Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Excerpts from My Little Black Book

On a whim I bought one of those little black moleskine notebooks, the kind (according to the packaging) that Hemingway and Matisse carried around to record lightening strikes of creative genius. Mine contains shopping lists, more or less:

Rice Crackers

reads one exciting entry.

Bug spray

reads another. Heavy stuff. Will certainly feature as a centerpiece in the Jessie Sitnick archives, post-mortem, of course.

While convenient for this purpose, it was not my intended use of the little-black-book (LBB). I was inspired by a shelf title: Important Artifacts and Personal Property from the Collection of Lenore Doolan and Harold Morris. It was the "Important Artifacts and Personal Property" bit that appealed to me. I just liked the phrase. I repeated it to myself like 13 times, standing there in the bookstore and then it occurred to me that I wouldn't remember it, of course I wouldn't. I needed to write it down. How handy would a pocket-sized notebook be for such an occasion? And not wanting anything flimsy or covered with unicorns, I opted for the working-man's notebook. The LBB of artists and journalists and fiction-writers (and grocery-list addicts).

Maybe it's charming to keep a record of the clutter of my everyday life. Maybe it's really not. But every once in a while, I do fill the gaps between produce and dry goods with something else. Creative genius, probably not. But something I might want to remember later. Like the phrase "pornography of disability" that I came across while researching the topic of TLC as the modern freakshow. Or the idea of remaking the Jack and The Beanstalk story set in inner-city Baltimore (the beanstalk is a metaphor for escaping the cycle of poverty, don't hold your breath for the trailer).

And then yesterday, I wrote this. I'm transcribing it here as if it's a poem, but really, it's just a bunch of observations I tried to phrase nicely (oh wait, maybe that is a poem).

On the Way to Buy Lamb Stuffed with Apricots

The kind of person who
leaves her umbrella open on the porch after the rain,
who plants plastic roosters in her garden

The kind who
wears purple on purple,
looks back at her car, parked
shades her eyes from the sun, wondering
will I get a ticket

The kind
who wears a yellow sundress, low-cut
fills the block
with the smell of expensive hair products

The kind who looks at me
from her car window
and then looks away

The one who remembers my older child's name
as she weighs mushrooms on the cashier scale

The one who stands in a half-finished doorway.

Last Night's Dinner:

Lamb stuffed with apricots
Risotto with mushrooms
Overcooked broccoli

Tonight's Dinner:

Still a mystery waiting to be solved. A list I haven't written.


  1. Nice! For some reason I have a bad track record of putting attractive, little notebooks to good use.

  2. I think I've met all of those people! I like your poem. Sounds like a description of "Housewives of Toronto" (another case of pornography of disability? since they're all crazy on these shows?). ooh ooh! what kind am I? (kind who accepts labels only from her best friend, otherwise would get offended)

    I think you should always write down phrases that you find interesting and then share them with us. I'm not surrounded by enough beautiful words. (didactic. yum.)