Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Good, bad, good, bad, new and old and new

I'm in a good news-bad news state of mind this morning. I got the apartment. Good news. I'm moving from my home. Bad news. I'll feel less constrained about doing some of the things I couldn't do here. Good news. Now I'll have to do them. Bad news. It has a washer and dryer that is easily accessible. Good news. The new apartment is a bit smaller. Bad news. I could go on like this for a very long time. The bottom line is that in four weeks I will be living somewhere else. My phone number will be the same but everything else will be different. I'll have to get used to another way of doing things, but most of what I do will soon slide into the old rhythm and I'll settle in as I have settled in before, the difference being that instead of wanting to stay there for a very long time I'll only stay there until I can save enough money to buy my own place.

I have often thought that owning a home is no different in the end than renting when it comes to cost. Even when the home is paid for there are always more expenses: roofs, painting, repairs, property taxes, lawns to mow, seed and wage war with crab grass, etc. There is a long and expensive list of things that go along with owning a home that the renter never has to face. But renting has its downside because just when you get comfortable you can be thrown out, asked to leave or feel you can no longer tolerate the escalating idiosyncrasies or dysfunctions and have to find somewhere else to fit in. I do know people who have rented the same place for decades but they found the perfect situation -- for them -- or were living in a situation where it didn't matter, like renting a house where the owners live in another state, preferably clear across the country.

I just found my scissors. Now maybe I'll find some of my barrettes and other things that have disappeared over the past three years. Okay, nonsequitor.

No situation is without its downside. It's like many things in my life. I like having a regular paycheck but am really tired of the 9-5 grind (in my case 6-2 or 8a-10p). I loved living here and considered it home, but I hated the lack of privacy, frequent intrusions, finding a day or time that I could do my laundry that fit into my schedule instead of everyone else's, etc. I have a laptop to write on -- and I do write on it -- but I prefer a pen and journal for the tactile feel of putting down words that will stand the test of time instead of being dependent on a technology that may not be around for another hundred years, at least not in this form.

When I got my first computer, an IBM PS-2, I was ecstatic. I wrote every chance I got, began keeping my journal on the computer and downloading it to big floppy disks. I still have a big bag of 5.25 disks and no computer to use them in; mine was stolen with several years of my life captured inside and unreachable now. Conversely, I have a box full of journals of different sizes, shapes and colors that have withstood twenty years of moving about and traveling. Even when I left them back in storage in Ohio, they followed me. Mom and Dad brought them to me several years ago. I took them back into storage and my parents brought them to me again. I keep them with me now, and I have added to them.

Yesterday, I bought a new journal, having filled the last line on the last page of the old one a few weeks ago. I was stunned when I saw it with it's lilac suede cover and beautiful empty white pages with a price tag of under $10. How could I resist? I didn't. Now my books are safe. I have a tendency to write in whatever is handy when I get a thought or when something I'm reading strikes a spark and takes me in a different direction. Notes in the margins and empty back pages and inside covers are filled with my hasty cramped scrawl when I don't have a journal handy. Usually, the last thing I do at night (unless I go to bed early) is write in a journal, laying my thoughts to rest so I can sleep peacefully. When I became a daytime wage slave, and after I moved in here, I began writing first thing in the morning when I awoke in that deep dark before dawn, waking and stretching my mind for the rigors of the day ahead. As the weather warms, I'll take the journal with me to the park or for a walk and sit down on a convenient bench to let the thoughts spill out like Moses striking the rock for water in the desert, except I won't be denied the promised land for my actions. Instead, I will find the promised land between those blank pages.

Most writers are daunted by the blank page, and to some extent a blank virtual page affects me the same way, but give me a pen or pencil and a notebook, legal pad or journal and I am in heaven, filling page after page with thoughts captured from my overactive imagination and pulled from the rushing byways and highways of sparking neurons and synapses that can't wait to fill the page. I don't have to force the first step before the need, the urge to write takes over in a journal the way I do with the virtual page. Once I'm there, I'm writing and some actually useful and coherent thoughts make it to the page. With a paper journal, everything becomes clear and the old rhythms ingrained in me since childhood take over and I am flying over page after page until I am energized to begin another day or relaxed enough to fall into Morpheus's arms. Such is the magic that touches me with a blank page and a pen full of ink or a long pencil and sharpener at hand. (I prefer ink because it doesn't fade as quickly as pencil.) So, among the soon to be unfamiliar is the familiar chore of packing and getting ready to move and the comfort of a new paper journal to fill.

And life goes on.

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