Was it the inauguration? I suppose it might have been the inauguration. I don't think it was. I didn't even watch it. I had finished the last of my current free-lance jobs (anyone got publishing scutwork they need done?), and no one had called with any new ones (this is still true), and the apartment (which is small) was getting violently on my nerves. So I picked all the papers off the floor and put them in a huge black sack. All the papers in nooks and crannies all around the apartment. (You wouldn't think how creative a paper on the loose can be.) All the ones behind bookshelves and desks and under chairs and just hither and thither getting walked on a lot. Two years' worth at the very least. Some things longer - much, much longer. That pile toppled in - when? 2005? That doesn't seem so long ago. But it is as the world wags.
The black bag was two to three feet high on Inauguration Day. I sat there sorting through it, pulling things out, finding a place for them or simply discarding them. Every day since I have taken a well-stuffed sack out to the trash. A lot of books have gone, too. A lot of DVDs are ready to be taken to Academy, in theory for cash, in practice in swap for other opera recordings (know your weaknesses, eh?). The bag went down to half size, then a quarter. It's now about three inches thick. Mostly manuscripts and letters. The bills and receipts are all in one pile, the cheesy souvenir postcards from art galleries and Off Off Broadway plays are tossed, the letters ... I'm keeping.
One set of letters puzzles me: requests for copies of my magazine, Enchanté, often from newbies who have found references to it in Drawing Down the Moon or New Age Wicca or some such. Often from incarcerated quasi-pagans who have of course no cash to offer. Years ago I put an announcement in the magazine that if anyone sent me a little cash for the purpose, I'd send free copies to incarceries. A crone of means and great soul sent me a C-note, and I feel sort of honor bound to use the money (long spent) towards these unfortunates.
The thing is, I stopped publishing the zine in 1998. Issue number 24. I was exhausted post-cancer, and with a full-time job (that lasted two years until lack of sleep caught up with me, as it usually does after two years), and the thing simply could not be maintained. I do occasionally think of re-starting it, or of publishing all my own contributions in some slim volume, adding other pagan writings that never quite entered print. And a new magazine Thorn has writ me requesting submissions. (It looks a little like the last Green Egg.) I feel no desire to read it, but might write for it, just to have the deadline to push me.
Anyway, I found about eighteen letters going back to 1999 requesting free copies. One was from South Africa (!). The rest from the U.S. Four or five were from covens or newbies or some such, and one or two even sent me money - checks I couldn't deposit because they were made out to Enchanté not to me, maybe cash once. And I never answered these letters, or sent magazines (I'd have put an X in the corner if I had), sometimes did not even open envelopes obviously from prisons. By now these people have moved on to Episcopalianism or something, I would bet, or been released to halfway houses or who knows what. I discarded all the ones written before 9/11 because ... well, that's a long time. I got out back issues of the magazine (I always had some printed up in each run with outer blank covers that could be sealed, addressed and stamped), and I addressed them laboriously (what else are you going to occupy your mind with at 3am?), and now I'm going to take them to the post office. The South African gets one in an envelope. Roberto Fattore, my one and only Italian subscriber, gets at least a personal letter. Or would if my printer were not dead.
So that's another shelf bare and ready for more activity.
I am throwing out boxes. I am throwing out books. I am even throwing out Pagan books. (Write me for list and extremely low prices.) I wish I could figure out a way to get rid of my wall of vinyl.
How long will it take for my recurrent depression and lethargy to restore the flat to its previous state of too dusty to dare invite home guys who would obviously like to spend a few hours in my company? It was that filthy on New Year's Day, so I didn't invite home the guy who was obviously hoping I'd distract him from a Preston Sturges double bill at Film Forum. But what kind of sex could one hope to have with someone who is capable of being distracted from Preston Sturges, eh? Not excellent.
Each little colony of bare space represents a victory. Plus, there was a mouse (did I tell you?), and I really don't want mice living in here with me, and I don't want a cat either (though I love them). Too much trouble, too much work, not enough room for two of them, and I'm already the cat in residence.
On Activism and Ordinary Acts - One of the dangers of being Quaker--or Pagan--is a privilege at the same time. Quakers and Pagans share a somewhat counter-cultural view of our society. ...
2 years ago