Sep 24 2008

My Relationships With Objects*

*No, this is not a story about a woman and her vibrators. Sorry to disappoint. But I’m sure there are plenty of those out there if you just get your google on.


This is the story of a Sunday morning stroll, when Young Master Picard and I encountered a garage sale where these glasses** were on display. After a summer hosting a belated Greek Easter dinner party, a bridal shower, and the usual impromptu gatherings, I noticed my glassware numbers dwindling (and not just the stemware, for a change). This set caught my eye, as from afar it had somewhat of a retro look. The seller told me he’d forgotten he had them, they’ve been in a box in his garage for ten years. I said, “How cool is that, if you have a garage you can find stuff you’d forgotten you had for ten years!” Which led to the conversation of how having a garage can be a dangerous thing for that very reason.

I, on the other hand, have practically zero storage space. Almost everything I own is in plain sight (God, I am so fucked if I’m ever served with a search warrant). Which means to live like this, you have to really love the sight of your stuff, curating your life on a regular basis.

My method is finding that delicate balance between 1. What is precious to me?; 2. What is aesthetically pleasing (and/or how to display things decoratively enough so that they appear to be aesthetically pleasing, when really they’re just “stuff”)?; 3. What is frequently used, so that it needs to be handy at all times?


So the goal is to retain only the objects that fit all three criteria. Which are extremely few. I suppose some of my parents glassware*** qualifies, though I tend not to use them during bigger gatherings, as that’s when the most breakage-due-to-silly-drunkedness occurs.


More realistic is to keep my “collection” to objects meeting two out of the three criteria: my mother’s manual nut grinder for making the world’s best baklava (precious & functional)****; the Charles Cobelle original painting of a Paris cityscape***** that my ex-husband loaned me $25 to buy on a North Beach corner during the early days of our courtship (precious & aesthetically pleasing).


But these are probably outnumbered by objects that meet only one of the criteria. The remote control, my iPhone charger, this laptop (frequently used). Then there are the numerous precious items, most of which have a happy association with someone dear to me. As for the dozens (make that hundreds) of copies of the feature film I produced & co-directed, “Come Fly With Me Nude” (want one? It’s yours, FREE! — just throw me a few bucks for postage, please): I’ve no idea what category¬† they fall under… perhaps Parts Of My Life With Which I’m Not Ready To Part.

But a garage full of forgotten memories… some possibly precious, some you were happy you’d forgotten — that is, until you moved and opened that box in the corner under a stack and were forced to remember — that’s something I don’t own. My few hidden items are pretty much in one trunk. A trunk full of of memorabilia from the ’70’s, ’80’s, and ’90’s. Stuff I first started saving because I was an adolescent girl in the late ’70’s, and that’s what adolescent girls do, save stuff. But then when my mother died suddenly when I was 19, I suddenly had a mission: to make sure that if I died suddenly on the daughter to whom (I was sure) I was destined to give birth, she would not be left with the unanswered questions about who I was, as I had been when my mother died; before I could get to know her as someone more than just my mother. So now there is a very heavy trunk full of young me on the top back of a tiny, tightly-packed shelf. Should there ever be a need or desire to pull it down, I know the emotions will flow wildly and deeply and in every direction. Frankly I’m afraid to open it, to be honest, afraid to open those floodgates, knowing why I saved most of that stuff, and the sad fact that, at this age, there will be no daughter with whom to rummage through this museum of my youth and young adulthood. My relationship with all of those long out-of-sight objects is complicated and loaded. Maybe someday there will be someone else with whom to share all of it, in which case it will be a wonderful discovery and rediscovery. I guess that’s what the hidden objects lead us to: rediscoveries, whether we like it or not.

So I don’t acquire much stuff anymore. Not much shopping here. Most of the stuff in my home is either something old and nostalgic, with a forever-precious memory attached, or a gift from someone who knows me and my superb taste well.

If you were having any thoughts of gifting me — and if you don’t know me and my superb taste well — wine is always a safe (and highly appreciated) choice.

I thank you in advance.