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Tuesday, July 5, 2011

old tymes not forgotten

So here we are
I’m not a Luddite. I just want to make that clear. I love my way-too-many gadgets that start with “i.”
But I still keep an old-school weekly/monthly planner. Complete with a no-longer-manufactured Pilot V-Ball pen jammed in the spiral binding for handy storage. 
Yes, I know what year it is. Yes, I have iCal on my laptop and phone. Before that, I had a Palm Pilot. Before that, it was Outlook. But all attempts to use them day-to-day were absolute disasters. Maybe it’s because I’m a freelancer, maybe it’s because I don’t have a big office network, or maybe it’s because I tend to remember things better when I physically write them down. In any case, I’ve been using paper planners since college; and before that, those little checkbook-sized, grandma-friendly, 2-year wallet calendars (which were surprisingly handy and effective, and I always knew what birthstone was in play at any given time). 

And I still have all of them, dating back to January, 1988. They are fascinating historical documents, especially since I’ve never successfully kept a journal. The beauty of these analog pages is that not only are they compatible with any and all current or future technologies, but the nature of my handwriting, or crossed-out events, or little side notes and doodles, speak volumes about a particular day or week in a way that the Helvetica font (with its sturdy, dependable sameness) cannot.
They are, admittedly, not perfect. It takes time to decipher certain archaic abbreviations of mine from decades ago. And I’m surprised at how much or how little information I often chose to jot down... there are partial addresses and first-names-only listed for some appointments, or blank days without explanation, and on other days (particularly when I was temping), I filled every inch of space with odd things I had experienced or overheard that day, and exactly where I was when I heard it. For example, this exchange on April 8, 1994:

ME: I'm sorry, I can't find a Mr. [Name] in my directory.
CALLER: This is Random House, right?
ME: No, this is Seagram.
CALLER: Well, that would explain it.
But oh, you lucky readers. Were it not for looking through these datebooks, I never would have realized that it was exactly twenty years ago this week that I began my infamous summer job at Burger King in Jacksonville, NC. From July 1 to September 7, 1991, I took the fast-food world by storm. In ten short, hot weeks, I went from lowly trainee to Employee of the Month. Yeah, you heard me. 
I can’t believe that two decades have passed since that life-changing experience. In honor of this milestone, I’ve decided that this summer, I will tell the tales. 
Granted, the scribblings in this particular calendar only tell me my hours and next to nothing else. Also, I have absolutely no photographs from that summer at all. But there are some things you don’t need a calendar or pictures to remind you of. Some things stick to you and never let go, no matter how many years have passed. Like barnacles. 
So be sure to gather ‘round the ol’ blog over the next two months for some stories and memories of my burger barnacles. Hmm... Burger Barnacles... yeah, that sounds like a failed BK menu item. I bet it would have been popular with the frat boys.
Yes indeed. Welcome to me.

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