I found a notebook yesterday. Nothing like a full software reinstall to send what should stay buried tumbling from the shelves. Keeping notebooks is one of those things all writers are supposed to do, and I sort of do, but not enough. There’s the how-to-carry thing, for one. There’s the atrophied writing muscles thing, for another. And notebooks are dangerous items, not unlike your seventh-grade journals. Scribbling one’s innermost thoughts, or even amusing words, phrases, juxtapositions and church signs contemporaneously inevitably leads to a 99-to-1 chaff/wheat ratio.
(Lance Mannion is an exception. See his Mining the Notebooks tag.)
Anyway, the notebook I found yesterday was from my Ann Arbor year. Danger, Will Robinson. That was the last year I felt boundless optimism and infinite possibilities, before it ended and all the crabs reached up and dragged me back into the bucket. (Yes, I am joking about the crabs. Poor me.) It wasn’t as excruciating to read as I’d feared:
2/10/04: Norwalk virus in a dorm — lines outside the stalls in communal bathrooms, signs on doors reading “sick.”
I have no idea where I got that, as I stayed out of dorms. Probably overheard someone talking about it in class, and just liked the image. I don’t recall my own dorm years as happy, fun ones, although they were instructive. You discover how people really live, and hope you don’t draw a roommate with a vastly different threshold of Gross than yours. Once I walked into a shower and found an empty bottle of disposable douche lying on the floor. Strawberry. Having to line up to barf is all part of the same hell of other people.
1/28/04: Snow day casualties — Cindy, pale and tired, color bleached from even her lips. Smokers, banished to the outdoors, huddled together like dull sparrows in the cold.
Whoa, poetry. An unattributed quote:
1/20/04: “The golfer plays to save the land from builders.”
Someone should answer for that.
2/18/04: The psychology of oppression: Make members of the oppressed group overseers of the group as a whole. Thus, women initiate others into prostitution, Jews guard others in concentration camps, Hebrews oversee work on the pyramids.
Again, no cite. Notes on watching an onstage interview with Arthur Miller, 4/1/04:
AM on UM: “A testing-ground for all my prejudices.” …30’s theater in NYC: “radical outcry” against the Depression (Welles, Odets) …Never trust an interviewer who uses the word “perspicacious” …”[We] weaned the [Michigan] Daily away from the fraternities.”
But what I remember most without the aid of my notebook, I didn’t even write down: When Miller said that within five years, climate change would change the route of the Gulf Stream and plunge the British Isles into a Siberian ice age. I thought, Hmm, he’s senile. He died not quite a year later.
I suppose my notebook has done what notebooks are supposed to do — prodded memory and data-mined a unique year in my life. Every year is unique, and we forget so much of it. That’s why I started this blog — so I could remember more of it. Ruby just hopped up and nibbled a crescent out of the Arthur Miller page. Another memory.
The last page has a single line: “food and wine.” I have no idea.
OK, then. Another early exit, more scant bloggage:
Hank Stuever has a book coming out this fall. You’d think writing a book would be the hardest part, but it isn’t. He explains.
Finally, I was going to wait for Moe to bring this up herself, but I see the comments in the previous thread have uncovered her recent news, so here goes: Moe, our frequent commenter here, recently got some very bad news about what started as a raspy throat. It’s the kind that includes language like “biopsy” and “stage 3 or 4.” Moe, courage to you on what must be a terrifying journey. Details on her blog.
And now off to my meeting.