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It's a fine line between living for the moment and being a sociopath.

Patricia B McConnell: For The Love Of A Dog.

Pema Chodron: The Places That Scare You

Daniel Wallace: Mr Sebastian & the Negro Magician

All paths lead to the same goal: to convey to others what we are. --Pablo Neruda

Monday, September 03, 2007

Damn, we have a lot of stuff. Sexy, sexy stuff.

Since moving to the UK, we've been trying to find nooks and crannies for all the stuff we've got. It's not like we had big places in Shanghai or Paris. Apartments. We had apartments.

Now, for the first time since we've been living together, we have a house. A free-standing, ridgy-didge house. We should have room to burn. We should be able to swing a cat. And the cat ought to be, say, a Siberian tiger.

Nope. We have more stuff than house. How is it that a Paris apartment was able to cope better with our volume than a two-story house? With an attic? We always said Parisians were great at making a lot of use of a little dwelling space, but, hey, we didn't actually buy that shit!

On Saturday, in the name of consolidation, another 29 boxes arrived. When I moved to China, six years ago, I left a bunch of stuff in California, in storage. I'd just been through an international move that hadn't seen me stay put for more than a year, so I wasn't really trusting this "permanent relocation" thing. Turns out I moved, got married, bought a houseful of furniture, set up a darkroom, then moved again, and accumulated even more furniture. So, you know, good plan leaving a bunch of crap in California.

Three international moves later, I thought it was probably time I reunited with it all.

A part of me briefly thought "Screw it! You've lived without it for almost 7 years. You can just dump it and move on through life a little lighter." But, after all that time, I knew I ought to at least look through it, eh?

So, first off, I didn't think it would be 29 boxes. I remember more like seven or eight. Second, I thinned it down a little. I called the folks in California and told them to send the obvious stuff to my mom. Like the television. Big thing that's as deep as it is wide. No flat screens 7 years ago. And the ladder. Got a fine ladder when I lived in China. The dehumidifier was hard to explain. I lived in southern California. It's a desert. Had to special order that sucker.

So my mom got all that stuff. I still had 29 boxes arrive on Saturday. As I unpacked them, I remembered why.

China has pesky rules about what you can and can't take in to the country. All the standard stuff, like politically volatile material and drug paraphernalia, are no-nos. Happily, I didn't have any of that, unless you consider Willie Nelson's Greatest Hits to be political. Or drug paraphernalia. But I was embarrassed to own that, anyway, and would gladly have forfeited it to Chinese border guards.

Another category of material I *did* happen to own a lot of, however, is what the Chinese authorities might have considered inappropriately appealing to "the prurient interest". I'm not saying I had a stack of porn. In all honesty, I would be unembarrassed if my boss perused all 29 boxes at length. (And he's welcome to! Next weekend, if he's free! I'll bring the beer!) But it must be said that I had a lot stuff that, I was assured, would fall afoul of Chinese moral standards.

"I'm a published photographer," I protested to my relocation consultant. No dice. Confiscation awaited all books and framed photographs. "I did my graduate thesis on pornography and erotica! It's very, very dry stuff, with lots of data and numbers and whatnot!" No matter my reassurances, she was certain it would all go into Chinese Customs' incinerator.

Not wanting all that naked flesh to face the flame, I packed it off to an amoral storage facility in California, in the hopes of being reunited with it at some later date.

So, on Saturday, a truck backed up to the house, and unloaded 29 boxes filled -- with the exception of a few Ikea lamps and a box of letters -- with pictures of naked people and stories of what naked people often get up to when there are two or more of them in a room together.

"Books full of naked people? Yeah, just stack them over there, next to the home-brew equipment."

I am *so* aced out of being able to run for public office.


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