I cleaned my desk the other day. A couple months ago when I did that, I wrote a bunch of mini reviews about books. Similarly, I’ve compliled some random samples from the 8 notebooks on my desk.
1. This little Jetpack merch thing
There are notes in here from a talk about how to charge for freelance work:
A caricature artist charges $10 on the street—should it be the same price if you intend to use it for a logo? <—- Value Based Pricing
Editing is different from collaboration.
Then there’s a four-column grocery list written by Amy, which includes:
- 8 poblanos
- pasta, lots
Cool list. The rest of the book is page after page of Jeopardy-style questions from a game I played with some friends. The final Jeopardy question has the category SPACE. What will you wager?
And the answer is: “Hit this once, not twice after the end of a sentence, you asshole.”
2 and 3. Work notepads 1 & 2
I see consultants go through these pads like water, so I started using them instead of the college-ruled spiral notebooks I’m used to. I like it because I don’t feel compelled to stick to the lines on these. It’s pretty liberating. I start a new page for every meeting, and then I (supposedly) transfer it into the Slack account I have for that client.
There is nothing interesting about this.
4. This blue one I received as a Christmas present
It came with a matching pen. It’s empty. Amy got a pink one and uses it often.
5. A resort’s notepad
Amy got this at a work thing. It says “family wants corrections”—the end.
I feel like with this post I’m taking a card out of Bud Smith’s deck—did you read his recent piece about dogs in The NY Tyrant? Amazing.
6. This red one I received from the NY Review of Books
This was a gift for subscribing. The subscription was $10. It seemed to stop coming at some point and I never noticed. The first 10 pages of this notebook have been used. The first note is dated March 6, 2016, and is about Stephen Dixon’s book, Beatrice, which I published. It says:
Stephen Dixon’s novella is about Philip Seidel, a writer and retired professor who’s coping with the death of his wife—and not coping well. He’s isolated himself, dreading the time when he’ll have to finally see his former university colleagues again, hear their sympathy, see their concern. But then Beatrice stops by with a care package. A former student of Philip’s, Beatrice has gone on to her own academic career. The unlikely dup become lunch partners, meeting occasionally, until Philip’s differing sense of their relationship ultimately drives them apart.
Not much happens in Beatrice—an old guy tries to make it with a somewhat younger woman—but Dixon writes with a sensitivity and pathos that makes their small lives seem bigger, more universal, and crucial.
Philip Seidel hasn’t gone out much since his wife died; he’s too sad.
Then there is another shopping list, and then some notes about going to Margaritaville: “boneless chicken v. good; Amy had a thing in her shrimp trio so they comped it … ”
7. Another freebie
A client gave me this notebook for Christmas. I’ve written on the first five pages.
The first page is a list of all the cocktails I can make from memory now: Old Fashioned, Oaxacan Old Fashioned, Toronto, Brooklyn, Whiskey Sour, Daiquiri, Margarita, Fitzgerald, Negroni, Boulevardier, Amaro Sour.
The next page and a half, pictured, is a first draft of a poem about how life is hard for everyone but I shouldn’t try to get bogged down by that. Instead I should keep in mind that I’ve got it easy. It’s the same poem I am always trying to write. But this time I did something interesting, because in the next few pages I workshop the poem.
First I made a list of what I liked:
- pool halls as symbol of “the good life,” haha
- the revelry of not having any money (but how to qualify this for me/ppl like me)
- to thrill of whiteness (but I can’t use that)
- “poverty of ease” seems like a good line
- when I channel others’ pain, I’m really just tapping into my own—by channel I mean empathize with
Then there’s a list of what could be improved”
- problem in “revelry” concept
- “let’s go play pool” s/b more authentic… “play pool not war” maybe
- bogged down??
- how to make reader know what @alabedbana is
- should “pork chop sandwiches” ref be clearer
- what is meant by “waylaid”—perhaps use in title
- “light” should be used earlier in poem if used at end
In my most recent draft of this, the notes are part of the poem.
7. This awesome one from Mailchimp
This is the only notebook on this list that I paid for. It’s got faint dots on the inside instead of lines.
About 10 pages have been used. There’s a list of potential cocktail names I came up with (for the same party that had the Jeopardy questions in notebook 1), like “Chair Wrestler,” “China” and “!!!” There’s notes from Jürgen Moltmann’s talk at Emory:
“We must learn to say yes or no, not have tolerant dialogue.”
“What we need is a culture of dispute” [like Martin Luther cultivated]
“I don’t want to be tolerated. I want to be accepted, or rejected.”
“We cannot turn swords into Christian swords. We must work together to turn military industrial complexes into peacemakers.”
“How can we stay separate from others in the face of the crucifixion?”
Read all that with a German accent and it’s like you were there too. The last thing in this book is a poem called “World’s Greatest Poem,” which begins,
Space, the final everything
So many sad, happy astronauts
Thanks for reading this, and I’m so, so sorry.