Archive for September, 2015

Keeping What Matters

It’s been a month of high highs and low lows. The highest high in a long time arrived with Jean Clinton who agreed to take charge of the Conger family history publications and correspondence which I “inherited” from Maxine Crowell Leonard of Iowa many years ago. since I was a dreamer looking for love 20 years ago. Details of the visit and the loading of her vehicle, ultra-fast tour of Springfield (including AeroKnow Museum) will be shared soon at my “Do You Know a Conger?” blog when time permits. It was a joyful encounter from start to finish.

At the other end of the spectrum of glory and damnation is the severing of employment with my salvation for the past several years. Weeks ago, with the customer action clearly far short of what George needed to justify keeping me, he began cutting my  hours. AeroKnow Museum was taking more and more of my time — 10 hours, seven days a week on average — and this was during the same time I was working for The Granite Guy 30 hours a week, a significant reduction from 40 hours a week which I had been working at this time last year. The year since last September has been the most challenging of my life: major falling out with the local poetry community, the upstairs (of my duplex) resident breaking her lease  and moving out after nearly destroying the interior with cat odor, ruined appliances and destroyed plumbing, a minor stroke (hospitalized two days), surgery to remove cataracts in both  eyes, further reductions of hours at my employer and complications a plenty for the unhappy duration of it all.

Things began to improve when a kind home improvement expert agreed to repair the upstairs with the understanding that I would pay him as I could, once the place was rented. After I posted pictures of the repaired quarters, a friend in the visual arts community signed a lease. THANK GOD.  I’m back to paying bills, though with the drastic loss of dollars following loss of employer, the net benefit to my income is far less than if I still had a job! I still haven’t been paid for the last month I worked for him!!

All of this nuttiness has affected how I feel about the rest of my life.

I resumed writing (freelance, of course) for a local business monthly. I could very gladly contribute five or six articles to it and anyone else who wanted me to write and photograph for dollars. I love the process of producing the articles almost as much as I enjoy the paychecks. My darn-near ecstasy from producing something pretty light,  news-wise, disappeared a few days ago when I was told unexpected space limitations in the October issue prevented the inclusion of the article they asked me to write, but it WILL make the next issue. I replied to their e-mail advisory with “No prob.” because there’s never a bad time to be paid, and I will probably need the $100 more near the end of October than I need it now. Maybe I can reap an additional assignment or two, or three, from the publication after the October production cycle begins.

I’ve done a lot of thinking about my legacy. Things that used to matter a lot to me when I was 40 matter far less today. Last Tuesday, while waiting for a phone call from Jean that she was on her way to my home so we could fill it with Conger family material, I began examining my vinyl record and CD collection and decided to give away every one I didn’t really want to keep. I reduced my collection by a third. At the end of the Conger family loading, I gave all but one LP and all the surplus CDs to Jean, and she was delighted, thus making me even more delighted.

The next day, I considered a collection of cartoons I had saved after removing them from years of Playboys (circa 1968 to about 1980) and The New Yorker magazines (circa 1981 off and on until this year, and I’m not renewing that subscription.) About 10 years ago I had begun trimming them and placing them into 3-ring binders. Four binders full are on the top shelf of a book case in my living room. Over the years, I clipped and trimmed probably 200  more, letting them accumulate. Over the last year, I have pitched a lot of what I once thought “valuable papers” into the trash bin. Wednesday morning I took down the stack of loose ‘New Yorker cartoons, and I made one step toward the trash can with them and stopped. I considered WHY I want to keep them. At one time, when I imagined I would become a better-known and successful writer than I have proven myself to be over the years hence, I considered that after I die, those who came into my quiet, unoccupied lower half of my duplex might find, appreciate and keep the bindered cartoons and better understand the man I was. It might work to the benefit of my reputation. The more I think about keeping them, the more I realize that collected cartoons don’t matter a bit. I didn’t write them;  I just LIKED them. I thought they were smart and funny. Last year I pitched away all the articles I had saved from the same magazines. I knew they would be neither seen nor appreciated by strangers who found them. So they’re landfill. I don’t know what I’m going to do with the cartoons . . . . I really don’t.

There are drawers in chests of drawers in my house, once full of articles, correspondence greeting cards, clothes,  that are empty now. There will be more. Dishes and kitchen gear I’ve not  used in five years is going too, to the Salvation Army or friends. Maybe I’ll offer some of it for sale, cheap at my “surplus room” at AeroKnow Museum. A man has to eat. I know I’m  never going to make a pizza at home, Maybe someone can use the cast iron skillet I’ve had but never used since mom gave it to me  when she was getting ready to retire to Florida in 1979. I’ve bought my last coat. Those I have today will be fine for years to come. I’ve probably bought my last pair of shoes.

Live long . . . . . . . .and proper.

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Yesterday, my nephew — my brother and his mother named  him Job — sent me a nice note after reading — for the first time — a Honey & Quinine post I wrote about him in 2009. I was in something of a tailspin after unhappiness with a friend I will always remember as the woman “whom the angels named Lenore, nameless here forevermore” (thank you E. A. Poe). For the first time since both of us had been born, I found myself talking to my nephew, and the conversation really settled the maelstrom in my mind that night. On September 6, my nephew thanked me for posting that post in 2009. Today, I responded to his comment, and I’m sharing it with you.

(to Job, V:)
. . .  “I’m glad you found the post, nephew. From the traces of what I’ve read of your life on Facebook — beyond the words of wisdom from others you’ve shared — you’re doing okay, and that’s excellent. I always enjoy reading your posts. If you’re walking a rocky road these days, I hope things improve for you soon. If it’s any comfort to you, I hope you understand that nobody escapes heartbreak and travail on this earth, not the happiest person you know, not the richest person you know, not the most admired person you know. It’s all part of the package called “coincidence,” or the God who espouses hate as much as love. We all make mistakes too; people we consider wise and those we consider not wise. But if we are smart — and I believe you are very smart — we land on our feet and climb another mountain after we fall. You will too, good nephew.

“You will too. :)”

I will too, friends and strangers. You will too.

Live long . . . . . . . . . and proper.

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