Wednesday, 13 May 2009

I am doing a serious clean-up. Delving into boxes that have been unopened since I moved in (ahhh, there's that DVD I was looking for!) Wondering what the hell to do with my video collection when I don't have a VCR (into a box, into the garage). I am even - gulp - throwing things away. It's a struggle.

Just before, I came across a tape from someone I used to write to somewhere back around the early 1990s. He lived in the States. Andrea began writing to his friend at the same time. Both of their names were James. From memory we found their penpal requests in a music mag.

James and I first began writing letters to each other, and then progressed to tapes. He found it easier to talk than to write, he said, and we would send each other long rambling tapes. His contained frequent stops and starts. In the background would be this strange sound from time to time. A sound that turned out to be the slamming shut of prison doors. He was ensconced in the Arizona State Prison, he and his friend. I guess he thought maybe I wouldn't write back if I knew he was in prison. Waited until we had written back and forth a few times before he told me.

Well, can't say it was particularly attractive but neither was it something that especially put me off, you know? I wanted to chat and talk about music. It wasn't as though I was looking for someone to father my children or anything. It saddened me, hearing this dude talking down low into a tape recorder, hearing those cold steel gates shutting.

Of course, as these things go, it became sort of one-sided and in the end I did stop writing to him. I still feel guilty about that. But I started feeling claustrophobic. He got attached, you know? He was in jail, for crying out loud. I feel awful the way I just stopped writing to him but it felt a bit too heavy to handle in the end. I sent him a photo once. "Mercy girl," he said to me about my photo. Drew a reasonable likeness for me as a Christmas card once. He was a nice guy.

And so one day I really want to listen to those tapes again. Not so much because I want to listen to him, but because I am wondering what interesting little snippets are contained on those tapes about me. The things he will repeat back about a 20 year old young woman, things I have forgotten.

One day when hearing him whisper "mercy girl" doesn't make me feel a bit creepy.

In an interesting sidenote, the wonders of internet technology mean that I am able to search the Arizona Department of Corrections website and see that he is at this moment serving a 2 and a half year term for some sort of marijuana violation. Legalise it, for crying out loud.

I find it strange that my bank can't reveal to me certain details over the phone about my own accounts, and yet I can know this information about someone. Weird.

On the subject of tapes and marijuana and recorded conversations, my friend Debbie and I used to get stoned and have these amazingly intricate and complex conversations about the deepest things. Those conversations kept me going for days :) Nothing like trying to analyse the insides and outsides of a particular situation when you've been sucking on a bong with your buddy, haha. Oh, my wasted youth.

Anyway, one day we chanced on the idea of taping our conversation as a way of keeping track of the crazy tangents. We digressed so much over such a wide range of subjects that a visual representation would sure make some crazy snaking map. So one night we came up with the wonderful idea of taping ourselves. That way we could just rewind and then be able to pick up one of the 4 million threads we'd diverged on :)

Never saw that tape again. Deb hunted high and hunted low but that bugger just disappeared. I only hope someone didn't find it. How embarrassing if her mum or her brother found it and listened to us crapping on, LOL. Now, that is one tape I would seriously love to hear again.


  1. Am I the only one who thinks this is scary? Just a bit?

    I never recorded anything of myself because I couldn't ever stand to look at myself or to hear my own voice. I'm weird that way. However, now there are so very few photographs or videos of me as a sad.

  2. Scary in what way? Sending your voice on tape you mean?

    Oh, yeah, I HATE hearing my own voice. It sounds so whiney and ... yukky!! Yuk.

  3. Umm. No. I meant corresponding with a criminal.

  4. Sue - a tape like that would be worth big bucks to have and appreciate all over again. What a hoot.

    Like you two I hate the sound of my own voice. If I'm checking messages at home and come across one of mine I can't get it off the machine fast enough.

    Sue - I added a link to your blog on my new one. It's at
    Come on over.

  5. Erin - well, yeah. I guess because he was over the other side of the world, it didn't feel so dangerous, you know? I probably wouldn't have done it if he was in the local pen.

    Norm - There's a few of them, actually. I just need to sit down with them one day when they don't make me feel too weird.

    Oh, a new spot, huh? I shall come over and visit when I'm not at work wasting my employer's time :)

  6. I suppose back then we didn't have to worry about being easily available to people who we wanted to avoid, like we are now, on the net. So I can get that "the other side of the world" would feel safe.

  7. That's weird. I used to write to a cousin in prison and I had to write the address to the prison on the envelope. He was in maximum security though, so maybe there are different practices for each level.

    My parents taped my brother, one of my sisters, and I when we were young and it's a ton of fun to listen to them.


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