Wednesday, August 04, 2010

Weekend Assignment #329: Seek and Ye Shall Find - Eventually

It's taken me all week to get to this entry, but the result is a bit of an extravaganza. You see, I did find something this week that had been lost for years - a few somethings, in fact.

Weekend Assignment #329: Lost and Found

Have you ever lost something important (or else just really unusual), only to find it again months or even years later? Were you glad to get it back, or was it no longer worth having by then? Tell us your tale of memorable things lost and found. Alternatively, if you never, ever lost anything important, tell us how you manage this nearly superhuman accomplishment. ;)

Extra Credit: If you could choose one missing item to mysteriously reappear in your home tonight, what would it be and why?

When I wrote this last week, I was frustrated because I had lost a piece of paper with a vital phone number on it. It was the number of the social worker whose agency had suddenly cut their contribution to S's monthly rent by $59 with no warning or explanation. Aside from that underwriting and food stamps, which have also been cut for no good reason, S. lives on Social Security alone, which I use to pay her bills from her bank account, plus a small weekly allowance for her day to day expenses. Believe me, there is no extra $59 sitting around each month to be put toward rent. This past Sunday, S. told me she had run out of money and food stamps, and was unable to buy the few things she went to Albertson's for. There isn't much I can do for her financially: even if we could afford it, Social Security would count any cash gifts as income, and reduce her benefit accordingly.

Anyway, I wrote that number down on Monday afternoon, couldn't find it on Tuesday, turned it up on Thursday and called the social worker. Her voicemail promised a return call by close of business the next day. Six days later, there's been no peep of a response. But S. is meeting with someone over there today, I think, so I've put her on the case, to advocate for herself. Sometimes these agencies would talk to anyone other than the client, even a representative payee such as myself.

But that's not what I wanted to tell you about today.

When I was in college the first time around, I lived in a dorm called Haven Hall for a year and a half at Syracuse University. My parents got divorced during that period, the house was sold, my mom moved to Florida and my dad moved into an apartment, having sold pretty much everyone of mine that I hadn't taken to college with me, nine miles away. At the time of the garage sale, I was in Florida with my mom. I had a trunk of clothes and whatever had been in the dorm room with me, and whatever I'd bought that summer, mostly used comics. My dad didn't realize I was counting on him to store the rest for me, so away it went. This is part of why I'm so sensitive about getting rid of - or losing - my possessions, and part of what makes the Museum of the Weird such a glorious mess of exhibits and artifacts.

And boxes.

Back in my dorm room days, my friend Evelyn and I postulated that there was a wandering vortex in my room, which sucked up specific items into another universe and then redeposited them in a different spot, usually months later. That vortex has followed me around for 35 years now, through at least three states (possibly as many as six, if you count visits to my mom and my six weeks at Michigan State for the Clarion Writer's Workshop). Casa Blocher, the Museum of the Weird, is a decent sized house, but it's not bigger on the inside, and does not comfortably hold my surviving childhood possessions, drafts of stories, old clothes, yard sale finds, books, Quantum Leap collection, Doctor Who collection, books and other stuff, in addition to John's Star Trek (TOS) collection, eBay purchases and Sherlockiana, along with more books, DVDs, CDs, cassettes, midcentury modern furniture, and stuff bought to sell on eBay only we never did.

St. Michael's is having an English Faire in September, which includes a book sale, a jumble sale and a collectibles sale. John and I are determined to go through as many of our boxes as possible and though the house generally, and donate pretty much everything of value that I can bear to part with to St. Michael's. Yesterday I took over two boxes of office supplies (which St. Michael's will mostly keep and use), my mom's curlers, a Barbra Streisand cassette, four paperback fantasy novels, a hardcover fantasy, a set of plastic Hunchback figure from the Disney film, a plastic Mickey and Minnie, a carved wooden elephant, a child's puzzle that was a Christmas stocking stuffer, a hot pink straw purse, and a Wedgwood ash tray of my Mom's from the early 1970s. Oh, and four Hallmark Barbie ornaments, mint in box.

In going through boxes this past Monday to produce these donations, I found a number of interesting things, some of which I didn't know I had. A draft of my unsent letter to Piers Anthony turned up, reminding me of last week's Weekend Assignment. A small clipping from a Florida newspaper turned out to be a reminiscence of my mom's best and worst jobs ever, filling in a little info that it's far too late to ask her about. (I'm going to put it on her memorial page.) My mom's will was in one of the boxes, and commencement announcements from when I finally did graduate from college, and a letter from one of my 1978 English professors about how to make up my incomplete in his course - which I did but he never turned in the grade.

Perhaps best of all, I found two chapters of my Route 66 book in hardcopy, consisting of the George Maharis and Martin Milner interviews. I've been looking for those for at least 15 years. They were typed on a Commodore 64, and getting the data from a C64 cassette or weird floppy or whatever it was into a modern Word file has been a problem that always defeated us. Now I can scan and OCR the things, and clean them up from there. Interestingly, the Maharis chapter is accompanied by a cover letter to an agent at Triad, the multimedia agency where my friend Robin used to work. The letter is a textbook example of what not to write when trying to interest an agent, full of self-deprecation and self-doubt. Ah, well.

The last thing that turned up after years of searching for it was my watercolor map of Mâvarin, three years after the equally joyous discovery of my black and white map of Mâvarin. Neither map is usable now, because they were both persistently lost during the period when I wrote the bulk of the Mages of Mâvarin trilogy circa 1999-2002. Fabi Stock did a lot of traveling in those books, to places that weren't on the old maps because I couldn't consult them. Someday I'll need to either use a really good map generator program or hire someone (Sherlock, perhaps) to draw me a new map. It's far too late to change Fabi's journey instead; Mâvarin has changed and developed a lot in the three decades plus since these maps were drawn.

So tonight I'll probably dig through more boxes. What is the #1 long-lost thing I'd like to turn up? The title to my mom's 1984 Chrysler New Yorker. We want to donate this, and John's 1984 Dodge Van, to some charity and get them out of the driveway. I found the van's title (not that I know where it is now), but not the Chrysler one. John says to get a replacement title from the state but I'm being stubborn. If I don't find it soon, I may have to yield to the logic of the situation!


1 comment:

Stephen Watkins said...

If you do ever get it in your head to find someone to do a map for you, the place to go for people who know how to do that is the Cartographer's Guild - ( The people there are awesome, and the maps they do are dazzling and spectacular.

I also know that feeling very well... I lost some maps I had done of a faraway land in the novels I was writing. Luckily the main character wouldn't see that faraway land until a good long time into the story, so creating new maps of that land ultimately was no problem.