I’m cleaning out my room in my parents’ house in San Jose. I have found (empty) shoeboxes that are a decade old, miniature clay sculptures Shra and I made a few summers ago on a whim (a turtle, a baguette, and a potted plant), a book (works of John Stuart Mill) belonging to Erik (and unread by me), socks that don’t seem to belong to anyone in the house, and dust, dust, dust. My pack-rat habits are catching up to me. I flattened and recycled the shoeboxes, along with many stacks of old magazines, and stored away the clay sculptures along with a broken music box from my very early childhood that I can’t bear to throw away. I’m going to return the book to Erik so he can transfer it to his own messy childhood room, and the socks will go into an ever-growing pile of clothes to be either thrown away, donated, handed down (really more like handed sideways, these days, since we’re all close to the same size) to Shra or Al, or just looked at in despair and then shoved away until the next time I attempt to clean my room. Actually I’m kidding about that last one — I’ve done that for so long that I’ve decided it’s time to put a stop to that particular way of coping. The other day I sat down on my bed with a pair of scissors and six or seven articles of old clothing and performed surgery on them all. I cut the legs off of five pairs of jeans that had holes in the crotch but were otherwise in fine condition. I cut the sleeves and part of the back off a black velvet jacket that was worn threadbare in the seat but was fine elsewhere. A pair of worn khakis, a bleach-stained cardigan, and numerous gone-out-of-style t-shirts (Mossimo logo, Pikachu, etc.), I still don’t know what to do with. But the denim and velvet from the jeans and jacket, I’m going to make into a blanket of sorts to put on my lap when Tisha wants to sit on it. That way his fur won’t get on my clothes, and he can knead to his heart’s content without drawing blood. Or so I hope.
One thing I discovered today while tackling the closet and bookshelf was that whatever else happens to me in my life, I have already left a written record of my existence. I have newsprint pads from figure-drawing classes and several notebooks of drawings and fashion designs as testament to my artistic talents. I have yearbooks, keepsake notebooks, and boxes of letters bursting with evidence of friendships long gone and still current. I have diaries and journals that preserve my thoughts through the years. So unless this all goes up in flames, if a pastry-induced heart attack claims me at age 25 before I’ve ever written that stunning book I know I’ll someday write (ha), at least I’ve already left something behind. It’s a morbid thought, but it makes the historian in me really really happy and oddly relieved. I hadn’t realized the lack of documentation of my life bothered me so much until I discovered there wasn’t actually a lack of it. How strange.
Two other little insights I’ve gleaned from finding these “written records”:
(1) I was better at drawing figures before I got corrupted by my interest in fashion. My first pad of sketches shows a heavy hand and lack of control over my pencil, but the drawings are much truer to life than the later ones. The people I drew in a different sketchpad a few years later are all unnaturally elongated and thin, and they all seem to have huge, heavy-lashed eyes. They’re not as good artistically, even if my actual skill with the pencil had improved by then.
(2) Our middle school and high school yearbooks and notebooks are full of nonsense. Still trying to find ourselves as we were, searching for catchphrases and signatures that would show ourselves as we hoped to be (“<3 alwayz + 4ever” = popular?), we wrote a lot of really ridiculous crap. And yet, even amidst that, you can still see who your true friends were. It’s not that Jackie and I didn’t write really stupid messages to each other. There are notes between us that I’d pay money to keep hidden from public view. But there’s a thread of real affection and loyalty there, a hint of our history, that’s visible even in spite of the ditzy teenage babbling. And that’s reassuring to see.
-begin deep musings-
Oh, and I’m old enough to know that I’m young enough to still be writing a lot of nonsense, probably, since I’m still trying to find myself. I’ve learned enough about keeping up appearances to know that writing “<3 alwayz + 4ever” is not going to improve anyone’s impression of me, though I still think that a well-made outfit will. I’m also wise enough (I hope?) to know that this trying-to-figure-self-out process probably doesn’t ever end, that every time I think I’ve reached a point of understanding with myself, it won’t last, and soon enough I’ll find myself at another stage when everything in my life seems different from what I expected– and therefore I myself am different from who I thought. And I also know that this is true for everyone else in the world (I think?), that everyone else who seems to really know what they’re about and what life is about, those people you read about in books or magazines, or your parents, or the most popular girl in school, whoever, is still only passing through just a stage in their lives, because part of what life is is never knowing it all. Or even a portion of it all.
-end deep musings-
That said, I still wouldn’t want anyone else to read my old diaries. They are full of nonsense, and even if I know that was just a phase, it’s still embarrassing to see how much nonsense I contained.
In between cleaning out my old room and old memories, I’m also in the process of slowly updating the Links page of my website, which hasn’t been changed in a year. Since I don’t have Frontpage at home, I’m doing it all from the bare HTML on Notepad, and boy is it a mess. Is that why real webgeeks don’t use Frontpage? Because it writes really sloppy code? Or are there other reasons as well? I don’t know, but I also don’t really know that much HTML, so I’m going to keep using FP after I get back to LA. But I think I will write more of my own code from here on out, and just use FP for the things I don’t know how to do.
[This post was imported on 4/10/14 from my old blog at satsumabug.livejournal.com. It may amuse you to know that two years after writing “I wouldn’t want anyone else to read my old diaries,” I posted excerpts from said diaries to this very blog.]