Thursday, March 19, 2009

Downsizing and Collecting Memories

Me, reflected two ways, in the shop window of Let's Dish with a very cool punch bowl and cups. Once I would have coveted it for its decorative appearance in a collection of such things. No more. I read an article about some folks trying to pass a law to keep museums from selling art to pay the bills. Made me say 'hmmm.' Seems like a museum has a charter, yada, yada and a board with oversight. A law? Hmmm.

Anyway, it always makes me think about downsizing when I see something interesting that I might once have owned but now have to be circumspect about. Makes me think how now we collect words as pixels (instead of in notebooks) and digital pictures of things instead of prints. Or, even, the things themselves.

It's surprising how fuzzy the line is between the concrete and the virtual. Especially with art...words and pictures. In our building lobby there is some real art and some TV screens showing slides of art from galleries. I enjoy both.

Of course, some things are real and corporeal. This cup of coffee in my hand. Plunged into SXSW movies and (last night) a bit of music, one wonders about the levels of experience. The live music vs. the iPod. The movie house versus the real experience versus the movie on TV. Subtitles versus understanding the languange.

Yes, since last we spoke I have fought off illness to see all of three movies in two days. Oh, we also went to the Austin Music Awards and sat through it until the end when Roky Erickson jammed with a band called Black Angels. It was pretty entertaining, really, although the Austin Music Hall is the worst venue imaginable. Uncomfortable, bad accoustics. Oh. Well. I'm pretty sure if the city didn't own it they would shut it down.

But the movies. Of the three we saw on Tuesday and Wednesday, I'd say that the best by a long shot was "Sweethearts of the Prison Rodeo." About the Oklahoma prison rodeo with a focus on the women allowed to compete in recent years, it was really about incareration and prison life and the very real people inside. They came to life as characters. We also saw "Sissyboy," a show with promise about a troupe of guys performing very radical skits in drag. It failed me as I didn't get a sense of the characters beyond their participation in the group and the basic 'growing up gay and different' thing. The piece didn't have a dramatic arc and the lives didn't seem to either. Yesterday we saw one movie. "For the Love of Movies: The Story of American Film Criticism." It was complete and it is good that they captured some people while they were still alive to speak about movie criticism. I wasn't mesmerized, though. But I felt more educated about the subject.

Today we plan to see one movie. Well, I plan to see one movie. It is a fascinating topic. In 1974 when Ali and Foreman had the 'rumble in the jungle' in Zaire, there was also a three-day soul music festival. This documentary is made from many hours of footage from that event. FFP may see more movies, but I have to deal with relatives visiting my dad so it isn't too hard on him. I could have caught another one this morning but, instead, I'm doing a few chores. Changing the bed, doing laundry. I managed to clean one bathroom yesterday. It seemed like a big chore because I wasn't feeling that well. I need to clean out my car, too, so I can fetch some relatives from the airport tomorrow. I sent FFP off with a grocery bag stuffed with things for the thrift store. It feels like downsizing all over again perhaps because I stashed things in my car that I couldn't decide about last summer during the death throes of getting out of the house.

But, as the kids say when things look a little tattered but everyone is still standing, "it's all good." SXSW has taken over downtown but our place is a quiet enclave. You wouldn't know anything was going on from up here. I have relatives visiting and the attendant hassle of entertaining them, but, as Dad says "they will be gone soon enough and you will forget about it." My head hurts a little, but some decon has cleared up some morning dizziness and some Ibuprofin will probably make everything great.

So...I went to my car and as I looked at a stack of New Yorkers therein I remembered the very articles I was hoping to read sometime before I tossed them. But I did get rid of a few things. Very few. My attachment to to things is ephemeral now. The trunk is full of tapes and CDs that I'm listening to one last time before tossing them (in other words, putting in the thrift store bag). There was also a suitcase of spare clothes (now in storage). A ton of old tennis balls. Haven't dealt with that yet. My tennis bag, a spare tennis racket and a 'pick up' container of old balls to take to a court and practice serving. I think I'll ditch the latter and assume I'll never use it again or, if I'm tempted, I'll borrow one at the club. My car was definitely the refuge of last resort to save things from being downsized. Or was it Dad's house? I brought a box of books and articles and maps for and about New York from there the other day. Definitely need to get rid of some of it. Sigh.


Sarah said...

We have an elderly friend (she turns 94 in September) who can no longer live alone and has moved into a managed care facility. She has a beautiful apartment, with a great view of trees and a garden.

The hard part was the downsizing. We took pictures of the room where she spent the most time (her son's bedroom converted to a reading room). Then we gathered up all the items in the room and arranged them as much as possible to re-create her reading room in the new location.

Other items in the house had to be given away or sold, but we took pictures of everything as a book of virtual keepsakes. Each room in the old house got its own set of photos mounted in an album, so she can look at them or not, as the mood takes her.

She laughs when she is asked if she misses her old house, and points to the albums and says it's all right here, any time I want to go to another room.

Talk about downsizing!

Jerry of Dallas said...

That is very nice of Sarah to do so for her friend, and that is a good idea: photographing one particular room, then recreating that room in another place -- let alone think of photographing each room in the house and mounting the the photos in an album for the friend to enjoy at her convenience.