Dramatis persona*

helenhead Helen Chick

I've always wanted a bumper sticker that said "I'm a female, LDS/Mormon, Scout leading, geocaching, piano-playing, bicycling, mathematics educator with a PhD in maths ... and I VOTE"!

I think this makes me a minority group of cardinality 1!

* Since there's only one of me and "personae" is plural (I think), I've gone with dramatis persona.
February 2020
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Flotsam and jetsam

I moved house three years ago, but have never really completed the “moving in” process. In fact, the problem started in the chaos of packing up in my previous abode: I had intended to cull some of the flotsam and jetsam of my life before moving, but I ran out of time, and so the wreckage was thrown into boxes, where—from the outside at least—things actually looked quite tidy. The problem then continued in the chaos of unpacking in my new abode: the necessities and the obviously categorizable things found their places on shelves, in cupboards, and in filing cabinets, but the more flotsam-and-jetsam-y bits stayed in their boxes because I didn’t have time to deal with them.

Of course, I probably could have made time to deal with them if I’d really wanted to, but I kind of knew it would be a frustrating experience. For better or worse, however, I’m now having to do something about them—better, because it means the house will be tidier and things will be better organised, and worse, because … well … I’m about to tell you.

Most of these pieces of flotsam and jetsam come under the category of “memorabilia”, meaning they were kept because they were associated with some significant event or person. Unfortunately, as I have been going through the boxes, I find I cannot recall some of the occasions. The pieces of flotsam and jetsam are mute; the stories they were meant to tell are lost or hazy.

I am not sure who the stories are for, either. The objects, with their stories, were saved in the past to speak to a future, but I’m not sure that where I am now was the future I had in mind. The stories I might have told my kids about (“Look, here’s my hockey trophy. Did you know that even though I was a goalie I actually scored a goal in the grand final?”) are not likely to be told to that particular audience, and there aren’t many alternative audiences likely to be interested! Don’t get me wrong: I’m quite happy in this future, but there are some regrets about other futures not encountered.

So, I’ve been sorting through my flotsam and jetsam today, reminiscing when I actually remember something, feeling a bit lost when I can’t remember, weighed down somewhat by the legacy of not only my own history but that of my ancestors (some of the items were handed down from grandparents and the like), trying not to be aware of the vague void in my present and future, and wondering what to hold on to and what to throw out.

In the end, most of the flotsam and jetsam has been kept, although I’ve refiled things from the old boxes into more manageable and tidier plastic crates. Is this because I think that the memories will come back at some stage, or because I think I might find an audience who cares, or because I am an incurable hoarder? Probably the last. It’s not too hard to compare my actions to shuffling deck-chairs on the Titanic!

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