This week – sometime, somewhere – I lost a composition notebook. Out of the 100 pages, I think about 30 were filled, front and back, with poems, stories, teaching notes, and journaling about my daily writing struggles, including a long examination of the history of nonsense poetry.
When I discovered it was missing, I drove back to my workplace at a community college 60 miles away to retrace my steps. Some rooms were closed, some I slipped into through doors left unlocked, some I had keys for, but none had my notebook. I took the train back the next day to get into the rooms which had been locked, but still no luck.
I am not sure what upsets me more: losing all that work or the thought that someone is reading my embryonic and personal thoughts. I struggle with social anxiety disorder all the time anyway (so teaching was a great job choice, right?), and this kind of exposure really shakes me.
I guess I’ll bounce back from this. What choice do I have? But I just don’t feel like writing anymore. I think if I do, I will finally give in to technology and use a tablet with its password protection and cloud docs that save everything as you write. I will miss the texture and smell of paper and the smooth line of my Pilot G-2 pen. In this digital world of smart phones and texting and websites and blogs, the simple pen in hand always gave me a historic, even ancient, feeling of lineage with writers: Kerouac with pencil and composition books, Stephen King and his Waterman fountain pen, Mark Twain with his Conklin Crescent, the first self-filling fountain pen, and all the way back to Sophocles who wrote using a reed pen on papyrus.
It’s all a bit lofty and definitely silly, but the feeling was real. And I can keep writing that way at home, with notebooks that never leave the house. I wish I had a better memory so I could get back what was lost. All I can remember is one short poem, and this is an approximation at best:
each morning I am sealed
inside an aluminum can
vended thru the Oakland machine
top popped, I am poured out
into the job
then sealed up and shipped
to be sold again