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© 2018 Susan Jennings

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Shiny new pages, musty old cases

July 3, 2001

 

Ch-ch-ch-chaaynges... If there's one thing I've gotten from all this, it's that change is inevitable, even when seemingly totally unnecessary. "If it ain't broke, don't fix it" is a maxim utterly ignored by the universe at large. Your (or my) contentment with things could not be less relevant. Deal with it we must.

 

Thus emerges my newly-designed (but incomplete) website, some of the manifestation of which you see right here (though I tried not to change my blog too much). [Ed note: that website survived 16 years until the next redesign in July of 2017.] 

 

The last six weeks have been torturous days of reading html books and screaming in torment as some typo somewhere, completely invisible to me even after hours of inspection, totally ruins my layout. I emerge a better person, a more whole human being: for now I know html (sort of). I am now qualified, here in dotcom-rich San Francisco, to inquire: "Would you like fries with that?". 

 

The biggest change to the site is that now, besides photography and sculpture, my design work has its own portfolio too. Also, rather than having only a single secret link from the main pages, my blog is now part of a greater whole called "writing". I have received a few requests from random people to include more writing on my site. Now, while I appreciate the encouragement, I find myself protesting at least a little because, besides journally-stuff and, like, one short story, the only writing I have is horrible cringeworthy poetry I've been writing over the last, oh, 12 years or so. So even though I wouldn't actually want anyone I *know* to read it (please!), there it is. I had to go through quite a lot of my stuff to edit it down to only the ones which make me cringe; those which make me cry out in agony were excluded. There are only one or two which I'd actually say I am at all proud of... most of it is so raw, so unfiltered in its emotion that it embarrasses me (even me!) deeply.

 

But having to type it all in of course forced me to re-read it, and most of it I haven't seen in years, some since the day it was written. It's mostly about boys. I have, like, three categories that seem to inspire me: falling in love, losing someone/something, and feeling nihilistic. One poem is (somewhat disguised) advice to someone I know to break up with a person I thought was bad for them, but other than that they pretty much stick with those categories.

 

Generally the ones I like the best are from the "nihilism" category, and the ones I like the least are from the "falling in love" category, when we're all at our most neurotic and insecure and mushy as hell. Just to round it all off, after reading all the highest and lowest emotional points of my life in these poems, I did the natural thing: wrote a poem about it. That's the last one there, called "bodies pound beats." I authorize you to read only that one, because I think it's funny.

 

But probably the main problem with (my) poetry is that in the language of metaphor, it is sometimes difficult or impossible to determine the actual subject at hand; so you may not find it funny. I don't care. Unlike this, I didn't write it with you in mind.

 

Sadly, the poem which came from the most deeply-set place of genuine, Susan-made despair (no boys involved), is so purely metaphorical that I'm pretty sure the average reader will think it really is just about the many delights of candle-burning. That poem so summed up the nihilism and hopelessness I was feeling that, for years, every time I read it I burst into tears again. It doesn't work on my anymore, though; and I suspect it will mean nothing to you. Fair enough. You could always write to me if you really need to know what the heck I'm trying to say, and I will tell you.

 

So if you read my blog, you already know about three of my ex-boyfriends, two of whom are thoroughly documented in my poetry. It has always been somewhat of a problem that I enjoy maintaining relationships (of some sort, often a bit screwed up) with my ex-boyfriends. This is very hard, because it has to be mutual.

 

I personally find it very difficult to remember emotions, so my recollection of relationships are mainly this: I once loved this person deeply, and shared my most intimate thoughts and feelings with them, and our lives became entwined for a time. There's history there, some of which constitutes the very building blocks of who I am today. How can I forget that, and why would I want to lose that from my present entirely?

 

I ask very little of these relationships, only that they share with me once in a while about their lives. I just want to know that they're okay, hopefully doing well, and what they're up to. Some of them, however, are not very interested in sharing this information with me. Okay, so I was a pain in the ass during the breakup. Well, so were they. At least one of them made my life completely miserable for at least a year afterwards. But jeezus h. kryst! Ten years later, who cares about that?! What it comes down to is that essence of sharing a history bigger than the sum of its parts; not what silly things we did to piss each other off once. Were it not for the poems documenting the hard times, I wouldn't even remember them. My memory has little space available for recording "bad times".

 

So while I can't recall the actual sensations of these relationships, there's always a song or two which can bring it all back. The stuff in my poetry pages does it for me too, and I value being taken back like that... even if it creeps me out. That's probably why I have trouble remembering old emotions: because when I do go back and delve into it, it feels old and creepy and like it's contaminating my present. I for one firmly believe the past belongs in the past, no matter how valuable it is to me as a whole.

 

I keep old love, ancient instances of fear and desolation, sensations of alienation and past victories, all of them, encased in glass curio cases and stacked in musty shelves in a museum in my head. The poems I wrote, the documentation I made at the time, are simply written invitations to visit the museum. I don't like to go in there much, but I like knowing it's there if I want it.

 

And you, whoever you are, are welcome there too. When I meet you, all I ask is that you let me visit yours too; these musty volumes of history and experience are fragments of who we are today, and museums should always be open to visitors if we are to learn anything from history.

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