On Reconsideration

Peter Wells aka Countingducks has posted a beautiful ode to the struggle between practicality and idealism. His narrator is disappointed with decisions he’d made in his past; the following is not a response, but rather a different perspective inspired by that voice.

Regrets . . . are for people who feel powerless to learn from experience

Mistake . . . is the name we assign to a decision which now causes pain

Loss . . . is a comforting defense against our greatest fear

Mourning the past is the same as dreading the future,
Because you cannot turn the page of a closed book

Ancestry

Corngoblin just posted an elegy to his laptop, and has invoked the ghost of a story idea from many years ago.

Knew going in that the few hundred in obsolete computer parts and hours of online research, could have easily proved fruitless. Zeroes and ones, stored on thin magnetic circles enclosed in flimsy plastic sleeves, ancestors of today’s USB drives like a horse-drawn carriage is to a Ferrari. How long can this technology store data reliably — a year? Two? Five?

Twenty-nine seemed a stretch, I knew that going in. But the moment I found that box of floppies — instinct had compelled me to sort through the carton I had lugged around unopened through I can’t recall how many moves, their data created on a computer with a proprietary OS, both long abandoned — there was no choice for me but to explore whether their data could be restored on a modern system (Yes!) and if my PC maintenance skills were still sharp (Of course!). A journey that’s lead to this moment, reclining back into my home office chair as the first floppy (labeled 1987) spun noisily in its drive, the sound like a small animal squeaking with exertion, followed by the names of forgotten files dancing on the flat screen:

BUDGET.87

CHRCTRS (my abbreviation for Characters, working within the 8.3 naming restriction)

CHRCTRS2

CHRCTRS.OLD

DARNOLD (Darn Old? D Arnold?)

Thirty-four files on this floppy, the first of seventeen. Digital artifacts from a younger version of myself, a me I can barely remember. Someone less secure, yet more confident than the person I imagine myself to be now. Less afraid to take chances, make mistakes, of which he made many. Less inhibited, especially when writing.

Am I ready to confront that person who used to be me?

A rhetorical question at this point, for sure. But one worth asking, as I right-click my budget file for 1987 and select Open.

Waiting for the Sun

Today’s offering is inspired by Corngoblin, who recently used climate as a metaphor for displacement

 “It wasn’t the moving that bothered me.” She raised the white ceramic mug from the table, lifted it to her lips, drank. Her eyes fixed on me as she swallowed, set the mug down. “I’ve lost track at the number of times I’ve moved since college. And I’ve been all over, from east to west coasts, north and south. Good winters and rough winters, mountains and plains, rural and country. ”

“And you never had trouble sleeping before?” The waitress arrived with my berry-capped waffle, her omelet of many colors. She waits until the waitress leaves before continuing.

“It was geography, an aspect I hadn’t encountered before. We’re what, an hour east of the time zone boundary?”

Not blessed with heightened chronological instincts, I nod, hoping she’s right, before I start working on my waffle.

“Ever notice how, in the winter, the sun never comes up in the morning?”

She waits as I chew. Swallow. “Thought you said winter doesn’t bother you.”

“It didn’t, until I came here.” She points behind me, I’m not sure to where. “This is the first time I’ve ever lived on the western side of a time zone. All the places I’ve been before — Hartford, Chicago, Colorada, New Orleans, Vegas — every one of those places, the time zone may have been different but they were all on the eastern side of their time zone. Over thirty years, I got used to seeing the sun in the morning. But the further away you get from a time zone’s eastern border, the later the sun comes up.”

“Huh.” I was genuinely intrigued, pointed at her with a fork dripping butter and berry juice. “So that also means the sun stays out later in the day, right?”

For the first time that morning, I saw her eyes smile behind her big round glasses. “I’m just beginning to appreciate that, realize how I always hated driving from work in the winter. And I remember thinking last June, how cool it was to have sunset around 10 in the evening. I didn’t make the connection until the other day when I got up, started grumbling about it still being dark — and then it hit me.”

“Sounds like you’re OK with it.”

She shrugged. “Not much I can do about it. Except wait for the sun to arrive in winter.” And started cutting into her omelet.