Feb 5, 2002

Time travel and other documentarian impulses

Right around the new year, I began creating this document. I am lining up the years against one another, a day at a time, and using calendars and journals and my scarily accurate memory to catalog the things I did. It's been an interesting exercise. And it's provided me with substantial reason to gawk and cluck at how much I have done in recent years. My performance life, my professional life, my personal life -- I lived enough of each of them for at least one additional me, perhaps even two. And I kept a harrowingly full schedule. Driven, I was. And obligated.

It has also given me cause to wish I had been more detailed in my note-taking or that I had a working version of the old 1996 QuickMail app for Mac so that I could page through my many, many emails from way back when. I have been fairly diligent over the past year or so in my journal-keeping. And I am seeing the reason for it as I build this history. But even without the aid of documents, I could tell you off the top of my head how I spent every Superbowl Sunday in the past decade. I couldn't tell you who played necessarily, but I could tell you where I was and what I was doing. That's true for every major holiday and birthday and reasonably special occasion. I carry around meaningless anniversaries with me constantly. I think of today, and I have this instantaneous list, la Entertainment Tonight or Dateline NBC, where they give you a list of celebrity birthdays or an "on this day in history" thing. I can tell you who else this day might be important to and why. I can list the things that happened in at least a handful of preceding years. And, if the events are significant enough, I can tell you what day of the week they took place and what I was wearing (the what I was wearing is the easy part). If I ever meet you, I'll remember what it was like when I did. And I'll record all sorts of useless data for future reference and bring it up when you least expect it. And you will feel as if I am trying to tell you that you don't care enough about me to remember useless details. But you will be misinterpreting me. I will just be reminiscing and glorying in the ability to go back and relive things at the drop of a hat. It can be a great thing.

It can also stall you out. Or me, for that matter. I realize that I spend a great deal of time living in the past, a place where I have no power. A place where the scenes are static and nothing ever changes. It's sort of like trying to build a social life in a wax museum. Aside from the fact that all the faces look sort of gross and dirty and everyone's a good deal shorter than they are in real life, there's the added deficit of nothing ever happening there. The wax museum is no place for a living, breathing girl. A living, breathing girl belongs out on the town, shopping like a mad fool, stopping for coffee and madeleines, strolling through museum galleries, ignoring her carbohydrate intake, buying concert tickets, making friends, and creating new memories for the record. Memories which can be revisited from time to time but that should never become a regular haunt. A living, breathing girl can't live in the past. Everything is dead there. And no one will notice her nice new shoes and pants.

posted by Mary Forrest at 2:19 AM | Back to Monoblog


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