Old People Got No Reason To Live and other stuff I thought fifteen years ago


Every so often I like to shake out a hard drive to see what falls onto the floor. Back in 1998, I had a website called Überhaus where I posted whatever came to mind. This was before blogging software, so the entries were usually created in Dreamweaver and then uploaded via FTP. These posts took the form of diary entries, poems or short snippets of prose. They were always accompanied by unusual photos and generally accredited to pseudonyms (Clark Clark and Blimino were oft-used aliases) in order to make it seem like it was more than just me.

After a while, other contributors found the site and sent me things. Erica Nomura and the fabulous Chanii Haley were two of the best poets, especially Chanii–her work was visceral and often wrenching.

I stupidly let that domain lapse around 2002 or so, and with its demise also lost the site (I can get it back for two grand. Right.) I lost track of the contributors. I moved on to other things. Through the years, I’ve kept up various blogs, but nothing has had that “new frontier” quality of the Uberhaus entries. My favorites are probably the ones I published at three or four in the morning after I got off work at the downtown Portland bar up the street. I’d walk home and think about things I’d seen that night. In my recollection of those nights, the skies are pearly gray, the streetlights muted, the world full of untapped possibility. Nostalgia, the cruel sensation of a phantom limb. The itch you just can’t scratch. The blah blah blah I’m so goddamned old now.

This entry from September 15th, 1998 is loaded with that gross sentimental vibe. Still, there is an idea there. I resisted the urge to edit the crap out of it. It was the fifth post of what came to be known as the Uberhaus Diary. I’ll post more as time allows. Enjoy.


Sept 15 1998

When I was twenty I had a pretty good idea of what life  was all about, but now I am less certain. When I see confused and discouraged old people they seem to prove my theory that as we age we become less and less sure.

Most of the old people I know have long since stopped trying to make sense of their lives and have resigned themselves to it, appreciating the little things each day brings which younger beings often overlook entirely. Things like breathing without pain, taking a crap and seeing colors.

Ah youth…it seems that so much of it is spent in worry about things over which we have no control. There is a common belief that a worker of thirty must start planning for her retirement if she is to have enough money to live comfortably. It seems absurd to me, this reasoning, because it assumes a stability in an obviously unstable system. Apparently others subscribe to this view as well: end-of-the-world movies have never been more popular, and what will the end of the world be more than a “ha ha, I told you so” from all those grasshoppers who failed to plan for the future?

The parable of the camel passing through the Eye of the Needle more easily than the rich man entering into the kingdom of heaven was never lost on me. The Eye of the Needle was, by many accounts, a shortcut through the desert which saved travelers many hard miles; a narrow gap in the rocks through which pedestrians passed easily, but which was too small for beasts of burden, at least fully-loaded ones. The image of a balky camel being pushed and pulled through a stony pass wild eyed with terror must have had both deep meaning and humor to those who had seen it first hand.

Perhaps it’s a sign of our culture that the old expect to be abandoned and need to maintain independence after they can no longer work. Perhaps this anxiety about financial security which bites the heels of so many is mere manipulation designed to keep everybody showing up for meaningless and unsatisfying jobs which they hate. Maybe everyone just needs some excuse to worry.

Maybe there is nothing left but uncertainty.

Don't just stand there.