A new notebook
I purchased a new notebook which is always an indicator that I’ve got some thinking to do. In a few days, I’ll start my Center for Curatorial Leadership Fellowship in NYC, and for two weeks I’ll have a densely packed schedule of classes, discussions, dinners, and field trips. I expect this new notebook will fill up fast.
I’ve kept notebooks and journals since I was 10 years old, and most are still in my possession. My daughters recently discovered my 8th grade diary and are finding it a laugh riot. Each entry profiles a different love interest, or the eager anticipation of tween outings to the local pizza parlor. Meanwhile, a family trip to Newfoundland and the islands of Saint Pierre and Miquelon is described as “boring” except for the French speaking cab driver who I imagine returning to marry.
At work, I have been dubbed “the scribe” by Scott Howe, the deputy director at the Parrish Art Museum, because of my compulsive note-taking at meetings. Sometimes I think it is my self-medication for an easily distracted mind– a way to help me stay focused on the subject at hand, because I can’t drift too far afield when I’m transcribing. I have filled up about ten notebooks since I started work at the Museum two years ago this month, and regularly re-read them to see if any progress has been made– it has.
There is a great post on Brain Pickings with excerpts from Joan Didion’s essay, On Keeping a Notebook, which describes the author’s own impulse to keep notebooks. I concur.
The impulse to write things down is a peculiarly compulsive one, inexplicable to those who do not share it, useful only accidentally, only secondarily, in the way that any compulsion tries to justify itself. I suppose that it begins or does not begin in the cradle. Although I have felt compelled to write things down since I was five years old, I doubt that my daughter ever will, for she is a singularly blessed and accepting child, delighted with life exactly as life presents itself to her, unafraid to go to sleep and unafraid to wake up. Keepers of private notebooks are a different breed altogether, lonely and resistant rearrangers of things, anxious malcontents, children afflicted apparently at birth with some presentiment of loss.