Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Happy Halloween!

Happy Halloween, all my scared and scary friends!

Presenting Dumbassdore!

Photo credit Olivia Jewell.

Monday, October 23, 2006

The Legendary Notebook

I bought myself a Moleskine notebook a bunch of months back, and it has been a prized possession since. When it went missing for a week or two, eventually turning up under the driver’s seat of our car, I was frantic. My current favorite pants/shorts selections are made in large part to how easily they fit the notebook and a pen.

I’ve always carried regular notebooks. My thinking is so scattered and my writing so referential and tangential and my short-term memory such a mess (I can remember quotes from movies and strings of numbers and faces even in passing but continually lose my car keys and double-book my calendar and fail to remember birthdays), that I need a place to jot thoughts as they occur. This notebook has been different in two key ways.

The first is the simple fact it is still around. I had a brief three-notebook string of actually filling books before they were misplaced so long or proved so inconvenient to carry that they were discarded for a new ones, all of then paperback-sized sketch books. I have far more half-filled notebooks (or less) than anything else in my writing file (which only qualifies as a file because there are some folders present and I keep all the paper in something whose label read “file box”). But, this little Moleskine, mainly because it is perfect size and so damn sexy, has, it’s brief disappearance notwithstanding, exhibited some staying power.

The other is my inability to actually read anything I have written in it. Short of the very few times I have written a phone number, email address or author’s name, I can’t bring myself to read the damn thing.

To some degree, the re-reading isn’t really necessary. The act of writing is often enough to cement an idea in my head; in college, I took copious notes that I almost never returned to after learning from experience that I forgot most everything, didn’t pay enough attention to the incoming information, when I took no notes. And it is true with many of the thoughts that end up in my Moleskine. If I spend the few moments of reflection it takes to pull the thing out and write, I will remember the thought later.

But, there is a lot more than thoughts I’ve already recalled in this book, and I know that, and I still won’t let myself read them.

This has never been a problem before. My notebooks have been workspaces, the places I worked out writing problems, grappled with ideas. And the work shared space with shopping lists and rummy scores and doodles. Filled, or partially-filled and then cast aside, they became documents of efforts to write and the time in which I was exerting those efforts. Even now, I return to those notebooks looking for ideas, examining old problems, or simply nostalgically flipping through the remains from some portion of my interior life.

So, why can’t I just open this stupid little black notebook that is sitting next to me right now and read it?

It is, after all, “the legendary notebook, used by artists and thinkers for the past two centuries, from Van Gogh to Picasso, from Ernest Hemingway to Bruce Chatwin.” I mean, it is, as I believe I mentioned, dead sexy. And, as such, I haven’t been willing to let it become the same kind of workspace, or maybe more particular livespace, other notebooks have been. Those few numbers and emails that have snuck in were hard for me, screamed “exception!” the same way this notebook screams “boutique!”

I have fetishized this notebook to the point it isn’t useful. It is so pretty and cool that I have become overly precious about what goes in it, first by design, by not allowing it to be used for the mundane, and then by reflection – if I have written something in the Moelskine, which I think is precious, then what is written is therefore, by association, precious, and I don’t want to read it.

But, the truth is, I know that is kinda bullshit. Not entirely, just kinda, because it ignores the real issue, the real answer I knew I was coming to when I started writing. I’m not particularly good at examining my own life anymore. It makes me uncomfortable, and it makes me confront truths I have been skimming past, suppressing, or maybe even, and this is the scariest of all, been in complete ignorance of. Many likely have to do with my father(s), even more with my complicity in my own unhappiness, repeatedly for as long as I can remember.

And here I have a record of my interior life, made precious and recorded in a fetishized, ritualized manner, stripped of the bits of the mundane that might humanize the me written into the words and offer some hope that the me reading might give that recorded me a fucking break.

I’m scared of reading my little black book because I know both how vicious and how sensitive I can be, and I fear what happens when the two sides meet.

That makes me a pussy, doesn’t it? A pussy with a pretty little notebook.

Monday, October 09, 2006


I had a bad week last week. There was the cable guy debacle, friends getting married, friends having preemies, friends having crises, my daughter scratching my wife's cornea, preschool preschool preschool. So, what I got, sitting in my monkeycage tonight, are just some bits and pieces to share.

Radio ad heard during a weekend football contest:
Ever wondered what it would feel like to be Columbus discovering a new land? Now you can!Really, now I can wonder? Gee, thanks.

Stephen Baldwin, "actor" and born-again evangelist in a Radar interview, on Tom Cruise:
I'd like to give him a spicy Jesus roll!"

And, a thought from me:
Those days when you wake up positive and your kid stymies you anyway are as painful and jarring as jumping into a quickie with an unlubricated condom.

More, something better, soo, I promise.