A Clear Modem. Worthless. They are offered for pennies on eBay. I found this in an unpacked box, 2 years after I moved into this house.
WAS I ALREADY TOO OLD to call it a voyage of my misspent youth? Maybe–we extend youth so long these days, heaven forfend that we get older, because as you age, you disappear. When you age you get to that point where, when contemplating the future, you no longer see the things that once inspired you, but rather the indignities and the infirmities that lie ahead. That is, unless you adopt a healthy attitude towards aging, and I haven’t. I’m in the midlife crisis I’ve been in since I was 25.
What does it say, in any case? It says to me that I went to Thailand with some woman. It says that people drift apart and experiences are the remembrance of emotion, not of images or place. The trip to Thailand was fun, and it wasn’t fun. It was one of those relationships that had just a bit too much competition and a bit too much held in reserve. It’s all part of the past now, and whatever was good (or bad) about it I will hold in my memory. However, I’m at the point in my life where I’d like to–if I’m able–choose the time and place of my remembering things. I don’t like bad memories slipping in at inconvenient moments. It just muddies my mental waters. If I were a brightsider, I’d say at least I can still remember.
I know it’s only one piece of paper that I am throwing out. But they add up. If I kept it, my children would find it one day (maybe) after I died, and say, oh, so he went to Thailand once. It would not even be a footnote in their memories of me.
On the lighter side, the translations from the Thai are hilarious.
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Every object tells a story. I didn’t toss this in the garbage. I just left it behind in a cafe. I hope no one thought that it was an IED.
Another pile o’ professional papers. Away they go. About half of these papers were about “exotics.” Technically, it means an animal that isn’t native to the area, but in small animal practice it means something that isn’t a dog or a cat.
There was a point in my career when I thought that I might see rodents, hedgehogs, sugar gliders, and birds. I have treated them, but so sporadically as to not feel really comfortable doing so. If there’s a veterinarian on staff who isn’t in that day and the condition isn’t an emergency, I’ll have that vet see the animal. I’ll try to refer the animal to another clinic if where I’m working doesn’t have someone who sees these guys regularly.
Most veterinarians hate to do that. They are sending business elsewhere, and they are not sure if it will come back with the other animals, or when a doctor who likes to see exotics is on staff. I have been told by employers that I will see these animals, my level of comfort be damned. It can be a problem.
I don’t know if my children will ever know what it was like to have to keep one’s information in hard copy. There were all those articles that one xeroxed just to have them handy. The walls of offices were filled with years of periodicals and journals, all because we were afraid that we’d have to refer to them.
Of course, I barely got around to reading a tenth of the stuff I ever copied, and in the day of the internet, they are just not worth keeping around. The information in these old things is still probably good, for the most part, but it’s also been 15 years since I’ve treated a horse.
I liked keeping the Ippologia issue for sentimental reasons. I got it in Cremona, Italy (home of Stradivarius) when I was taking a course in veterinary acupuncture. I had a great time. The connections I made there lasted a while, but then they dissolved.
The process continues.
I try to think of why I hang on to things. My mind strains to think under what conditions I would actually need an organic chemistry textbook again. To be totally honest, I’m not sure why I needed to study organic chemistry in the first place. As a requirement for graduate school in chemistry, pharmacology, biochemistry, etc, it makes sense. To be a doctor? Most of us don’t remember anything about organic, except that we had to take it and a lot of people really hated it.
I didn’t hate organic. I thought it was sort of interesting. I think I kept the book because 1) I thought that I might need it, though who knows for what, and 2) I hated the idea that after spending so much time studying something, it would all just go away. Could I get 5% right on those tests I took all those years ago? Why on earth did I spend all that time and treasure learning something the veterinary school admissions committee must have known I wouldn’t need and that I would almost certainly forget?
Lastly, I wonder whether somewhere this book wouldn’t be of use to somebody somewhere, in a place where there aren’t old textbooks piling up in landfills or being carted off to get recycled?
Once upon a time, Abercrombie and Fitch was a fancy-schmancy sporting goods store. Y’know, with that Adirondack camp, WASPy type feel to it .
That company folded in 1977.
When I was in 5th grade, my dad took me on a father-son fishing trip along with another couple of dads and their sons.
The trips were great, though. I loved the woods, the lakes, and being away with my dad. Is that why that shirt is still among my things? Odd thing is that it is almost assuredly a hand-me-down. I never went shopping at Abercrombie and Fitch. Also, having something from A&F was always a bit self-conscious, at least to me, and even at that age: those things were part of culture to which I didn’t belong.
For those of us who knew it when, it seemed so strange to see the name picked up by a store marketed to teens. Why that name? Clearly, it no longer had any real associations to anything. I cant stand the idea of paying to wear someone’s advertising, so I wouldn’t wear the stuff. But I’m not 16.
(I’m getting rid of this shirt, but it’s going into the giveaway box.Some lucky soul may find it at Savers or wherever.)
The Car Stereo
See also What I Threw Out 2 Days Ago
This was the car stereo on my 1997 Dodge Ram 2500. It played cassettes. I listened to a lot of books on tape. You can tell a man of a certain age: he says “books on tape, ” rather than “audiobooks.”
I sold the truck nearly ten years ago. I don’t think that the truck or cassette tapes are coming back. But who knows? Vinyl is back, against all odds.
Postcard from Hanoi
I wrote this postcard to my former wife. I don’t know what it’s doing in my stuff, but off to the dustbin of history it goes. Even though I have to deal with her on a near-daily basis, I try not to think of the former wife, inasmuch as that is humanly possible. This side of the postcard says nothing–it could have been one of the postcards I sent to my children–but turn it over and there is the reminder of the biggest mistake of my life.
My best friend tried, too late and too unassertively, to convince me not to marry her. Let it be on the record that he saw the future that the rest of us would bear witness to (he died before I got divorced).
Anyway, I was back in Vietnam, the country where my son was born. Someday I will go there with him, and he can see it for himself. I hope he loves it as much as I did.