Shifts and Changes

At the beginning of September, I was very restless, which for me can only be settled by organizing things in the world around me. There’s a correlation between my spatial environment and my mental environment, and my physical environment had reached a tipping point of dissatisfaction in the 826 square foot apartment that I have rarely left (with the exception of walks before the weather got sweltering and occasional trips to the grocery store) since mid-March. The waning days of summer before autumn begins are usually a time when I want to organize my space, anyway, because work is hectic and my mind needs space to breathe.

In the physical world, I finished making a decision about the brand and style of mattress that I would buy to replace my current mattress, which has springs popping out of it. I decluttered Flute Explorer and Flute World, except for the pages I wanted to keep, all magazines that I had read while taking flute lessons in middle and high school and had “saved for later.” (How did these survive my previous decluttering spree?) I decluttered loose sheet music that I knew I wouldn’t use and smiled/laughed at the notes my teacher had made on the covers of the magazines and in the margins of my sheet music. I was left with one magazine holder of (mostly bound) flute books, a combination of exercises/scales and sheet music compilations of pieces, which I moved into my living room/office/shrine zone because I’ve started playing the flute again. (My embouchure is so out of shape that I don’t have reliable lip support for above-staff notes yet.) Then, I decluttered CDs and the sparse remains of my DVD collection. I dealt with a fabric bin of utility odds and ends, the catchall bottom drawer of the built-into-the-wall hutch in my apartment’s kitchen, and books that were on my shelves that I’d read and hadn’t touched in over a year because they’re not reference books or on my TBR. I got rid of most of my gaming books because I’ve declared that season of my life over, but I kept my collaborative board games.

My partner and I went to the IKEA pickup area to grab a Listerby console table to replace an Expedit (later rebranded as Kallax after IKEA thinned the shelves) bookshelf that I’ve been using for the tiny TV, the streaming box, and some mementos in the tiny spare bedroom that I use as a media/yoga room. We moved the Expedit into the living room, and it completes a wall now. There was no line at IKEA at the pickup area; when we left, we saw that the main IKEA line stretched most of the way through the parking lot. I wondered why more people weren’t just selecting what they needed and picking it up. One of the things I mourn about the pandemic is an extremely trivial loss, but we used to go to IKEA whenever we wanted to take a walk and it was too hot or too cold outside.

In the digital world, I deleted all but a few tweets using a batch-delete app during the first week of September. It was hard to let go of the ones about my live-reads of things in Platonism, except if I were to be objective and not sentimental, they’re clutter. I honestly just added to social media noise while mistakenly thinking that I could get more people reading about awesome things if only they saw that I was having fun, and there were probably other ways to ask questions when I was confused about something. Some of my older tweets spark joy, like the ones about my daily life in my early 20s when I started the account, because they reminded me of fond things I had forgotten. Most of my tweets were banal. I also made a pile of backup CDs from the 2000s to mid-2010s that I need to shred in a CD shredder.

In the social world, I left a religious organization that had been a somewhat awkward home for me for the past eleven years. The other half of leaving social media is forging real (not parasocial) social ties, so I’ve been habit-building that, with the expected ups and downs that come along with building habits. I read this piece on how to keep up with acquaintances and friends better and am doing something similar. Something in the back of my mind after watching The Social Dilemma, a documentary on Netflix about the horrors unleashed by modern social media tools and a great use of an hour and thirty-four minutes, is an amalgam of Platonism and truth and building from the ground up versus starting from real principles — scattered, free association stuff that I have thought about before, but that is pulling in more recently read material.

At first glance, little/none of this involves the Gods, except all of it does. I’ve often felt over the past year like a lot of things are being pruned away, as if one were finally taking shears to an abandoned garden to uncover what lies beneath the bramble and whether any of it needs repairing. I pray to Apollon for cultivating virtue and to Athene for guidance. While I don’t often pray to Hera beyond custom, a part of me really wants to suddenly, as if the air is shifting. I’ve prayed to her and Zeus a lot this summer — Tropical Storm Isaias, thunderstorms and tornado warnings, and so on. It’s like catching someone’s glance at a social event and having no grasp of what small talk to make and worrying that one will say something embarrassing and catastrophically memorable.

The other thing I’ve been doing is going back to my older prayer beads for Apollon more regularly, the ones that I made on my own back when I was a college student and Northampton, MA, had a beading store with open bins so one could do a one-off small project as a non-crafter with the exact number of beads one needed and no more. They summarize-paraphrase a section of his main Homeric Hymn — the founding of Delphi — and it’s very soothing and grounding to hold an object during recitation that has that longer (interpersonal?) history.

So, those are my updates.

PS: Acts of Speech is still under way with the October 29 date. I figured out how to do the ISBN thing and it’s kind of like buying a 10-ride on Metro North and feeling optimistic that one will use all of it, isn’t it?

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