Thursday, September 11, 2008

Stuff Sweet Stuff. A Memorist Strikes Gold (and Mildew and Mold)

I cannot believe the crap I found. I mean stuff. Stuff. Stuff is good. I like stuff- I wrote about stuff before on this blog, and posted the video of George Carlin's schtick on stuff- it was a family favorite growing up. Here's a link to that- since I wrote that post, he passed away, so as you click on the link, think of George and all he shared with us.

So anyway- I like to save stuff. And I like to keep that stuff in boxes. Over the years, some of the boxes were transferred to Rubbermaid tubs for safer preservation. Many of my boxes of stuff have went from my house in Tulsa, to my several houses in the Poconos, to my mom's storage shed, to my apartment in Wilkes-Barre, to my house in Luzerne, to my apartment in Luzerne, to my house in Bear Creek and to my house in Sweet Valley. I've been on my own since I was 17 and some of these boxes, as just said, preceded even that. Some have not really been opened except to peek in and say, "Oh wow! I'll look at that later." When Dave and I decided to go our seperate ways, I got a very small apartment with no place for said stuff. So, I left with just what I needed, proclaiming to get a storage unit in a few weeks. Four months passed. I finally got a shed and moved a big chunk of that stuff into it tonight.

I have been thinking of this stuff for a while. Since I writing a memoir set from age 5 until about 16, I have been struggling for details. I knew I had pictures-- but little did I know just how much stuff I've saved. I struck gold tonight. Forget about my losing a few hundred dollars last night at the Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs in Plains. I'm rich as ever-- in memories!

I found a journal from when I was about 14!! I only wrote 11 entries- but it's good stuff!! I now have dates of important teenage events, like the day I got my braces on. I told my mentor about how I was missing details- I couldn't remember how I met this one girl who became a close friend. I had this gang of people in 8th grade, but I didn't remember how we got together. Lo and behold, tonight I find a journal from 1991 that starts off like this: "I can't think of anything to write so I will tell you how I got my good friends...." Just like that- my answer from a young me!! I now kick myself for not writing more back then. But the material!! An amazing find! I found photo keychains with dates on them- so now I can piece together details!! I can now use these times and places as settings for my memoir. I now know WHAT I wore to a school dance. And-- where I bought it.

I found all my old paycheck stubs from when I was 13-16 working for the Tulsa World- not shabby for a young kid!! I found a clipboard I broke in half because I was having a bad day while selling papers. I found two Cadillac hood ornaments that my friend and first boyfriend (if you can call it that when you are 13) stole for me. I found MY GLAMOURSHOTS which I found once before, but shoved in a box somewhere. I found a dozen Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys Super Mysteries found brother and sister's baby pictures. I found a button from a fife & drum corp event I went to in St. Charles-- I couldn't remember when that was and now I know that dates. I found my first business card from my first 'real' job in radio. Just so much stuff. I brought some of the stuff here, but eveything else is in storage now. These are all things I have been writing about-- but now I have access to them again-- now they aren't just things in boxes!!

My old footlocker I used for Girl Scout camp, which is filled with photo albums-- these pictures that I haven't look at for so long reveal more details I have been struggling for. What's even more is that I describe a lot about Dado's house and when I was 16 before I moved back to PA, I flew in for Dado's funeral. While I was there, I took pictures of everything so I could remember Dado's house. Everything that I talk about in my book- that lacks detail- has a photo. It was as if at age 16 I knew I would need these pictures one day. There are plane ticket stubs, receipts and so much more so I can piece together the memories. I know what happened- but sometimes forget in what order. I found a Friendship Fill-in book my mom got me before we moved in OK- it has all these little details of my childhood friends, what we'd do together, etc. and just brought a smile and a tear at the same time! I still keep in touch with Jasmine and Laura more than any of the others and just saw Cori last month-- but to read my words about my friends when I was 12 is just incredible. I learned that skiing, playing outside games and playing Nintendo were my favorite things back then. I could go on and on, but I guess that is why I am writing a book!!

All this stuff I have been carting around for 15 years finally has a purpose. It's my life, in boxes. It's my research lab. It's my memory lane. It's my fact checking station.

My mentor is on a retreat until the 14th, but I CANNOT wait to tell her about all this stuff I found, especially these journals. Reading those entries brought me to my state of mind back then-- gave me a peak inside what I was thinking and feeling.

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