Metatalktail Hour: Prized Possession January 6, 2018 4:24 PM   Subscribe

Good Saturday evening, MetaFilter! Tonight's question comes from zamboni, who wants to know what your most prized possession is! Obviously you have to tell us the story about WHY it's your most treasured possession. Or, you can just tell us what's up with you, how the new year's going, whether it's cold enough to freeze your Winnebago where you are ...

Just avoid politics, and send me ideas if you have them for future Metatalktails!
posted by Eyebrows McGee to MetaFilter-Related at 4:24 PM (85 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite

Hmm not most precious, but one of the more unusual things I own is a bunch of nudes by Howard Fast’s first wife.
posted by The Whelk at 4:36 PM on January 6 [1 favorite]


It's hot as balls here today - 44 degrees, ie 112 fahrenheit. I went to take some clothes in and came back looking like I'd run 10km.

Treasured possessions is an interesting one. When I was younger, I found possessions very important for me. Kind of talismans of identity, protecting me through innumerable moves and changes. As I've gotten older and my life has solidified, my possessions have magnified, and my circumstances enable me to replace almost everything, they don't matter so much.

It's not really mine so much as the bank's, but the house is very important to me, not as an object itself (which I have mixed feelings about, rickety old bastard), but because of the security and stability it gives. In terms of things wholly owned by me, that would have to be my aging copy of Out of this world, a kind of mythology encyclopaedia with illustrations by the fantastic australian artist Robert Ingpen. I received a copy as a child and it captures so much of what I love about reading and storytelling, and magic and possibility. There's a lot of happy memories in that book.
posted by smoke at 4:59 PM on January 6 [3 favorites]


My single prized possesion is my art collection. Even though it's currently over 500 individual items (at least, I haven't cataloged it in a number of years) housed in several different physical locations. When I close my eyes I like to imagine it's a weird four dimensional representation of who I am as a person. I like the fact that all my close friends and some of my relatives have contributed to it. I like the fact that since I got married it's become a joint project my wife and I collaborate on. I like the fact that parts of it belong to the public, parts belong to me and after I'm gone it'll still live on in many different places. Really, I'm just a curator of it for now, creating a coherent whole out of wildly disparate parts.

Sorry if this isn't what you meant but I don't really do "things" but projects are what I devote my life to.
posted by 1f2frfbf at 5:19 PM on January 6 [9 favorites]


Hmmm interesting question. I don't know that I really have a prized possession. I am by no means a minimalist, but I'm not sure I care that much about my possessions.

I've never thought about it before. If there were a fire burning, I'd probably head first for my computer and my phone. I suppose that I "own" my dog (at least in the eyes of the law), so she's pretty high on the list too. My wedding ring is quite important to me, too.

If I had more time to gather my things before said fire, I'd probably put my CDs into a box and take those (though most of them are also on my computer).
posted by hydra77 at 5:31 PM on January 6


I had a dog named Ant whom I loved very much. When he left this plane of existence, I was at a loss of how to honor him, but eventually decided to commission this portrait, which is one of the happiest decisions I've ever made. It hangs in my hallway, even more impressive in real life, and would certainly be the first thing I'd grab in a fire. (I also have autographed copies of a number of Ellen Raskin books. Those would come too.)
posted by roger ackroyd at 6:06 PM on January 6 [29 favorites]


I only have a couple of prized possessions. One of them is my log book from the 25 years I spent as a pilot. I can open it up and relive those adventures in my mind's eye at any time. Another item is a pocket watch that was given to my grandfather on his high school graduation in 1905, and served him when he worked on the railroad as a telegrapher and Station Agent in Galesburg Illinois. It still runs, and I can occasionally wind it up and listen to it tick and feel connected to my grandfather over all those years.

As to what's up with me, I am working on getting added to the kidney transplant list at the VA. It is a much longer process than I imagined, but I'm hoping against hope that by this time next year I will have a functioning kidney.
posted by pjern at 6:14 PM on January 6 [22 favorites]


Well.... It's looking to get even colder here with the windchill tonight in the -42 range. Y'know, the range where it doesn't matter if it's C or F. I might not get out of bed tomorrow. I left Alberta for the west coast years ago (mostly0 to avoid this kind of weather. I am not exactly prepared for this winter in Montreal.

I think, at the moment, my most prized possession might be this down comforter I plan on living under for the rest of the weekend.

Otherwise I am not particularly attached to stuff. My list of things I'd miss if, say, the storage place I kept most of my belongings in last year had burnt is pretty short. I have an aversion to unique items. I like this 3/4 length shorts so I have 6 pairs of them and wore them on my bike in the rain years. As a kid I daydreamed of having a start trek replicator - simply so that I might create the platonic ideal of the one true sandwich and be able to replicate it on demand.

I carry a lot of stuff around with me but I wouldn't say that I treasure those things - they're just the bits that make my day work.

I guess, if anything, the one 'item' (for a very loose definition of) that I treasure is my 'data hoard'. The replicated, duplicated, backups but completely non-tangible mass of photos, logs, datasets, observations, scripts & software etc that I've compiled, created or manufactured, maintained...that's what's precious to me. My memories aren't stored in albums or on paper or in heirlooms - they're in ones-and-zeros.

I guess I should probably figure out someway of passing on those bits in some meaningful way when the time comes.
posted by mce at 6:22 PM on January 6


The big loom would have to be pretty high on my list. It's currently getting dressed with a new warp of peachy bamboo for some scarves (one with a reddish/purple mohair weft, the other probably with wool/silk, color TBD after some sampling), because I finished up a wool blanket last weekend and it's very bad to leave a loom naked. Here are some more/older photos if you want to see the working parts (of course you do): the sectional warp beam, the back quarter, side view, front view, sorta top view.

It was pretty warm today - in the 50s F - and intermittently sunny/definitely not raining, so I took a break from threading to go prune the pear tree back into submission. Now I'm back inside and just tied on, so the next step is tying up the treadles and then I'm off to the races. Assuming, of course, that the very very bored helper currently perching on the cloth beam will consent to sit someplace else.
posted by janell at 6:23 PM on January 6 [7 favorites]


I'm not sure I have a most valued possession. I mean if my house burned down I'd probably grab my external backup drive just so I wouldn't lose, like, every single photo I have of my family. But the object itself isn't the value there and I suppose most of it is backed up on the cloud anyway.

I've never really been into objects. I have lot of stuff, I like my stuff, but most of it is replaceable. I have a car but it's just a car. I don't really care much about it. I have some guitars, but the ones I bought aren't really worth that much and the ones I built have some emotional value to me but they're still just things. The only jewelry I own is my wedding band and I think I paid $69.00 for it and I don't really think of it as anything more than a band of gold. I know, blah blah blah symbolism but neither my wife or I really think about them that way.

I guess it would have to be my tools. I've been gathering tools since I was a teenager and gathering stationary power tools the last few years. They're always down in the basement whenever I need them. When I think about what I do for fun, it usually involves using them.

My dad had his tools too. He was a machinist before I was born but by the time I knew what was up he had gone from white collar to blue collar, something he was always very proud of. He did 30 years at Polaroid back when Polaroid was the company to work for in Massachusetts. So they trained him over the years and taught him how to draw blueprints. Eventually they switched to CAD and he became obsolete and retired.

But he had a shitload of tools in the basement, most of which he never used and I never knew what they were. Turns out a lot of them were machinist tools that he probably took from various jobs he had. There were little drawers filled with drill bits and end mills but... he never had a drill press or a mill. To this day I have no idea why he had those at home. He didn't do any machining once he left that world. He mostly just puttered in the basement and did the occasional home project.

When my parents got divorced my mom fought for and won the house and, I guess, everything in it. She wouldn't let him take his tools with him. At the time I thought this was a great idea but as I've grown older and understood my dad's side of things more I've come to understand what a total dick move this was for my mom. Her argument was that she thought we should have them but of course we never really used them much.

He'd come back into the house and take them while my mom was out working, and he eventually took all the good ones. So after that I never had a decent tool for anything. Our only hammer was broken, we had a couple of shitty pliers and a whole bunch of unused machinists tools. When my mom moved to a retirement home a couple of years ago most of that stuff got thrown out, unfortunately. They were old and rusty and actually dealing with them wasn't something any of us had the time or energy for.

So after spending my teenage years never really having the right tool to use, I eventually started acquiring my own. Once I realized how nice it was to have a good tool I decided that I would always a) buy good quality tools and b) always have the right tools for any job I needed to do. I only buy tools I need. I'd never just go out and buy a collection of tools. Everything gets used, some more than others of course.

Since I started building guitars I've been gathering some special luthiers tools, though I'm trying not to get too many. I have a few basic ones, I buy one or two for each build based on what would have been nice to have on the previous build.

So, yeah, I guess it would be my tools. They have real, actual value in my life.
posted by bondcliff at 6:38 PM on January 6 [7 favorites]


We're still in the midst of a cold snap here in Hamilton so this morning my friend and I took her newly minted two year old to an indoor pop up bouncy castle. It was pretty ok - they had a bunch of different toddler style activities (foam bow and arrow games, cotton candy, tiny basketballs) and everyone was super chill. Lunch at home was pancakes followed by an episode of the Beat Bugs (I petitioned for My Little Pony but was outvoted).
posted by janepanic at 6:49 PM on January 6


Prized in the sense of "would rescue first in a fire"? Well, if I were sleeping, it would be my hearing aids because it's hard to function without them. If I were awake, I'd be wearing them, so it'd be my journals, which stretch back to age 12. The rest of it can burn. I left my ex a few years ago with almost nothing save for my clothes, aforementioned journals, some kitchen things and a TV. I haven't acquired anything since then that I care much about. I find that life is easier that way.
posted by AFABulous at 6:58 PM on January 6 [5 favorites]


if my entire house and its contents (save for the living humans and creatures) burned to the ground I would most likely cheer. I’m at a point where possessions just seem like a burden that I can’t carry anymore. It can all just go.

However, in the past my favorite possession was a megaladon sharks tooth that my grandfather found on the beach on Casey Key, Florida. He had quite a collection of really great and large sharks’ teeth. I somehow came into possession of the granddaddy of the teeth. Over the years it has represented various things to me - including it being a reminder of one of my favorite places on earth and one of my most favorite activities (beach combing).
posted by Sassyfras at 7:12 PM on January 6 [3 favorites]


Having recently had to evacuate for wildfires, cats, medication, and computer were the things I was most concerned about taking with me. I don't consider the cats "possessions," though, and the medications and computer aren't exactly prized. I was able to come back a few days later to get more clothes and such, and I looked around to see if I should grab anything else, and I basically concluded that while I very much like my stuff, there wasn't any small subset of it that I needed to have above any other.

In happier thoughts, I took one of the aforementioned cats on a leashed walk today, on his harness, to meet the neighbors' new horses (their daughter and her horses moved in a bit ago, after she got evicted as a consequence of the fires). The cat's gotten very used to the harness but I usually have him on a lead tethered to the porch; this was the first time in a while I tried to use a leash and walk with him. It went well! It's more like following him rather than leading him, but he didn't try to bolt or get out of the harness or otherwise take off. When he finally saw the horses in front of us, he got super interested, then super-cautious. I ended up picking him up and walking him over. The horses were friendly and tried to nuzzle him, at which point he hissed at them and started growling, which didn't seem to bother them much. I put him down and we walked back to my cottage, his tail all bushy the entire way. I had the feeling, by the time we got back home, that his cat brain had respun the tale such that he had vanquished the mighty prey and he was returning home victorious. I gave him some extra treats.
posted by lazuli at 7:40 PM on January 6 [20 favorites]


I left the house twice today, work run the first time, food run the second. It's cold as a banker's heart out there, so I'm not a huge fan.

I got a lot of stuff done today, per a list I provided the lady earlier today:

"Dishes done, floors swept, clothes washed, dried, folded, hung up, laptops for a client in process, website for another client brought back from being broke-dick by a web host, box made to take to half Price books, box made to take to game stop for trade in"

Was supposed to go to a function tonight, but was tired and didn't feel like spending the energy for it. Extrovert juice is running low this weekend. I instead prepped a big ole crock pot full of veggie beef soup that will go on tomorrow morning when I get up for supper.

As far as my prized possession, I have the knife of my dad's father in my firebox, and soon I will have the balance of the knives that my mother's father collected in there as well. Between that and the important paperwork in there, it comes with me and all else can get wrecked.

As mentioned above, there are boxes of things I'm taking for trade in. I'm trying to have a big unfucking of my space, not just from a cleanliness standpoint, but from a junk-having standpoint. I need less shit so the shit I do have means more. And it's going to mean cutting back on two collections to do it, but I don't need the shit, and 75% of the collection is more for just having it than that it brings me joy. I need to also put up some shelves so I can show some of this stuff off rather than it sitting in my office on a shelf very few people see because I leave the door closed because of the clutter. Then, in the spring, between a yard sale and a junk store where I bought most of this stuff that I'm going to rent a booth at, I am going to try and pare down what's not on display.

A lot of this is happening as a direct result of my parents doing the same thing. They're getting ready to sell their farm and move on to a decidedly smaller plot of land and a newer house and start enjoying some semblance of a retirement. Mom and I have talked a lot about getting rid of stuff that's just stuff, and that she doesn't want me to have to handle her stuff when her and dad leave this plane, just like they don't want to handle each other their mother's stuff when they leave this plane themselves.

Stuff's nice, hold on to the stuff that really means the most to you, and make sure that the other stuff is useful. If it ain't in those two categories, make it leave. And buy good stuff that will last so that you're good to the environment too.

Metatalktail this week spoke to me on a personal level. Zamboni, are you secretly looking in my window / brain? Thanks for the watch out.
posted by deezil at 7:45 PM on January 6 [4 favorites]


Aside from my childhood stuffed rabbit that still sits in a place of honor in my bedroom, mine would be family heirlooms -- jewelry and pieces of embroidery from my grandmothers and great-aunts in particular. (Often just costume jewelry but no less beloved for that.) I think the one thing I would particularly note, though, and would definitely grab if fleeing, is the picture of my grandmother that my grandfather took to WWII. He carefully cut out a snapshot of her, about 1" wide by 3" high, and sandwiched it between two pieces of acrylic and sealed them, and carried it in his pocket the whole war. (She didn't agree to actually marry him until the end of it.) I spent a shit-ton of money having it mounted and framed at a museum-quality level to preserve it.

This question makes me kind-of glad I haven't inherited any of the "good stuff" (yet) ... my mom has some depression glass that's been passed down in the family, and some hand-embroidered Irish linen that came over on the boat with my ancestors in the 1800s that is still in use, and some 80-year-old china and silver which when you stop to think about it is just barely pre-WWII but boy is that getting to be a long time ago ... Owning that sort of thing would make me feel obligated to save it from harm and really nervous about it!
posted by Eyebrows McGee (staff) at 8:29 PM on January 6 [5 favorites]


When I was a kid, we had stuff, but it was new mid-century stuff. Eventually it was all beaten to pieces on a bridge in middle Utah, during the Sheep Creek washout of 1965. Really the guy came with our stuff that had been in transit from Germany, and he said there had been a problem, and we asked what kind of problem? He opened the door of the truck and sticks, rocks, mud, and pieces of our stuff came out. As a kid I heard others outside our family talk about how this certain thing came from their grandmother, or an aunt or from a mother. So I thought this was how continuity and love happened. I got stuff, that I think is nice, but my kids do not want any of it. Nope. To them everything is in flux and there is no emotional value in goods, handed down through family. Alright then. Recently I moved and I shrank my inventory, but I remember times of giving away, selling, and or burning things that were too personal, until I had nothing, oh except a small sports car and a vacuum, that kind of thing. Now I have a limited repository of the entire photo history of two large families starting in the early twentieth century and some images from the nineteenth century. I am the only person interested in them, in both family lines. Wow, you know? Recently I contemplated getting rid of everything, then backed up to what I could put in a VW Van, nothing in storage. The thing that stays is a piece of Murano glass I bought with my babysitting money in 1963, a Henckel's chef's knife and my other knives, two pieces of cast iron for cooking, and my cats. I have recently read through my journals, and I don't want to leave them for my posterity to destroy, I would rather take care of that. It is an interesting time, having just cleared out my Mom's estate, so to speak, and deposited her ashes on a mountainside, I don't want to leave anything personal behind, like that Swedish concept of death cleaning. I fell New Year's Eve walking in to my daughter's house to stay with my grandson, and it just did me in, and I realize that I want some objects around me that I have kept near over time, but nothing with much identity.
posted by Oyéah at 9:00 PM on January 6 [7 favorites]


When I moved to Europe, I had to get under a very strict weight limit. That meant giving up most of my stuff. Especially since two things that I ended up feeling the need to bring were my iron wok and a brass religious statue that was a gift to my mother and which watched over her as she died.

Between the two of them, they made up 30% of what I could bring, and, years later, it's not a choice that I regret.
posted by frimble (staff) at 10:00 PM on January 6 [5 favorites]


I spent the day crocheting and watching tv, or reading, or sweeping various areas (out, damned leaves!) The weather was bright and clear and breezeless in the front yard for a change, but it was a bit chilly later at the store parking lot (take back unwanted yarn, buy ice cream -- there's a message here, I think).

In a catastrophe I'd have a hard time gathering decades of snapshots. Lots of photo albums, some pictures still in the original studio envelopes, some scattered in frames on the walls and shelves of various rooms.
I've given the significant ones of my deceased sister to her daughter, to pass on to her children. But the pictures of my parents and grandparents, my high school friends (whom no one else would recognize), and especially the pictures of the kids growing up... those are still rattling around the house in odd corners.

One of these days I need to inventory my bookshelves and make a comprehensive list. That's over a half-century of memories, with many out-of-print oddball novels and nonfiction resources. They've survived several cullings, and I'd hate to try to remember those obscure titles for repurchase.
Otherwise, it's just stuff. Except for the quilts made by my husband's grandmother. Those are special.
My own quilts and crochet blankets -- most of them were made for my family and friends, so they already have homes.
posted by TrishaU at 10:49 PM on January 6 [3 favorites]


I've divested a lot of stuff by now and only held onto a small amount. The things that I've kept because they remind me of who I was and what was important to me when. I have a valentine from a kid in second grade that was one of the first people I knew and I could call a friend - having met him at ... age 3... and I remember keeping it because he was my buddy - and because it featured Snoopy and Woodstock dancing. And, its always survived the paring down - originally because it was just cartoon-y enough to be interesting, but later because it represented an old friendship and somebody that I was in school with all the way through high school graduation. We weren't ever great friends after... 8th grade or so, but its been a tether to the importance of nostalgia and friendships. We graduated having probably attended 95% of the same classes from preschool to high school. We were friends, but it was more of a "community / respect" sort of friendship. We respected each other. And seeing it, reminds me now - not of him - but of the importance of the community I grew up in. There are other items in the box, but... I think this is the oldest item in the box. And the whole thing is - this is the box that I curated - not anybody else. So. Seeing this is like - I had these friends and I can remember these people through these items.

I don't think my son has ever seen it, but he's got a drawer and a box in it full of Valentines and Halloween chotchky from friends that he's held onto since he was in preschool. And knowing that... that he's doing that kind of thing on his own is probably the neatest glimpse back at both myself and my dad.
posted by Nanukthedog at 11:04 PM on January 6 [2 favorites]


Wow am I ever a materialist, I have so many prized possessions, from books (so many too many books) to jewelry (just a few pieces with sentimental value) to the stuffed animal referenced in some previous MetaTalkTail, the prism that hangs in the window and comes from the house I grew up in, the data on my computer (if that counts as a possession), photos, postcards from my mother... .
If you held a gun to my head and said "choose" I'd probably end up saying "just go ahead and shoot me", but something that comes to mind apart from the above is a handful of CDs. Some are recordings of my father, dead now for going on two decades, playing the jazz and piano rags he composed; others are of a violinist who was a friend of my father's and would, I hope, have been a friend of mine if he hadn't died far too young. Both matter to me a lot in both musical and emotional value.

(On another note: roger ackroyd, do we get to hear more about how you have autographed Ellen Raskin books??)
posted by huimangm at 11:33 PM on January 6 [4 favorites]


My grandfather on my mother's side was apparently deeply in love with my grandmother (who died before I was born) and my most prized possession would have to be Vi's Scrapbook.

It's a leather-bound book of about 130 pages, hand-typed(!) and indexed(!) by my grandfather in the early 1930s. It's full of poetry, stories, quotes and anecdotes - some by other authors and many written by my grandfather and signed "Yours Truly."

It's a story of a love I never witnessed told by a man who inscribed his wife's headstone with "She brought the sunshine."

Indicative of my mom's relationship with her mother, when I asked her if I could keep the book she told me to just burn it.

Other than that I don't have anything particularly valuable. I'd grab my laptop, phone, iPad and passport but not much else.

Apologies for linking to Facebook and the poor-quality photos.
posted by bendy at 11:43 PM on January 6 [9 favorites]


I have two paintings that I am especially fond of, one a friend did for me of Yuri Gagarin at my request, and another blue abstract one that was left to me in a will by my granny's next door neighbour.

I have approximately 150 employees from Europe trying to fly to New York from Friday to today (Sunday here) so have been replying to emails a lot more than I normally like to this weekend! Out of around 40 with cancelled flights, only 2 so far couldn't be rescheduled, part of me thinks this might be because I was in the cinema with no signal (Molly's Game, amazing and added to FanFare!) so I couldn't reply suggesting alternatives! One of my roles is approving travel but sometimes they need more help.
posted by ellieBOA at 12:05 AM on January 7 [2 favorites]


What of mine I possess that I value above all else, is my good name, my reputation. When I was a young boy, my grandfather used to ask me and my brothers riddles. One day he said he had a serious riddle. It was to be thought about long and hard before we answered. His question was, "What is the one thing you own that if you lose, you cannot buy back?" Your reputation, your good name, your word.

"Augie", he would say, "All the money in the world won't get you as far as your good name."

It stuck with me.
posted by AugustWest at 12:17 AM on January 7 [7 favorites]


What was the opening line from My Dinner With Andre? *Quick Google*

...all I thought about was art and music. Now, I'm 36, and all I think about is money.

That, sadly, basically sums me up. I posted in a previous thread that my dream house is devoid of furniture, and even now I joke that if I removed my clothes from the closet and left there would be no proof that I had ever even lived here. So yeah, I don't care about possessions so much, but I am absolutely terrified by the idea that I will not have enough money to survive in old age. Ugh, money.
posted by Literaryhero at 12:45 AM on January 7 [1 favorite]


my shitty 5000 year old looted terracotta pot which i occasionally worship as a false idol bc it's hilarious to me
posted by poffin boffin at 3:44 AM on January 7 [1 favorite]


My most prized possession is a ring my mother gave my father as a wedding gift. It's by far the most beautiful ring I've ever seen, the very coolest. Gorgeous. Way, way classier than I ever could be but goddamn was it a pleasure to wear it. It fit perfectly on my ring finger. So don't ask me how it came off as I swam in the Comal River. 1994. I was heartbroken, I still sortof am. I looked and looked. I'd have give up my pickup for that ring. I'd have give up my condo for that ring. Gone.

~~~~~

The Death Bouquet. It's small, maybe six inches square, or eight inches, it's on black, heavy acid-free board, bouquet of flowers, oil paint, laid on thick, with this small palette knife that I love. I certainly didn't know it was a death bouquet as I painted it but I soon found out.

I'd decided late June 2004 to paint with oil every day in July, just because. So I had paintings scattered all around the condo. I thought that it was the fumes from the oil paint that made me feel so sick that night. Turns out that it wasn't the oil fumes. I was having that dang heart attack. I guess it started about seven PM, give or take, and I didn't die until sometime like 8:10 AM, give or take. Then when I get home, a week later, give or take, and start to clear my head, I've got this wonderful Death Bouquet to smile about.

So that's important.

~~~~~

A copy of The Meditations of Marcus Aurelius. (The translation by Maxwell Staniforth, and that's important, I've read other translations and Ol' Marc comes across dry as chalk. Under Staniforth's pen he's so warm and alive.) I bought it in 1981, it's been in the glove box of every vehicle I've own. It's down in my pickup right now. It's ragged and ratty, a cheap softcover edition all turned to faded brown; I've bound and re-bound it, at least five times. It's all underlined, pages turned down, it's absolutely my book. Though I'd love for you to come hang out tomorrow afternoon, we'd go sleazing around Austin having some fun, you could grab it out of the glove box, open it up and find one you love, and we could talk about it, and laugh our asses off over how impossible it is to live to the measure Ol' Marc lays out. (He's perfectly clear that he can't live up to it either. But that it's what we're to aim at.)

How I'd love it to spend even one afternoon with him, and if I got to choose how it unfolded we'd meet* in front of the San Antonio Museum Of Art (SAMoA) which is one of my all-time favorite buildings to have a damn museum in, an old Lone Star beer distillery -- a friend of mine who grew up in San Antone tells me all about how when he was a teen that abandoned distillery was *the* place to go drink and smoke pot etc. So anyways, we'd meet out front, it's be on a Thursday so it's free admission, too, and we'd go through that whole collection, which is really sweet (biggest secret in Texas is that San Antone has not just one but *two* world class art museums -- don't waste even a minute at that stupid fake phony riverwalk) and then we'd end up in the statuary, at about 4 pm, when the sun cuts through those high windows and you can see the bits of dust, I'd show him that bust of him that I so often stand in front of and consider him, and maybe he could tell me about the person who made it. We'd be the only two people in the statuary, because if there's lots of ppl it gets all echo-y but when it's quiet it's just the best. Then we'd leave the museum, go bopping around in my pickup, I'd even let him drive it in an big honkin' abandoned parking lot which we'd surely find, and I'd take him for bar-b-q, and a couple of cold beers (though I'd stick with iced tea, for obvious reasons if you knew my past), and then finally we'd go to a target range, and I'd let him shoot my .44 magnum, which is just gawd-awful sweet, and he'd *never* want to go back to his own time if he couldn't take that .44 and who could blame him.....
*First off I'd take him and get him some Levi's and cowboy boots and a snap-button shirt so he wouldn't look like a mope, wandering around in a toga or what-have-you.

So anyways. The Meditations, out of my glove box. That's important to me.

~~~~~

Tools. I'm 63, I've got tools I bought 50 years ago. No kidding. I've got a full complement of sheet metal tools -- I was a tin-knocker. I can do things with sheet metal that you can't, that you wouldn't even think of using sheet metal for, and I've still got the hand tools to do it, and even without a shop I can do a lot. I've got a pretty full complement of drywall tools, both for hanging it and for taping and finishing it. I've got carpentry tools, for both wood and metal studs, and for acoustical ceilings, for the rough carpentry build but also the trim tools, I've got a *lot* of mechanical tools, a bunch in my storage area and enough tools in my pickup (under the back seat) to do pretty much anything I'd end up needing to do.

The thing about tools is funny. Brought up very blue collar, and worked in the trades so long and still mess around some now, one thing that I learned on those job-sites was that you don't fuck around with someones tools. That you don't fuck around with your own tools, either, that you keep a close eye on them. Because they're your livelihood. They are, in their way, they are your life. I foolishly left a toolbox in the back of a pickup one night and it got stolen, this was in the mid to late 1970s, it cost me a hundred bucks just to have enough tools to throw into a tool box. But what you don't know until your tools are gone is all of the small tools you have, and all the tools you've made yourself, or found god only knows where, and those tools just take time to get back, there isn't enough money to throw at it, not really. You don't fuck around with a working mans tools. And that's still deep in me. I've considered leaving Trump Land, selling this condo and hauling ass to who knows where, but one of the things that pains me -- no kidding -- is who would I give my tools to? Because it's a serious thing. I've got friends who would love to have them but they'd let them go as easy as a paper napkin. Nope. I have a nephew in the trades, but he also is pretty loosey-goosey, and those tools would fade off into nowhere. Nope. I've pretty much decided, I've a friend here in ATX who is a construction guy and, more to the point, he knows the value of tools. (You can tell, really, just by looking at a guys tools.) This guy, if I gave him my tools, he might let some go, but he'd not let things go to the winds. It's a thing of respect, really -- he'd respect them. It's ridiculous that this is so important to me but it is.

~~~~~

Memories.

Most important to me is memories. There's this super-cool Japanese flick called After Life. (Ebert review) The premise of the movie is that you've died. You're greeted by kind staff, who have a job to do, and a question to pose to you. The question is: What is your happiest memory? You'll spend a week there, and the staff will re-create your favorite memory, and you go there, and live in that memory forever. It's funny, my mentor, he's this crusty fuck, he was a street junkie, the kind who'd tell cops to fuck off while he's already handcuffed behind his back, and of course he'd get the beating he knew he'd get but fuck them anyways was his view on it. Anyways, Bob is the one who told me about this flick, and then as we talked about it turns out that he and I both have the same favorite memory -- the unbelievable, all-enveloping joy felt in first love. So here's this hard-edged guy, tough as nails, but that love, that first love, that's the most important memory in his life, it's the most wonderful feeling in his life, same as it is in mine.

I'm so ridiculous -- there I was, come up in the heat and heart of a sexual upheaval and revolution but I wanted to be with just one woman. Ever. In my life. Lots of girls had said hi to me but that wasn't where it was at. I ended up opening to this girl -- and she was a girl, and I was a boy; we met in the deans office for christ sake -- I opened to her, she'd say the damndest things, in code, indecipherable, she couldn't really express herself in words but it all came pouring out of her sparkling blue eyes and pouring all over me, and it wasn't encoded at all, she was offering me everything she had, she was offering her entire goddamn heart and I opened and in that hold, maybe a year, that is the sweetest memory of my life. Prized possession? Cherished possession? You're goddamn right it is. You'd give all you own to spend a year there. Or any time at all. I know I would.

Hell, I did.

Redheads. Fuck....

So. Memories. That's surely big for me. Maybe whenever I get Alzheimers I won't fade all the way back to my childhood, maybe I'd fade back just to 1973, and get to live there, and every redheaded woman with shining blue eyes is Kathy.

I can scarcely wait.
posted by dancestoblue at 3:58 AM on January 7 [17 favorites]


When I was a kid my mother used to give me a lot of grief about the way I took care of things, i.e. "This is why you can't have nice things." The "I'll show YOU" psychological fallout of this is that I don't have an attachment to things in general. If I look around my house, I could mostly leave it all behind and be okay with it.

If I had to pick something that I prize most, it would be the Wedgewood and Limoges plates and cups I use daily.

Yes, they're delicate and beautiful, but I mostly love them because they were boxed up after my beloved father-in-law died and my douchecanoe of an ex does not realize that I have all this nice china (because I'm sure he'd demand for its return if he knew) but also, it drives my mother completely batshit insane that I use this gorgeous, fine china for everyday use. I get tremendous pleasure from watching her lose her mind when I put cat food in a Limoges bowl.
posted by yes I said yes I will Yes at 4:52 AM on January 7 [11 favorites]


I kinda have an opposite-of-precious problem. My parents are getting ready to sell the house they have had for almost 50 years, and are going through their stuff and getting rid of as much of it as they can bear to. There are a few things that were mine as a kid that my mom has hung on to, which she has sneakily returned to me. Sneakily, as is last time they were over for dinner she snuck into my room and left the little stuffed animal that was my favourite thing when I was 5 under my pillow. So when I went to bed that night I discovered this ratty old dog toy... and now I don't know what to do with it. She hung on to this stupid thing for 40 years, I feel kinda bad just throwing it out, but I'm really not the sentimental sort. What the hell do I do with it? it's old and nasty and no-one is going to want it. I suspect that she felt the exact same way about it and has offloaded the problem onto me.

My actual favourite thing is Dr Buzzard
posted by 5_13_23_42_69_666 at 5:37 AM on January 7 [2 favorites]


I have a Collins Shakespeare Folio from the year 1900. It's the oldest book I own. It has this super thin rice paper and its green with gold flaked through the spine. I'll post a photo of it later when I get home, but I think it's my favourite thing. And I actually read it, not just a collectable. It's in good condition and I feel like this kind of work deserves to be read.
posted by Fizz at 5:44 AM on January 7 [2 favorites]


I love stuff and I have lots of it. Most of it is not worth much to anyone but me. One of the things that I would really hate to lose is my motorbike, more precisely: the one I rode around the Saharah. It was customized with that trip in mind: it has handmade stainless steel luggage cases, a larger than original fuel tank and shorter seat, and an oil cooler from a Citroen 2CV. When these things were being added, I thought that I would build it back to its original state after the trip, but now I love it so much exactly the way it is, that I'll never do that. I lived in the saddle of that bike for eight months. It's been through a lot, including repairs. I don't think it has any parts that I haven't seen and touched.

It wasn't a pretty bike even when it was new (which was back in the eighties). It's worn and kind of ratty in many ways now, and getting pretty old, and it doesn't look like much. But it's still a lovely bike to ride and it's a wonderful souvenir. There is probably some red desert dust clinging to it still, if you know where to look.
It seems to be time to replace the piston, which makes no sense from an economical point of view... but of course I'm not even thinking twice. New piston it is.
posted by Too-Ticky at 6:07 AM on January 7 [6 favorites]


My stuffed dog.

His name is Wowo. Or perhaps it’s Wo Wo. I’ve never had to learn how to spell it, and the spelling is irrelevant, anyway. He got his name when I was very little — almost pre-verbal — and my Mom and I referred to him by making the sound a dog makes. The name stuck.

He’s a pretty simple toy...a cushion, really, made of two pieces of cloth with a print of the front and back of a basset hound, sewed together and stuffed with shredded foam. He has the most soulful eyes, and a cute little printing defect on his nose.

Mom was given the cloth prints at her baby shower back in 1966 before I was born. My older siblings recall when she was sewing him together and consider him an important family heirloom.

He’s been on this planet about as long as I have, and been through everything with me. I dragged him through the cotton fields on our farm when I was just able to walk and all over creation since then. Through health and extreme sickness, he’s been right there on my bed next to me, lying on my baby blanket I’ve folded neatly beneath him.

He bears the scars of a half-dozen of his own tough times, my late Mom’s stitches visible in various spots. There is so much of my own history, and my relationship with my Mom, wrapped up in him that it’s difficult to describe what he means to me, especially since my Mom passed away.

A bit of a shock this past week, when I picked him up from the bed while changing the linens and my finger went right through his cloth, threadbare where I’d been picking him up and holding him for 50+ years. After some existential angst for both our sakes, I ordered some repair materials and will probably do some major surgery on him in the next few days. It’ll be the first repair not done by my Mom, and I’m a little scared.

If everything I owned burned up in a fire, I think I’d handle most of it fairly clinically. Some of it would even be a relief to lose, just to be rid of the baggage. The only thing I would really shed tears over losing would be my little buddy.
posted by darkstar at 6:13 AM on January 7 [9 favorites]


my motorbike, more precisely: the one I rode around the Saharah

If you're up for it, I'd love to see some photos of this. I'm sure others would as well. Sounds like you had a great trip with that bike, definitely some good memories there. :)
posted by Fizz at 6:18 AM on January 7 [1 favorite]


Fizz, there isn't very much. It was before the days of cheap and good digital cameras, and good enough internet to transfer large images. My traveling companion took slides, and scanned some of them afterwards; I took traditional pictures and scanned some... those can be seen here but I lost interest and did not scan the rest. It's less than half of the journey and bad quality. Might still be worth a look.

You're right though, it was a great trip for sure. Lots and lots of interesting people, places and stuff.
posted by Too-Ticky at 6:35 AM on January 7 [5 favorites]


Too-Ticky, don't sell yourself short. These are some amazing photos. I love them!! Thanks for sharing.
posted by Fizz at 6:44 AM on January 7 [1 favorite]


I'll likely be moving again this year (for something like the seventh time in five years, ugh) and I've been thinking a lot about what is worth moving and what isn't.

Some things are easy -- kitchen stuff is mostly yes, old furniture is a definite no -- but I am really scratching my head about things like CDs and books that are sentimental but getting less meaningful every year.

If there was a fire I would be sad about losing the houseplant, artwork, and a few sentimental items, but there isn't much that I would really worry about (aside from all the practical issues like paperwork, etc). Long term, I'd like to keep paring down and getting rid of items that don't give much pleasure. The one thing I wish I had more budget and space for is artwork -- I like what we have, but would love to have more.
posted by Dip Flash at 8:37 AM on January 7


I have consiered thsi question a little further, because cold and staying inside with dogs and whatnot, and I will concede that I do have one possession that I do dote on, perhaps more than I should: my grandmother's cast iron pan. Nothing special, just a nice 10" Lodge, but it's got the grease of three generations on it, I use it often (it was on my stove this morning for making hash browns, after making meatballs last night, which is why I thought of it) and it's so shiny on the cooking surface I could use it as a (very heavy) hand mirror. The outside is a massive conglomeration of carbonized stuff since my grandmother refused to allow water to ever touch it, she scoured the inside with sand, and cooked the rest off in the oven. Following her lead, I don't baby it (but I do use water), it comes along on every car camping trip, because I know it'll do just fine on whatever campfire grate I come across. Which means it's covered an untold number amount of miles and crossed the continent at least once in my care, and possibly at least one other time in my grandmother's (her stories of traveling with my grandfather in the CCC during the depression were astounding). I don't think I'd grab it if the house was on fire, but I'd definitely pick through the rubble to find it, probably flick some ashes off of it, heave its friendly bulk up to rest on my shoulder, and on our merry way we'd go, onto future meals of really excellent fried chicken.
posted by 1f2frfbf at 8:41 AM on January 7 [10 favorites]


I’ve become a lot less sentimental and a lot more streamlined over the past ten years or so. I get pretty ruthless about purging items I don’t use or even look at regularly, and I’ve found that I really don’t like clutter.

However—if I count my collection of books as one thing, I think it would be really disturbing to me on a very visceral level if something (fire? flood?) would happen and I would find myself to be bookless. I do weed my books a couple of times a year but I still have nine bookcases of various sizes that are all filled with books, and those books are a big part of what makes my house my home. Aside from a very few first editions, none of my books are particularly valuable by themselves—but I love looking at them, I love HAVING them, I love being able to reread them if I wish, I love remembering reading certain books for the first time and recalling who I was and what my life was like then. I love the map they create of my interests and tastes over time.

Many years ago, a family friend told me that when he and his wife were getting ready to buy their first home, he raised much of their down payment by selling his library of books. I have never forgotten that story. I don’t know what life event would provoke me to need to sell my books, but it would need to be something very major and a last resort.
posted by bookmammal at 9:24 AM on January 7 [4 favorites]


I just wanna squee somewhere that after ten years of active research I FINALLY discovered the identity of my paternal great-grandmother's parents and in the past few days have mapped out her entire family tree back to 1700 or before (luckily no one moved around a lot in Norway back then - also patronymics and farm names).
posted by elsietheeel at 9:32 AM on January 7 [7 favorites]


This time of year, my most prized possession is my electric blanket. And my continent-spanning electrical grid to keep it going, of course! I think the new Instant Pot comes in second, though that's probably a temporary infatuation.

I have a ton of stuff in my little apartment that I'm fond of, but now that I'm doing the "what would you save from the fire" thought experiment, there's nothing I'd risk my life for except my dog. Not even backup drives. And the electric blanket and instant pot wouldn't do me any good without a place to plug them in. Sorry, Blankie and Potto!
posted by moonmilk at 9:44 AM on January 7 [1 favorite]


I've been so transient the last few years, there are few prized possessions I keep with me. I sleep under the quilt my mom made me when I graduated from high school, I have my binoculars and Kindle on my bedside table, and I have flash drives and external hard drives with all my data in five places in three states. Other than that, important family heirlooms (photos, my great grandfathers' books and tools and paintings) and childhood things (my rabbit, Bunny, who was cleaned, resewn, and restuffed for Christmas) and my cat (Triceratops, my one true love) are currently living with my parents and I trust they'll gather what needs gathering if necessary.

It is indeed cold here. I am wearing many layers and drinking a lot of tea while reading cozy books and intermittently getting writing done. A good weekend, I can't complain!
posted by ChuraChura at 10:32 AM on January 7 [1 favorite]


I'm not a very sentimental person and I don't own anything that I have a deep emotional or nostalgic connection to. While I like my stuff, when it comes down to it almost everything's pretty much replaceable. Even the musical instruments, which aren't cheap and would be a definite blow to lose; but none of them are unique or special in the sense of, like, a Stradivarius, so even those I could (assuming insurance came through) easily replace with duplicates and be none the worse for it. My only truly irreplaceable possessions are a photo album with pics of 3 generations of family, and my "digital life" i.e. 2 external drives which most importantly contain 25 years of personal photos of things I've done and seen and of people who have been important in my life.

But apart from a disaster scenario, those musical instruments are highly prized in the sense that it gives me great joy to play them, and without them my life would be much darker and drier. And I have to give a shout-out to my car, which isn't a terribly expensive one but it's the nicest one I've ever owned by a huge margin and is so much fun to drive! (I know that's not a terribly popular opinion around these parts, but that's my story and I'm stickin' to it)
posted by Greg_Ace at 10:52 AM on January 7 [5 favorites]


I prefer older stuff that is broken in. I own very little that was bought new by me. I'm okay with things not matching. I have a Persian carpet that was in my Dad's home, then in the house I grew up in. I used to be able to tell where the couch was because of the wear pattern. It's pretty threadbare so it's in my bedroom with the bed over the most worn spot. That's probably the thingI prize most. I like my stuff; I'm not a minimalist. If the house burned down, I would miss the cozy mishmash. I lost a third of my books when they were stored after culling and then moving them and then water. I still miss many of them and can't afford to replace them. But they're things. I miss absent friends and family so much more.
posted by theora55 at 12:53 PM on January 7


Currently, my Keen waterproof hiking boots
posted by thelonius at 1:32 PM on January 7 [1 favorite]


1. My stuffed bear, Amanda the Panda, who has been with me for all but 5 months of my life.
2. My cello. I haven't played in a year or so, but I want to start again, and mine is a beautiful instrument.
3. 2 really stupid coffee mugs. One was stolen from my ex's horrible grad school roommate. It has a vague athletic silhouette on it (I honestly cannot tell what sport the person is supposed to be playing - maybe soccer? Maybe croquet?) and it says #1 ASSISTANT COACH which is really just the Dwight Schrutiest thing. The other one is oversized and it has a picture of a shocked-looking cat on it with the text "LESBIANS EAT WHAT?" on it in giant letters. I got it for my girlfriend as a housewarming present.
posted by coppermoss at 1:51 PM on January 7 [7 favorites]


I have a Persian carpet that was in my Dad's home, then in the house I grew up in.

I'll bet it ties the whole room together.
posted by Greg_Ace at 2:08 PM on January 7 [1 favorite]


Cast iron pans. My 1950 Wedgewood stove where the pans live. The guitar, and a Pendleton Blanket. My heart isn‘t attached to any of these, but they do make me feel good when I‘m using them.
posted by The Toad at 2:16 PM on January 7 [1 favorite]


Oh also right now my most prized possession is the pizza and two liter of Pepsi I just had delivered. And the fat grey cat on my lap waiting for me to feed him bits of crust.
posted by elsietheeel at 5:27 PM on January 7 [7 favorites]


NEW ORLEANS IS AMAZING

This is the first time I’ve been and I don’t want to leave. Everyone is friendly. I’m friendlier just being here. It’s pretty much the only place I’ve been where people don’t act like I’m annoying for being as chatty as I am (genuine friendliness or just southern politeness?). Like, people talk to me as much as I talk to them. It’s liberating.

It’s also full of tourists, and I guess jobs are harder to come by, and I guess there’s that whole thing about being threatened by global sea level rise.

I keep joking about wanting to move here, but I don’t know if I actually do. I guess everyone loves New Orleans, and obviously it’s way different actually living somewhere vs just visiting.

Anyway, it’s great to be here.
posted by shapes that haunt the dusk at 5:36 PM on January 7 [1 favorite]


Also, thanks to everyone who reassured me about the conference in the effing eff thread! It went well! I mean, I think it could have been better, but my professor said it was great, and I managed to do it without collapsing.

We all went and saw a parade and fireworks after, which was exactly what I needed after the stress of the past week.
posted by shapes that haunt the dusk at 5:40 PM on January 7 [2 favorites]


I'm fairly sentimental about little things, although I've moved enough times in my adult life (I think something like 18 addresses in 32 years) that my stash is still pretty edited. I'm pretty sure the two things I treasure most are my photos and my son's ashes, still in the cardboard box they came from the funeral home in, because I've yet to get my head together enough to find the "right" permanent container. Still, if the house were on fire I'd only grab the photos. I think it would be a sign from the universe that it was time to let Simon burn one last time, truly ashes to ashes.
posted by drlith at 5:56 PM on January 7 [2 favorites]


huimangm: On another note: roger ackroyd, do we get to hear more about how you have autographed Ellen Raskin books??

The first was a gift, the rest were acquired through used book stores. They are treasures.
posted by roger ackroyd at 6:02 PM on January 7 [2 favorites]


One of my New Year's resolutions is to be more intentional in all things. I was doing some year end/start cleaning out of my bookmarks and felt overwhelmed by all the things I told myself I'd read and just…didn't. I'm not sure if I never intended to read them or if I was just perpetually distracted by shiny new things to bookmark.

Anyhow, my weekend project was to make a read-it-later Chrome extension that automatically purges saved links after a week. Curious to see if it encourages more purposeful reading and time management.

If any of you try it out, it would be great to hear about your impressions. Feel free to share it with others, too, if you're so inclined.

Best wishes for the New Year, mefites! May it be filled with meaningful experiences.
posted by waninggibbon at 6:24 PM on January 7


I'm not usually attached to things, but then I remembered Koala. He's not furniture (despite being basically 3' x 3') -- he's family.

I got him from a mailing list -- someone was selling it (along with a similarly-sized moose), and I actually waffled a long time deciding if I'd rather have $10 or an enormous plush koala.

I made the right choice! Koala is good for hugging, snuggling into his ears, and lying on his giant feet; there is no doubt that some of this causes him umbrage, but he has no choice over this. I also mostly use him to remind people to vote.

If there was a fire he would probably melt into a pile of polyester goo. ;_; I've never found another plush koala like him (or another moose like his giant moose cousin), and the guy who sold him to me said that he found him in a thrift shop. In his former life, Koala would snuggle up with drunken party guests for funny photos. These days he gazes encouragingly at me from a chair in the corner of the living room.
posted by batter_my_heart at 7:52 PM on January 7 [3 favorites]


I am, as of today, now the owner of nearly $20k worth of very gently used Honda Civic Hybrid. This is the biggest purchase I've ever made unless one counts my going to law school, and given how that worked out, it's terrifying, but I honestly loved this car from the moment I got in it. I'm sure it won't be perfect and that it'll go back to feeling quite ordinary in a few weeks or months, but right now it's amazing and also awful. It's 1am and I'm sitting here basically laying awake scared of having to commute in it tomorrow. I didn't drive until I was in my late 20s because of anxiety, and now it mostly only comes out when I have to drive cars that aren't the one I'm used to. It'll pass, but for right now I'm still in a mood where I don't want to let it within 100 feet of another vehicle.
posted by Sequence at 11:20 PM on January 7 [5 favorites]


My most prized possession at this moment would be ONE THING that wasn't in need of repair. I'm so tired of being Ms. Fixit. And, of things breaking or failing all the time; daily, even; fearing the next problem; tired of juggling the next unknown.

Other than the critters, my most precious possesion is my husband's wedding band which I wear 24/7; and I am likely to most cherish a couple of my paintings, a stained glass window-hanger that my mom made for me and the awesome used refrigerator that is my perfect refrigerator. Of these, the refrigerator could be replaced but the other things cannot.
posted by mightshould at 5:56 AM on January 8 [1 favorite]


As I posted in last weeks Metatalktail thread, I am actively purging clutter and it is going swimmingly. I really don't have much that I'm sentimental about and almost everything can be replaced for a price. I did repurchase a doll that I had as a child after recalling a memory about her, but she's not the original, so I doubt she's the thing I'd grab in a fire. I'd probably grab a portrait of my husband's dead partner because I think it would mean so much to him.

Also, it's finally raining in Los Angeles and I am so happy. As of yesterday, we were at 1/4 inch for the season where our normal is 4 inches, so we've really needed the rain. It's not terribly cold though. Driving in this morning at 5:30 a.m., it was already 60 degrees F.
posted by Sophie1 at 6:54 AM on January 8 [1 favorite]


The quick answer: My Selmer SuperAction 80 Série II baritone saxophone (often abbreviated SA80 Série II).

The long answer, which I've never told before: I started on piano at age 5 after haranguing my parents in much the same manner as I had done to learn to read. Before age 2 I was bugging them to teach me what the squiggly things on signs meant, and started trying to figure it out on my own, thus they had to start teaching me to read. For piano, at age 3 I started fiddling with the old upright we had, and someone told me I could learn to play with lessons. "When can I start lessons?" was my next question. "When you're old enough," was the answer. "When will I be old enough?" and "am I old enough now?" were the OBVIOUS follow-up questions. I asked "am I old enough now?" pretty much every day until my parents reached their breaking point.

In fifth grade our class was offered violin lessons, so I learned violin too. Our teacher also taught band at our middle school, and I decided to change from violin to clarinet since wind instruments seemed fun.

I was a clarinettist for a year and a half, until I slipped on a patch of black ice on our driveway and fractured my left arm. Our band teacher suggested I try tenor saxophone, since I could hold it at an angle. I liked it well enough, but we needed a baritone saxophone player, which our teacher also said I could try. Love at first play. Omigod I fell in such love with that instrument.

In high school, our concert band teacher suggested I try the state solo competition. I placed second for two years in a row – one must realize that bari is in the same class as tenor, which means that I won against tenor saxophonists. (A tenor took first place those two years.) I was the first bari sax player in the history of Oregon to place on baritone saxophone.

I was doing well on piano too, and as a high school senior, won the sole university piano performance major spot handed out that year (they only give a spot if you qualify in audition; there are years they don't give any spots at all in spite of auditions). In parallel, I had helped my mother win a lawsuit against her employer – she had been harassed, and I did pretty much all the documentation legwork. Working with her lawyer was a formative experience – he gave me a lot of confidence in my analytical skills, and seeing how they could be applied to real life was awesome.

My mother's lawyer convinced her to give me part of her settlement in the form of a gift, specifying the dollar amount so I could choose. Had it not been for him, I probably wouldn't have seen anything – it was the only money of consequence, meaning more than gas money, that I ever got from my family. This is why I rarely tell the story; there's so much that goes into it that if I leave out any context, it sounds like my parents might have been cool people who made understandable parenting mistakes. When in reality, it was a childhood of abuse with just this one exception, and because a lawyer was watching. I chose an upright piano (a Schimmel) rather than a grand so that I could afford a baritone saxophone: the SA80 Série II. I negotiated for the remaining settlement money to be set aside as a repair fund. My reasoning was also that the university had several Steinway grands for piano majors, so I wouldn't be playing the Schimmel often, and I loved the rich, bright sound of the Schimmel compared to the staid Steinway sound.

My bari and I made it to the top concert and jazz ensembles at university. It saw basketball games too as I played bari in the pep band (I was on tenor in marching band).

Three years later, I went to France to finish my degree. My bari came with me. Unfortunately, it got squished in transit, and then stored in a dank cave along the Saône in Lyon by the repairman I entrusted it to. It molded, ruining the lacquer, the inside, and all the pads. There was no legal recourse. Regular shops couldn't repair it; the only place that could was... Selmer.

And so I took my beloved bari sax by TGV from Lyon to Paris, solely to have it repaired, and using the very last of the settlement money to get it relacquered and re-padded.

Selmer were so kind. Plus they had the old-school needle tuners that work by vibration. They asked me what kind of sound I wanted and listened to me play before relacquering it. Then when it was ready, they had me play it again to see how it had turned out. They managed to make it even more resonant and rich. I loved that they were as happy as I was with their overhaul.

Wherever I've moved, my cats + bari sax have been the first things to come with me. Nothing else moves until they have.

Postscript: I asked my parents to sell the Schimmel upright to a piano student after my first year in France, so that I could invest the money. They refused and I never heard another word about what became of it.
posted by fraula at 7:04 AM on January 8 [20 favorites]


fraula, that's an amazing tale; and kudos to Selmer.
posted by mightshould at 7:13 AM on January 8 [1 favorite]


I'm always a little jealous of the relationship between musicians and their instruments. There's very little to compare it to, but having witnessed it first-hand I'm always in awe of the level of collboration they share. Even among visual artists, there's the perception of things (even studio assistants) as tools, not partners. I dunno if my envy stems from the fact that I'm such a middling musician that I never really have formed that sort of bond with my instruments, or that I feel bad that my instruments are stuck in a luckluster relationship with me...
posted by 1f2frfbf at 7:55 AM on January 8 [1 favorite]


Omigod I fell in such love with that [bari sax]

I played tenor for quite a few years before I suddenly got curious about bari. I saved up and bought a (surprisingly decent for the money) Taiwanese bari, and I enjoy it even more than I expected. But now I'm always having to decide between playing tenor or bari for any given practice session.

That said,

(I was on tenor in marching band)

I don't blame you! Those things are monsters, they must weigh twice as much as a tenor. *stops to look it up* Yep, sure enough.
posted by Greg_Ace at 9:22 AM on January 8


Categories follow, because that's how I roll...

Sentimental Whatsist: A chronograph my grandfather extracted from a downed ME 109 somewhere in Germany.

Recent Quality Item Purchase: Damned if my new Simple Human Kitchen Trashcan isn't making my life easier on a daily basis. Ditto for my MochaMaster coffee maker isn't also nice. (both used off Amazon Warehouse deals for bonus value too!)

Overall: My kids I suppose? I know, I know, cheesy but still.

Value Ratio on a consumable item (don't ask me to define that, but it seems like a useful category title): Alpaca Socks from a trip to Ecuador (Salinas de Guaranda to be exact, helluva place). Damn if they aren't fuzzy and warm and not at all itchy and I've only had to wash them like once in years and years of, admittedly, infrequent wear. They're not overly thick either. Anyone recommend replacement sources since the bottoms are wearing a bit? Perhaps the alpaca blanket from the same trip?

Useful Factor: Dad's Bit and Brace (read: auger bits in a wooden case). I've drilled holes with them and hope/expect to use them in a homestead or semi-commercial endeavor one day. I also have an anvil from the family farm that's still in transit/storage that I doubt I'd ever even consider getting rid of.
posted by RolandOfEld at 9:38 AM on January 8


I think these days, it's the opal pendant the beau bought me for our first Christmas. I told him he was out of his damned mind, spending so much on silly frippery jewelry for me, but on the other hand, it's beautifully luminescent and sparkly and very me, so I figured I'd have to marry him because clearly he knew me better than anyone. (So I did, about four years later.)

I wore that every single day until I broke the chain; I need to find a good new one for it.
posted by PearlRose at 10:01 AM on January 8 [1 favorite]


Prized possessions! I get far too attached to things. Part of the problem (a good problem to have) is that I have a whole lot of talented friends, so the things they've made for me become surrogates for the affection I feel towards them.

But if I had to choose ONE thing, it would probably be my bed. I dearly love it. As a kid, I always loved top bunks; I liked the feeling of sleeping up high. For decades, I lived in low-ceilinged places; in my head, I'd designed the loft bed of my dreams, but it was never possible in any practical way. Finally, when I moved to my current place, I got a joiner named Simon from History in the Making (whom I knew through the living-history scene) to make me the bed I've always wanted.

It's basically a large wooden box. The box contains wardrobe space and storage shelves; there are double doors on each long side. The mattress sits on top; Simon built in a small shelf beside it for books, lamp, alarm clock, etc. He also made a good sturdy slanted ladder for access.

Changing the fitted sheet is really annoying, and turning the mattress is nigh impossible. But I can live with that. Every night, I sigh contentedly as I settle into the Best Bed Ever.
posted by Pallas Athena at 1:03 PM on January 8


This thread makes me feel so materialistic. I don't just have one treasured things; I love the hunt of finding just the right thing and I'm proud of the ones that have "hit" just right. Some of them are vintage or sentimental like my grandma's copper Paul Revere pots but some of them are just plain good things like my big-handled Joseph Joseph colander. A good mattress. The awesome (and mefi favorite) tech product that my dad works on. My comforter cover with the most delicious texture (ooh and my collection of couch blankets.) My dog camera that has bark alerts so I don't spend too much time stressing about his separation anxiety (and a treat dispenser so I can love him from anywhere). My kindle. My cookbooks with inscriptions and tips from each time I made something because that's what my family has always done. My hue lightbulbs that gently wake me up each morning. The plant stand that I agonized over until I found the perfect one for the space (& the plants that I shockingly haven't killed yet!)

From 2011-2016, thanks to college and dorms and stupid summer housing schedules and a slightly nomadic life I had to move all my possessions several times a year (in 2015, I believe I moved everything five goddamn times) so I couldn't own a lot. A lot of the things I would have wanted weren't major or expensive but they were too bulky to justify, like a muffin tin. Every so often I wanted to make muffins or cupcakes and, you know, I just couldn't. Now I've been in the same place for a little over a year and I bought a muffin tin and even if it doesn't make it through the next move, it helps me feel so settled. I've struggled with how much materialism is appropriate/okay/tolerable from myself and part of that issue, I think, stems from years of always having to tell myself no. Still striving for that balance!
posted by mosst at 1:34 PM on January 8 [1 favorite]


I've got a box of prized possessions. (Just one, though!) My first stuffed animal, photos of dead family and pets, scraps of cloth from my childhood blanket and the coat that accompanied me into adulthood, artifacts rescued from forbidden and now destroyed remote science outposts and mines, the electronics notebook filled with notes my childhood mentor insisted I take when we began lessons, musical artifacts.

But, if I had to choose one, it's the mechanical pencil that I've had for more than two decades. I used it daily from my first year of high-school homework through marking corrections on a PhD thesis. Then I officially retired it, and replaced it with one of the lifetime supply of identical pencils that I bought before the company stopped making them. (In the interest of posterity, it's a Yafa Executive Pencil. I don't recommend their other products.) The anodization is entirely worn away in every place one's fingers touch, the aluminum and brass are worn to a shiny, polished finish, and the plastic pocket clip broke off long ago, but it continues to work perfectly. It's not only nostalgic, but it evokes a rare nostalgia that is perfectly aligned with the person I am and the person I want to be. My first stuffed animal, on the other hand, only reminds me of who I was.

Wait, we're excluding digital information, right? 'cause otherwise my most prized possession will always be the last hard drive containing all my data.
posted by eotvos at 1:49 PM on January 8 [1 favorite]


For several years my dad took images he found in books and online and made postcards and sent them to me, my sister, his parents and a few other people. I have a large storage box filled with them. I miss the days when he was doing this because I could send him all sorts of links of interesting images and possibly see them months later in the mail.

I should scan them.
posted by sciencegeek at 2:35 PM on January 8 [1 favorite]


I have a bunch of stuff like my wedding ring and the clothes that my kid came home from the hospital in, but maybe the most interesting (and completely worthless outside of sentimental value) is about an ounce of rocks in a little tiny folded up bit of manila envelope with my dad's mother's handwriting is on the outside of the package, explaining in old-fashioned Chinese handwriting that these are the rocks that [pet nickname for me] got in trouble for at school on such-and-such a date, because she was picking these to take home to her Nana.

Based on what you can see of the rocks because lbr this is not the most secure container, it's just regular ol' pea gravel, picked up from the preschool play yard, but the story is that we lived with my dad's parents when I was that age, and I adored my Nana, who was always the Artsy one of the family and liked to collect interesting rocks to draw or use as inspiration for her ceramics. Whenever we went on walks or took trips, she was always filling her pockets up with little random bits of nature. So when I saw some rocks at school that looked interesting to a toddler, and started putting them into my pockets.

And apparently, despite me getting in trouble, some of the rocks did make their way to Nana, and the little package was kept for 30+ years, including 15 years after Nana died, when it was sitting in a storage locker in the Bay Area.

Due to family politics and the passage of time, it's pretty much the only thing I have from my grandparents. And I only have it because my cousin found it while they were cleaning out a storage locker with all of my grandparents' possessions -- the two of us were basically like siblings, and my side of the family has been estranged from hers for 10+ years, so it means a lot to me.

I keep it in my jewelry box with all my fancy grown up Power Jewelry.
posted by joyceanmachine at 3:16 PM on January 8 [10 favorites]


I just realised very odd thing: I covet and accumulate lots of things, but I try not to treasure them too much, however difficult I find it to let go of them, because it seems like daring the universe to take them away.

Sorry, that's probably a downer, isn't it? Paging Dr Freud.

My favourite thing at the moment is a Fender telecaster, my first proper Fender guitar.

One bright spot in the day has been watching the donations for Tim Smith of Cardiacs (who suffered a massive heart attack and stroke ten years ago) creeping up from virtually nothing at the beginning of the day to over £50,000 now. The first genuinely nice thing for ages, as we've been worried about him for a very long time (apparently with good cause). Rhodri Marsden has the full story here.
posted by Grangousier at 3:53 PM on January 8 [1 favorite]


Okay I now have a prized actual possession that came in the mail today: a retro-looking green hotel keychain from the Great Northern Hotel for room 315.
posted by elsietheeel at 5:21 PM on January 8 [1 favorite]


My grandparents had a very modest home in rural Alabama. Their laundry room had this closet with mirrored doors that I always thought was very interesting looking but it was buried behind too much junk and the freezer chest and laundry baskets, etc. to really see it very well. Eventually I discovered that the interesting looking closet was actually a chiffarobe; a beautiful pine one lined with cedar and a skeleton key for the cabinets. Obviously I fantasized about how this thing must lead to Narnia. When they had to sell the house to go live with my parents, I finally got a good look at the thing standing by itself and couldn't believe they had it stuffed this glorious piece of furniture in the laundry room for all those years. I rescued it, and it is prominently displayed in my foyer where it brings me so much happiness to look at each day.
posted by gatorae at 8:51 PM on January 8 [7 favorites]


In 2000 one of my coworkers bought me a rubber Chop Chop Master Onion figurine, encased in packaging that declared it "FUN TOY! NOT BORING!" Though I have opened it and fussed with it, I still keep it in the original paper-and-plastic packaging. I love it so much!
posted by grumpybear69 at 11:43 AM on January 9


I don't really accumulate things, especially emotional/sentimental things.

But right now my most prized possession is my camera, because it was my mom's. Sure, it can be replaced as it's an older digital camera, but it's a very nice one, but no replacement would be this exact camera that my mom had and took to Europe and even took a lot of pictures of some of my family and all of that.

I've had it for two years now, and I don't think it's been more than 15 feet away from me at any time since then. If I don't know where it is I'll freak right the fuck out.

I take very good care of it. I also take it everywhere I go to the point that people now ask me where my camera is if they don't see it hanging over my shoulder or neck. And the answer to that is that it's either hiding under my jacket or it's in whatever bag I'm carrying. If you see me walk more than 5-10 feet away from my bag, my camera is not in the bag.

Related to this is two notebooks full of photographic notes, logs, recipes and ideas that have been accumulating over the last 2+ years, my good compact tripod, filters and related camera stuff. If I was going to be rescuing things from a fire besides myself and my housemate's cat, it would be my camera, my external drive, my notebooks and then the camera gear. Actually, it might be the notebooks first, then the external drive and photo back ups. My best stuff is in the cloud already, but the notebooks aren't backed up.

After that I'd have to say my bicycle. It has some sentimental value because it was given to me by a mefite's brother when I was in the hospital and homeless so many years ago now, and it's been the best bike I've ever had and is really well suited for me.

But more importantly it's saved my damn fool life. I already liked bikes a lot, but the places I've been and the things I've seen and experienced have been life changing over the past few years. Heck, it was my home for a solid two years. Everything I owned except for a few books stored at a friend's house fit on that bicycle. I've loaded that poor, lightweight aluminum bike up with over 110 pounds of gear and luggage and then put my huge 250 butt on top of it, and then rode/pushed/walked it over everything from heavily rooted forest trails to rocky, sandy beaches and down many, many thousands of miles of roads.

For a mid range aluminum hybrid/CX style bike not built for touring, it has gone far above and beyond it's station and price range.

But I'm not sure if I would rescue it from a fire, though. It can be replaced and rebuilt a lot easier than my camera and photo stuff.

I'm also really fond of my down Eddie Bauer mummy bag. It was given to me by an artist friend in Seattle when I first set out on my post-Seattle survival bike tour. It was an incredibly touching last minute thing. I had gone over to her place to pick up a hammock she was also giving me. At the time I had a cheap square poly sleeping bag, and she was really concerned about me getting too cold out there. I almost refused it, because I just don't usually fit into mummy bags, and that's true of this one, too.

Well, I've now camped for extended periods of time in heavy rain, sleet and temps down to as low as 10F and, well, I probably would have survived without it because I thrive in cold, but I certainly wouldn't have been this comfortable.

Related to this is my general camping and related tools and skills. I don't have very much gear, but the things I do have tend to be very high quality and of very high usefulness. I have things like a very nice SOG pocket knife that I've had for well over 15 years now, a SOG multitool, a couple of Leatherman style Micra/Juice style tools (And, I should note, the Juice in my pocket was an xmas gift from contraption and Ambrosia Voyeur about 11 years ago. Yep, I still have it and use it and think of you guys.)

And, notably, I also like what you won't find in my camping/outdoor gear, which is a lot of single use overpriced REI kit. Because the tools and skills I have replace most of it with stuff like being able to make rocket or penny stoves, or needing little more than parachute cord and a tarp to make really good shelter for hammock camping. My camping/outdoor gear is less a pile of stuff and much more a pile of skills and some very basic tools - and, really, an attitude that makes being outdoors very comfortable.

And there's obviously a theme or arc here, and that's basically being able to look at, enjoy and appreciate nature and natural landscapes. If anything, all of these physical things just keep pointing back to that.
posted by loquacious at 3:17 PM on January 9 [1 favorite]


I am in possession of the same set of flatware that I grew up using. It's stainless in the Community pattern, which is not terribly common. It gives me great comfort knowing that I am using the same spoons and forks that I had since I was a wee tot. Since so much of the my parents' belongings are gone in the mists since their passing, I am happy to have things such as the cutlery and my mom's paintings and my grandmother's Christmas tree ornaments.
posted by computech_apolloniajames at 3:45 PM on January 9 [2 favorites]


At the risk of seeming gauche by MetaFilter standards, my (project) car. It's a red 1966 Mustang hardtop that I got for surprisingly cheap that's in pretty solid condition: the engine (a 351W swap!), the paint, the chrome and the interior are all basically immaculate, and everything else is in varying states of disrepair. It's not a collectible model by any means so I decided pretty early on that I'd have the most fun by tastefully restomodding it to keep a stock appearance but with updated internals. I think it matters to me not because of the car itself, but as a project and as sort of a turning point in terms of how I approach the world. I've always had a lot of technical aptitude, but in domains that weren't physically-bound in a meaningful way (read: software), and I mostly found mechanical issues to be daunting, fussy and/or easily thwarted (welp, the bolt head is stripped, so I guess that's it!). I've always wanted to not be that way, especially as a long-time car nerd, but I think it took diving in with this car to finally learn that patience, resolve and thoughtfulness are the primary determiners of mechanical aptitude much more than encyclopedic knowledge. Bolt head is stripped? Breathe for a little bit, step away, then spray some WD-40 on there, get an extractor bit, a mallet, and a ratchet with a long arm for some torque. There's always a solution if you stop and think it through and do some research.

The restomod is going pretty slowly because holy shit it is an expensive process, but I've done a decent amount to get what's there in good shape: replaced all four tie rod ends and the steering gearbox, switched out the scary old single-bowl master cylinder for a dual-bowl type, adjusted the ignition timing to take care of its super-rough idle, replaced the busted old turn signal cam, and freed up the sticky door locks. Once I save up enough, the next step is a power steering conversion, then front disc brakes, then power brakes, then new carb/intake (you can tell that 351W is struggling to breath as much as it could with the stock 2bbl Autolite), and then who knows, but it'd be fun to get it to a point where it's making 350+ whp. I love it so much.
posted by invitapriore at 6:01 PM on January 9 [3 favorites]


invitapriore, if you haven't seen it yet you might get a kick out of the Project Binky series of videos (playlist). It's two serious gearheads restomodding an original Mini. Not only is the work itself fascinating, the hosts are a hoot as well.
posted by Greg_Ace at 6:56 PM on January 9 [1 favorite]


I have a pen that was last used by David Bowie. I keep it safely hidden in my treasure box, but my family knows it's the Bowie pen and dare not touch it.
posted by Ruki at 8:31 PM on January 11 [1 favorite]


And as we all know, the Bowie pen is mightier than the Bowie knife.
posted by Greg_Ace at 9:23 PM on January 11 [3 favorites]


invitapriore, if a red 1966 Mustang hardtop is gauche, I don‘t want to be droite! I‘ve always wanted a black 66 Mustang convertible, sadly my car knowledge is so severely lacking that often I forget how to turn on my windshield wipers (don‘t judge. We had a really long drought here). Anyway, glad to hear somebody is living the Mustang dream!
posted by The Toad at 9:36 PM on January 11 [2 favorites]


The Toad: "if a red 1966 Mustang hardtop is gauche, I don‘t want to be droite!"

I love this sentence.
posted by invitapriore at 12:00 PM on January 12 [2 favorites]


Once again I have to sign in to fav one of Greg Ace's puns or what ever they are.

Oh, and the 85 Westy not letting go of that.
posted by Oyéah at 8:27 PM on January 12


puns or what ever they are

Your guess is as good as mine...
posted by Greg_Ace at 8:54 PM on January 12


Definitely my blue Miyata road bike! I haven't had it for all that long, but have become really attached to it, especially after putting about 1,200 miles on it this past year. His name is Deus ex Machina, but I call him Mac for short. Riding my bike was one of the few joys I had when I was in my weird in-between period of taking pre-requisite classes, working 3 part time jobs, and applying to graduate school. It's also led me to some of the closest friendships I've had. Turns out, you end up talking about a lot of things during day-long bike trips.

It's been killing me I haven't bee able to ride as much since moving for graduate school because I screwed up my wrist pretty majorly. But now that that's healing, I'm looking forward to my bike peregrinations again.

I've also been known to somewhat jokingly say that if I ever get hit by a car, I'd be more upset if my bike gets irreparably damaged than if I broke a couple of bones.
posted by astapasta24 at 9:14 AM on January 13


There are things I could talk about from my great grandparents' time as exiles in Siberia, or other items carried to Australia that I was told were traded for extra rations during years in a refugee camp in Austria after the second world war...

...but possibly my most prized possession right now was sent to me by mefite gman: a chunk of the Bamiyan Buddhas (iconoclastically destroyed by the Taliban) which he had encased in a Thai amulet necklace thingy in Bangkok. People who've been to BKK would know (maybe) those little teardrop shaped glass and silver holders for tiny little Buddha icons? They often sell them around the Palace or major temples.

Anyway, I love it. And the way that all of these items have some relation to history, personal matters, and now that I think about it: injustices and the tyranny of ideology, along with the human will to endure and find our own spaces.
posted by UbuRoivas at 12:46 AM on January 16


Hm, I trust that this will not be resented or impinging in any way: here's what gman has been up to in recent years.
posted by UbuRoivas at 12:56 AM on January 16


There is an unfortunate but growing habit where many assume that everything of value can be googled and thus anything that can't be googled must be without value.

My most prized possession is a beautifully bound book made from the proceedings of a conference on "Viruses" in 1950 that were assembled by Max Delbrück and serves as a pretty amazing portrait of what the international (primarily plant and bacterial) virus community was doing right then. Particularly amazing for me however is that it contains a syllabus by Delbrück himself in the back that does things like solidly define bacteriophage terms whose meanings have gotten uselessly fuzzy over time through misuse, describe techniques that have evolved in ways that doesn't necessarily make sense, and work as an introduction to the foundations of my discipline. Its papers also describe an elegant and creative way of doing and thinking about scientific questions that isn't necessarily better than how I've been taught but is different and I think profoundly valuable. It is also by signed by Max Delbrück to his last post-doc who left science soon afterwards to became a Methodist pastor and eventually my childhood pastor. I had no idea until after I left the country for my PhD, when he left it with my mother for me after she mentioned I worked in bacteriophage biology but died before I could thank him for it in person.

I'm really not stuff oriented at all, but this, this I would run back into a burning building for.
posted by Blasdelb at 2:55 PM on January 20 [1 favorite]


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