Wednesday, December 9, 2015

The Notebook(s)

From the mid 1970s through the late 1980s — even into the 90s — I managed, documented, and illustrated my life via a succession of spiral notebooks, most of which I've kept to this day in the deepest, darkest recesses of the vault. This evening, a fragment of the lyrics to an old song I wrote, probably in 1983, sprang to mind, and I got it into my head to try to find them in their entirety. I figured if those lyrics exist anywhere, they'd be in one of those old notebooks. So I ventured into the vault, grabbed a bunch of the notebooks (a portion of which are shown above) and commenced to searching.

I had almost forgotten how many hundreds of thousands of words exist in those pages. Some go back to high school, when I doodled pictures and wrote things that almost resembled stories. Most are from college and post-college days, many chronicling dreams I had (in those days, analyzing and learning to manipulate the events in dreams was a hobby of mine). Looking at them tonight, I found some of the descriptions vivid enough to jog actual memories of those dreams. Some pages are random musings — thoughts and observations from whatever chapter of life I was living at the time. The page reproduced below indicates I had apparently encountered a child somewhere.

One page from one of those volumes has the words "Hey Cutie!" scrawled on it. That was from a trip to Washington, DC, I took in 1978, with my college roommate, Charlie Perkins. We were driving up U.S. 29, somewhere around Charlottesville, VA, and an exceedingly attractive young woman kept passing us up and then dropping back. Eventually, I managed to scrawl that message in the notebook, which Charlie held up for her to see. At that point, there was serious laughing and waving, and it's a wonder neither car ended up in a ditch or up a tree.

Later volumes, from the mid 1980s, feature original drafts of novels I attempted to write. Some include the first drafts of stories that eventually got published — such as "The Gray House," "Threnody," and "The Spheres Beyond Sound." There are a few almost polished drawings from my days living in Chicago, such as the character in the photo at left — some chap named Czerim Aignar, who was an original creation used in a role-playing game that several of us played on a regular basis. One notebook was a ledger from Deathrealm magazine, circa 1988. On the first page I turned to, the first name I noticed was film producer/director Frank Darabont, who was apparently a regular subscriber.

I found the lyrics to dozens and dozens of the songs I wrote between 1978 and 1986. Except for the one I was looking for. I couldn't find that one. It's unlikely, I imagine, that those lyrics will somehow round themselves up and reform in my mind, so perhaps they are relegated to the dustbin of my personal history. And given the relative merit of some of those oldies, perhaps it's just as well.

And on that note, just a reminder that, if you're in the Piedmont Triad of NC, come on by to Eclection in downtown Kernersville tomorrow (Thursday) night, 7:00 PM sharp. I'll be making a racket at open mic night, and I'd be more than happy to see you that I might just shake your teeth loose.


James Robert Smith said...

Very cool. It's always nice to go through that stuff--almost every writer I know has such material--and read it to see what was cooking in the old noggin.

Mark Rainey said...

Most of my scribble I can barely read, not that I'd want to. The vast majority of it is utter crap. But I was clearly having fun with it at the time. Truly, though, it's my early life in words, quite well documented.