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November 04, 2005

body of work

last night i went to mom's house and began culling through my stuff from the attic. the bulk of it is my creative output from high school, and some from college. poems, short stories, and a few paintings.

i also found some interesting artifacts: i have a memory of playing eugene chadbourne's rake at an all-ages punk show at the brewery; i found the flyer for that show. he was on the bill with COC and it was supposed to promote "alternatives to Shearon Harris Nuclear Plant". this must have been at the time the plant was being built.

i found the petition i helped circulate to get contraceptives in the school nurse's office at Broughton. i was one of the people who presented it to the principal who completely blew us off, saying that if he put contraceptives in the school, he would be encouraging students to have sex. nevermind the pregnant girls walking the halls that year. apparently we sent our case along to the school board, because i've got a letter from an assistant superintendent responding to it.

there are photos that i don't recall having seen before; several of my mom when she was in college, posing for my dad. i've been forbidden to post these online, not because they are raunchy or anything; in fact, they are sweet and adorable and she looks very pretty. the photos date from 1965 to about 1973. it is startling to see how my father changed during that time.

my brother dan kept me company while i was sifting through stuff. we talked about our very divergent experiences of high school. it made me sad that i was such a good kid, never cut class, and really tried, and still struggled with the task of being a student, while they cut class and partied and got into good schools anyway. i thought about this as i threw away entire years worth of work, all neatly bound with string into packets. for a kid who was often found without her homework, i sure as hell did a lot of work.

i was an obsessive record-keeper, and keeper of things. i found the notebook in which i recorded the billboard top 40 for some period of weeks or months. the ultimate was a flimsy paper notepad into which i'd taped decades worth of pennies, organized by year. i think i was fascinated by things that were old, and i enjoyed imagining the year in which a coin was struck, and the fact that i was holding it in my hand just the same as someone did in 1936 or 1942. like a little thread connecting me to the people of the past.

when i pulled out the notebook full of pennies, i asked my mom, "WHY did you not take me to a psychologist??" she said she had no idea what the heck i was up to in my room. i liked to be alone in my room all the time, apparently. i'm pretty sure i was lost in my head most of the time.

there's a picnic basket full of poems and stories that i'll have to go through. i skimmed a couple of the poems; it's possible that they are not all that bad. i might post one or two. i know i would make many duplicates of a given poem, copying it out by hand or typing it out to try different variations. i'll have to sort all of that, decide what versions to keep, or maybe scan.

i found my senior thesis, "Why wife-beating is ingrained in our society."

I retrieved all of my letters from friends. Most are in one box, but i had to set aside one box specifically for letters from my friend Ethan, because he wrote so many, and most of them were on scraps of heavy art paper, or scrawled in big handwriting across many sheets-- bulky. i found a scrap of one in another box and even though it didn't have his name on it i immediately recognized the way he writes, which is exactly like the way he speaks.

i have to admit that it's seductive and enjoyable to become immersed in my self of the past. sifting through this stuff is a daunting task but i look forward to it.

Posted by lisa at November 04, 2005 12:31 AM


"i found the notebook in which i recorded the billboard top 40 for some period of weeks or months."

I did that too, for about two years, 1979-1980, especially choice years (yikes). Don't you just want to go back and give young Lisa internet access? I know young Penny would have cried with disbelief to hear tell of a "search engine."

Posted by: Penny on November 4, 2005 11:19 AM

Oh man, I LOVE sinking into nostalgia mode. Seductive, indeed. I have a cedar chest in my attic full of letters going back to 2nd grade, notes written in code and folded into triangles and passed during class in 7th grade, valentines from old boyfriends, stories and poems I wrote and bound and SOLD to my grandparents (prices and copyright dates written on the back covers!), and on and on. Every once in a while when I find myself alone I allow myself a half-day or so of getting lost in the past.

I loved reading your description of this and your thoughts about it. Thanks for writing this!

Posted by: minty on November 4, 2005 11:19 AM

i loved reading this, too. it makes me wonder what kind of stuff is in the back of my closet -- i retrieved a couple of boxes from my parents' house about a decade ago. i looked through it then, but not since.

Posted by: christa on November 4, 2005 01:31 PM

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