We are, after all, gaining daylight.
I had the pleasure of hanging out with someone I don’t often see a couple of days ago. The primary focus of our getting together was the book she’s writing – I relish this conversational topic, and I’ve been insanely curious about what she’s working on. As we talked, sitting on the stage of a very busy downtown Champaign record store, the conversation drifted into the area of primary source material, including ephemera. She mentioned that, at some point along the way, she and her bandmates had gotten rid of some of the memorabilia/letters/other records from the period of time about which she’s now writing.
I think ditching old paper is something a lot of people just do now; I do it myself. I’m especially fond of getting rid of administrative paper when the time comes. Recycle! Toss! Shred! Burn! I couldn’t tell how she felt about unknowingly getting rid of what could have been primary source material – whatever got jettisoned might not be germane to the story she’s telling, and I honestly don’t expect normal humans to feel the same way I do about what most people would think is garbage. But – since you asked, how I feel about it is this.
While I certainly would not classify myself as a hoarder, I definitely had a penchant for acquiring and saving letters, postcards, bits of paper, matchbooks (remember those?), receipts, writings scrawled on napkins, venue calendars, to-do lists, that sort of thing… and moving them around with me. [Many of] those scraps and bits from the 1980s and 1990s are still with me, ignored (for now) and, by now, probably degrading in some old file cabinets in our garage. [I still lament the Dumpstering of tons of old British music magazines before we moved here. Oh, god, it still stings! What was I thinking?! It’s not like they were Michelangelo’s grocery list or anything, but… gah!]
I say had a penchant because, lately, I generate way fewer physical records than I do digital records – though I still do take copious notes and keep them (see above). I type a lot, but I actually write less, for example – my journaling and general faffing-around writing output, including doodling, is way less than it was even 10 years ago. So much of my own primary source material used to be physical, tactile, tangible. It seems like now I have less and less to save, and the work I generate – and the things I keep – are largely kept “safe” online or on drives somewhere.
Until they’re not. I (and others) recently experienced a catastrophic data loss for projects we were working on – hours of video, graphics files, etc that can’t be reproduced. Primary source material. Gone. Poof. Just like that. Epic fail. I’m grumpy when I lose tweets to the ether… and this was a whole ‘nother beast. I’m still crushed. The loss is real to me. I can walk away from the computer and read a book or talk to my family or watch the Australian Open or cook something, but that loss is still very real despite the fact I didn’t lose anything I could hold in my hands. In a way, it feels worse: Great God Technology couldn’t keep our work safe, but stuff we say via Twitter can follow us around forever. We live in weird times.
I’m not sure where I’m going with this. Have redundant redundancies for your redundancies? Be weird about saving things, then get even weirder about it? Let go of any illusions you may have about being able to hold onto anything? I have saved this draft at least 8 times. That should tell you where I’m at.
I have two seed orders in front of me as I type, which should also tell you where I’m at, which is: Mid-January, which means it’s practically February, which means I need to whip 909’s Basement Seed Lab into shape. I imagine the day my orders arrive at my office, I’ll be like the hearts-for-eyes emoji, all squishy-feels about the eventuality of variegated collards, Easter egg radishes, Scotch bonnet peppers, black peony poppies, and the like.
And that’s why I plant, every damn year. Spring never fails.