Monthly Archives: August 2013

Loss

It’s not quick, there’s the immediate oddness of something out of place, but then you figure out what it is. It’s gone. Well, maybe not gone but it’s not where you left it. That’s the one thing you know for sure. Not where it ought to be. You doubt yourself at first, “well it didn’t just walk off”. You look in all the normal places. Maybe it got washed. Or… maybe it got put away, or stashed here? Finally you are looking in the abnormal places. Every cabinet, every drawer. You check and recheck because, obviously… things don’t just grow legs. Maybe it fell down back here.

So you look under stuff. Around stuff. On top of things. Inside containers. You look in unexpected places, places it would make no sense to find the lost item. But you are hoping now because you don’t want to accept that it has happened again. The feeling starts to creep into the bottom of your stomach, and you double search everything you already searched. You start creating elaborate secret areas maybe you haven’t checked. Maybe you should check the trash bag in the can, see if it fell in there. Maybe you should check the bags of trash outside to make sure it didn’t go out before you noticed. Maybe you should wash the muck from your hands and check all the drawers again.

Accepting that someone stole something from you is sickening. It is not the happenstance of a car change tray theft, the suddenness of a pickpocketing, or the abstractness of an identity theft; a burglarization in the place you sleep. While you were away from your house, somebody perused at leisure, coveted, and finally took their choice of your possessions. Just up and decided it was theirs. They deserved it more than you did, or need it more, or just wanted it more, or maybe just fuck you for not being here to stop them. Whatever the reason, it was theirs now and not yours. It has been taken.

It does not end. Ever. You wonder after that thing you lost every time you lose something new to theft. You add it to the tally. Things that people thought I did not deserve. Things people believed I could live without but they could not, charitably.

My home was burglarized twice when I was a child, once when I was too young to remember and once that I discovered, a bicycle stolen and recovered, a car stolen once, recovered months later after I had moved to another state and left for the state to deal with, and a significant sum (to the person who was losing it) of money stolen twice, and my dignity stolen, once very publicly.

These thefts uniformly happened while I slept or was at play. Each time it is a fresh shame, and one without recompense. There is no assailant to fight back against and the chances of the police finding who did it or what they took is about the same as the thieves growing some kind of moral fiber and returning the item themselves. Each time upon realizing what had happened, my stomach upturned, my adrenaline dumped, and I found myself utterly without outlet for my rage or my sadness. Today I simply shuddered in my kitchen, shifting my weight from foot to foot, sweating that piss on hot metal smell through the armpits of my shirt and clenching my fists. Without outlet.

In each case, there was nobody who cared as much as me and nobody to ask to repay. Since my first experience with the parlor trick of contacting the police to report a burglary, naively calling the station for an update a week later, a month, I have been disabused of the notion that there is a step two. There is only the maddening, sometimes-still-wondering-what-else-was-stolen-but-went-unnoticed stomach clenching shame of it.

I spent years letting these accumulated losses, my tally, turn me into a nobody, a person who stayed at home all the time, to protect his things. I had decided the decadence of letting my guard down for a moment must be a sin, because surely I was punished. It must be that the world saw my weakness and exploited it. I spent years turning into a nobody, with no friends to trust too far. With nobody to love so nobody could break my heart. A nobody with nothing worth having so nobody else would be tempted to steal it. A person so paranoid of the ill intentions of anybody not family, not kin, that I alienated everyone around me for a decade, clinging to a thief and manipulator I had adopted as kin, who helped keep me isolated and empty. Barren. And I thought that was freedom. It is a kind of freedom. The low down freedom of having nothing. Nothing ain’t worth nothing, but it’s free.

But now I have things. I always have, really, but I know it now. The shining light of my romantic partnership, the empowering and enriching nature of meditation and prayer, and my burgeoning understanding of what good friends do for one another has scoured my shitty myopic vision of freedom and liberty clear. It has scorched into my forebrain the meaning of words, beyond their literary definition. The meanings of worth, and of self-worth. Of protection and of sanctity. And of theft. What it truly is, which is disrespect made real. And the only thing you can really do in this life to make sure your precious things are not taken is to keep _them_ away from people who don’t respect _you_.

Getting Old on the Internet

I used to press hard for my friends and family to get on the internet, I early adopted and I beta tested and glassy eyed friends who just wanted to go for a bike ride half listened to my technodrone about this squawking little terminal window that was gonna change their lives. The meatspace crowd did not understand for the most part, and despite getting laughed at a lot but I made a few electronic friends in those greyscale days I still treasure, and had some experiences which changed the way I thought about LIFE. I was in love with the internet, nah, more like infatuated. Like only a virgin boy can be with something he doesn’t understand but wishes he could just embed his entire essence in. I knew this internet was the Next Big Thing but I had no idea what 15 years would mean in Internet terms. I still called it the web, so noob. We didn’t even have noobs then.

I don’t even know if we have noobs anymore.

But it’s fifteen years on now if it’s a day. I’m getting old on the internet, and slow. I am not angry enough to be right all the time anymore. I don’t have the vigilance. Or the time. But the internet is getting old too, and just like the living, breathing objects of my youthful affection, has only become more complex and incredible as time has gone on. A scar for every scam. A white hair for ever scandal. A wrinkle for every story. Each story a stitch in our co-created digital history. And when those stories turn out to be false or unreliable, the shame rends a huge nasty seam through our shared delusion of a more perfect society. And we have had so many seams rip.

And of course now the monsters have moved in. The same penny-ante publishers and media owners and wanters and thieves with the same money found out they could price truth out of my digital conclave just as easily as they could price it out of meatworld. It is easy to confuse people by offering them new lies in place of old truth. People are very easily confused. It is very easy to conflate word and deed when there’s nobody to tell you about the facts of the deeds, just a press conference in which the right word is massaged into the frontal lobe to make you ignore every press release about it in the future. A blessing of ignorance or a baptism of wrongthink that simultaneously excuses you from followup and frees you from worry.

I find myself studying the past now because I think we’re doomed to repeat it. And I think I might be doomed to hate the internet. Or maybe I’m doomed to hate people. But as soon as I feel like we’re doomed I hear another thing that makes me think maybe this communication stuff is OK. Maybe we reach too far and make too many compromises along the way. Maybe there isn’t a satisfactory ending to that cycle.

I used to press hard for my friends and family to join me on a platform I was clearly more adept at than they were, and now I’m having to go backwards. To learn how to move my world to the meat world, to make the problems there my problems, the people there my tribe. Because those are the important things, out there, to be right about. And to fret about when you’ve chosen wrong.