I have not been nearly as attentive to this here site as I would like to be. I've been busy with a series of events and performances, and the weather constantly alternates my mood preventing me from writing. But perhaps the biggest obstacle between me and the blog has been that my hard drive was accidentally reformatted. I won't get into the details, but I was in no way responsible for this happening.
I've felt totally blindsided by this. It seems awfully nerdy to be sad about this, and certainly it's worth looking at it in the context of real tragedies to keep things in perspective. Still, this is a computer I've had since high school. It had eight years of schoolwork, songs I had written, screenplays, years worth of e-mails and love letters, etc. Some of the important documents were backed up, but of course not all. I've run data recovery software and I'm currently in the process of sifting through 108,000 unlabeled folders of data, which has turned some things up but naturally a lot is going to be unrecoverable. It's yielded some surprises, though, like a complete episode of My Brother and Me I have no recollection of having on my computer.
The scariest thing isn't so much the stuff I know is gone as it is the stuff I don't even remember that is now missing. I know someday one of these unknown unknowns I worked on long ago will pop into my head, and I will realize it's lost to the ether. I should be grateful though that nothing "vital" is lost — it's largely sentimental; I have not lost my business's financial records or anything like that that might put the old Savings and Loans into the hands of Mr. Potter.
I'm trying to maybe view this as a healthy purge for me. I'm a sentimental packrat, with file folders filled with paper records of everything I've done since learning to write. My whole life I've been accused of clinging to the past, both personal and historical. Perhaps it's a good thing for me to let go of some of it and move on.
My whole aesthetic education really has been "retro" - or more accurately, chronological. My interest in pop music began with Buddy Holly and every few years in my youth I'd move forward a few decades, reaching Nirvana and My Bloody Valentine when I was 14 before finally discovering contemporary music in the middle of high school. Before I even discovered my love of classic Hollywood in junior high, I was already a devotee of an even older medium: the golden age of radio in the '30s and '40s.
In 4th grade, I would secretly stay up late in my room tuned in to an AM station playing old episodes of Fibber McGee & Molly and Dimension X. My favorite program of all though was Suspense, a brilliant long-running noir anthology series that had a different guest star in each episode. There was a pretty standard story arc for most of its episodes: the narrator would perhaps be in a loveless marriage with a horrible woman who refused to grant a divorce. In the heat of passion or perhaps by accident, he would kill her. He'd then take off, assuming a new identity, beginning a whole new life in a completely different town. Eventually he would be found out and it would all be over — but for a period of time, he had the exhilarating feeling of freedom in starting anew.
Even at that age, I found this idea so attractive. The murder bit I wasn't so fond of, of course, but the thought of being able to just become someone new seemed so romantic. That romantic notion is a large reason of why I was determined to go east for college. I applied and was accepted to the University of Chicago as a freshman, but I didn't consider it for a second and instead headed off for New York. Things didn't work out and I ended up humbled, back where I came from. It was the right move, and of course I love this city and my friends here. But even now, I'm still a little worried that I'm too attached. I don't think my wanderlust is gone; it's just frustrating to realize that certain realities, economic and otherwise, can hold down itchy feet.
I find myself thinking a lot about a story by my first serious literary crush, James Joyce, about a character who I share a pet name with:
She stood up in a sudden impulse of terror. Escape! She must escape! Frank would save her. He would give her life, perhaps love, too. But she wanted to live. Why should she be unhappy? She had a right to happiness. Frank would take her in his arms, fold her in his arms. He would save her.
She stood among the swaying crowd in the station at the North Wall. He held her hand and she knew that he was speaking to her, saying something about the passage over and over again. The station was full of soldiers with brown baggages. Through the wide doors of the sheds she caught a glimpse of the black mass of the boat, lying in beside the quay wall, with illumined portholes. She answered nothing. She felt her cheek pale and cold and, out of a maze of distress, she prayed to God to direct her, to show her what was her duty. The boat blew a long mournful whistle into the mist. If she went, tomorrow she would be on the sea with Frank, steaming towards Buenos Ayres. Their passage had been booked. Could she still draw back after all he had done for her? Her distress awoke a nausea in her body and she kept moving her lips in silent fervent prayer.
A bell clanged upon her heart. She felt him seize her hand:
All the seas of the world tumbled about her heart. He was drawing her into them: he would drown her. She gripped with both hands at the iron railing.
No! No! No! It was impossible. Her hands clutched the iron in frenzy. Amid the seas she sent a cry of anguish.
He rushed beyond the barrier and called to her to follow. He was shouted at to go on but he still called to her. She set her white face to him, passive, like a helpless animal. Her eyes gave him no sign of love or farewell or recognition.