My first thought was that maybe an absent-minded student from the nearby college had forgotten their red Hilary spiral-bound notebook. Just ignore it, I said to myself as I sat down on the bench in the bus shelter. Somebody will retrace their steps and come right back for it.
You remind me of my husband - he's been using notebooks all of his life - he's exceptionally organised and methodical and I admire him for it. Not at all boring either!
My little pocket diary starts off like his notebook, but ends up like Picasso's. Still, we all get things done - that's all that matters. The days are never wasted...
Oh, that brought back such wonderful memories of the Picasso Museum, which I visited on my very first trip to Paris, along with the Cluny and the Rodin Museum. A friend who lived in Paris suggested smaller museums before the Louvre and it was a good idea. None of them were crowded.
Love this story. Every bit of it rings true for me. My lists have lists which eventually morph into stream of consciousness scribbles. My favorite lines: “a kindred spirit, always hoping to get more done, a slave to a half completed to do list.“ That would be me. Even at age 78!
Thoroughly enjoyed this. The little tidbits about your work and life history are always so interesting, and your connections with everything around you - people/objects- have such resonance.
what an enchanting piece traversing an extremely successful life, cleverly solving the absence of a needed typewriter to heading two significant posts in government, President of the Treasury Board and Chief of Staff to then running a business and a family. I expected the notebook photo at the end to be either one of yours Alice or from the found red Hilary spiral-bound notebook but instead a delightful scribbled page from one of Picasso' s. You done good!
If only... If only I had kept notebooks. Friends writing memoir announce that they have diaries to rely on. I've had so many adventures, how much better would I be able to write if I'd recorded it. My memory is now hole-y. What a gorgeous find, though, an intimate insight into the workings of someone else's mind. Love the pic of Picasso's notebook. Enjoyed the read.
Another good one.
I remember vividly the day I moved, with great trepidation, from a notebook/datebook to my phone. I didn't really believe that the phone was up to the job, but in the end, I made the transition and have found it "cleaner." Probably because my handwriting is so god-awful.
So heartening to read! I too have tried organizing the general, progressively scrambled eggs approach into categories, but failed and returned to some semblance of listings and drawings and arrows, in some sequence of time to remind about tentative links... . The Picasso notes were nice coda!
As a nurse my life is tied up into many many (decades worth) of Hallmark little calendars. They fit in the pot of scrubs so you could whip it out to trade shifts, check what the kids had or make a note in the side about something that needed to be accomplished. I have only lost 2 of them since 1980. I could put on a Hallmark exhibit! I also write in notebooks but not as faithfully as my little calendar.
Once again Alice shows us poignantly how things we think of as ephemeral - notebooks, agendas, even lists - can be enduring and evocative. We folk of A Considerable Age recall handwriting and saving letters, a concept which for some millenials sounds like churning butter or shoeing a horse. These documents can be really helpful in comparing our recall with reality, and reminding us of things long forgotten. Keep those notebooks!
I still love my spiral-bound notebooks, but no longer use them to write my ideas than thoughts down. Weirdly enough I use stenographer notebooks because they're easier to carry in my backpack. This is a beautiful read... Picasso add-on was great... a long time ago visit to Paris fondly remembered. Thank you.
I love your writing, Alice. It is at the same time, cozy and substantial. Good for you on all counts of this essay!
Warm greetings from me, Jinks
So many thoughts. Exactly what I look for in a good Substack. Memories of the A&P and Dominion grocery stores. How many of the places we shop today will be gone in time. Of course these days our Hillary spiral bound notebooks are replaced by the digital versions, but I do love to leaf through them just the same, and time travel back to when the items on a whole different list from todays seemed so important. I wonder what I will one day think about the things I write down today.