Monday, October 31, 2011


Self-portrait in despair and hunter orange

"There are certain queer times and occasions in this strange mixed affair we call life when a man takes this whole universe for a vast practical joke, though the wit thereof he but dimly discerns, and more than suspects that the joke is at nobody's expense but his own." --Herman Melville, Moby Dick

Rebuilding directory… Speed reduced by disk malfunction: 357,263 failed attempts to access data.

"The Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away. Blessed be the name of the Lord." --Job

I'm beginning to feel like Ahab with his white whale. All he lost was his leg. What does what I lost matter? It doesn't.

I don't side with Job on this one, though. There are far worse losses than mine, his included. People get sick and die, houses burn down, children have their throats slit and are thrown down wells. Maybe I have even experienced personally far worse losses, but this one feels so purposefully malicious, so pointlessly brutal, so capricious--in short, so cruel, and so clearly an act of God, that I can't let it go.

There seems to be no point except: nothing you do matters, Melissa.

If nothing I do matters, then what does this post matter? What do my words on page matter? What do stories matter? What's the point of putting them down? It's all ephemeral as dust. As electrons charging and recharging.

"Every word is a meaningless stain on silence and nothingness." That one's Samuel Beckett. I'm with him.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

The things I see in life

I do realize I’m obsessing about my computer and needing to let it go. I need to let it go, somehow. I’m running software still, trying to get everything back, but the hunt is stealing my time and energy and money. Is it worth it?

I don’t know. Should I just return to the paper and pencil, write new stories, take new photographs, listen to different music? Like the hip-hop album I’m listening to right now, by Immortal Technique, amazing stuff—everyone should go to his website right now and hit his donate button. I hope he has one.

Is life just about letting things go? Should I become Buddhist? What’s wrong is my desire for the data, my yearning after it. I’ve lost data before. I lost a whole computer, a hand-written story I have yet to return to. It was about a musician living in a bus in Aroostook County, a Chicago indie musician who runs in with his moose poaching neighbor.

The Psalmist says: delight yourself also in the Lord and He shall give you the desires of your heart. I pray. I have faith. Does faith matter for anything? Or is faith just another way to break my heart, to scour out any of the matter inside of me?

I’m working the photographs I salvaged from my camera. Uploading more than I have in days. The graffiti comes from months ago. Is that why? Why?

That little friend of mine

"Directory of disk eGo cannot be rebuilt. Disk is still in use. Quit all other applications or restart from Disk Warrior disk and then try again. Error codes: 2153, 4903."

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Maybe I’ve crossed some wrong rivers

Autumn sunset, off the camera's memory card

Thinking about the future of the publishing industry today, with my guilty post of last week about my pirated music. I’d like to draw a line between myself and those who download music wholesale off the internet, but am I any better? Almost all of my music comes from actual CDs, uploaded to my database. So the artist was paid for the music. How is it any different than the books (real pieces of paper, bound together with glue) that my friends and I trade among ourselves?


The seed of this post was written two weeks ago before I realized, in vivid detail, the difference. The difference is that they all can be lost in one fell swoop, in a sweeping fleeting moment. I keep thinking about the burning of the library of Alexandria, although such a comparison may be melodramatic. I’m sure it is. But that’s how it feels at some cosmic level. I had dreams of apocalyptic fungi, white cosmic snot, wrapping the sides of my face.

I can’t help but believe that all of this destruction is karma, is my fault for not spending enough money on artists, for singing the praises of digital archives. There’s something clinical about my inherent theology that whenever something bad happens, it’s God punishing me for something I did wrong. I believe, at some level, that I haven’t cast off enough, I haven’t stripped myself bare to the bone enough. After eight months here, I’m still living off the contents of one suitcase and a carry-on. One pair of jeans, two tee-shirts. My glasses are broken.

I’ve stripped away almost everything of financial value in my attempt to live authentically, whatever the hell that means. What’s the one thing I still prize? I still rely on? I still shuffle through cold gray short days? My music.

My library connects me to everyone I love: my brother and sister, my brother- and sister-in-laws and their brothers and wives, friends from my past, from college, from the boat, from Chattanooga. I share music, yes, but I also buy music: new, from, Bob Dylan’s most recent album as a gift for my sister; used from my local CD store in Tennessee, McKay’s, Dar Williams’s debut. Do the artists get enough for that? Are they making a living? Because the writers aren’t doing so hot.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Complete unknown

Dropping a line to say that my computer died--hence my long absence. Then my new computer--a brand new one, with all the bells and whistles, a huge splurge and the most money I've spent on anything since Secret--ate the data off my external hard drive, including all of my music, photographs, and writing files.

I'd appreciate as many prayers as you can spare.