I’m not sure that it takes a village to raise a child; a few capable women can get the job done before the rest of the village wakes up. My single mom did a solid job with my sisters and me, but she had help from friends. Katy, her best friend for a long time, is the woman I refer to as “my second mom.” Katy has soothed, instructed, corrected, encouraged, congratulated, and supported me my whole life; she’s grieved with me and sorted things out with me, too. She’s not my mom; she’s my second mom — and that’s a beautiful thing.
Katy recently retired. We agree this is the beginning of an exciting time in her life. I sent her a present to mark the occasion, something I hoped could be of use: a Leuchtturm 1917 Large Ruled Notebook, a.k.a.,The Best Journal In The World. She might be compelled to write; in my view, major life transitions (really, all experiences) are best handled on paper. She might write songs in the notebook, or draw in it, or use it for grocery lists. She might not use it at all, and that’s okay, too. I just want her to have the best if she’s going to keep a journal of any kind. She deserves the best.
I’ve mentioned my journaling before, probably too much, but sending Katy a fresh Leuchtturm journal (and no, I can’t pronounce it, either) stirred me to truly make a start on a major project. I have a dream. The dream is a compendium. Here’s what that is:
noun (pl. compendiums or compendia |-dēə| ): a collection of concise but detailed information about a particular subject, esp. in a book or other publication.
• a collection of things, esp. one systematically gathered: the program is a compendium of outtakes from our archives
A collection — a book — of detailed information about a particular subject, systematically gathered. I want to make one. On what subject, you ask? Dolphins. I have to write about dolphins.
No, the compendium would be about me. My life. As reported here, in PaperGirl, and in my offline journals (most of which are Leuchtturm 1917 Large Ruled Notebooks, you see? Ah!) Pictures, drawings, poems. Handwritten, typed, copy of all kinds, metaphorically written in blood. Metaphors. Similes. All kinds of things, but mostly words on the only subject on which I am an expert: myself. If I do it right, it could be a real slice o’ life page turner. I mean, come on. I’ve got near-death experiences, torrid love affairs, physical agony, an affinity for large cities, and countless journeys around America by plane. I’ve got an ongoing existential crisis, a thirst to make and bear witness to art, and I write silly poems for fun. It’s all here in the blog and what isn’t here is in the journals.
Hot Tip: For those of you who own a copy of my book, look at the dedication. It says, “For A.” Can you guess who “A” is? “A” is my journal. I dedicated my book…to my book. That’s how serious I am about these things.
And so into my suitcase to go to Seattle tomorrow, I have packed all my medicine, my special snacks, my clothes, laptop cords, and two journals, one from 2009, one from 2011. I need to start digging into my material. It won’t be easy. I will cringe. I might cry. I will roll my eyes and furrow my brow.
That’s life. And it’s all there. Waiting.