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Entry date: 2-25-2022 - Stuff in Boxes - Letter to My Friends

Dear Friends,

Trying to get in the mind of a hallucinating Fonzie was harder than I thought, but I think I’ll stick with it and see where the trip will take him. I’ve only written a small amount of fiction in my life. Once, when I was taking a short fiction class at Phoenix College, I worked on a story for a semester that was pretty dark and twisted about people stuck in an elevator together during a power outage. One of them happened to be a cannibal.

That was a long time ago and I’m super curious know what I was thinking and why that was the story I wanted to tell. I didn’t keep a journal then, and never really have up until now, so those thoughts are long, long gone. I should probably fish the story out of its box and see what I was up to when I wrote it. I can sometimes get flashbacks of long-ago thoughts and feelings by looking at things I wrote at the time, even doodles in my notebooks from school.

Have I mentioned I am a bit of a pack rat? I think so. I am a sentimental fool. Many of you know that. I remember things, keep things, and realistically, many of my most cherished possessions will mean nothing to my kids or my wife when they look through it when I am gone. Perhaps I should use some of this space to document why these things are meaningful to me.

For example, somewhere I have a bar of Ziggy soap my mom gave to me when I was probably in middle school. It has a picture of Ziggy (remember him?) holding a surfboard with a bite out of it and you can see a shark fin in the background. I never used it, obviously, and it’s been in its package traveling around with me for the past 40+ years. It lives in a box in my shed with other things I take out and look at every few years when I rearrange the shed.

I don’t even know why it has meaning to me except for the fact that I loved Ziggy as a kid and my mom gave it to me. In the same box, there is a few baseball gloves from when I was playing little league. They are no good to anyone and weren’t particularly cool or useful, but I have them. The gloves I had as a teenager, those got lost when Brian and I lived together for a month on 22nd Street just south of Indian School. They were in a box that I left in the utility closet off the back patio with a bunch of my other prized teenage possessions. That bums me out a lot.

Lesson learned, I suppose, but Brian and I lived together again about a year later. Those are stories that will get told this year, but not today.

I’m guessing other people have boxes of old things they don’t even remember why they loved. In a way, I kind of look forward to the day when my kids will be going through this stuff and wondering what it meant about their dad. They know I am a nut, but when they see that Ziggy soap, I would love to know what they thought.

One of the things that lived in that box for a long time is a DC Comics calendar from 1977. I love that calendar and luckily, 1977 and 2022 line up perfectly, so it is on the wall of my classroom. The current month has a picture of Batman and Robin battling the Joker at Mount Rushmore. The Joker has created a carving of his face to go along with the founding fathers and is about to stomp on Robin’s hand as he dangles from the Joker’s stony chin.

The kids love it and I love being able to share it with them. During the month, there are little snippets of Batman stories on different days, as well as a tasty little description of the picture I described, calling the big Joker face a “monument to his insanity.” Maybe my box of trinkets is a box of my own insanity?

Of course, there are flyers in the box. I have some left from my teenage walls. I have a whole box of stuff I collected from the music world. Most of it, again, only means something to me. I have tons of flyers from shows I played, too. I think the kids will know what that stuff meant to me. Maybe they will even want to have some of those?

I had a bunch more of that stuff, but about a decade ago we got a huge rain, and it was all ruined by a leak in the shed roof. Tons of great posters and flyers gone for good, including my huge Butthole Surfers Brown Reason to Live poster that some of you will remember. I was so distraught for about ten minutes when I saw all that stuff gone, but I also felt very free. As I type this, I realize that every time I do small purge, I feel a bit freer.

I had a bunch of stuff from old friends, some of whom I am not close to or don’t even speak with anymore. I got rid of a bunch of that stuff and I must admit that it didn’t bother me at all. Letters and such from people who weren’t as close to me as I thought. It was nice to free my soul. I learned a while ago that I didn’t have to hang on to people like I once thought I did.

There was a time in my life where I was so scared to lose a friend that I hung onto people who treated me pretty damn poorly for way too long. I had hope, too, that they would realize that I was worth treating well at some point, but … you can figure it out. Life is so much better when you surround yourself with people who respect you.

See you tomorrow.

The poster. Photo by Alexa. It looks like I have a hickey. The shame I feel about that is nothing compared to how much I miss that poster. I got it at Bleeker Bob's on Melrose on a trip that Brian and I took to LA. It was almost brand new in this pic.

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