I found this awesome list of 1930s slang at Paper Dragon’s Dirty 30s.
Note that it’s basically an archived site, so I screengrabbed this in case it goes offline someday.
I have both of these books. I’ve had the one on the right — The Complete Poems — for many years (I don’t even remember when/where I got it), but I just bought the one on the left — Final Harvest — last week at Half Price Books. Final Harvest is sort of “the best of” version. I thought I might carry it with me on vacation. I may still, BUT….I’m doing something different.
After I had my boyfriend reach on a tall shelf to bring down The Complete Poems for me, I decided to start at the beginning and read one per day, putting a check mark beside it as I read it.
Interestingly, at some time, I put a sticky note on page 171 near poem 361. Yes, I know my volume is damaged. I don’t care. I love it anyhow.
Generally when I put sticky notes in books, I put it directly ABOVE whatever I’m marking. Number 361 looks like something I’d mark, but…so does number 360, particularly at more melancholy times in my life. So I don’t know which I was marking. At any rate, this morning I read both aloud and put check marks. It seemed a good place to start.
BTW, I suggest reading poems aloud. Many argue that they’re MEANT to be read aloud. It works best for me, and I recommend it. I first read a poem silently, then read it aloud, then read it silently again.
What I can do — I will —
Though it be little as a Daffodil —
That I cannot — must be
Unknown to possibility —
Death sets a Thing significant
The Eye had hurried by
Except a perished Creature
Entreat us tenderly
To ponder little Workmanships
In Crayon, or in Wool,
With “This was last Her fingers did” —
Industrious until —
The Thimble weighed too heavy —
The stitches stopped — by themselves —
And then ’twas put among the Dust
Upon the Closet shelves —
A Book I have — a friend gave —
Whose Pencil — here and there —
Had notched the place that pleased Him —
At Rest — His fingers are —
Now — when I read — I read not —
For interrupting Tears —
Obliterate the Etchings
Too Costly for Repairs.
Now, after reading those two and checking them, I’ll go back to the very beginning of the book. I’ll mostly go in order. Just cuz….well. Orderly.
I’ll try to update this as I read, and as time allows put them on my other lit sites: Literary Quotes and 15 Minute Classics (don’t count on getting a lot of updates from me — I’m busy, as you guys know). And maybe at some point, I’ll do a piece about the experience for our newer book site (we’re hella proud of it!) AmReading.com. But I did want to share what I’m doing this project. Maybe it’ll inspire someone else to pick up something they’ve been wanting to read and do the same!
What I’m doing is keeping the book on my desk and every morning — before the noise starts — with my first cup of coffee, and before even looking at my computer screen, reading a poem. Maybe I’ll read two per day occasionally just because I won’t be able to resist, but my goal is to do ONE, and put the check AND the date that I read it, and really ponder it.
And then I’ll get to the noise. Work. Social media, which for me, of course, is also work. People. Kids. Cats. Dogs. Boyfriend. Attorneys. Website problems. Plumbing problems. Noise, need, noise, need, noise, need. But the first official five minutes of my day, alone with an Emily Dickinson poem and a cup of coffee.
Speaking of noise, this was written in the Final Harvest book I bought at Half Price Books last week:
Transcribed, the first note is a quote from Middlemarch by George Eliot:
“If we had a keen vision and feeling of all ordinary human life, it would be like hearing the grass grow and the squirrel’s heart beat, and we should die of that roar which lies on the other side of silence.”
And the second , from Emily Dickinson, a University of Minnesota Pamphlet on American Writers by Denis Donoghue:
“[This is to say that Emily Dickinson uses a] plebeian language with a patrician imagination; [willingly, with the commitment of knowledge.]”
I’m reading about memory on this Sunday morning. It started with this article:
As you all know, I’m fascinated with the mind and its capabilities and mysteries. My memory is….complicated. Like most people, I guess. I think I have pretty good mental alacrity and agility. I forget nothing…except soooo many of the “little things” that are really, really important to the people in my lives. I never forget intricate details about things that my mind processes as interesting and important. But…
I’ve been called a “bad person” for not remembering birthdays, etc…The fact is, I barely remember my own. I forget doctor appointments. I forget plans with friends, over and over. No matter what I try to do to “remember.” I won’t bother to remember someone’s name unless it becomes apparent that they’re going to be a fixture in some area of my life. (my daughter’s gentlemen friends, for example….)
On the other hand, I rarely forget where my hairbrush is and I never lose my keys. I also rarely forget where I am on a work project or specific phrases and quotes from books.
The reason I’m good at remember those things is because of systems. It’s highly irregular for my hairbrush or keys or purse or cell phone to not be in their designated places. If I need to put a load of clothes in the dryer in the morning (they’ve been washed during the night), I put something really weird on top of the first place I go every morning: the coffee pot. I see this item that’s in an unlikely place and I remember: “clothes to dryer.” In regards to work systems, I have certain tabs open in Chrome, and in a certain order. Always.
I can tell you that if I break any of these systems, it’s a huge disruption. If I carry my phone with me to another room in the house and lay it down, for example. Or stick my brush in my purse instead of in its designated spot on my desk. And no, it’s not cuz I’m old, haters! I’ve always been built this way. Some faulty wire in me, I guess. Or perhaps damage caused by many years of taking powerful psychotropics (I suffer from lifelong clinical depression and have been medicated with “the latest great drugs” since 1985). Like most people, I’ve managed to work with my shortcomings.
Below is my Swiffer collection. Why do I have four Swiffers?
Because I didn’t stick to my system. My Swiffer is supposed to go in a cleaning supply cabinet and I have consistently laid my Swiffer around the house as I’m cleaning. I have a cluttered house that was built for books. Shelves line every single wall and every shelf is stacked and double-stacked with books. Putting something down on a shelf, especially if it’s above eye level, is disastrous. So what do I do when I’ve absentmindedly put my Swiffer down somewhere? Buy more Swiffers.
I don’t need four Swiffers. I only need one, the long-handled one. But alas….
Systems work for me. Perhaps I should have long ago created a system for remembering birthdays since that seems to matter so much to certain people…
Digressing again: note the Ginkgo Smart in the background. Yes, I believe it helps. No, I can’t prove it. I’m certain, however, that it doesn’t hurt. I buy it here. Yes, I have an Amazon Affiliate account and if you buy them, I receive a few pennies. No, that’s not why I recommend them. I believe these and ALA/ALC combos have hugely enhanced my ability to use my mind. I’ve taken them religiously since 2003. I rarely forget. Why? Because they sit on my desk. They’re that important to me. I have them systemized. Ask your doctor before taking anything. Seriously, ask your doctor.
Back to the Memory Palace.
I became intrigued by the Memory Palace technique because I read about it in an amazing novel by Natasha Mostert called The Season of the Witch. I highly recommend this read, BTW. Anything by Natasha Mostert.
After reading that book and some of the articles linked in this blog post, I realize that I’ve been practicing a rudimentary form of memory palace for years. I’m excited to up my game. Here are three articles to read for info about memory palaces.
In short, you choose your “palace”—that is, a place that you can remember vividly—and associate items with distinctive features of that location. For example, if you’re remembering items on your grocery list and your home is your palace, put one item at the front door in your mind. Walk through the hallway and associate another item with the painting on the wall. Continue associating items with different parts of your palace as you walk through it. When it’s time to recall the items, take the same route as the association phase.
Said another way:
The Memory Palace technique is based on the fact that we’re extremely good at remembering places we know. A ‘Memory Palace’ is a metaphor for any well-known place that you’re able to easily visualize. It can be the inside of your home, or maybe the route you take every day to work. That familiar place will be your guide to store and recall any kind of information.
The five steps to using the memory palace technique:
But why do all this to just remember a grocery list when you can simply write it down or jot notes in your smartphone? Because memorization exercises the mind and makes it stronger.
Now if only I could get motivated enough to remember birthdays.