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Old Notebooks
posted: 03/27/07

I've had this sort of unofficial policy I've held myself to over the past many years of existence in the bilge-o-sphere, and that policy has been, basically: don't get too personal. And for the most part I haven't, which has served me fairly well.

Except when it hasn't. Over the past year or so, some really quite very yes indeed it's just a bit more than a lot of personal stuff has been going down. And as these things, as I've come to call them, as these things have happened, the posting frequency has dropped off (see the column on the right; compare it to the older bits of the archive). And that's not because there's nothing to write about. If you follow. If you follow, it's precisely because there's so very much to write about, and all of that stuff is just a bit too close to home. So: clams. And like anything, that stuffing... it builds up. And one gets fat on one's own mental and emotional giblets. Which ain't really all that good. Usually. And also: are we eating at the Lobster Shack or is this Thanksgiving dinner? Because my metaphors are beyond mixed.

A few minutes ago I fired up my Internet Radio player thingy and I selected "80s Alternative" and The Cowboy Junkies' version of "Sweet Jane" was wrapping up, and if you've been reading here for a while you might remember that few tunes affect me so strongly. So I took it as a little affirmation, a little sign, that it was okay. That it would be okay to get a little... personal.

Which I probably won't, really. But anyway. Here's some stuff.

This past year has been a very, very important one for me. I've made some huge changes in my life. Some things have been amazing; some people have been amazing. As always, thank you.

I've also had a really, really hard time with some things. The last couple of months, in particular, have been some of the more difficult I've faced. What I've been trying to do has been and continues to be very simple. I've been trying to do the right thing. And it's been hell.

Today I was cleaning up my office, mostly throwing away the accumulated muck of the last 10+ years working in Corporate America. I was doing this just because I should, not because I had to. Which is a step in the right direction, I think. Anyway, as I was going through one of my file cabinets I found an old reporter's notebook, which I had, because, well, many lives ago, I was a reporter.

Like most of my friends in publishing, at any point in time, I might have 10-20 of these notebooks collecting dust in various places in the house or office. I don't know why we don't throw them out. But we don't. We carry them around for years and years.

I opened the thing up and started leafing through the pages. I've been using the same pens for the past 12 years: Pilot Precise Rolling Ball V7 Fine, in black, and there, page after page, was the dried ink from those pens from years and years ago (there was a brief section in the middle in red, which is odd - I must have been wearing my editor's hat). It's been too long ago to pinpoint exactly what was going on in my life, but the particular notebook in question seemed to be 1995-96 vintage, judging from the various personal notes, the names, the numbers. I found it a little odd; I could only put faces to names in a very few instances. It looked like I was in the middle of making the transition from my life in Manhattan to my life in Brooklyn.

I've gone back through a number of these notebooks since I left New York, and it's always striking to me to see that for all of the stories I was working on, for all of the quotes and angles and facts, there are an equal number of pages that are simply calculations. Long, involved sets of numbers. Payments due. Bills. There are pages after pages of bills to be settled. The numbers are large. The debt is heavy.

I'd say it was about four to five years ago that some things happened, and I got a bit of religion about certain things, and I started making deposits in the Karma National Bank. And what I'm hoping now is, well, that if I need to make a withdrawal, that funds are available. Because I've been trying to do the right thing. I have made some mistakes, there are regrets. But I try.

I'm on the verge of making still more changes, in virtually every aspect of my life, and it all has me a bit wigged. I'm excited, sure. But I'm also scared as hell.

So this is my notebook these days. I'll check back in a decade or so to see what the balances were.

For now, I'll keep making contributions to the Karma 401k. I'll keep trying to do the right thing. And I know, I do, that it will all be worth it.

I do.

I will.

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