Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Memories of a Magpie

Note: This entirely too long post reminds me of a NewsRadio episode where Jimmy James takes a kid to court over a box of junk.
Judge: Mr. James, all you have proven to this court is that you have a box full of junk. Never since The People vs. Junkyard Jones has a box of junk been so thoroughly documented. If I were this young man, I'd countersue you for defamation of character, and generally wasting everyone's time. What do you have to say in your defense?

Jimmy James: Tubal Cain.
Judge: The court rules in favor of Mr. James and sentences the defendant to a month in a juvenile ward for psychiatric evaluation. Case dismissed.

I remember clearly the tedium of clearing out a house. I didn't help much with my maternal grandmother's house. My youth and the presence of my cousins, my best friends as relations went, probably made that impossible. When my paternal grandmother moved out of her house, I was of a proper age to help. The difference between the two families was stark. At the time, my mother was far more sentimental towards the remainder of the possessions. My Dad and I after a day were kind of in a fuck it mood, and just started tossing shit. Then again, the Lays kept stuff like I'm about to show you and the Landises bought stuff off the home shopping network. I loved them equally; they were just different. I have no basis for genuine comparison as they were all gone before I could have eloquent adult feelings that I could put in words here.

The problem with every year of life is that clutter begins to appear, and I never really understood that. Hell, I don't even have unnecessary furniture such as a living room set. I will never have that problem. I accumulate two things, DVDs and books. when I go it will just be a free for all or quick sale for all that. If I buy something and it begins to gather dust, it finds itself on Craigslist or in the trash. The latest purge of documents and crap resulted in me going through my valuables. Being valuables of mine, you realize now that they have little or no worth at all.

The weird thing is how organized everything is for me. All of this crap fits in one Hammermill paper box, one of two containing old stuff that has no use anymore (the second has tshirts from all kinds of stuff, high school to now). My Dad always tells me to buy a document safe for my important papers (I don't have any), and I would probably just shove this stuff in it. The weird thing is I can tell you the story of my life, most of it good stuff.






 This is what is left of high school for me. It's a reminder that I was once called Joey, which is frankly a foolish name for a grown man (though it is debatable if I am one now.) Now, everyone calls me Jojo which is simultaneously emasculating and the homophobic may say gay. To be fair, (as far as stereotypes go), I am probably the gayest heterosexual alive.

The first picture is of two newspaper clippings that Joe Dunn saved for me. Another advantage of dating is if you do it well, you get another family to dote on you a bit. It is a reminder as well that I was once athletic, but I would say thin. The muscles are actually bigger now; I'm just cuddly as well. Also of note, my backhand was so fucked up by the time I was a Senior that I prayed no one hit to it, then hit them back slices just for the sake of it. The card in the background is just my Mom writing me back when she used to regularly; it's the only non-Christmas, non-birthday card I have, though she sent me far more before I became nostalgic.

The second is a bit more complicated. The picture frame is from my friend Meggi, who used to do my locker signs and give me junk food when I was a Senior football player. It is a practical and long lasting gift, but about that time, pictures starting being printed larger (then digitally) and so I don't own a single picture that fits the frame. The picture inside is my Senior picture with the remainder of the Senior pictures that were given to me. Most have interesting writing on the back that I could tell stories galore about, but my memoirs are waiting on me to become famous. Almost all are of girls, which probably should have said to my high school girlfriend that I wasn't a keeper or I was at least this man.

That watch was her birthday present to me at 17, and I didn't feel good throwing out a good watch in need of a battery. Then cell phones and work eliminated its practicality. The keychain lasted me ten years and aided me numerous times in finding them. In fact, I made it in eight grade and it stayed on my keys until I was 26, so it lived a good life. The class ring never fit, the key was made of lustrium, and the key chain broke. It symbolizes the sudden change of those years. Friendships you spent years cultivating are gone, and everything fades. You don't forget, but it isn't really a defining part of you. Unless you decide to go back, which I haven't done yet for clear economic and social reasons.* The patches are simply a reminder that I'm a huge nerd. They were sent with my replacement disc to Buried in Time, which the guys at Presto Studios signed for me. I miss those games.

*There are far more women, jobs, concerts, and women in big cities.
**(You said women twice.)
 ***I like women.
Never been to Mardi Gras, even the shitty St. Louis one.
Yet still beads all over the place. Hint: They're all green.
Then, I went to college. In hindsight, I didn't go to college to graduate it appears. In fact, I may not have even gone to college to make friends, as I've done a pretty fine job of burning as many of those bridges as possible. What did I go for then? Well, it wasn't women. I went to Rolla. It wasn't booze; there was booze in Carrollton or any other town. I went to become who I am now if that makes sense. I figured that would involve engineering, but it didn't. In fact, every plan of mine in life has an underlying current of delusions of grandeur. There is no grandeur in engineering, as there is none in a kitchen, but there is a theatricality to it that appeals to me. In hindsight, I probably should have focused on fine arts a bit more. I have some great ideas now that are a basic understanding of piano and music writing away from being within my grasp.
You can't say Kathy didn't try to help when I asked.
Pins, carnations and pledge quizzes. I have weird collection
habits. I think I have an afghan somewhere.
I did four things in Rolla that were memorable. Of course, I fucked all of them up, but that isn't necessarily the worst sin. I joined a fraternity, which was a brilliant decision, if many of my decisions within the fraternity were not. I hate the stigma that fraternities have in popular culture, but I understand it as well. All the stereotypes exist for a reason, and all of them are untrue for the same reason all stereotypes are. Simply, life is not black and white; there are douche-bags and good guys, and sometimes you're both. I have friends that straddle the line to this day. I didn't take it seriously enough and others took it too serious, which is just a microcosm of life itself.

The Chi fell off a boob and is a memento of both
follies success and boobs. The rest is schwag.
St. Pats was a personal choice that was also forced upon me. I was preordained for the Board. However, I didn't stand out there, mostly because I found out how much I could do from the shadows. I preferred helping others do their work, taking shortcuts on my own work, and then riling up as many people as possible. A campus employee once told me I lacked integrity for deceiving her, which was far from the truth. I felt I was above her contempt and didn't care to be subject to her purview. Basically, I got to spend three years working a part-time job, which rewarded you with booze and small college fame as opposed to money. As my academic exploits would have been poor either way, it was a decent time, but a part time job would have been more practical. It was the first time in my life where I was allowed to be creative, even to put on a show, which I did. I was "The Legend" as my jacket said, but legends die faster than regular folk. It's a chapter of my life that will probably never be opened again.

The worst thing about college is that when I tried I was really good at it. Not in the hard work, which is required to both graduate and succeed in any reasonable matter of life. I was capable of ridiculous acts of both oration, creativity, and recollection. I have numerous tests that I keep just in case somebody someday needs an example of how to write an essay test without citing a damn thing and without writing complete nonsense. One of my teachers made me stand up and take a bow, then proclaimed I was going places. That was the last class I took up to this point before the government decided I wasn't progressing at a speed sufficient to garner student loans. This is not a statement made out of anger, as this was completely true and regrettable now. If I ever get the money and time, I'll finish if only to make my parents happy, solely out of guilt.




Melissa, remind me to give you that ticket. It's signed to
you. I wasn't the Toad the Wet Sprocket fan there.
Then, I drank a bit and fell in love. Not with a woman, although I have fell in love with quite a few of those, but with music. Not in playing it, as I clearly do not have the dedication for such tasks. I love a concert. In fact, I love musicals, plays, movies, or any kind of performance art. I would have a bit more pocket-change if I had learned earlier to curb the bottle and didn't fall in love with ingenues. On the other hand, every cent spent on a concert has been worth it. Even CrueFest, which I went to for free.
Completing the circle of tickets
and booze, tickets to beerfest.

My favorite is that Joe Camel one that belonged to my
brother Bryan. It serves no practical purpose as it only
fits Coors products, so perfect for Bryan really.

I keep sports tickets and movie tickets as well, although I don't know why. Back in the day I had every one from when I was a junior high schooler to college, but I assume they were lost in the many purges of my childhood room. As they become more digital, I expect less and less to keep them. Also, drinking tends to lead to them getting lost along the way. I used to keep train tickets, but my iPhone does those now as well. Nostalgia is harmful to trees I've found.


Why save four of these?
Look at that taste. Harry Potter on
Christmas night.

I also possess an assortment of Halloween costumes. I have never made it through an entire night with an entire costume. Usually, I lose a shirt or any accessories. So now, I have a parka, which succeeded in getting me a ride to the Creve Couer police station, as I appeared to be a hitchhiking immigrant. I was not, so I didn't get charged for anything.I have Hammer pants, which I hope Lacey has the the top for because I loaned it to her for some sorority picture. I also have an Elvis jumpsuit. None of these are useful unless I meet a girl that is into role-playing, and that is even a bit weird for me.

There is some that has no deep significance and is simply oddities that I like.
License plates from my first two cars
who now share a junkyard.
A flower from Chi Omega's semi-formal,
 a bookmark that says I'm productive which shows how
well I match with the biblical Josephs, some sort of medallion
 for serving in Korea in support, a 50
centavo piece from Brazil (where I've never been)

Assorted gifts from Chinese roommates
I helped with English verb tenses.
Expensive green tea, chopsticks, and
an opera mask bookmark.
A Christmas teddy of both sorts.
One for being Mrs. Claus (see what I mean
about the vaguely gay thing  being acceptable.), the other
inexplicable.

Then, there is the stuff I've always saved. I don't have many friends (and I have a lot of friends). I'm rather inaccessible, emotionally and occasionally physically. I come when called, but most people wouldn't think to make that call as I tend to be aloof. So, I have these reminders that people do knwo where I am from time to time. I save all Christmas cards, wedding stationary (announcements, invitations, programs, placeholders, sometimes flatware ;), and birthday cards.



The birthday cards are mostly from my parents. They have slowly evolved from the humorous ones of my youth that better reflect my parents spirit to the emotional ones that my Mom prefers to send nowadays. She said that she was afraid the last thing she would ever say to me was a joke as opposed to "I love you", but I would say that making someone laugh is a great display of love in itself, even cheesy laughter. There are a few from Ozzie's which I forgot about. One of the upsides and downsides of restaurant jobs is the familial relationships that develop over time. The upside being a kid far from his actual brothers and sisters having some surrogate ones nearby to take some of the emotional load. The downside being the awkward incestual relationships that spring out of it and the bad holidays which can only be solved with booze. Except in a restaurant, every day is a bad family holiday.

 You could probably learn everything about me from this box of crap. Then again, you could learn nothing. That's the thing about magpies, we keep plenty of small mementos and trinkets on hand, but we hoard many other things of greater treasures. Lucky for those that know me that I write about them on here. Memories that cannot be forgotten need no trinkets, no ticket stubs, no cards. They just linger there in your mind waiting for you to recollect them, and that is the greatest hiding spot for things. What am I hiding there? Mostly social security numbers and bank account numbers in the Caymans, which are two unrelated topics.

2 comments:

Melissa said...

I loved this post! I've got to do one like this too. Unfortunately I have an entire room full of giant boxes of momentos. The blog posts alone might take up several books. I definitely fall closer to the Lay side of the family than the Landis side. ... And Toad the Wet Sprocket? I must have totally blocked that from my mind. I have no recollection of that concert at all.

Joseph Landis said...

You weren't there, you made some Facebook comment about them so I got it signed for you. When I think about them, I think about KB toys, so they are a little before my time. The girl with me loved them, so I went through the line for autographs which I would never do usually.