her e-mail shouts. "Staying at
a job that makes you CRY EVERY DAY isn't just 'stoopid,' it's
And she goes on to dispense several paragraphs' worth of career advice
and job-search tips, designed to help me break free from Franz, once
It's good advice. It's wonderful
advice, as a matter of
bold, specific, empowering.
The only problem? It's coming
year too late.
This happens all the
time: people writing with comments/criticism/questions/advice about
stuff that happened months or years or (sometimes) whole lifetimes ago.
much rent am I paying for the Tree House? Why don't my children live
with me? Have I ever considered A.A.? Is 'David' The Doc or the
Boyfiend? (And haven't I learned my lesson about chat room romances??)
Is it too late to vote
on wedding invitations?
I'm not surprised or
weirded-out or offended when this happens. They're reading
about this stuff today, so they assume that it's happening
today. That's understandable. I don't fire off a snippy response,
yelling at them for their static view of a life that has continued
moving. In the case of Career Advice Lady, for instance, I
sincerely for her advice, explained that I've already shaken myself
loose from The Totem Pole Company -- using a strategy not
the one she outlines in her e-mail -- and told her to check
back in a
year. ("We'll see how things
are going at the new job then," I joked.) I
understand that not everybody arrives at *FootNotes* through the front
door: sometimes they take the freight elevator, or the side entrance,
or the broken basement window. Sometimes they parachute in through the
skylight. Somebody innocently types the words help
with writing footnotes into a
search engine ... and the next thing they know, they're
reading about Spandex and menopause. Furthermore, I understand the
compulsion to want to write and comment on something you've just
finished reading on the Internet, without paying a lot of attention to when
it was written. There are times when *I* want to write to 1997 Secra
and take her stoopid head off. (He was a
it gratifying that the life I've so meticulously and obsessively
archived for more than thirty years -- even the creaky
history' portions of it that some of us know forwards and backwards and
inside-out -- still scans as "new" once in a while, whenever
stumbles across it for the first time.
I figure it's as close
to immortality as I'm likely to get. And I don't even have to
anybody up to get there.
Earlier this week, I
watched Ken Burns' PBS documentary about Mark Twain. Although I'm sure
that at some point in my spotty academic career I must have studied Mr.
Twain -- a Lit class in high school, maybe, or a Reader's
article in the orthodontist's office -- for some reason I
managed to retain any specific biographical information about him. I
couldn't remember if he'd been married or if he had children or how he
died, or much of anything else, really, about his personal life. So
the documentary was not only informative and entertaining, it was also
like being introduced to the "characters" of Mark Twain's family life
for the first time. When Mr. Twain's beloved wife Livy dies in the
second half of the documentary -- she goes peacefully,
in her bed, while downstairs her husband plays the piano for her
far as I was concerned, her death was happening right
then and there. I sat there and
wept like a leaky Delta Washerless.
Ninety-eight years later, I
was mourning her death.
It makes me think of
NBC's perennial summer slogan: If YOU
haven't seen it, it's new to you.
Yes, it's a tacky and obvious bid for the re-run audience. But there is
also a *molecule* of wisdom there. In this case, I interpret it to mean
that the documented life -- whether biographical or
famous or not-famous, significant or Secra -- remains
"alive," a little
bit, through the power of the written word. I believe this is what drew
me to journaling in the first place, all those years ago --
the idea of
preserving something I could hand down to The Tots -- and
what keeps me
journaling still. For me, it's incredibly groovy to think that
somewhere in the bloated *FootNotes* archives, right this very minute:
- Teenage Secra
a fifth of Kesslers under the sweater box in her bedroom closet.
- New Mom Secra is nursing
her baby at 2 a.m., by the twinkling lights of a Christmas tree.
- TicTac Secra is standing
on the back porch, shooting one-handed hoops with her son.
- Out-Of-Her-Mind 1997
Secra is loading up a laundry basket with all her worldly possessions,
getting ready to move to Oregon with a man she met online.
- Tree House Secra is
drunkenly tossing a burning oven mitt out her third-story window.
- Newly-Sober Secra is
loading up a U-Haul with all her worldly possessions, getting ready to
move to California with a man she met online.
is saying yes to her marriage proposal over foccacia bread and bleu
- Today-Secra is
announcing that she's taking a break from *FootNotes.*
Oh wait. That last one
hasn't happened yet.
I'm taking a break from
*FootNotes,* beginning this weekend. I've been thinking about
a couple of weeks now -- ever since the
marathon came to a merciful end -- and this feels like the
moment. Nothing's wrong. The job is fine, The Tots are fine.
is beyond-fine. I just want to step away from the journal for a
regroup. Recharge. Reconnect with some people. Get a couple of other
writing projects out the door. Take a couple of deep cleansing breaths.
I know that this may be perceived as an alarming recent trend among
journalers: this taking-a-break stuff. Sometimes they
... and sometimes (sadly) they
don't. (And sometimes they'd damn
At this point I fully intend to be one of those who comes back,
although I can't tell you exactly when, just yet. Soon, though.
keeping these people notified.
In the meantime, I'm
not walking away from the computer completely. I'm available by e-mail
if you want to chit-chat, or ask me questions, or correct my spelling,
or yell at me about me about anything ... or even if you just want to
Or -- of course -- if
you have some good career advice to pass along.
Have a great weekend,
p.s. in the
interest of not allowing
*footnotes* to shrivel up and turn funny colors and die while i'm gone,
i may occasionally post something from the archives. sort of the
internet journaling equivalent of "summer re-runs." check back
periodically if you're interested.
[after all: if
YOU haven't read it, it's new
throw a rock