Then Practice Losing Farther, Losing Faster

December, so far, has been a month for losing things. On Friday morning, for instance, I lost my car keys—or rather I lost my mind, I guess, because I locked my car keys inside my car, where I discovered them an hour later after spending a hitherto pleasant morning meandering around Target. I called Geico, a man showed up in a truck, and I sat there sheepishly with my cart full of paper towels and gingerbread coffee creamer. It wasn't a big deal: twenty minutes lost, maybe. Half an hour. 

Later that evening, I took my phone to the Apple Store; I'd been having a problem where people couldn't hear me when I called them. The guy offered to replace the phone, brought out a new one, and asked me if everything was backed up on the old one. The store was crowded and loud and I was thinking mainly about getting home and putting up my Christmas tree; yes, I said, and smiled as I touched my finger to the delete button. Walking back across the frigid parking lot, a sickening thought hit me like a slap: I'd backed the phone up before South Africa, not after it. And that was that: all photos and videos lost. Every lion and elephant, every panoramic coastline, every raised, triumphant wine glass, gone at my own distracted hand. 

If you inventoried the things I've lost over the last few weeks, you would come up with items big and small: my favorite sleep mask, left on an Air France flight in a jetlagged haze. A beloved cat. Hours of footage I'd give anything to have back again, and a bored half hour in a Target parking lot so unimportant that I've already forgotten it. Hairbands. Memories. A brand new lipgloss, surrendered to the choppy Atlantic ocean on a shark diving adventure (although better to lose a lipgloss than a leg, I guess.) 

Do you know that Elizabeth Bishop poem, The Art of Losing? I think of it frequently. Lose something every day. Accept the fluster / of lost door keys, the hour badly spent. / The art of losing isn't hard to master. It's a comfort, I think. Just when you need it to, it fills the hole left by whatever thing you've lost. None of these, she says. None of these will bring disaster.

Dec 12, 2011

I always try to reframe things in a similar way - worse things have happened and you did great, worse things could happen and you will still be alright.

Dec 12, 2011

You need a moment to smile. This entry from design milk made me think of you, well, er, Holly the writer.

On another note, just chalk the latest happenings up to holiday-induced dementia.

Pretzel Thief
Dec 12, 2011



I'm sorry, Holly. I can imagine how much that sucks.
Did Sean at least have a bunch of vids on his iPhone/camera?

Ultimately, the sentiment of your closing paragraph you say, it's a comfort.

Kate in Ohio
Dec 12, 2011

Losing the cat the way you did was heartbreaking. Losing the pictures is heart sinking. The keys make three. Bad things happen in threes so you are in for smooth sailing from here on out. Here is to Happy Holidays and peace for the rest of the year~

operation pink herring
Dec 12, 2011

What a lovely poem. When I do bonehead things I try to think of it as practice in nonattachment. I have a lot of practice. Perhaps I should try being more careful instead.

Dec 12, 2011

I know this feeling! I deleted (unknowingly) all the pictures from my sons first two days of life. I would burst into tears for days...

Chrissy (The New Me)
Dec 12, 2011

Gorgeous poem, and a good reminder of the things that truly matter. <3


So sorry about the lost photos and videos. Lip gloss and hairbands can be easily replaced but not celluloid memories. When you combine jet lag, and the holiday rush it is easy to see how you have been distracted. It's all a bummer, but you will soon fill your life with wonderful new memories of Christmas and New Year celebrations. Will you be going to San Diego to celebrate with your parents, or will they come to SF?

Best wishes to you and Sean

Anna Louisa
Dec 12, 2011

A beautiful reminder, Holly. Your grace sets such a good reminder for all of us :).

Elizabeth B Jackson
Dec 12, 2011

I'm named for Elizabeth Bishop so I have a soft spot for her poetry, that poem is one of my favorites, thank you for reminding me of this morning.
I'm so sorry you're having such a rough go of it right now. I'm hoping things look up soon.

Dec 12, 2011

I know this is a stupid, stupid question - because 99% of the world is more tech-savvy than myself - but did you update to iOS 5? If you did and activated the cloud, isn't everything you think you lost on the phone floating "up there" somewhere?

Dec 12, 2011

I love that poem so much. Still, what a shitty week. I'm so sorry.

Nothing But Bonfires
Dec 12, 2011

Kristen: Yep, I did have iOS 5 but unfortunately, iCloud wasn't switched on. I had a brief moment of hope when someone suggested it to me, but alas.....

Dec 12, 2011

Ew. That can mean only ONE thing: You'll just have to go back and do it all again! Do-over vacations are free, aren't they?

Dec 12, 2011

You have such a great attitude, Holly, but I think it's okay to just be pissed for a while, too. These things make me want to cry for you. Hang in there...this too shall pass.

Dec 12, 2011

I think of The Art of Losing most days. In a creative writing class we once studied the evolution of drafts it took to get to that poem and I'm not exaggerating when I say that it may have changed my life. Or at least the way I think about writing and the loss of things.

Sorry for the particularly heart tugging losses among the mundane. Especially for the kitty and the photos.

Dec 12, 2011

Ugh, I'm sorry about your losses. I once sent in 5 rolls of film to be developed - pictures spanning a year, and after two weeks of not receiving the prints back, I called to find they never made it to the store. I was devastated and started the process of just letting it goooo. Then a week later, I got a message saying they had arrived!

Also, I work with wedding photographers who have had their memory cards corrupt, but were able to save the images.

Which is to say, I know how hard it is trying not to hold out hope when you're pretty sure something is gone, but I still hold out hope that you can get your pictures back. I know a lot of the time, even if you hit delete, digital images can be recovered. Have you contacted anyone about trying to see if they are recoverable?

Nothing But Bonfires
Dec 12, 2011

Beth: Ugh, I wish. We called the Apple Store immediately and asked if there was ANYTHING we could do, but everything had basically vanished into thin air the minute I pushed that delete button on the phone. Stupid, stupid, stupid! I just wasn't thinking.

Dec 12, 2011

When I read about the pictures and videos being lost, I audibly gasped. I am so sorry, Holly. The thought of that makes me sick to my stomach just thinking about it.

Dec 12, 2011

Sick for you about your photos/videos because I've been there. My camcorder was recently stolen with my 3rd baby's first three months of life captured. Including the birth video. Some weirdo out there knows way too much about the nether regions.

The horrible pit in your stomach will slowly start to hurt less. I promise.


A brilliant friend of mine used to say to me, "There is no such thing as a ____ emergency." Usually, the blank is filled in with things like "pepperoni," or in my case, "flute." It really helps me put things into perspective when I'm freaking out over things. Your poem reminds me of that.

I'm so sorry for your lost footage. I treasure photographs so much, and I can imagine how that feels. And my heart is still sad for your sweet kitty.

Dec 12, 2011

Holly, you are just going to have to tap into your memories and write out the images that you had previously captured on your phone! You are a wonderful writer and I know you can make us conjure up in our minds what you experienced. I'm sad that you won't be able to print or upload to share but am happy you got to go and look forward to reading all about it when you're ready. I can't imagine that this helped with getting into the Christmas spirit but hope that something in all of this losing triggers the "On" switch for that Holiday Spirit! The people inside your computer are rooting for you!

Dec 12, 2011

Oh no! I'm so sorry. My hard drive just crashed and I am afraid I have lost everything - all the pictures taken since I've had a digital camera since I'd consolidated from other computers (so, like 10 years worth), everything I'd ever written. I can't believe I never backed up. I feel your pain - but I'm so sorry it happened to you too.

Dec 12, 2011

I am so sorry! I've never read that poem before, and although none of those bring disaster it doesn't make them any less painful.

On a vaguely creepy note, I remember reading about how you like the song 'America" by Simon and Garfunkel and I saw this and thought I'd pass it on.

Dec 12, 2011

There are few things in my life that I have lost and still think about. But there are a few. Losing the pictures would be a heartbreak for me, as well. So sorry.

Nothing But Bonfires
Dec 12, 2011

Well, I'm lucky enough that I'd taken a million photos with my regular camera (as had Sean), so we still have all of those! The main bummer was the video -- lost all of that, and I'd taken A LOT. I have a few clips that I'd sent my parents, and Sean took a few, but I had videotaped a few seconds of pretty much everything we'd done (with the intent of making a big movie we could watch and reminisce over into our old age!) so I guess now we just have to rely on memories. Like in the old days!

Dec 12, 2011

Well, damn. Just...the pits. I'm wishing you some extra hot cocoas and a few cookies too - you need a little soul-medication.

Katie Hammel
Dec 13, 2011

A very similar thing happened to my South Africa videos....and every other travel video I have taken in the last year. It was a fail of epic proportions, and was, ironically, possibly caused by the fact that I was trying to do the right thing and back up the videos.

I bought an external hard drive and (thought I) loaded all my videos on it. Then I deleted them from my computer. Then my mom came to visit and I wanted to show her the videos, but of course, they were all gone. Then I freaked out and started frantically mashing buttons on my creaky old laptop. And then my laptop died, taking with it the 2000 Switzerland photos I had yet to back up.

My husband loves the quote, "Accept loss forever." I'm trying but when I think of the photos and videos lost, it still makes me sad.

Dec 13, 2011

I'm so sorry for the melancholy of these past days. I have to admit, the issue with the lost photos has the strangeness of "meant to be." I don't have any idea why that would be, but having that problem with your phone, which I think is fairly unusual, and having to take it in.... Maybe as one of your commenters mentioned, you're destined to do it again, only better. Or *something.*

And dear, dear Charlie cat. I'm so sorry you will miss him, and I'm so happy for you for the time you had with him in the happy little family of yours that I have loved reading about for years now. Growing and changing. Losing, but soon gaining, I'm sure.

Dec 13, 2011

Must have been gutwrenching to lose those images, especially on the heels of dealing with all the other things in your life. Collective interwebs hugs from all of your caring readers....

Dec 14, 2011

Bear and I went on a special birthday/Yule trip to the Biltmore Mansion years ago, and we took so many pictures... only to find out there was no film in the camera. Yes, this was YEARS ago... ahem. I still remember almost every picture we took.

Dec 15, 2011

Nothing is ever permanently deleted off a phone or camera.
If they still have your old phone at the store, they might possibly be able to connect it to a computer and run a program that will get it all back.

Nothing But Bonfires
Dec 15, 2011

Thanks, Sharna, but I'm fairly certain it's too late. We called them literally five minutes after we left the store and they swore up and down that there was nothing they could do. That was almost a week ago. I've made peace with it!

Dec 23, 2011

My husband once took a video of my daughter's dance recital in the most distracting and awful way - panning evenly back and forth at a consistant rate throughout the entire dance. Our daughter, standing on the far left edge of the screen was seen for 1-3 seconds at a time, then another pan across began.


But this experience taught me something important: Video is amazing, pictures can seem life-givingly important, but at the end of the day my memory of it is what matters most. And when I forced that thought into my brain, I was able to cope with the fact that my husband ruined my daughter's dance recital video.

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