Junk that lays around that I can’t bear to part with, that I’m downright proud of. Every time I clean and reorganize these little things are somehow hardly ever thrown away. They have an indelible mark on my psyche.

slips of paper
-notes to self
-signs made of sayings
-notes for my wallet
-book marks
-electronic gadget manuals
-review sheets
-old book catalogs
-old pictures my wife can’t stand to have around (I once had a six inch beard that caused my wife’s skin to crawl but she couldn’t bring herself to admit that for a long time. Now she can’t stand the pictures.)

-small backpacks
-free book bags
-a gas mask bag from WWII

broken gadgets
knik knaks
shards of broken glass and shelf from a Christian’s house that was bombed out in Beit Sahour
a 1960s fishing reel that bequeathed from dad
old coins that belonged to dad

door knobs: cuz I may need them some day.

The previous occupant of my office has gadgets like that too. Old ropes and pulley systems. Old animal traps. A cow horn. Old flags.

I’d like to say that these things help me establish my sense of “place” where ever I go. But I’ll leave it up to my sister Jen to say with any certainty. She did her MA thesis on “Place.” Whaddya think Jen? Are these things indicative of the human yearning for home?

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5 responses to “excuses

  1. Jen R.

    Umm… wow okay, I would say that place is a diverse network of physical, social, and cultural conditions that shape our existence. So yeah, our sense of place is a multifaceted phenomenon of experience, conceptualized as a weaving of outer physical, visual form, and an inner working of identity, memories, and narratives. So objects, photos, words, colours, etc. can all provide a sense of personal existence or place. Sort of like a weaving of a nest (internal and external). But anyhow, my MA thesis was more directly on the photographic medium communicating the phenomena of place.

    I so like hearing what you collect. I myself am known for typewriters, old suitcases, and paper samples.

  2. chris

    So: “Are these things indicative of the human yearning for home?”

    I mean forinstance, little bags could point to a state of constant transition. Little gadgets point to my mind’s need for movement but also being fixed. Reciepts and paper samples are reminders of past transactions or things to come. Also reminders to pray and act. But an overarching concern with all these is that they are not actually used. They point to a desire for stasis even as they are disgarded.

    How does all this point to home? Habitation involves nesting, which for me is largely mental. Was it Luther who said “Let your thoughts during prayer be as birds flying by. Just don’t let them nest in your hair”? Or something like that. Whereever I am I use slips of paper, gadgets, and bags to create habitation.
    I’m sure that my thoughts are guided in largely routine ways and the physical instruments I employ point back to these patterns.

    That still doesn’t indicate yearning, except where these bags and papers and gadgets assign meaning and work to fix thought. So I could safely say that for me bags, papers, and gadgets point to a yearning for fixed habitation for both memory, action, and future orientation.

  3. Anonymous

    Or….and I may be out of line here. They could be the pack rat gene you received from Larry. (Don’t throw any tomatoes please!)

  4. chris

    ahhh you’re no fun. :)

  5. Jen R.

    Sorry for the delay in responding… I work at a University so the beginning of term is CRRRAzy.

    Any how, to respond to your question about objects being indicative of a yearning for home or place, I would say yes and no. Yes, say for example a person in a state of displacement (mentally or physically) may in fact find herself attached to particular objects as she may be in a state of yearning for a place. I think of Anne Lamott’s book BLUE SHOE.

    And no, I don’t think holding onto objects is always an indication of yearning for some far away home or from the past (i.e. one removed from us) because the objects in themselves help to create and form a sense of place or home where ever one may be.

    Oh and hey, I heard you phoned today. How nice, thanks bro!

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