The wisdom of cats
I’m a journal keeper. Well, that’s a fancy word for what I do. Let’s say I’m a keeper of notebooks. A scribbler.
I don’t bother with dates or any kind of linear form. I don’t even have just one book. I have notebooks, plural, scattered around. On the coffee table, in that pile of magazines beside the fish tank. This stuff is private, but (until my daughter became a reader) I could leave it around because my partner would only read it if forced to at gun point. Maybe not even then.
But you, if you’ve played a role in my life, you’re down in ink. Possibly under a name that suits you better than the one your mother chose.
I know this is kind of teenage – and I have had this habit since even before that. As a kid I kept lists of the boys in my class that I liked (in ranked order) and of the girls that I classed as friends (again, ranked). I once wrote a dramatic passage about how I hated myself and later found my brother had found my hidden book and added “so do I”.
It was probably about then that I got paranoid about my notebooks. I never know whether to keep them. Mainly, I chuck them but there was one bunch that dated from a specific period that I kept in a small flax kete (I know, so spiritual) and carted around for years. They dated from a time of misadventures and, as the scribbles would imply, feeling sorry for myself. I come across as an idiot, incapable of learning. Although the books coincide with the most promising stage of my career to date, you wouldn’t glean from them that I even had a job. It’s not really mentioned.
That little basket of history became a thing for me. An albatross. If I got on a plane, I’d worry about it crashing and people reading my notebooks (OK, so I’m a tad self involved). I wanted to throw them out but it seemed like a betrayal of that 20-something girl – and maybe they’d amuse me when I was dribbling into my cup of tea in a rest home? The last time we moved house, I stared at the basket and wondered if now was the time to let go. I packed it anyway.
But sometimes when you move house, your pets feel insecure and confused. Hence, during the unpacking, my cat walked over to the kete that was lying on the floor and pissed on it. The smell of the books was now as disturbing as the content. The cat had made the call.
These days my notebooks are lighter on revelations and bigger on lists. I make promises to myself (drink more water, go for runs, read better books). I even mention work sometimes. Is this a female thing? I feel like it is. I’ve never seen a guy with a Kikki K notebook being all: “I’m just making sense of my feelings, trying to be the best me I can be…”
This week Eleanor Black’s column is about striving and, man or woman, I suspect you can relate. Not just to the need to tick off achievements but to the sense of failure when even the simplest self-promise just can’t be met. Because that’s what happens all the time to plans and goals. If you doubt me, start keeping a notebook.