Letting go of Army Things


I’m still in the process of tackling the black hole of my closet.  I pulled out nearly everything in the closet:

Boxes stacked on the floor, along with presskits, photos, and fanzines.

This is most of it, though there’s a separate pile of books, and a small pile of movie posters in tubes.  The two piles in the back are donations, and electronic discard.

As part of all this clean-up, I decided to give away two items that came from Desert Storm.

The first was a prayer rug that I purchased at the airport while I was waiting to go home on emergency leave.

The reason I’m donating it to the thrift shop is that so much changed since then.  We had September 11, and I was in DC when the Pentagon was hit.  I experienced all of that and was terrified and in shock for two weeks.  Plus the political climate here is just poisonous…it’s just not something I want contaminating me.  And the rug was sitting rolled up in the closet and that’s all it was going to do.

The second thing was a small ceramic Siamese cat.  It was given to me by my best friend going into Desert Storm.  I believe she gave it to me after the war ended.

The war and an event that happened during the war destroyed her.  I watched this bright cheerful friend dip into depression and great anger.  A lot of us–the lower enlisted–tried to help her (leadership appeared disconnected to the problem from our level), but she was stuck.  She was smoking three packs a day and not taking care of herself.  A relationship with a married man finally ended, and she decided to married to a guy she’d known for two weeks–for the reason, “I need a man in my life, and it might as well be him.”  This man gave even the male soldiers the creeps.  Two weeks after she got married, she was divorced.  It was so hard for me to watch, and I found she was dragging me down.  I had to quietly separate myself from her.  She eventually failed the physical training test multiple times by intent and got kicked out.  I have no idea what happened to her.

While I liked the ceramic cat, it also reminded me not of the good times I had with her, but all the bad things when she went downhill.

Sometimes some memories are best left without any reminders.

Losing Track and Finding it Again


It’s hard to believe that when I grew up, I typed a novel on my mother’s manual typewriter.  It was one of those Royal typewriters that you see commonly associated with writers.  I went from that to an electric, to a Heathkit H-89 to a Commodore 64.

This week I’ve been tackling a big project: the paper copies of the stories and non-fiction I wrote.

It’s part of that black hole of my closet that I’m cleaning up.  They’ve been long stuffed into plastic boxes, out of sight in the box, but the box itself always in view.  So it’s a form of clutter.

I pulled everything out and started going through it.  What did I already have in digital form…yeah, somehow I had printed versions of the stories and digital versions.  In some cases, I had multiple copies of revisions printed and stored.  And for some stories, they were either before Microsoft Word or, for whatever, reason, I only have the paper version.

It was just easy to lose track of what I had because it was in a file folder.   There’s a long history of everyone struggling with forms of the data, for as long as we’ve had data.

My grandmother was in Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm.  The film was shot out where she lived in Northern California.  Assuming her memory is correct for the title, this is likely the film.  She would have been two at the time.  She tried to find the film in later years, but it no longer exists.  A lot of those films were done on nitrate, and then put into storage once the studio went onto the next release.  By the time places like UCLA got in there to transfer to safety film, the reels had disintegrated.  Or caught fire, since nitrate film was pretty flammable.

Then there’s Motown.  When I was doing temp work in Los Angeles—my Google-fu tells me it was probably 1983 or 1984—I got a job documenting inventory for Motown. They were being sold, so we had to inventory all their music.  They gave us stacks of music reels, which were about the size of pizzas.  We would open the boxes up see what was written on the reels, and then type that on the inventory.  Massive inventory, and they had no idea what they had.

But what I’m doing now is kind of fun and nostalgic to look it.  It’s my life at the time, and where I was at as writer.  It’s also some of the things I liked. There’s an article I write—might post it here if anyone is interested—on meeting William Windom in 1997.  It was for an anthology call that never happened.  But I enjoyed writing it, and I enjoyed meeting him.  I have photos, but those are in another box I haven’t cracked open yet.

It was at Starcon, which was the big gathering of actors at that time. I believe it was over 100.  Most notably, it was the only gathering of most of the actors from Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea (Allan Hunt, Del Monroe, and Terry Becker.  Bob Dowdell turned it down, and David Hedison was unavailable.  Richard Basehart had passed away).

It was early in the day, and I was just roaming the aisles to see who was there.  He flagged me over, and guess what we chatted about?

We were both veterans!

Very cool.