the watershed of goods and other things that mean nothing/everything

I have sinned; my sin is my impatience. That is not my only sin, it is my greatest sin. Shattering the mirror of my consciousness into a million worthless shards and throwing these shards into the ocean, which does not care.

But no, I’ve decided that the only sin is hatred. That’s what feels right, and in that case, my impatience is innocent. I must be patient with my impatience. I will free myself in increments; I will treat my brain like a puppy. Now, now, I will say. Then, I will set my computer on fire. I will walk off into the desert with only the contents of my paper recycling and a handful of golf pencils.

On Monday I went to the Goodwill outlet with Sam. We call it “the bins”. The bins is like the ocean at the bottom of the great watershed of consumer goods. A thing becomes fashionable and then, after an appropriate amount of time, you will find it in piles at the bins, lumped together like debris in the tide. On Monday this item was printed rain boots. There were many printed rain boots, gathered in eddies, coated in mud.

The bins is literal bins, long plastic troughs on wheels lined up end-to-end in a great beeping warehouse. Everything looks as though it has been dropped a great distance from cranes. Electronics collect themselves, somehow, in great tangles by their cords, as if they have been tossed for months in the tide. I watched a man untangle an old clock radio from one of these giant jumbles- it was like a prize when he finally got it free.

The bins is full of poor working-class families, many of them immigrants, who line up expectantly, waiting for the newest bin to be wheeled from the depths of the warehouse. The other people at the bins are hipsters. The hipsters are like birds, picking scraps of fabric for their nests. They gather great quantities of clothing and mound it in long trains of shopping carts and push these carts out of the warehouse and into the bright cold day. They dump the clothing into the backs of their old subarus and drive it into the city, where it is inserted back into the watershed.

I am hypnotized by trash, by discarded objects, by the ethereal nature of value. I am one of these hipsters, but a less committed one. I lean over a bin and bury my arms to the shoulder in the curling irons, holiday decorations, and high-waisted eighties jeans that fit no-one. I sit in each overstuffed reading chair; I contemplate the gilded covers of the yellowed books. There are photo albums stuffed with vacation photos; there are stained lengths of hand-knit lace. There is everything, really, but all jumbled up, together, and worn by time. And written all over with stories that there would not be time in the world enough to record, or people enough to witness. By about half.

At the bins I found an old Pendleton shirt, the color of cedar boughs. I found a ski hat that says “hood river” on it. I found a weird vest, and a jacket that I might not like, and a small yellowed copy of “1984”. Sam found a big pile of things, including a lot of cashmere sweaters that were badly shrunken. Sam is a cashmere sweater librarian. Or a cashmere sweater rescue; she provides an alternative to kill shelters for unlovable cashmere sweaters. She is hoarding the sweaters until some future time, when they are needed again. When their rightful value is restored, in front of god and everybody.

This week I have had a cold; today my cold is gone. What else happened? The weather has been freezing and today, the rain returned. Now we have freezing rain. I have been riding the emotional rollercoaster that is self-publishing for the kindle platform; it is difficult to be a writer and a publisher and a marketer, all at once; one must learn to take the long view; one must not jump to conclusions; one must have patience; one must be a great number of people who think in different ways. Of course I would trade it all for a traditional publishing contract, but who ever offered me that? I am going to feel sorry for myself for a moment here; I have submitted my writing hundreds of times and it has never been accepted for publication. Now I will be reasonable; the publishing industry is changing in huge ways that we are not yet able to comprehend; giant publishers do not see me because I am impossibly small; and to be honest I do not wish to commit marketing suicide via small press publication.

I think that I am fearless; I think that I can do it better. I am arrogant; I do not want to put my work in the hands of publishers who I see as peers.

And so the universe is laughing in my face, as my tiny paper boat braves the swells and storms of the Amazonian ocean, all alone. I will sink or I will not sink; if I do not sink then I will succeed; therein lies the suspense.

All of this is both fascinating and extremely meaningless.

But then, this is my blog; I owe nothing to you and you owe nothing to me; I take you along with me everywhere, like a little mouse. My pockets are full of gentle soft mice!

Also! I have changed the “theme” of my blog. Do you like it? I think it is beautiful, but the archives are hard to find. They are way down at the bottom, mounded together with all the little things that used to be in the sidebar. I am sorry for this. But it is beautiful, no? And the header is the Cincinnati Union Terminal Hobo Museum, from my book. I am going to do a post soon of photographs from the book. And in two weeks, there will be a second book. They are small books (the first is only 73 pages) but I am young, only 30 years old. My brain is not wrinkly enough yet to wrangle 200 page books. I could hobble one together, but it would be so poorly edited. As though I’d assembled it blindfolded. And the universe would never forgive me for that. I want to make beautiful things for you! So for now, the humble novella. At a discount price. And to be paid anything for my work, is a miracle! If you are a writer you know what I mean. Hallelujah.

Also, the bins- this is relevant!

6 thoughts on “the watershed of goods and other things that mean nothing/everything

  1. Carrot, if you ever want someone to proof read for you I would be happy to do it. I was not an English major, but sometimes things jump out at me. You will get where you want to be. You have a deep talent.

  2. “beeping?” Really? “BEEPING?” Have we grown too PC to say “fuck…fucking” anymore? Nahhhhh (“beeping???)

  3. Dawn- be careful, I might just take you up on that! :)

    Art- I didn’t mean fucking, I meant beeping- as in beeping noises.

    Lacy- Thank you! I know I can do it. I just want it to be really awesome when I do!

  4. Ahhh…got’cha. Harrumph…well…er….ah…uhm…I take it back…my misunderstanding…beeyootiful stuff!

  5. Carrot, I enjoyed the ebook you gifted me so much.Thank you. I read it in one sitting, mesmerized. I can relate to the mom in your book who seemed to be envious of your adventures: I am a 40-something wife and mother of grown/college kids and I live in a small Southern town. Never doubt your talent. I look forward to purchasing your next offering. With affection, Carol

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