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So Much Data So Little Time

April 18, 2013

heart-of-a-hoarderMy name is Sleeping Booty and I’m a hoarder.  Well, sort of.  I like to think of myself more as a memory preserver than a junk collector, more like an information database than a maggot infested trash dump. I’m a keeper of records and saver of moments, a reminder of truths and cataloger of thoughts. I like to imagine I’m a historian, that maybe one day when my friends are famous I’ll get to help to write their biographies.  But now that the day has come to organize a bit of it, I’ve realized I’m in a bit over my head.

I’ve always had trouble with my memory.  For as long as I can remember (which isn’t that long) I’ve had to ask people to remind me about their stories, remind me of mine, forgive me for reintroducing myself and congratulate me for remembering a detail or two.  It’s frustrating at times, and I don’t claim to be particularly worse or better than any specific person, I just know that on the spectrum of human memory capabilities I land somewhat lower than I would like.

So, in order to compensate for my less than ideal brain power, I began documenting. It started with journals, continued to pictures and video and took off from there. Now some ten odd years later I’ve amassed hard drives full of data, ranging from ranting word documents to AOL Instant Message transcripts to long winded emails to video diaries to school papers to voice mails to text messages (I’ve typed out every relevant text message I’ve sent or received since 2006).  Add Facebook wall posts, wall to wall conversations, personal messages, group messages, thousands of photos and comments from hundreds of relevant friends and you can see how it becomes overwhelming.  And that isn’t even counting the hand written journals, letters, notes, cards, brochures, newspapers and ticket stubs I’ve got stashed in shoe boxes around my room.

I work hard to keep it organized, spending hours each week cataloguing photos and cleaning up my document folders. This past month I even consolidated three boxes of magazine clippings into folders that fit into one box and threw out two garbage bags of high school ‘memories.’  But I enjoy going through the piles, every few years I work my way back around to something and reassess what it means to me, remind myself what happened, decide if it’s still worth keeping and maybe start a project to ‘use it up’.  This fall I finally started making a t-shirt quilt out of the boatloads of clothing I’d saved from high school and before that I chose 50 out of thousands of photos to have printed in a book.

MovingOnCoverArtSo last week when I stumbled across some old freshman year documents detailing a certain massive crush I had on a certain fellow, the project wheels started turning.  Wouldn’t it feel good to have all of this into one place? Maybe it will be good for me? The thing is going through word documents about a boy I loved isn’t exactly the same as throwing out some old macaroni art projects.

REALLY LONG story short is I crushed hard on my good friend Quyen for two years, we got together the week before I left for the summer and after a slew of dramatic and misinformed decisions we stopped speaking before I got back.  Things between us haven’t been great since, and though it’s been almost 4 years I still can’t quite bring myself to let go completely.  So when I saw his photo last week and it only felt like I was only being punched in the thigh instead of the gut, I decided it was finally time to work through the whole story.  Maybe if I confronted it head on and compiled a finished product that could incorporate all the media into one complete story I’d finally be able to see it clearly, to really, truly, move, the, fuck, on.

A week later and I’m almost in over my head. It’s been emotionally draining, but not in a negative way; it’s like that burn you feel while exercising (or exorcising…) – you know the toxicants are leaving your system.  And it’s been eye-opening; moments that I forgot had happened were waiting for me only a few levels away from the folders in my computer that I use every day; it’s nice to be reminded of the beauty life can hold.  But it’s also been terrifying, because I’ve been reminded of the hurtful things I’ve done, the ignorant mistakes I’ve made and the humiliation I let myself think I deserved.

10816417Everything has gone mostly well so far though, so as difficult as it is to revisit, I’m glad I am; I know I’ll be the better for it. But what I don’t know is how on earth I’m going to actually accomplish a final manifesto. So far I’ve only semi-organized half of it into a timeline-like word document that spans 400+ pages.  It’s going to take me another solid week to fold the rest of the information in and who knows how long after that to read through all of it and write out our story in an eloquent and enlightened letter that I may or may not be considering sending his way.  This is a big project, one I’m not sure my present day self can survive undertaking. But for the sake of my future I’m going to try, because I know once it’s done I’ll finally be able to let it go.

p.s. Any organizational (or personal? ) advice would be greatly appreciated.

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7 Comments leave one →
  1. thelittlemerskank permalink*
    April 21, 2013 9:42 am

    You are so much more organized than me Aurora– 400-page word documents?! I just keep letters shoved in random places…

  2. April 22, 2013 1:48 am

    If the goal is to let it go, why try so hard to preserve these memories? I totally respect you for documenting your life so thoroughly. Just think how much fun your grandchildren are going to have when they stumble upon these boxes in your attic someday! But I’m kind of glad I don’t have mementos from every part of my past. Some things I’d rather not remember.

  3. April 22, 2013 6:52 am

    like what Cindy?! I want to remember it all. or at least have the option to. I keep it all because most of it isn’t stored in my day to day or even year to year brain. but in the event that i am reminded it’s awesome to be able to find the file and say, oh yeah! Remember when i tripped and fell and every orange i bought went rolling down the street? I was so embarrassed and yet that was the moment i really bonded with my friends by telling the story.

    and as for this particular remembrance… i still think about it daily. i need to catalog it so i can let go without fear of forgetting. because as… difficult as it was, i never want to forget it.

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