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Fish, bubbles, and handwritten journals

I have a whole little pot of Body Shop lip balm. Born Lippy, it’s called. I think that’s what I should have called my web page. It’s too long. Too wordy. Seven big ass syllables, which is a whole lot when you consider that we live in a world where everything needs to fit into a two second sound byte. Andy Warhol was wrong about the fifteen minutes of fame. No one has time for a whole fifteen minutes anymore.

But Born Lippy. However, it’s yet another mickey fickey trademark. Fucking copyrights. They Plague Me (TM).

But the other night, something unique happened. It was an epiphany of sorts, although it had nothing to do with the war or anything else. I got two incredible pieces of mail, from two writers I admire greatly. It was actual mail, on paper, with a stamp and writing. And one was from my college friend Laurie, whom Esteban always called ‘The Girl With The Shit In Her Face’ because she was very decorated.

I found her on the internet and while she doesn’t email a whole lot, she likes regular mail. I sent her a Valentine and she sent me back her chapbook and a lovely little letter with her crooked handwriting that I recognized immediately. It’s funny, that kind of thing, handwriting. Mine has multiple personalities, honestly. Sometimes it is thin and cold slanty perfect and othertimes it is fat and loopy and giggling and listening to Cyndi Lauper and Madonna on its Walkman while snapping lime green Hubba Bubba bubblegum. So I read her lovely little letter and then some of her poems, which were incredible and made me want to steal some of the lines, which is how you know when you’ve found something really good. Instead of appreciating it, you are jealous because you wish you had written it. Like Jincy Willett. She makes me jealous too. And Ethan Canin, but mostly because he attended and now teaches at the University of Iowa’s writing program.

No, I think the sound stopped now’ I don’t hear it anymore’ but let me finish.

So Sunday night, I gathered up all of my loose stuff and started trying to combine all of my pieces and scribbles of poems and vague writing into my current journal. Every homeless piece of something that I have stored on computer or in my planner. And I didn’t get very far, but it was lovely just the same, especially when I’d find the original of some poem and then the second and third versions all typed up and official. I could have done it for hours. Actually, I did sit there for hours, but I could have gone on all night. Literally.

The act of holding a pen, of scribbling your little glyphs onto paper. It’s so intimate. Not like these perfectly formed Times New Roman letters where I can type off a sentence at 100 wpm and then obliterate it just as quickly. It forces you to write at the pace of your breathe. A heartbeat for every word. It’s a strange thing, watching those random slashes and scribbles.

All through my old journals are pictures of fish. All sorts of fish. Lots of sharks, some googly-eyed cartoon fish, little segmented eel things, plankton, shrimp. I never realized that my doodles had a theme before.

And in one place, I found a little written conversation that I had with laurie, who only writes in lower case. It went something like this.

‘I ate too much peanut sauce.’
‘I’m sorry’
‘I smell pickled.’

And then there are little giddy children figures dancing across the page, off into the margins. Those have to be laurie’s, because my figures would have been chased by sharks.

So I did about a third of the organizing that needed to be done and ended up writing a couple of poems too, so now my current leather journal is a compilation of uncataloged poems, scribbles, song lists, poems all neatly typed out but then cut out crooked and taped onto the page, and a poem that I love by a friend I miss about the Hayakutake comet. And during all of this cutting and taping and scribbling, I realized that long fingernails have no place on the hands of a writer. So I cut them off and took off the polish. Ok, a bit extreme. I’ll likely polish them again, but for the moment, they are plain and short. Certainly not the nibbled nubs that they were when my notebooks swam with crill eaters and cartilaginous life, but shorter just the same.

You have my permission right now to club me over the head repeatedly with a Spiegel catalog if I decide to stop shaving my legs in the name of my art.

But the important thing there was that I realized as I sat there working through all of this stuff that was for me, just for me, that it was the best thing I’ve done in months. MONTHS. And I can’t believe that it never even occurred to me to do such a thing before then. Oh, I’ve gone through my old stuff, particularly while I was compiling my applications to the various grad school programs, and I’ve kept writing more, but to sit there and just dive wholly into the bulk of it, all of those really private words and scribbles and where I could see exactly how hard or how lightly I pushed the pen into the paper’ it was like the compass had aligned and was pointing straight north once more.

Sometimes when you think you’ve lost something, it’s exactly where you left it.