Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Day one thousand five hundred and fifty three . . . No reserve.

We send out a lot of packages.

My mom and aunt were, how do you say . . . collectors. And as such when they died they left me with quite a collection of items.

Furniture, fine china, regular china, mirrors, dolls, toys, scarves, coats, gloves, hats--oh, the hats--tchotchkes of all shapes, sizes, colors, make and likeness, Polish folk dolls, German swizzle sticks and so much more.

I think you get the picture.

Well, it turns out that some of these things people are actually willing to buy from us. Not in a store mind you. No. They want to buy them on eBay, that veritable cornucopia of everything and anything the world has ever made.

The value of these items is not really a surprise. One of the many reasons these things were collected, as it were, was to some day sell. But we've been on a roll lately and it's always amusing to me how just about everything holds an interest to somebody.

Now, I'm sure that in 1973 when my Grandmother was haggling with one of the nuns at the rectory flea market over a set of mid-century modern carving utensils (new-in-box) she had no idea how the internet revolution would change the way we exchange money for goods.

And when my mom was buying me set after set of G.I. Joe Adventure Team figures complete with one of four different dress uniforms in blue with square snaps--not round--that she couldn't have really been aware that some day it would be worth about a shopping cart full of groceries.

But the years roll on and these things inevitably develop a special value all their own. Older people want to fill their china cabinets with the set that they grew up with--the one that their parents had to sell to put food on the new, much less expensive Corelle--the one with the green, lacy flower pattern. And for that they turn to eBay.

And middle age men like myself want to remember what it was like to be six again playing with their manly action figures dressed in hand sewn clothes complete with sixteen different types of molded plastic machine guns. They want to take care of these things like they never did when they were younger. They want that chance to care again. They want to feel that sense of wonder and innocence and it's-time-to-eat-dinner-so-you-better-stash-your-stuff-so-mom-won't-yell-like-she-did-yesterday--like she did everyday you didn't do what you knew you should. Because kids sometimes never learn. And when they grow up and finally do get some sense knocked into them--hopefully not literally--it's far too late. And that rusty can on a string turns into a cell phone blaring its hit song snippet from a hard-to-access coat pocket with the prospect of important news--news about things you may not want to hear, because it means you, young man, are now responsible.

And if I remember correctly, I couldn't wait to grow up so that people would stop telling me I was too young to handle that kind of responsibility, whatever it was.

Well, at least that's why I think grown men collect the dolls they had as kids anyway. I have my own issues, but hoarding, thankfully, isn't one of them.

But what I do know is that we sell a lot of stuff. We need boxes for all of it. We need bubble wrap for most things. We save our newspapers each day to stuff in said boxes so the Miss Revlon 18" "Big Sister" doll that I currently have for sale on eBay and is up to $75 doesn't rattle around too much on the trip to wherever she's going.

And we go through a lot of packing tape.

The rolls and rolls of tape we use is dispensed on the traditional hand-held device.

It's sharp.

It's effective.

It's made in Italy.

And the sound it makes is loud and very obnoxious.

To me the sound of the clear packing tape coming of its spool in one foot lengths is somewhere in the vicinity to the noise made by two or three sick and angry goats bleating in unison no further than four inches from my ear. Each pull from the highly effective tape dispenser sends shivers down my spine. Now, I realize that the sound is a good sound. It means that we're selling things. And selling means we're sharing what we have with the world. It signals that we are finally helping spread the items that one family curated for their own enjoyment over perhaps 100 years out to an untold number of people, not only all over this country but worldwide, too.

It sure beats getting a visit from Dr. Robin Zasio or Dr. Melva Green from Hoarders.

We sell stuff almost every day. And that means that we ship stuff almost every day. And, of course, that means that almost every day I get to hear the two or three sick and angry goats bleating in unison no less than four inches from my ear.

But today was different.

Today I realized that, once again, perspective is everything.

I realized that when Jodi is packing up her wooden Polish Easter eggs to send to a little old lady in Lake Placid the sound of the tape drives me crazy.

But when I do it I don't even realize it's there.


I realized--or moreover Jodi deftly pointed out to me--that it's the fact that I don't know the sound is coming--that I'm not the one doing it. It's only then that it annoys me. But when I have the tape dispenser clenched in my chubby little hands and I'm the one pulling it across a box filled with Old Mill Tap pencils from 1952, it's only then that it becomes almost imperceptible.

And there's so much I can take from that realization that after almost three months of not having anything to say on here that I had to share.

Because this relates so much to my life and the way I see the world.

When I try to get my point across and wonder why the other party doesn't see it my way, it's because they're not seeing with my eyes.

When a comment gets misconstrued and taken in a way I never intended it to, it's because they're hearing it through their ears, not mine.

When I wonder why it's so much easier then I thought it would be to just stay clean and sober and think how many lives in disarray could be turned around, it's because my life is mine and mine alone and as much as I try to shed light on where I've been and what I've learned nobody shares my experiences. Nobody.

And when we tell somebody we love them and we wonder why the smile on their face isn't as bright and eager as we had hoped for, it's because as much as we feel like we are one, and as many times as we almost say the same stupid thing in haphazard unison--as often as we reach for each other in tandem, giving credence to the idea that we are so perfectly meant to be together and there has never been anyone else in this gargantuan world out there for us, and we shall someday die together because life cannot hold a melted confederate penny's worth of meaning without one or the other--when the dust settles on the half-open bedroom blinds morning after beautiful morning we can only love through our own heart.

And that takes some getting used to.

I have to look at things with a new perspective. I have to see now that the things that ruffle my feathers--the petty comments and rude and inconsiderate behavior--these things that happen on the other side of my body that annoy the crap out of me I may in fact be doing myself and thinking nothing of it.

It's going to be a process of undoing some well-tied knots. I've come into my own over the last four years of sobriety. I feel like my life now is similar yet wholly different from the one I lived for the 20 years I used and abused. And while that time that's passed from my first day clean--the time that can really be qualified as the time contained in this blog from day one to today's one thousand five hundred and fifty third--that that time is in and of itself a lifetime to me. The things I've accomplished, the people I've met, the music I've made, the bridges I've built and the ones that have sadly and sometimes quietly washed away, and most importantly the true love I've found has all arranged itself into such a compact portion of my life that if it didn't come with such awful connotations I'd happily call it my baggage.

I like to travel and sometimes live for weeks out of a suitcase. It's not the most elegant way to be but it does teach what one really needs to survive away from the comforts of home. Every time I go away and come back I like to make note of which articles I took with me that I didn't use. I try to remember this for next time so I won't take them again. Sometimes it's a long sleeve shirt that I brought to the tropics; other times it's a pair of flip flops that were meant just for the pool when my everyday outdoor sandals did both jobs just fine. Either way I always bring a couple things there and back that I didn't need. So I guess it's not really a matter of what to bring but what to leave behind.

So in living this new life I have learned so much. Every day, for real, I find something new that amazes me and makes me want to wake up the next.

Today it was packing tape. Tomorrow it might be potting soil. Next week I may find illumination in a box of my mom's dance card pencils. I don't know.

But the thing that I think will always stick with me is to remember that this is my life, not yours. It's not the neighbor's life. It's not the life of the guy serving 10 years at Bridgewater for wire fraud. It's not the couple at the shelter's life. It's not the A-lister's life. It's not the cop that gave me a speeding ticket's life or the one that let me slide though that yellow light, either. And it certainly isn't my mom's or her mom's life even though I have almost everything they ever collected minus a few Hummels and Roseville vases.

This is my life.

This is the world as I see it through the two eyes in my head. My hands touch my world. My feet walk my path. My shoulders bump my walls on the way to the bathroom in the middle of the night. My ears hear my voice, my lips say my words, my brain understands what it can in the world that it floats along in in the head on my shoulders.

And my heart feeds my love for my girl.

I rarely had to use it for these purposes and I'm glad that it still runs after all these years.

But when I finally realized that my life is not yours. It's not his or hers or theirs . . . it was then that I could finally understand that I wasn't the only one here.

And that thing that bugs me to no end--that little pet peeve of mine or that sound that drives me crazy--once I understood that it's only because it wasn't me that was doing it that it affected me, it was then--or really it was today--that I think it started to lose its power over me.

And that's a heavy duty box of understanding right there, taped up on all sides and ready to get shipped out.

Now if I could only get those people who still haven't paid me for my mother's favorite doll to see it my way . . . .

Thanks for reading, as always.

It's good to be back.