On Memory

I find myself trying to excavate memories, chipping around the edges of what I do remember, looking for something else that may be poking out and within reach.

It’s tricky. I worry about damaging what little I do remember. I worry even more that I’ll find something I don’t particularly want. Here there be monsters, I think; I remember just enough to know this is true.

For the first  ten years of my life I have what’s probably less than a years worth of memories. And I’m using “memory” loosely — it doesn’t include many long  detailed ones. Most are snippets, a fast snatch pulled from the ether. Here’s an example: Virginia,  Christmas time, sometime before I was 7 – an impression of a big, mid-century shopping center sign, and a few bars of Judy Collins singing “Both Sides Now.” That blink of an eye somehow ties in with my favorite  Christmas ornaments, so I put both things together and assume it’s a memory of a shopping trip.

Mid-century fabulous

Mid-century fabulous, even in the new Millenia

It was years before I realized it wasn’t like that for everyone. I can’t say I’ve ever been really angry about it — from the first realization that I was memory deficient I understood there was likely a very compelling reason for it.

I’ve always been of the mind that I’m doing just fine without those years of memories, so why fuck around and take a chance on falling into a pit full of broken glass?

Yet here I sit, on the other side of a big ass span of years (and attending fully functional memories), wondering if there’s a way to maybe pick out a birthday or a Christmas.

I sometimes think it would be nice to remember what it was like to wake up on Christmas morning. I assume I was excited, that there was a sense of magic or good old-fashioned present greed. What was it like to come down the hall and see the presents under the tree? What was it like to unwrap them?

I want to know, about Christmas and the first day of school and birthday parties and vacations. I want to be able to look at a photograph and put a three-dimensional memory with it. Pictures of those first ten years are like looking at pictures from a magazine. The only reason I know they’re real is I recognize the people in them.

You know, for all the years I’ve spent thinking about these things, here’s something I’m just now putting together, an angle that I’ve never really thought of before.

The memories I most want to recapture are all memories that most likely happened inside my house. The memories I do have? Are almost exclusively from school or Granny’s house, or public locations.

Safe places, in other words.

And doesn’t that tell me all I need to know about trying archaeology?

Right now I can believe I was once excited and awed, holding hands with my sister as we crept down the hall to see the presents left for us. I can believe that even living with a monster in the dungeon I was able to find moments of magic.

I need to let the memories stay buried with his bones. I’m not missing anything I really need.

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True Faith

It’s easier for me to talk about my sex life than it is the state of my faith. I’m pretty sure that says something about me, but I couldn’t tell you what, exactly.

I need to talk  write about faith the same way I once needed to write about sex. I just have no idea how to go about it.  I’ve written — and tossed — reams of words trying to explain it. None of it works.

So I’m here with a chainsaw, hoping to get to the meat of the matter. I’m willing to shave some extra skin just to get the subject on the table.

I didn’t want to be a person of faith, so I tried my best not to be. That didn’t work. No matter how I tried to ignore matters of the metaphysic I would always work my way back to it. It was a long process, mainly because I spent so much time looking at other people’s opinion’s on what  The Great Answer is. After many years of saying “well that doesn’t make much sense to me” I finally started asking myself what made sense.

I stopped asking the universe what I should (could? would, even?) believe and started asking myself.

To be honest I haven’t gotten far. To be very honest (and as much as I hate to do it, snag a metaphor from the Bible) I’ve actually been somewhat of a Jonah.

I started with a very basic idea of things that made sense and started working with that. And it did work. I discovered what true faith means — what it means to me, this is my UPG, doesn’t have to be yours too — and I was in a very happy place spiritually.

See, here’s the part I always choke on, the thing that’s always hardest to really talk about.

I was in a good place spiritually with my homemade heathen faith and then on two separate  occasions some … fuck, I don’t know, some energy, some thing, spoke to me.

The first time it spoke into the room and told me exactly what I needed to hear to make a very big, very serious decision.

The second time it spoke into my ear and is directly responsible for my last (in every sense of the work *knock wood*) pregnancy. Of course we never really know what would have happened had we chosen a different path in the forest, but I’d be willing to bet everything except my children that without a voice speaking into my ear to suggest what a wonderful Christmas present it would be to forget the second part of coitus interruptus, I wouldn’t be sitting here looking across the room at my Ferocious Beastie.

So yeah, not only did I have faith, I had proof. And I’ve spent the last five years or so running away from that proof, trying to tell myself it was all in my head.

There have been some mitigating factors, most notably a horrible case of postpartum psychosis and the subsequent two-year cruise on The Good Ship Zoloft. When your chemicals go haywire and your brain tries to convince you your newborn is possessed by demons, being comfortable with the idea of spirits speaking to and guiding you isn’t easy. Add to that the numbness of being I experienced while medicated, and you have a good recipe for swinging between abject fear and no fucks to give.

I’ve tried everything I know to talk myself out of the surety of those voices speaking to me. I simply can’t, the same way I could never find a way to completely embrace atheism (or even agnosticism).

I’ve come this far so I might as well keep going.  A few months ago I decided to pick up the remains of my faith and try again, see if I could plug back in after all this time.

Not only was I able to plug in, as soon as I did the voice spoke to me again.

“Welcome back. We’ve been waiting.”

Wired

I wanted to get in some writing while waiting for my game to load, but the idea of having to transcribe is such a Debby Downer I was just going to say fuck it. But then I remembered it is the wired age and I can type on my phone.

Is it this wondrous for the people who grew up with the internet, the ability to plug in any time, anywhere?

I love writing longhand. I always have, even when it meant having to transcribe. But sometimes I just don’t want to fuck with all that. If it needs to be online I want to start from there.

What makes it so incredibly cool is that I’m using my phone. Not just able to plug into the world, but doing so on something small enough to hold in my hand.

Considering when I was a kid having a typewriter was a big deal, this is really awesome.

Technology has even made a huge difference in parenting. The amount of teaching material I have access to this time around is incredible — but the true worth is the ease in which I can connect to that material. Computer games, television networks designed as preschool teaching tools, DVRs that make having constant access to the shows not only feasible but easy as pushing a button. If I want to expose him to music from different areas or cultures I don’t have to hope the library has something or that the local NPR station will play it (and I can get it recorded). All I have to do is look online and I can find any music I want, any time I want.

If there’s a drawback it’s that I’m pretty much addicted. Last night my computer decided it couldn’t connect to the internet. The computer itself was fine, as was the router and every other internet connection in the house,  mine just wasn’t having none of that. It was a very short lived issue, but at first it seemed it could be my network card giving up the ghost. That an easily fixable problem, and relatively cheap, but the next couple of weeks we are living on beans and hope and any computer issue would have to wait.

Just the idea that I might not be able to get online was enough to make me want to panic. That’s never a good sign, and I have to recognize this could be a problem for me at some point.

But in true personal fashion, I’ll worry about that when the time comes. For now I can still plug in, and the world is waiting.

Simple Twist of Fate

I first found The Sims through a friend. I had heard about it and was interested, but never actually went out and got it. When I mentioned it in passing, she offered the loan of her son’s copy. He had bored quickly and the disc was just sitting and gathering dust.

The Sims are like tattoos, I think: it’s either one-and-done or give-me-all-the-things.

I fall into the latter in both categories.

But like tattoos, my desire for more wasn’t always feasible. I had to stop playing the original because my computer couldn’t keep up. I kept going back as much as I could (which was too much, at times — more than once I uninstalled everything because it was eating too much of my time), but eventually I just stopped. When Sims 2 came out, I thought about going back, but there was still the computer issue, not to mention the time and cost. I just let it go, and when the urge came on I’d just go find something else to play with.

Cut to April 2011, a very bored night when I absolutely had to be awake for a while. There was nothing to do, so I went window shopping (monitor shopping? ) at Amazon. I don’t remember how I got to video games; I might have been looking for a new game for the little guy. At any rate I stumbled across Sims 3, realizing not only did I now have an adequate computer, but also that  I could buy it right that second and download it. I didn’t have to wait to go to a store to buy a damn disc, I could be installing it in less than a minute.

I jumped on the impulse quickly, before I could talk myself out of it.

Here I am, not quite two years later. My computer and I have managed to keep up with all the expansions so far (although my graphics card hates me like poison). I’ve found the same things hold true as my last go around.

While I love creating Sims and the whole playing with dolls aspect, what always, always draws me in is the ability to design and decorate living spaces. There’s only so many things you can make the pixel people do, and it just gets boring after a while. But designing rooms? That never gets old because the possibilities that come with custom content are endless.

And I’m actually learning about interior design as I “play.” I’m learning furniture placements, how to mix styles, how to dress basic areas. If I ever do go to school for ID I’ll have a leg up, as well as a good way to showcase my ideas.

~*~

There is one other aspect/possibility of The Sims, one I’ll be looking into more as my little guy gets older:

Can The Sims be used to teach adult daily living skills?

I think it’s a good possibility. I don’t know if J will need help in that area, but if he does, this might be a way to model behaviors. Just like real life, a Sim needs food and bathroom breaks, they need to clean themselves and their houses.

Ahh, I just went Googling – yes, there are many autistic people who say it helped them figure things out. They cited what I suspected – that seeing the hygiene bar go from green to red helped reinforce the need for routine bathing, that the moodlets for dirty room helped make the connection between mood and surroundings.

It’s amazing what one can learn from a game, isn’t it?

 

Louie, Louie

Not too long ago I came across a writing post on Tumblr — the author suggested it might help your writing to find an “anti-author,” someone you’d rather cut your fingers off than write like. For her it was Anne Rice – she mentioned how she saw Interview with the Vampire before she read it, and when she tried reading it, it bored her to death.

That just blew me away. I forget … not so much that I’m older than people I follow, but that I have totally different references because of my age.

I read IwtV when I was 12. It had just come out in paperback; my mom bought it for me for a road trip we were fixing to take. I read it between Florida and Mississippi, sprawled out on the backseat, absolutely lost in the story. It’s one of the few books that I can say changed the way I looked at the world. Nothing was the same after I read it.

The idea that so many people didn’t get to experience it as something unlike what had come before, something that stood all on its own, was a jolt. How many people never lived in a world where Lestat was not the one you rooted for?

But I have to say, not too long ago I picked it up and tried to reread it, for the first time in, well I don’t even know how long, years and years and years.

Friends, I couldn’t do it. Not for the reasons my tumblr person couldn’t read it, but because this time around it was Louis I couldn’t stand. Louis de Pointe du Lac on his own is fucking boring, an angsty, emo boy who can’t get a grip.

But I didn’t know that at 12. On it’s own, with no other references, with nothing to go by but what was in my hands, the book — and Louis — was the perfect dream for the dark quirkiness that was just starting to show itself in me.

Music

I have a tendency to title everything I write or create with a song title – and by tendency I mean every single thing. There have been times I’ve spent longer trying to find the right song title than I have writing the piece I want to attach it to.

Music is everything. I don’t remember much at all from childhood, but I remember the music that was always there. My father listened to country, my mother listened to show tunes and light classical. I can’t remember my birthdays, but I can remember the album covers . I remember the songs.

The Nutcracker SuiteThe Monkees Mantovani - Today - Frontgreatest hits front(us)

By the mid-70’s I was adding my own tastes to the mix. I was big into AM radio, r&b, cheesy pop. At one point I owned every single Barry Manilow album – and amazingly enough I don’t feel horribly embarrassed to admit that. I also listened to Bay City Rollers and Captain and Tennille and a lot of other crappy music that would make me want to claw my ears today.

It’s part of the process, the shitty music we’re reluctant to cop to. We have to listen to crap to get to the good stuff. Although I’ll be honest, these days I don’t have the time or patience to wade through crappy music to find something good. Which, unfortunately, means I’m missing out on a lot of good stuff.

That’s almost inexcusable in the internet age. It’s easily accessible  yet I can’t always access. Or, I don’t take the time to access, I just sit back with what I know and love. Maybe that should be a goal for the year: find at least one new artist/band/whatever to groove on.

(wc 278)