Monday, March 23, 2009

Day four hundred and forty four ... User friendly.

I've been away for a while, I know.

It hasn't surprised me that it's been almost a week since I dug into the Qwerty keyboard. That's mostly because I remember posting the last one; it was in the morning and I was in a hurry. I hadn't posted an entry in a few days and I do like to keep the mill gears churning. But it seems this has been happening more and more as life starts to speed up a bit.

And here we are almost a week later and I don't really have much to discuss.

But I think I really understand why that is. You see, this blog started out as therapy for me. I spent 208 of 365 days last year typing, typing, typing away, trying to balance, in print, the morbid details of a life fraught with substance abuse next to stories of my remarkable and loving family (add to that my penchant for reliving the somewhat idyllic adventure that was growing up in the 1970's and 80's, and you have my M.O.).

I wrote incessantly mostly because I had to. I was holding this desire for a tangible increment of a year of alcohol abstinence up to the light in an effort to attach a numeric value to an emotional renovation. I feel like I have succeeded, but, as anyone who has attempted to rid themselves of undesirable propensities, it never really goes away for good; you just get better at keeping it from showing up unannounced. 

Now the place is almost exactly as I had envisioned, and my job is to maintain its current state, picking up the bits of trash as it gets discarded on my lawn, mowing the grass, and shoveling the snow (and thank you again, Robert. It was a long winter).

Not to imply that I am done with my (ugh ... I hate this word) recovery ... but I always knew that, ultimately, if I were to ever succeed with my plans for a better life it wouldn't be with the constant mantras and regurgitated reminders of the sordid past that are entailed with other programs.

I already stress enough as it is trying to remember to buy half and half.

I realized that, just like almost everything in life (for me, anyway) you can only beat yourself up so much. You can only read the instructions so many times before you can put them away in a safe place.

I have a big box of instructions. This is no analogy, folks. I really have one.

I keep it nearby in a cabinet, full of all the many and confusing pages--some in English with foreign translations, some in Japanese with English tarnslations, and some just have pictures with arrows, lines, and smiley faces (and frowny faces, too). 

And for each set of instructions I have a corresponding product. There's one for the universal remote (excessively essential for reference); there's one for the coffee maker (essentially less necessary but still worthy of retention); there's one for the TV (great to have in case of a problem, but maddeningly verbose); and there's a whole book of pictures and arrows that came with my IKEA stuff. I probably only needed to use them once to assemble the coffee table or shoe rack, but I keep them in the box with the others because they symbolize a successful procedure of putting many parts together to form one useful whole. They also hold a special place by eschewing text for illustrations, thus essentially eliminating the need for multiple translations. 

I try to not collect too many documents that could get recycled, but this box is orderly, it's nondescript, and it's where I can find it in a jiffy. 

It gives me comfort to know it's there even if I don't call on it often.

I have fewer and fewer needs lately. But on the off chance I require a new beard trimmer it will invariably come with instructions. I may not even need to read them once to understand how to operate said electronic device, but I'll take the instructions and put them in this big yellow box to save for reference--to have a little piece of paper with a short set of instructions written ten times in ten different languages.

I'll have help when, and if, I need it.

And that's sort of where I am right now. I realize that this blog has become more of a travelogue at times. I enjoy writing what some may call memoirs. But most of all I enjoy having this resource at my fingertips for when I feel like life is closing in on me. I have a reference point to where my life has been--from a week ago tomorrow (fretting about recycling)--all the way back to what things were like when I was a teenager, pushing the boundaries of my mother's (ultimately) limitless love for me.

And just like the cache of instructions I keep in paper format in a big yellow box in the cupboard, I have this portfolio of sorts.

So, I guess I don't feel so bad about not keeping up with my writing. I'm sure those who read this journal would rather me not just publish a daily stream of drivel simply because I can (and believe me, I can). In fact, my aunt used to drive me nuts asking me, incredulously, "I don't understand how you can keep writing day after day after day. What's going to happen when you run out of ideas?" And I'd just tell her I'll deal with that when it happens.

I think I just share on a less regular basis because my life has changed. I'm busier with my music, and I'm presently sharing my time with an amazing new person. I guess when I started this whole thing almost fifteen months ago I kind of hoped there would be a day when I didn't feel the need for this journal as daily therapy. I kind of hoped for the time when I didn't necessarily run out of ideas but rather were so full of them that I had no time to distill them to a series of connected thoughts.

And that brings us to today.

Now where did I put those damn instructions?

The way I see it, I can tell how well made and intuitive something is when I come across their instructions in the big yellow box as I'm furiously flipping through to find the black and white tome that tells me how to turn the "sleep" function off on my TV (as it's powering down every 45 minutes). I'll see the pages--perhaps still sealed in plastic--and realize that I never did read them. 

Sometimes simplicity in design can make for better living. Sometimes things work best when we are unaware of why, in fact, they do. Sometimes knowledge isn't power ... sometimes it leads to a short circuit.

And in saying that, I also know that just because something hasn't shown its intrinsic complexities doesn't permit me to throw away the instructions.

Because if you're like me, even if you only have to read steps A through K to get something to work, once it starts doing what you want it to you usually stop reading.

That said, thanks for getting this far along with me. Here's hoping we can just keep it all in the big yellow box for a good long while.


1 comment:

Lucky Sia said...

I'm so happy for you Alex! This was my favorite installment of your blog of all the ones I have read so far. I am inspired by you.