The Privilege of Forgetting

I am looking through emails and see the call for entries to the book art exhibition, and I am wildly inspired. God, I’d love to make a book. I even have bookbinding needles, right on my mantle. I don’t know why I put them there, but they have been there for a long time. Upstairs, in the spare porch – room, a space that I have wanted to make useable, a studio for making things or guest area, I have several sheets of bookbinding paper, blue and red. I purchased it from Art Media in Portland, almost 20 years ago. That statement, that amount of time, stuns me. How is it possible that it has been almost 20 freaking years since I have wanted to make a book, to stitch together the pages myself? I mean, yeah, sure I have made a couple of little books since then. In fact, in the same upstairs room, I recently came across a book I began to make for my oldest child, prior to his first birthday. Of course, I didn’t finish it, but it was a strong start. I know what happened, other than having an infant and a marriage and generally struggling to do much more than simply feed and clean and walk to the grocery store, walk the dog. That was the same year that I started the huge garden, dug up the whole back fenced in area and had 5 cubic yards of manure dumped into the driveway while my husband was in Vancouver for his birthday, a solo trip. There is a picture of me with the baby in a backpack and me holding a shovel, grinning in the driveway while a small mountain of still-stinking shit beyond me, the sun shining off of it all.

It was that sort of year, reading the Western Garden Book like it was a riveting novel and pumping breast milk while watching Blue Planet on DVD because I quit watching television the year before, after the American event known as 09/11, which a lot of the people in the world hardly even know about now, just like we hardly know about (in the sense of knowing that suggests having something in our consciousness, not simply having access to information…there is plenty of information, with many atrocities documented for posterity in all manner of digital media) the terrible events that happen in other places…or even the ones that happen here, the awfulness of last week’s —–.

This is not to say we do not have access to information, or that the existence of some event did not ever fleetingly register as “a thing that happened” in our minds, but that we, you know forget, things lose their resonance, cease to be real, slip our minds.

It must be really hideous to be a person who loses someone they love in a terrible national – news event of some sort, because the thing that defines your Life forever is slowly forgotten and not relevant to the lives moving around you, and this becomes a space between you and all the people who both can and do forget, a rift in reality.

So, not only do you lose a person or people you love and who your life is defined in relation to, but you also get severed from the privilege of forgetting and can no longer inhabit a world in which what happened ceases to matter, because it will always matter. God, that makes me sad. I don’t want to forget, or be numb to reality…even if I don’t see it, even if it’s not my town, not my family.

Anyway, what happened, why I didn’t finish that little book for my first born child was that my handwriting got messy and I can tell I was using a ballpoint pen at some point and who the hell wants to write a keepsake book with a ballpoint pen.

I’ve been writing for 20 minutes.

I initially sat down with a flood of ideas for books I’d like to make and a strong sense that, dammit, that is important enough to me that I should be able to structure my life in a way that facilitates bookmaking, and I was momentarily – we’re talking 30 seconds here – absolutely on fire with the notion of clearing out the backroom.

I don’t actually have to clear out the backroom to start making a book, but I really do love the idea of having a futon on the back porch room and a work area and a sitting area and all the supplies to make the things I want to make – which I already have, and have had for a long time.

Thousands of people were hung by the Syrian government.

Me not making art is not helping anyone. Deprivation of joy does nothing good in the world.

I don’t actually have the psychology of privilege and guilt all worked out, and while I think there is probably some philosophy of righteous Deprivation in reverence and solidarity with suffering…i am not sure if I am that into the idea of not doing art because people are being killed and the earth is a mess.

I should do more art for those reasons and nurture more joy, because that will help me to be more Resilient and to create more good in the world.

I think a lot what keeps me from clearing out that space and spending more time making things is the fact of laundry and commutes, all the usual…and just being kinda tired from wrestling the entropy.

Right now:

I am experimenting with posting directly from my phone, with copy paste text from an email I sent to myself and photos uploaded from my camera library. The technology to do these things has greatly improved since last time I tried mobile blogging, a few years back, with a BlackBerry operating system that was incompatible with almost all applications. I still use a BlackBerry, but it runs Android and so I can actually use apps now, not that I much do.

A little while ago, a half hour, I thought, “Dang, I really oughta post tonight, because it felt good to do that last week and I’m gonna start doing it again and if I post tonight, then I will have a nicer drive to work tomorrow, thinking about words hanging out in the ethers.”

But, then I thought about being tired and how I am tired. Some vague Concepts of available abundant energy and vigor came to mind, and were dismissed with a internal whine of, “Yeah, but I really am tired. I have good reasons to be tired.”


My day today started yesterday, when I went ahead and folded the laundry and did the service documentation and put in the online order before I went to sleep, anticipating that my morning would go more smoothly if I did not have to do these things today.

It did.

I was at the grocery store by 8:15am and managed to pick up dewormer at the pet supply store and take these items home by 9:30, at which point I vacuumed and gave the aging dog a dewormer pill and then turned right back around and left the house again, to go to senior opportunity center, where I volunteer on Wednesday mornings, helping out with a free farmer’s market.

This morning there were several big, sopping boxes of straight-up rotten produce, lettuce brown slime and sickly sweet decaying pears, tomatoes a heavy sack of mush under crepe thin skin. It felt like a bad sign. Usually, the free farmer’s market is a joyful time, with bright colored food and smiling elder people.

Yes. Today was good in many ways, but I felt ‘off.’ Distracted. Noise has been very disorganizing to me lately, a scattering sort of stress, so many people talking at once. There were new volunteers at the market today, youth – Group Christians, and they put things in non-usual places and it was okay, but disorienting, to find the tablecloths wadded atop a chair.

I stay after the tables are put away to sit in on the brief Bible study and devotional time that takes place at the center. I usually sit on the floor, so that the elders can have the couch seats and nice chairs. I didn’t start off going with any sort of intent to go every week, but I seem to be going every week, and really listening. I don’t know really any of the songs the old folks sing and the names in the Bible are news to me. Tonight they were talking about some fellow who visited Jesus at night, laid spices around His body after it came down from the cross. I don’t remember his name.

Today at the market an elder gentleman who has a challenging way about him, in that he talks at a person and admonishes them freely for what they do not know and what they should be doing, gave me a hard time for forgetting his name, even though I told him I would forget and am not too proud to admit I forgot something.
I’m not so great with names all the time, though I remember faces and the details of conversations reasonably well, sometimes remarkably well.
I guess the person the Bible study was about was “searching, and questioning,” or at least that is what the elder who has taken the name Queen Mother said. She really seems to know her stuff, and has a wondrous way of wearing a hat.
A couple of days ago, someone asked me why, if I believe, don’t I proclaim that belief. They said I wasn’t saved until I gave my life over to the Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
I don’t know how to tell them that that will never happen, at least not in the postmodern – Southern – traditionalist sort of way that people around here assume that it ought to.
I guess, in some people’s eyes, I will always be unsaved.
Ironically, I have been working at giving my life over to the stewardship of God forces and good forces for a long time…I just can’t swallow American Christianity hook, line, and sinker. I do like singing though and I do like people speaking in that way that they speak when they are talking about something that is deep felt and important in them. I do believe in a lot of aspects of Christianity and what it intends to do…but, I think if I am a Christian of any sort, I am a very flawed version of some kind of Christian that I don’t yet know about.
After the Senior Opportunity Center,  I had a whole entire day of other activities, across County lines and back, a meeting, a walk in the woods, dinner, a minor misunderstanding about whether or not it is disrespectful to be playing a game on one’s device when someone is trying to show you something and talk with you about it.
I’ve been drawing some the past couple of days, and finally wrote the letters I needed to write, at least a couple of them anyway.
On we go…

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