Otherstream at 20: 2008

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There was better reading in 2008 than in 2007, maybe because I was tying (at least for a little while) to generate content for four different websites, all of which eventually landed here. I’d call this year “reflective” and “hectic” with grad school and all. I also worked a very odd part-time job, continued with my freelancing, and migrated the site from static HTML to WordPress. I’d sort of forgotten what a busy year it was.

January

February

March

April

May

June

July

August

September

October

November

December

Otherstream at 20: 2007

 

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Past the halfway point now, and only eight days until the anniversary. Highlights and favorites from 2007 (the year I started grad school and actually started working toward having a real career) follow. I have to admit very little of it is especially entertaining or inspiring.

January

February

March

April

May

June

July

August

September

October

November

December

 

Otherstream at 20: 2002

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Twelve days till the big anniversary, and fourteen years to cover because I missed a couple of days.

2002 was all about love and mushiness, until September, when it became all about love and cohabitation. But I occasionally managed to write about other things, too. In retrospect, I’m not wild about some of it, but most of it holds up OK.

January:

February:

March:

April:

May:

June:

July:

August:

September:

October:

November:

 

Otherstream at 20: 2001

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Sorry for that delay. I didn’t create enough of these before I left on vacation, thinking I’d catch up on the road, but the “cut and paste” nature of these particular posts made that a major pain on the iPad. Twelve days till the anniversary.

So 2001 was the year in which I lost one of my oldest friends, had major health issues, and met the love of my life, among other things. And a surprisingly latge number of things still managed to annoy me. A pretty intense year, all in all.

Some highlights:

January:

February:

March:

April:

May:

June:

July:

August:

September:

October:

November:

December:

Otherstream at 20: 2000

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Anniversary soon. Today? Y2K, when I apparently hated everything, especially San Francisco. OK, I still don’t care much for san Francisco.

Favorites and milestones from the textual diarrhea that was 2000:

January

February

March

April

May

June

July

August

September

October

November

December

Otherstream at 20: 1996

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13 January 2016 will be the twentieth anniversary of the site that became Otherstream. In a rather egotistical observance of that anniverasry, I’m focusing on one year per day in the twenty days leading up to the anniversary, linking to some favorite and important (or just inane and disposable) posts from each year. Today, we start with 1996.

Otherstream did not start as a journal/blog site–or even one named “Otherstream.” Planet SOMA was more of a static site with information about San Francisco neighborhoods, some dirty pictures, rants about annoying aspects of faggotry, and some biographical info about me. It was the early days of the web and frankly, any presence at all was was still much more than 99% of people had in that pre-Wordpress, pre-Facebook era when most people didn’t even know what a website was. i didn’t start doing personal updates till several months in.

Aside from the birth of the website, 1996 was pretty pivotal in other ways as well. It marked the end of traditional full-time employment for the next six years, the end of the car I moved to San Francisco with, and several interesting road trips. It was really the beginning of a new era for me.

August

September

October

November

December

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…

Back to the streets of San Francisco

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So I have ventured into the Bay Area for the first time in nearly five years.

Quick assessment:

  • Yeah, in some ways it does feel like a visit home. In other ways, not so much.
  • San Francisco has not become quite the completely foreign environment I expected from things I’ve been reading lately, at least not its physical form. But it’s on the way.
  • The pizza at Gaspare’s is still a wonderful thing.
  • I have absolutely no desire to live there again. Were it not for a few remaining friends whole live there (if only part time), I wouldn’t even see visiting again as a huge priority.

So, about Days One and Two of David’s California Adventure 2015? Let’s go with another pair of bullet lists, starting with Monday:

  • Uneventful and (dare I say it?) almost pleasant cross-country flight once I resigned myself to a $75 upgrade.
  • BART from SFO is nice. It was in place before I left the Bay Area but I’d never used it before.
  • I like my “much cheaper than the convention center and right across the street” hotel.

Tuesday:

  • Watching Mornings on 2 was strangely comforting.
  • Damn. The humidity is intense. I went for a long walk this morning and was soaking when I got back, even though it was only in the low 60s out. I don’t remember things being like this when I lived here. Maybe the drought is only an issue because all the moisture is in the air.
  • There’s lots of construction in Downtown Oakland but precious little visible evidence of large scale gentrification. And my newsstand is still open.
  • Lunch with my friend and ex-roomie in Berkeley. Good food and I only had to ridicule one patron with a topknot.
  • Rode back into SF with Dan across the new Bay Bridge. Saw his renovated flat, and walked around in the neighborhood a bit.
  • Dinner with Dan and Jamie at Gaspare’s, with a stop by Green Apple Books.

Today I will actually be paying attention to the conference I’m here for. My presentation is this afternoon at 4:30.

For reference…

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Random thoughts for a Saturday afternoon in a semi-rural hospital setting:

  • Involuntary commitments done through a hospital are much easier than those you do yourself at the magistrate’s office, but they take just as long. And I very much wish this were not something I knew firsthand.
  • It takes a special kind of person to be a hospice worker. Seriously.
  • It’s in the middle of nowhere and visiting will be a pain, but you gotta love a hospital with its own lake.
  • Way too many people who work with dementia patients cannot distinguish between a crisis and a problem and act accordingly. Hint: precious few things really qualify as crises.