Monday, March 26, 2007

Early spring cleaning

One of the hardest things to do is decide what you can and cannot live without. Sometimes it's a matter of getting rid of precious and valued items in order to continue living.

Colorado is my home. I have ties here and I doubt I could find anyone who would step up to the plate and take over editing the ham club's newsletter. It took them several years to find someone to replace the guy I replaced who couldn't get rid of it fast enough. People in the ham club knew I was the editor months before I did. I have produced the newsletter for a year now and at least some people like what I've done with it. It's colorful and informative, sometimes controversial, and always on time. As a writer and editor, I long ago learned the value of deadlines. There is always someone who thinks they can send things late and still get it in, but that doesn't work with me. I have relaxed the deadline for individuals on occasion, but it's not (I hope) common knowledge. I have also pushed my personal deadline to the edge but the newsletter has always gone to the printer and to the webmaster and membership officer by the first of every month, with one exception (when I was in Ohio to see my father). I understand people get busy and need a little more time, but if they don't tell me until after the deadline, my answer has to be, "It's too late." That's what I have to do this morning. I sent the newsletter to the printer, webmaster and membership officer last night. I can't call it back now. The email version of the newsletter has already gone out.

Now to the uncomfortably personal stuff.

The trip to Ohio cost me much more than I expected and now I'm juggling bills and falling behind. If I pay this bill (and I don't have a lot of bills) then I can't pay that bill. I had to catch up the rent last payday because fixing the car in Kansas in order to get home took all my money, leaving me with just enough for gas to get home and food for a week. (The meals were skimpy that week and continued my weight loss from being sick and having to deal with family for a week.) I'm still on a limited budget and if it weren't for a few regular writing gigs, I would be living on hope and air and lots and lots of water. It will take me two more weeks to catch up but the landlord expects to be paid on time. I understand. I like for my boss to pay me on time--even though that hasn't happened on a few occasions. That brings me to spring cleaning.

I brought back quite a few of my books and personal items, things I have missed since I left Columbus eight years ago. It was good to see them all again and to go back through and read some of the books I have had for years and enjoyed many times, always getting something new each time I read them. I'm not a materialistic person but books are something else altogether. They have been friend and comfort and even mentor on occasion, taking me to worlds and places to meet people that shared their troubles and adventures and made my life a little brighter and my troubles a little less dire. Many of the books are rare editions that have been out of print for decades (even a couple of centuries on a few) and some have been signed and inscribed by the author or someone who was important in my life.

I'm getting rid of them.

Yesterday, I spent a good part of the day going through all the books and pulling out those that were rare, out of print, signed first editions. I photographed them and put them up for sale on eBay. I don't have a choice. And it is so hard letting go of them. I don't have a choice. I also put up for sale my HW-9 ham radio rig in the custom built portable cabinet. I sacrificed a lot to buy it and it means more to me than all the books because the case was especially built for me. I hurt to put it out there but if I want to continue living here, I have to decide what is more important.

I'll still have my memories and at least I won't have to worry about what happens to my Andre Norton books after I'm gone, a subject that has been hotly debated since it was discovered I had them. Many of the books were from Andre's personal collection. She gave them to me when she found out my collection had been stolen. A box came in the mail one day and it was full of books, her books, many of which were signed first editions. She went through her personal library and gave me one of everything she had written to date. After that she sent me new books right after she received them and long before they were available on the shelf. When I visited her she led me through the library and told me to take whatever I wanted. I have several uncorrected proofs of her books and when they arrive, they will go up for sale, too. I think she would understand. She went through something similar . . . but for a very different reason.

She found out the woman she trusted and had planned to hand over the keys to her kingdom (her home and the library she built) didn't want them. She hated the library and wanted to dismantle it. She got her wish. After Andre had come home from the hospital (she had had abdominal surgery) she went out to her library and she and I went through all the books. Booksellers and collectors came from all over the country (and a few from outside the U.S.) to go through the books and buy what they wanted. Little by little, piece by piece, her dream died before her eyes. She told me she wished that she had offered me the keys instead of Rose, but it was too late.

Everything she collected, all her awards and so many of the items that sparked her dreams and grew into the stories that lightened my life and sparked my dreams . . . and the dreams of countless others. She had a lot more to give up than I do, but it hurts just as much. It's a choice: my home here or hitting the road. I choose home, my home.

That is all. Disperse.

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