Diaries, steno books and phlegm

yesterday I was at my grandma’s and I was helping her clean out closets. Grandpa died in April. We’ve been trying to get her to pack everything up and to get ready to move out but it’s like pulling teeth so wanting help cleaning out the closets was welcomed progress. one closet held a bunch of stuff that’s typical of old women. Old little baskets for fake flowers. Plastic junk, trinkets. That foam stuff you cram into flower pots. Bits of cloth. Etc.

The second closet was interesting, though. There was an old yellow pinto and a radio. Greatgrandma, grandma’s mother, owned a real yellow pinto which she bought soon after the brakes in her Chevy went out. The radio was just a radio. Then came a couple of boxes which got placed into a larger box on the floor. And then came the album after album after album. Some were photo albums. Some were scrapbooks. Big things. Old things. With the rope binding at the one end, tied into a knot in front. they go into a box. Grandma pulled the box over and started going through them. I pull more down from the attic. she starts talking about the pictures and scraps pasted in.

Grandma’s talking and I’m leafing through another album. Then I open one of the little boxes and I look inside. Grandma glances over and says,  “Oh, more diaries. I’ll have to pitch them, too.” Some months ago, a year ago maybe when Grandpa was still alive, there was some consternation over finding that Grandma had secretly burned a bunch of her mother’s diaries. These had been hidden away in the cupboard and she had forgotten about them.

Knowing this history, I grabbed them and kept them with me. When it came time to go, they left with me. Grandma glanced at them. I asked if she wanted to look through them and she said no, it was okay. I could read them. So I’ve brought them home and I read them a bit now every day.

They are nothing overly special. Just little notes on the day. Temperture. Something that happened. They only cover the last 15 years or so of her life and take up next to no space. I see my name mentioned occasionally. I wish I had the ones that hadn’t been burned so I could see other names mentioned. But these little notes on the day is really not so different from the poetry I write. I read what she writes and I see in it the familiar. The effort of noting something. Of laying down a mark.

Every once in awhile I keep a little stenopad of poems that I try to work on every day. Fill it up, move on to the next. They probably all suck but they’re really not much different from what great grandma was doing  and I wonder if it’s really different from the majority of poetry-recounting the time in some way. Trying to find that special nugget of existence.

Unfortunately, I appear to have lost a recent notebook. I can’t find it anywhere and it’s already been through so much. It was submerged into a pool and had many of its pages washed clean. It was wrinkled and crackly as I would hold it my hands and a lot of the pages no longer had lines to write along. And I feel like a part of me is just gone now. I’m happy greatgrandma didn’t have to know her daughter would burn her diaries. And I’m fairly certain I will never burn one of my own notebooks, regardless of how embarassing and/or poorly written it might be,

I’m trying to write more. But I’ve been sick lately. Hacking all of the time. I find it hard to write when I’m not feeling well. Blah.

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