October 13, 2020

Excellent Poetry Unbound podcast on Natalie Diaz' "Of Course She Looked Back", a poem about Lot's wife. It reminded me of Donald Justice's "There is a gold light in certain old paintings", the second stanza of which has a deep place in my poetic memory:
Orpheus hesitated beside the black river.
With so much to look forward to he looked back.
We think he sang then, but the song is lost.
At least he had seen once more the beloved back.
      I say the song went this way: O prolong
      Now the sorrow if that is all there is to prolong.
I've always been a looking back kind of guy.
Picture a coordinate graph. Time x versus money y, with a horizontal line at a certain y value that represents not only the worth of all the goods stored but also generously includes the value of all the labor it would take you to acquire their equivalents all over again. For many people, it would be hard to abandon ship even as time went by and the cumulative cost of renting crept upward across that line. As money becomes time, time itself becomes sunk cost.

Think of another graph. The x-axis is still just the unalterable fact of time. But the y value represents some combination of hassle, perceived or actual usefulness, regret, hope, etc. As the first graph grinds on, this graph, tracking the willingness to keep going, comes to look like exponential decay. You could say this graph reveals the half-life of attachment.
Rafil Kroll-Zaidi in Harper's Magazine Reason Not The Need: Self-storage and the dream of infinite space.
I've been thinking about decluttering lately especially in terms of "our office", which is my office space slash playroom slash wardrobe. Like my collection of about 60 or so Graphic Ts, most of which are pretty well curated already. It's still hard to get rid of them, or know what the ideal number of shirts to have would be. Each shirt is literally technically irreplaceable. And ironically, sometimes it's the second or third tier of shirts that's harder to get rid of "oh I can wear this shirt, since I'm stuck at home anyway and nobody will see it much, and then save the wear and tear on shirts I'm actually psyched for people to see." (I've gone on shirt purges before, however... taking photos helps lets go.)

We use a little bit of space in our apartment's basement, but overall I am dead set against ever using self-storage outside of special circumstances (like between houses with a gap). It's a line in the sand I draw between me and clutter...
For a hot second I got fooled by a phisher - a plausible enough gmail address for the minister of a UU church I used to be associated with (I think including her photo) and included the church's actual physical address in the sig. The first message was "write me back quick", the second was
Glad to hear from you Kirk, I'm in a conference meeting right now and only have access to email that's why i'm contacting you here. I would have called, instead of emailing you but phone calls are not allowed during the meeting.

I just need to get eBay gift card today for some women going through cancer at the hospital but I can't do that right now because of my busy schedule.

Can you get it from any store around you possibly now? and I will pay you back later in cash or check. Let me know if you can get the card for these patients.")
You can google most of that message online as a known scam, but I imagine for many a semi-plausible request for help from a religious authority for a sad situation is pretty convincing. I'm a little alarmed at how much I had to think it through.