Monthly Archives: February 2013

Prone, Supine

My greatest feat today was defeating gravity. It took an extreme force of will to pull myself up to a standing position. This is becoming a frequent problem of late, viewing the room from the floor, grabbing at the furniture, standing what I see when I look at myself. Forgiveness comes in tiny doses. I think I need forgiveness to come in tiny pills. Or hugs. Hugs are good. So is a friendly ear.

Vicious cycles are bad. They swirl, spiral, leaving a trail of smoke in the direction of the earth, the mass that pulls on us all. I don’t want to be on the floor; I’ll be there in due time, but not now. I need to live.

Puppet

The specter of job hunting looms large over my immediate future. I recognize that I need to work to live comfortably; I’m no lazy idiot. I stay busy, but my busy-ness doesn’t pay the bills. I also recognize that I’ve taken much too long to start searching, and have lost a lot of key opportunities in not doing so. I’ve beaten myself up quite a bit over that.

Really, the most abusive person I know is myself. I’m always there to shoot down my ideas. I’m the first to read off a list of requirements and duties on a job posting and tell myself every reason why I don’t measure up, so don’t even try. I’m the one who trots out all the lines to snare myself in a ball of strangling justifications. I’m everybody’s jaded father when it comes to my own possibilities. I’m everybody’s cold and aloof mother on matters of my own motivation and support. I am the worst mentor when it comes to learning for myself.

The big demons of self-doubt are, at their heart, puppets that I control. I’m looking at job postings and trying to judge if the job and I are a suitable fit. It’s in this judgment that my hands automatically start the demons’ mouths to flapping. It’s second nature to do so. I get that. But if I was in a relationship with someone as negative, abusive, derogatory, snarky, sadistic, and mean-hearted as I am to myself, I don’t think I’d be in that relationship for very long. If I’m to survive, I must drop the puppets and carry on.

Examined

Socrates, as reported by Plato, went on record to have said, “The unexamined life is not worth living for a human being”. This has been my driving motivator, and chief justification, for journaling and blogging since 1991. Through doing so, I hoped, I would find myself, and my life would miraculously be worth living.

Twenty-two years hence, I’m left to call bullshit to Socrates’ sentiment.

Bullshit because the drive to know myself has left me more despondent, more guarded, more catatonic. The “ignorance is bliss” epithet reigns as the antidote to my doting. If I had examined my own head a lot less, there’s a possibility I’d have more time, and more confidence, to just get on with it and make life worthwhile.

Navelgazing has its place, but really the more I focus on myself, the more selfish I become. Some of that headstrong antidote would be good to have right now.

Long View

Reading through this mountain of archived person-to-person emails has been half-therapeutic, half-embarrassing. It’s embarrassing not in how genuine and excited and sincere I was, but how thinly-veiled my desire to sleep with half the people I shared mail with (I suppose that if I had made it my bold intent, I would’ve been more successful, eh?).

Really, though, this was my mid-20s, and although I still believed I knew everything (to a diminishing point), I knew that there were a lot of unanswered questions in the spaces between myself and the people in my life. That was where I wanted to explore. Strange lands indeed. These missives were the attempts, the feelers, to reach out for a hand to hold, for a funk soul brother, a sweet soul sister, a fellow commiserator in the coffee-and-cigarettes table of life.

The therapy comes in the form of this long view, a high observation tower not over space, but over time. Memory is faulty, but the written word is clearer, and in the light of history, it teases out the crux of intent, the tasty bits of what made me tick, of seeing, in sentences, the voice that said in not so few words, “please acknowledge me”.

Juno Retriever

In 1996, Greensboro, my roommate Paul hooked me up with a Juno email account. Juno was a special thing then, because it allowed us, without a dialup account, to use his low-powered computer and modem to send and receive email with the world for free. The client software would, at our prompting, connect to the Juno dialup number, transfer any mail and advertising in the queue, and then hang up so we can read it.

Technically, Juno was my first post-college email address, so it’s something a little special to me. Over the years that I used the service, I gathered a ton of messages. This corpus represents a time capsule of my thinking, life, and communications with the people who were important to me during my mid-20s. Before I moved away, I made a meticulous backup of my account with all the messages, addresses, and settings I had so that, when I eventually built my own computer, I would be able to install the client, restore from my backups and continue on.

I still used the service for a while after I got a dialup account with its own email address. Juno served as my backup address, my go-to for important stuff like friends, taxes, domain registration, etc., because I knew the service would still be around even if I failed to keep up my dialup and phone bills (1999 was a rough year). Some time in the first half of the millennial decade, Juno announced that they were cutting support for the standalone email client and suggested users migrate to the webmail service, which I did begrudgingly. The webmail panel didn’t contain any of the old messages; users would have to upload them to the server themselves (Juno should’ve published a tool to do so automatically). After a time, all development stopped on the client, and I could no longer use it to fetch mail, so I made another backup of all my account settings and uninstalled the client.

I’ve had this backup sitting on disk for the past however-many years, and I’ve been meaning to migrate it to something more modern and non-proprietary. Well, last night, I finally did it. Found a tool called juno5bdb that will take the two Berkeley-DB mail storage files (mailbox.atr and mailbox.bdb), parse them, and split out all of the mail folders and messages into UNIX-standard mbox files that you can then import into your preferred email application. I use Thunderbird, so the import works best with the ImportExportTools plugin. I managed to import most of the mbox files, but the few that remained failed because the plugin mistook them for Eudora’s variant of the mbox file, which it doesn’t directly support. After some examination, I found a set of scripts in the Eudora2Unix project that went the last mile in transforming the message headers to make them look more like UNIX-standard mbox files.

With all the message folders imported into Thunderbird’s “Local Folders”, I renamed and rearranged them to something similar to the hierarchy I remember from the client. Then, in clumps, I drag-dropped the folders into my local IMAP mail storage (the same one mentioned here). Now I have all of my old Juno emails together, at last, with the rest of the mail I’ve accumulated over the years from all of my other accounts. Everything finally together, all under one server. Kumbayah.