November 26th, 2013

house of leaves


Fuck the typos.

Well, at least the clouds have come to hide me from that wide and carnivorous sky. Bitter cold for two days, but it'll be warmer today, about 44˚F. Tomorrow, though, 65˚F. But before we can be spooled by that, on Thursday the temperature is plummeting to 35˚F. Whee. There;s no snow in our forecast.

So. On Sunday, kathryn and I took several boxes of contributors copies of my books (including The Ape's Wide and Other Stories and Black Helicopters) to our two storage units in Pawtucket. This is where all the eBay stock is kept, the tomb that holds the wares of my precious supplementary income. Hundreds of books worth thousands of dollars, going all the way back to the first edition of Silk (1998). Anyway, on Sunday afternoon we discovered that the bottoms of several of the boxes in the smaller of the two units were water stained. We pulled two or three of them and began checking. I found a box of old magazines (most with interviews I've given) had some water damage, but everything else seemed okay. But Sunday night Spooky and I both began to fret. It seemed impossible we'd gotten off that lucky. Yesterday afternoon we end back. I pulled all the boxes from the unit (and somehow managed not to be sore this morning), and we unpacked every box and, using our eyes and noses, checked every single book for signs of mold. Many boxes were thrown away and the books repacked in other boxes. It was a horribly dispiriting affair.

It appears we were lucky. Eight copies of the trade hardback of The Ammonite Violin & Others we significantly damaged, but, so far as we have been able to tell, no other books (beyond that magazine box). Mostly, this is because Bill Schafer at Subterranean Press double-packs his books – a cardboard box inside a cardboard box, with styrofoam sandwiched in between. We're still both nervous, and we will be checking again.

Also lost was a printer/scanner stored in the unit, but it was a piece of crap to start with, and it ought have been thrown out long ago. However, my first iMac, Arwen, was also stored in the unit. Back in early 2012, Arwen began to develop serious problems, and since I'd bought the machine in 2007 and the warranty had long since expired, it was cheaper to get a new iMac – Lúthien – than have Arwen repaired. The storage units are dry, and I figured it was a safe place to store her. Wrong. I brought her home last night and discovered black mold inside the box. When I tried to turn her on, she came about halfway to life, but never so far I could get the chimes. Worse, the exhaust blew the reek of mold, so it was obvious the machine was seriously contaminated. I back her back up and set her in the hallway until I can figure out what's to be done.

Right now, then, it looks like I'm out eight copies of The Ammonite Violin & Others, some magazines, a crappy printer, and a glitchy, unreliable iMac that I was holding onto as an emergency back-up machine.* The guy we spoke with at the warehouse yesterday was baffled. It's uncertain how that much water (and it was at least a gallon) got into the unit. Right now, we don't know. But it was deeply, deeply unsettling. A lot of my files and old papers and notebooks are stored in out other until there, stuff going back to college. In August, Joshi introduced me to someone at the John D. Rockefeller, Jr. Library at Brown University, and she said they'd very much like to be the depository for much of that material. I'm thinking of asking if they'll take a few boxes soon, because I no longer believe I have the resources to keep them safe.

Thing is, I've had some of this stuff in storage since 2001 (!!!), and not once has anything been damaged. Most of that time, the storage was in Alabama, though comp copies of books were usually stored at home. When we moved to Providence, we couldn't afford to rent a place large enough to keep the books here (much higher rents here than in the South).

Fuck, what a week.

The damaged copies of The Ammonite Violin & Others will soon be sold on eBay at a deep discount. I have to sort through the magazines today. We should have used and gloves and dust masks all along, but in the chaos, nope. Today I will.

I guess you could say this is a "doomsday averted" thing. It could have been a genuine catastrophe. But it made me sick, seeing those damaged copies of The Ammonite Violin & Others, and the thing with Arwen, well...I form very strong attachments to the machines I write on. I almost typed with. Anyway, that's how Kathryn and I spent Sunday and Monday.

Time for coffee, with a dash of Snap.

Exhausted and On Edge,
Aunt Beast

* Looking at older entries, Arwen was evidently much worse off than I recollected and wouldn't have been the back-up I had it in my head she could be. Go failing memory! This from February 27, 2012:

Cut to the chase. This morning my ailing iMac (vintage 2007) finally, after months of coughing, hacking, and unsightly effluvial discharge, gave up the fucking ghost. Crash. Crash. Crash. Finally, I got in via safe mode, backed up everything to Spooky's Toshiba external hard drive, and, then, managed to simultaneously sigh in relief and spew every scrap of profanity known to sentient earth creatures.