Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Personal Inventory

It's getting close to midnight on Wednesday, January 11. My flat is quiet right now, as it usually is at this time of night. The cats are all in their beds, although Impy is still roaming about. Toulouse is wound into a tight circle on a chair to my left, near my bed. There are two chairs very close to me that allow Impy and Toulouse to rest in close proximity while I'm at my desk. To my right is a radio, which is almost useless. There is rarely anything of interest on what is now called, "terrestrial" radio, so it functions mainly as a redundant clock (there is already a clock on my computer). My desk doesn't offer enough space on which to put papers and such, so I have a TV table against the wall to my left. Between the cat-chairs and the table I have very little space in which to navigate my ass as I get behind my desk. The little table is piled high with newspaper articles, parts of my medical records, prescription bottles, a couple of books, letters, magazines, and my beloved camera.

You can tell a lot about a person by looking at their desk. Or perhaps not, I don't know. But looking at my desk in the darkness of my bedroom I can tell a few things about myself. It doesn't exactly take the $3.99 per minute powers of "Cleo" to come to many of my conclusion. The pill bottles indicate a man with a few medical problems. Newspaper articles and commentaries indicate that I have an interest in the world around me. The Venezuelan flag that flaps in the air coming out of the heating vent shows that my politics are odd, and to a person who is paying attention, most likely far to the left.

My desk is set up in such a way that my back is to the wall, and I can see out the window across the room and face the door. Although I put paper over most of my window as to reduce the amount of light. I've managed to create a little nook within which I can simultaneously hide and keep an eye or two on the world via my television and computer. Here, surrounded by my cats, I am somewhat safe. Over the years, I've succumbed to social anxiety and panic that cripples my ability to function in society. At the same time, I have friends and family whom I love, and I like to feel connected in some way to them. The magic of letters and email allow me to do that, as does this 'blog.

My bedroom is very clean, except for the aforementioned clutter. A fan is kept running at all times, mainly as a producer of "white noise." I've come to dislike complete silence. The shelf in my closet is full of letters and various and sundry gifts that I've received over the years from lovers. They all have a very special importance to me, and I just like knowing that they were there. The best part about love is that they cannot, as the song goes, take that away from me. Although memory is fragile, it's good to know that certain moments will forever exist at a certain place and time and nothing will change that. From this room, I am free to visit memories that take me from the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston to an apartment in Brockton, to a dinner at Grendall's in Harvard Square and on and on.

I'm a romantic, although that disposition has shifted a bit over time to make way for more cynicism and nihilism. I can't deny that many of the things in my bedroom, and even around my desk, are there out of sentimental attachment. For example, on the wall to my right is poster for a play that ran for a few nights at UMass Boston's McCormack Theatre. There was a beautiful young woman in that play and I had a crush on her. We spoke often, but I was hopeful that it would turn into something more serious. Between classes, I would sit at the back of the theatre, or out front nearby, and watch the actors practice their lines with friends. She was so beautiful, and I haven't a clue where she is, and we never actually dated. But talking to her made me happy, and I saw her play twice. Now I have that poster on the wall to remind me of it. Here in the dark, with just the sound of the fan and my fingers typing on the keyboard, I can visit a place back in 1993. None of the fear or the anxiety or the self-loathing travels with it.

One of my favorite artifacts is a copy of Dostoevsky's short story "White Nights." Upon reading it, I was completely taken with its overflowing romantic sentiment and intrinsic Russian sadness. In the late '90's, every woman whom I attempted to court found herself with a copy of Dostoevsky's bittersweet opus. That should have been a clue right there that they weren't dealing with a well-adjusted individual. Passion is like salt. A little can help a lot, but too much will ruin the meal.

Some may find it odd, or even creepy, to know that there is a fat fellow out there thinking of them. I can't say that I really care, but it's worth mentioning that I only occasionally think of the past at all. And there are many memories that make my skin crawl. Like the time I told members of the Socialist Party of Massachusetts that we shouldn't call each other "comrade" because it sounds strange to the working-class. I feel like a real idiot when I think of that, and I wince at the thought. And that is just the proverbial tip of the iceberg. There are countless memories that cause me to shiver, or bring into mind and body feelings better left in the past. But that's part of the deal. No, they can't take those away from me, either.

There's a Diego Rivera print on my wall that I stole from a hospital. I simply took it off the wall as I was leaving the emergency room and left. Not too far from that is a framed letter from Boston radio legend Norm Nathan. I sent him a holiday card and he wrote me back with some kind words.

These things that I have around me are more than things that I just keep around, but as soon as I'm not around anymore they'll just be...things. The dust bunny under my bed, which is now a monument to my not giving a shit about what is under my bed, will eventually just be a dust bunny. Suck on that.

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