hic sunt dracones



Look! Behold, family, for here are your memories. The hopes, dreams, treatises and random doodles of your last twenty-seven years lies in these boxes, now stacked gently in the main part of our barn. It took three days of labor to extract all this flotsam from its various resting places, but here it lies consolidated for the first time.

O! The journey these boxes had! Bedrooms in Virginia, flats in Hell’s Kitchen, storage units in Durham! From the bottomless dank basement of Beachwood Canyon to the George Michael summer of ’87 in Basking Ridge, New Jersey. And having no other homestead, they came to rest here at the farm some years ago, and like all flora, they became a part of the ecosystem itself, the occasional box drifting in to join the others.

‘Tis true, most of the boxes are mine own. Part of the blessing of archivism is the curse of clutter. But I’ve resolved to do my part, to save or scan what is still emotionally extant, and let the rest finally go. And so I ask the same of you.

Sean: Do you seek your musings of yesteryear, poetry written in math classes, band lyrics festooned with flowers, notes passed to girls who dug The Cramps? It can be found here.

Michelle – hiking narratives carried over the Rocky Mountains, yearbooks with pics of asymmetrical shaved heads, books of theology, boots with mud from the 1990s.

Mom? Oh mom… sadly, no blenders (or two blenders, for that matter), but the usual reams and reams and reams of paper, the cassette tapes of shows loved, the songbooks, the analog tapes that no longer have a master, nor a slave to play them.

Steve, I see pictures of an old girlfriend, pictures of ducks, pictures of pictures; Kent, apparently your ducks have long since been in a row.

Yes, family, you will be given plastic boxes for your keepsakes, and you will always have some shelf space in my barn. As Tessa once remarked about a mutual friend (but she could have been talking about me): “His problem is that he always likes to talk about his own poo-poo, but his saving grace is that he always likes to talk about your poo-poo too.”

0 thoughts on “hic sunt dracones

  1. michelle

    Ugh, guilty as charged. I promise to go through at least some of my boxes over Christmas and purge thine barn clean. Remember, my move to California was supposed to be temporary, and now I find I’ve lived here longer than anywhere else in the world. Apologies for my part of the clutter…

  2. Anne

    Bless you, Ian, for being the family archivist.
    We have a collection inside a storage cubicle in a U-Haul facility (no barn or even attic here, alas) that resembles the stash in your barn. Ollllld family pics — I’m talking about mid 1880s German immigrants in Missouri on one side; ancestors from England with the quaint surname of Nutbrown on the other; and various containers — fortunately, labeled by year — of our kids’ crayon masterpieces, term papers, and so on.

  3. mom

    Ducks? You found my pictures of the Basking Ridge ducks?
    The last time I saw those pictures they were in the apartment in Astoria, and I’ve been looking for them ever since we moved to the house. How did they get to…. never mind.
    When the apocalypse, depression, another 5/11 happens, or global warming puts our house next to the Hell Gate and East River under water, the farm is our shelter plan, even if we have to walk up the Taconic Parkway. Nice to know, we’ll have my ducks, Sean’s song lyrics, and Michelle’s yearbooks, and your vast archive.
    On the other hand, we could clean it all out once and for all.
    Or not…

  4. Sean

    1) Girls who liked The Cramps are the only girls I want to hang out with. Apologies to the rest, but the way I walk is just the way I walk.
    2) In a way, there’s no way that the archive and clutter could mean as much to me as that which is forgotten and landfilled. Every time I climb into a memory, I get a chance to have my perspective on it give me insight into how I’m feeling now… but every time I find archaeological evidence of my past, it feels like a PBS news report, devoid of spin or meaning.
    What actually *was* is important, but how what was influences what is, is far more important to me.

  5. asd

    Will you scan the old pictures and then throw away the original prints?
    Also, how will you back up what you have scanned?

  6. julie

    I did something similar on a smaller scale last year. I had most of my grandmother’s photo albums and scrap books, all of which were slowly fading/decaying. I was able to round up the others via aunts, uncles, and cousins and had a local company scan them by book (which isn’t necessarily chronological, but how my grandmother originally felt they should be). I also had one of the albums scanned and then “turned into” a nice coffee table book for my Dad (it was his baby book and other pictures of him growing up). All the cousins now have the CDs and the originals are encased in vacuum-sealed packaging to prevent further decay. A little pricey, but it saved me the frustration of trying to do it myself. And, more importantly to me anyway, all of Nana’s memories saved forever.

  7. Killian

    I am so jealous! When I send out a post to MY family (2 brothers, 2 sisters, and a mom) I get back 2 replies at MOST. Maybe I need to post pics of their detritus to get a better response. . .

  8. Salem

    I am both proud of your consolidation efforts and comforted by the knowledge that we still share a similar definition of consolidated living.
    To our wives, we give thanks and praise.


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