Friday, July 9, 2010

Full Notebook

Throughout our honeymoon travels in Greece and Italy, I wrote in my notebook. I took notes for poems, described funny episodes, recorded the foods we ate and more. The views of the earth from the high places we climbed, art in the museums, archeological sites, sunsets and perfumes were all mesmerizing. Each one seemed better than the last and I never wanted to leave wherever we happened to be.

And we were a lot of places. This wasn’t a honeymoon in which we sat on a beach and alternated between napping and gazing at the sea. No, we were up early every morning to see what we could see.

I didn’t write everyday, but I did write often. Sometimes I thought I should be doing it more and sometimes I wondered if I shouldn’t be doing it at all in order to take a break from my usual life. Instead, I allowed myself to write when I had something to remember or understand. My notebook is a thoughtful, if not sometimes haphazard, record instead of a dutiful one.

For the things I didn’t write down, I will rely on my memory and my husband’s memory. And pictures. We took over 3,500 pictures between the two of us. (You can see a sample of them on Facebook.)

I encourage all of my students to write regularly. This practice often fits well into keeping a notebook. I often teach Joan Didion’s essay “On Keeping a Notebook.” Here she offers lovely insight into the “point” to keeping a notebook:

So the point of my keeping a notebook has never been, nor is it now, to have an accurate factual record of what I have been doing or thinking. That would be a different impulse entirely, an instinct for reality which I sometimes envy but do not possess. At no point have I ever been able successfully to keep a diary; my approach to daily life ranges from the grossly negligent to the merely absent, and on those few occasions when I have tried dutifully to record a day's events, boredom has so overcome me that the results are mysterious at best. What is this business about "shopping, typing piece, dinner with E, depressed"? Shopping for what? Typing what piece? Who is E? Was this "E" depressed, or was I depressed? Who cares?

Do you keep a notebook? What form does it take?

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