Thursday, March 5, 2009

Detailing

Here is something I miss about the days before I had 3 children constantly attached to my limbs. I used to carry around a notebook and write things in it (Don't worry. Not a moleskine notebook)---just odd details about people I saw, or little funny conversations I overheard, etc. Nothing that would make a great contribution to anyone's knowledge of life or anything, but I loved having those things recorded so I could think about them later.

Now, I never have time to notate---or often even notice---such things, and I feel like I'm missing out a little bit. I have pictures of the kids, I have this blog where I write down what I can, I have my scripture journal, but I don't have the TINY things, the forgettable details that you would only remember if you wrote them down immediately. But as I read through my old notebooks, those tiny details bring back memories with an immediacy far beyond what you'd think such trifles were capable of.

Some of you have been reminding me about our time in London, and here are a couple pages' worth of what I wrote in my notebook during that time:

  • When he wants to make a comment, he raises just his index finger, and purses his lips like a Frenchman. After watching it only once, I feel that it is more than I will be able to bear.
  • A man and woman, hand in hand.
    The man: "Will you be my running mate?"
    Woman: "Running mate?"
  • A sign on a chalkboard: "This hallway is not closed. You just have to walk around these barricades."
  • All day I've been haunted by the irrational desire to say, "I've heard enough." Just that, in a tone of utter finality. But no opportunity has been afforded me (Frustration!).
  • A man: "This is a poem I wrote, in French. I don't speak French, but I have a French dictionary."
  • "Have you heard of Eugene Ionesco?" ---"No."
    "Have you heard of 'The Rhinoceros'?" ---"No."
    "Well, he wrote it."
  • Behind me, I hear the whirring of a man's mechanical hand.
  • Staring at her jacket, I experience a moment of elation at being able to identify the pattern: houndstooth!
  • A sudden sharp ache above my left eye. I wonder if I've been poisoned. (Why is this the idea that comes immediately to mind?)
  • Ah! Granola bars in my bag! (A sly feeling.)
  • He turns the pages of his magazine angrily: ("Why do I waste my time!"). Yet he still seems to feel obligated to go through each page.
  • A half-closed umbrella, like a bundt cake
  • Rubber feet that one can strap to the bottom of one's shoes to make misleading footprints (spy tool)
  • The lumpy-headed young woman next to me examines diagrams of a human brain
  • A man washing windows at an apartment building looks down at me and points to his hose conspiratorially. I pause. He sprays the hose up in the air like a rainbow, and then smiles smugly as though he's done a magic trick.
  • An old man with a ring of keys in his left hand tries to open the car door with the banana in his right.
  • "You always say the right thing."
    "I have to."
  • The streets are quieter than silence because, far-off, you can hear shouting

When I read through those things, the time comes back to me so clearly---even the sounds and smells, sometimes. And I just sometimes feel this kind of unreasonable frustration that these things are still happening all around me, and I am missing them! Not the most important things in the world, true---but valuable, in their way.

How do you manage to keep records of the small details? Or do you? Any ideas?


7 comments:

  1. Strangely enough, I read an article detailing real spy gadgets of the 50's, and reversed-sole shoes (ie. looks like you're walking backwards) was one of the things they ACTUALLY used.

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  2. Oh yes! We SAW them. At the Spy Museum. I _wish_ I had come up with such a thing myself!

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  3. All the details escape me nowadays. I used to keep great journals, with details like you're talking about--little things that brought it all back to life.
    Now I'm just glad I at least have a blog and I'm keeping track of something about my life. I kind of feel like the last 10 years are gone never to return.
    I'd like to do better!
    If I only had a moleskine notebook....

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  4. Marilyn, you have shamed me. My pre-marriage, pre-kids journal consisted of which boy I liked which day and if I saw him in the hall at school or not and if he waved back or looked at me, etc. etc. etc. Yes, I was shallow. And my London journal is full of how much I missed my then-fiance. And now? I hardly have anything worthy of the title, "journal." But I _do_ think really intelligent things, and I hope someday when we're all resurrected and have perfect bodies & brains, Heavenly Father will have a way for all that great insight to be transferred from my brain to . . . whatever medium we'll use then to record stuff. But in the meantime, I really enjoyed reading your thoughts and would _love_ to see more!

    p.s. Sam, Eleni saw your picture by your comment and couldn't stop laughing at the buggy eyes. You have a fan! :)

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  5. I read these out loud to my husband, and then I sent the link to Chaz, Gin's younger sister. You have a talent there, kiddo - there's a deftness of language (and you know how I envy that) there, a sort of pithiness that lets you speak much tone with few phonemes. Thanks for the laugh and the art.

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  6. Dr. Crisler's son. I'd forgotten him. But remember how we loathed his self-importance? Poor guy. How hard it must be for one guy to get rejected by like 30 boy-hungry girls.
    Yet even now I still think he deserved it.
    I remember my 'happy book' but it was so lame in comparison to yours.
    And, alas, I HAVE a moleskine notebook...at least, my planner has a little elastic band that closes it. Does that mean I'm white?
    CRAP!

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  7. I LOVED this post. But I never commented on it because I couldn't think of an answer to your question or anything clever to say. I especially liked the bit about the granola bars and the guy doing a magic trick with the hose. I'm sure you notice those things around you just as you ever did. It seems you have a talent for it.

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