs–kind of like you’d start watching a bad movie–but the plot and the dialogue were so implausible that I just couldn’t swallow it, even as a farce.


The last time I saw Nashville…

…was in October of 1992. It was the first stop on my first cross-country road trip when I was moving to San Francisco. As I recall, I was there on a Monday night. I stayed at the Motel 6, went to a couple of bars, and left the next morning. I remember almost nothing about the place, except that the queer bar was as boring as every other Southern queer bar, and the alt-rock place downtown was completely empty on a Monday night. And I think I was in some neighborhood near Vanderbilt that had old houses and a Kinko’s.

Anyway, I’ll be there again this week doing a conference presentation. Suggestions that don’t involve boring queer bars or Kinko’s are welcome.

Seriously, universe?


Let’s review the past week:

  • Deal with mom being evicted from her facility for no rational reason and scramble around finding a new one over the weekend? Check.
  • Deal with negotiating an offer on my house and how to fix what may turn out to be a $20,000 contingency on the sale? In progress.
  • Visit my aunt in hospice on Friday afternoon, only to have her die five minutes after I arrive, and then squeeze the funeral into an already crazy weekend? Check. (Good thing I didn’t need much time to grieve.)
  • Deal with physically moving all my mom’s stuff from The old facility to the new one? In progress.
  • Deal with three other minor repairs in my house prior to the inspection on Monday? In progress.
  • Try to actually do my job–which has a lot of things pending right now too–for a few hours? In progress.

Frankly that sounds like enough to me. But no. Tonight on my way home after a morning of phone calls followed by three hours of signing paperwork and one hour of moving crap, I got rear-ended. Which means I have one more thing on my plate to spend even more hours I don’t have dealing with. its drivable and I’m not hurt, but to say that I really don’t need this right now is a huge fucking understatement.

I’m not sure whether locusts or leprosy will be next.

I still manage to have my sense of humor, but it’s getting a little harder. If this were a fucking movie, no one would buy the plot.

I’ve been holding it together pretty well for the past two years, so please allow me to be a basket case this week. I will stop whining soon.

(BTW, suggestions and nursing home/insurance/construction horror stories are really not what I need at this point, particularly with my limited time and overloaded brain. This is a really specific situation and I pretty much know what’s going on. I would gladly accept generic moral support, though!)


It’s going to be a long month.

Aside from all the issues with my mom, which are resulting in her moving to a new facility sometime this week, my aunt passed away on Friday so there’s now a funeral in the mix as I prepare for the move.

And yesterday afternoon, I finally got an offer on the house. Unfortunately, the offer is a little low and has a pretty major contingency, which will prove time-consuming at a point where I don’t have a lot of time to spare. I’m really happy to finally have an offer, but the timing kind of sucks. Assuming the offer flies, they’re also be the issue of clearing out the house.

On top of everything else, I have a conference presentation in Nashville the week after next. I’m also in the middle of writing two articles, both of which are due in late August.  

I may find myself sleeping (or drinking) a lot in September.