The Green Notebook, 2008.

I keep a tiny green notebook in my bag to write things down. Sometimes I note sentences I overhear, sometimes it's thoughts, sometimes it's shopping lists. I used to commute by train to work and often I would transcribe the lyrics to a song as I listened to it on my iPod. It's getting pretty full after two years; there are notes in French, phone numbers and emails of people I met in trains and on planes and in parks, short poems that I copied from park benches in Paris. There's a list of the top 97 qualities I'd want in a mate (holy embarrassing!), ideas for books, and diagrams attempting to depict what happens when you fall in love. (Actually, this whole list is getting more embarrassing as I type...)

Last week I thought I'd lost the notebook, but turns out I'd only left it on my parents' dining room table while I was home for Christmas. The thought of losing it kind of freaked me out because it's such an interesting record of random sources of inspiration over the past two years.

Steve returned it to me yesterday. "Hey, Harriet-the-Spy, here's your notebook," he said. Today I flipped through it and thought some of you might appreciate some random thoughts, etc. that were recorded in the little green notebook in 2008. Plus, it comforts me a little that there will be (even partial) electronic records of my notes from last year.

12/31/07 (train to Newton-Abbot from Paddington Station)
"Most things aren't as difficult as people make them out to be."
-said by a British guy to random British girl sitting next to him in the train. He was talking about learning Russian.

1/25/08 The List
(*Note: I'm only including excerpts that are particularly ridiculous. Things like "kind" and "smart" and "witty" are too obvious to even mention.)
#22. Likes to go to dinner parties.
#27. Believes things can get better.
#43. Knows how to fix a car, toilet.
#53. Wears a tie, sometimes.
#54. Likes thai food.
#55. Chills me out.
#60. Likes brunch.
#74. My best friend.
#79. Wasn't too popular in high school.
#80. Recycles.
#87. Likes Shakespeare.
#88. Likes baseball.
#93. Has a dog.

4/10/08 On the F-train
There's a guy reading a book about programming quietly into his girlfriend's ear. Isn't it amazing that, after everything, people still fall in love every day?

A man next to me on the subway read the obituaries all the way to Brooklyn.

A Paris, tout est a l'instant, tout est dans le moment... Comment faire pour soulager un coeur brise? Comment oublier cette ville? Serait-il jamais possible de ne pas se croire dechire en deux?

7/4/08 Thoughts from Frankfurt/German expressions that came to me during my layover
Bier trinken!
Keine probleme!

7/6/08 Impressions of Hungary
I realize that I really want to live in a city that's walkable- small enough to walk around and avoid cars and the metro if you want to.

7/6/08 Rome Airport, 4:20 p.m.
Even the airport pizza blows NY pizza out of the water.

7/11/08 Paris
The most vital thing about surviving endings is that you feel the potential for foreseeable beginnings.

10/3/08-10/4/08 The New Yorker Festival
Jeffrey Eugenides says:
"In America, you don't have to start where you began. The American Dream means that you can change your life. Europe is living in houses built for other people."

"Themes take care of themselves. Focus on characters and place."

Jhumpa Lahiri says:
"An immigrant wants to be legitimate and respected."

"I decided to face another foreign land- art."

"A novel is written in pieces; you're always in one piece. Ultimately, you gather them together and shake them up."

Junot Diaz says:
"Immigration is like time travel."

"I really love to fuckin' read."

"As a writer, you're always looking for the large silence. That's where you want to be. There was a story that we were afraid to tell about ourselves [Dominican men]. Oscar comes from all these silences."

"I wrote it because no one else was."

Sherman Alexie says:
"Indian health care is really basic. I mean, all they give you is dental floss and condoms."

Shalom Auslander says:
"I didn't want to be where I was, but where we were going wasn't so great either."

Seamus Heaney says:
"Ireland is a saucer- there are mountains around the edges and the center is wet bogland."

"Hope means that you believe something is worth working for."

"If a poem comes quickly, you feel that you have what poetry has always meant."

Liev Schreiber says:
"The reality is that the literacy level in England is higher. And as those standards decrease in this country, we'll do less and less Shakespeare."

10/4/08 The Secret to life?
1. Getting started.
2. Keeping at it.
3. Getting started again.

I'm unable to let go of small objects like She-Ra combs and Six-flags keychains for years and years until one day, all of a sudden, I can. Like past lovers. Holding on until you don't need to anymore seems to be the most human act there is.

11/16/08 Train in Morocco
We're all trying to negate preconceived reputations.

11/23/08 Madrid Airport
We're reaping the benefits of the fact that our ancestors somewhat had their shit together.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

great stuff, thanks for sharing, happy 'o9!