Cherry Preserves

For all its sugar, according to its packaging, jam needs to be refrigerated. A fridge collects of all those things that would otherwise spoil. It puts side by side items that would otherwise have nothing to do with one another. You may object that food has to be stored somewhere, next to something. The fridge is not remarkable in this way. True, but what it brings together is particular to refrigeration.

Another property not at all unique to the fridge is its extension beyond the practical need it fulfills. Some things go into the fridge not because they'd go bad otherwise, but because they go in the fridge. I want to say there's paranoia in storing eggs in the fridge, but that hinges on the "rationality" of leaving eggs out. Gross. I'll keep that for later. Or maybe for never. An uncanny consequence of having a receptacle of instant preservation is that more ends up going in than gets used. Cleaning out a fridge is an archeology of desires never acted on. Or more often, incompletely consumed. At some point they go bad, and even if they haven't, ancient jars are easily shunned for the possibility they might be spoiled.

Going in the opposite direction, the taste of cherries is smelled more than tasted, and anticipated more than smelled.

The trouble with the essay is its preoccupation with putting things together in sequence. One comment about refrigeration becomes a thesis, which is a kind of smell. If I say, for example, that sometimes I think there are no thoughts, only images, I must insist upon why this is relevant. Of course, you could say that my trouble with the essay is my insistence on turning it into a fridge. Rather than a thesis I have a theme, overextending into everything that happens to fall under my preoccupations. Then again, who is to say my preoccupations are unrelated?

If not necessarily related, a 92-year-old man tells me that his life's stories, between them, have everything. "Everything's in there," he says. He thinks his job as a typewriter repairman in New York extended into every cranny of life. "There are over 200 stories in there," he says, patting his tome. If his life is his job, as he says, then his job is also as he says--a survey of every form of life, or at least every job. That made use of a typewriter. His book at once has demographic ambitions and is contained by a peculiar circumstance.

He also tells his life as an ideal example of the universal possibility of the American dream. He began impoverished; now he's comfortably retired in the city of retirement. The way he claims himself as an example is, of course, an awfully exemplary example of a common idea. Is the idea of his life as a proof of an idea related to his life? In one of his stories, the woman he later marries calls him a crook, because instead of going to dinner he goes to repair a typewriter. The joke is, as it is in situation comedy, that he's a victim of circumstance, not a crook. He's not much of a crook, but the name "the crook" stuck.

It's the same with lemons. You know what I mean? You can't really intend something to be uncalculated, can you. Even absolutely nothing can insinuate itself. Forget essays, this is the trouble with being awake--everything has to be related! If late at night in the dark you happen to be thinking of haunting, it's hard for any subsequent screaming not to be related. I thought I heard the screamer scream "WHO'S THERE?!" but surely not. I'm not convinced that doubt isn't a kind of faith. Obviously the noises following the screaming, of rustling and clanging and thumping and creaking were the noises of other doubters waking up, and walking down the hall to investigate. Everything turned quiet soon, but I kept the lights on until it got light out, and only then slept. It's not that in sleep nothing is related, but is relation even a question? What goes in a dream journal without the idea that dreams mean something?

What is the life story of a successful young entrepreneur without his belief in the positive effect of a positive outlook? What else might've brought together these incidents? With his girlfriend & business partner he traveled across country, sleeping in the car, washing in university bathrooms. It can't be a coincidence that his business is gift wrapping. His favorite form of anecdote is pride wrapped in incredulity. "They flirt with me for hours, but they won't have a business meeting with me!" "When they hear me talk about gift wrapping they ask me 'you're straight?' Seriously!"

Hold on, there's a spider on my desk.

6 June 2013