November 5, 2022

Exactly 1000, a scene

The trees in the distance outside the dirty window are blowing back and forth noiselessly over the soft music loop with its background track of rain, struggling to hold on to their few remaining leaves like a group of toddlers fussing against the evening’s ablutions, having completely forgotten they get to awake again in the spring.

Inside the room is a quarter covered in desk space that can’t really be made out for the piles of nearly random artifacts. Books on everything from design to gothic fantasy, Euclid to Scott McCloud, a riser in the corner houses a notable cluster of lights and wires, being the home of half a dozen Raspberry Pi computers representing a hundred forgotten projects. They fill up their tethered black plastic boxes, external hard drives, all flashing and whirring with growing amounts of data that will never be accessed, only accumulated.

Cigar boxes, both empty and full of wires, little electronic components, microprocessors still in their packaging, plugs and sockets pile up under magazines notebooks, batteries, and more computer keyboards with various kinds of switches and layouts than seems strictly reasonable. Aging laptops, plugged in and functional, if not functioning, are balanced in front of yet more hard drives.

Little plastic bins full of chaotic permutations of unrelated things, coinage, receipts, knives, a bill or two, cigar lighters, both working and dead; clearly the artifacts of attempted organization, have been consumed by the piles of technology and paper, as are the file boxes with manila folders, mostly full little boxes of 3×5 cards covered with decades of ideas and notes.

A garbage can containing a torn pair of jeans, finally given up the ghost. A black multifunction laser printer, covered in dust and a phone keypad, a deck of cards and a blotter pad sitting on top of it. Mason jars in front, a foam novelty head in water, a quarter jar of change, one containing dice and marbles evoking a chuckle. Half a bottle of ketchup from last night and a diet Dr. Pepper from this morning, and something like a Funko pop of Biggie sitting on top.

Quick sponge shoe polish (black), a couple of those kicking around. Three monitors with this very thing on the center, flanked by twitter and youtube on either side.

The walls are a vintage 1972 wood paneling, walnut colored, fooling no one. Behind the center monitor on the wall is a two by four foot blackboard, hanging by conspicuous picture wire, framed in vaguely milled two by four with admonishments for the day, never erased.

  • Do POMs
  • Do something hard
  • List goals
  • List projects
  • Spend time intentionally
  • No Gaming
  • Spend $0
  • Finish Something
  • Post
  • and “Surfaces Darling, Surfaces”

There are other things on the board. An inch of chalk sits precipitously inside the frame, an impotent challenge.

The back wall has a calendar white board currently for November, with the day’s dumbell stats and the morning’s weigh in, green for lower, red for higher, black for unchanged and blue for a new all time low, not hit since August 20 of last year. Underneath is a purple yoga mat with a pair of 20 pound dumbells and a pair of 50 pound dumbells, a piece of exercise equipment drilled through and modified for doing crunches and collecting dust, more obviously the latter than the former.

Front and center on the desk there’s a ten port usb hub charging batteries, phones, a smart watch, and a kindle paperwhite that’s rarely used, an eyeglass case. A few cheap folding carpet knives and a six inch tall pewter statue of liberty, a reminder of a lost home. Some bottle tops and a spoon. A mouse pad, AVO cigar tube, and a bottle of ibuprofin. A salt shaker and a set of keys with a purple folding usb stick hanging off it. Cigar bands and three varieties of Diamine fountain pen ink, new with their accompanying pen, recently purchased for use with a lovely gifted leather notebook, an unearned kindness. There’s a medium tension finger strength builder for building grip and finger strength for playing guitar.

A rolling two-sided white-board covered in some kind of project arcania, backpacks, and laptop messenger bags, all quite full are strewn about, with the husk of an old laser printer, scrapped for parts but remaining as a plastic carcass.

An electronic keyboard, of the musical variety hides behind the whiteboard, hiding in some shame, never having been played.

The floor is covered in computers, both functional and not, wires, UPSs, and a couple full sized coolers, chock full of cigars, a couple fake ammo cases and some Harbor Freight gun cases purchased to build cyberdecks in, largely forgotten and dusty. Maybe some day, but I kid no one.

These are my things and I love them. Not for what they are. The sentimental value they hold has nothing to do with them, not really. It could all disappear. But I do love what they invoke, they’re breadcrumbs to little places in my head where those moments live, little matchlights of joy. But they’re not to be coveted and obsessed over, but to be glanced at fondly and used for what they are.

And for all the aesthetic wreckage of it all, there’s a moment of captured peace. The lights off, the sky gray, the music droning percussive and largely pointless, syphoning off enough attention to counterbalance the caffeine, leaving me in a state of extrordinarily rare equilibrium, something approaching happiness.

I am expected no place and beholden to absolutely no one. There’s nothing pulling at me for now. No chores, no duties, no plans of any kind.

And in this perfect little pithy moment the whole world could be destroyed and I don’t know that I could be made to care.

Because for whatever reason I have this sustained moment of unearned peace and it’s worth more to me than the rest of the world.