Sunday, January 19, 2014


My mother, patron saint of the psychotic, would buy a new spiral notebook every week, sometimes more often yet. She kept them on the kitchen table, the spot where she likely spent 70% of her life. It would sit next to the sugar bowl, salt and pepper, coffee cup rack, her cigarettes and the huge, glass ashtray.

She’d doodle...all day...all night.  She solved her oral fixation with smokes, her “being wanted” fixation with talking on the phone for hours and hours and yet she still had so much nervous energy that she had cheap, ballpoint pens in hand nearly 24/7.

Dinnertime? She’s at the table. She sets down her smoke and picks up the pen. A few dozen artworks later she sets down the pen and picks up the smoke, moves to the stove and stirs something. Then sets down her smoke, picks up the pen and so on.

She was multitasking, a pioneer, a living testament to the fact that some people CAN walk and chew gum at the same time. Sometimes I’d find her smoking, talking on the phone, nibbling on licorice sticks, doodling, cooking using a recipe AND she’d try to add a conversation with me to the mix. Maybe it took all that to keep her mind from wandering.

I wish I could say I have notebooks filled with cartoons or little artsy renditions of my siblings and myself. It’d be great if it was a collection of house plans or wilderness scenes. It’s none of those things. If I had been smart enough to save a few pieces, it’d be pages and pages and pages of......little triangles.

They touch each other, sometimes vertically, some horizontally. I’m sure a shrink would have some explanation for that, some deep meaning that eludes me at the moment. All I saw was triangles, rows and rows and rows of  ‘em.

Some would be colored in, some had little spirals inside. Sometimes they’d be inked over something she’d written like “I’m gonna getcha...” and then some name of a friend she’d talked to half the day on the phone, every day for 30 years.

I should have bought stock in the notebook company. I don’t remember her ever not doing it, so do the math; say 75 notebooks a year times the 34 plus years I was her son...that's 2550 books with an average of 100 pages. Think about how staggering that is.
255000 pages of little triangles, some with spirals inside, some colored in, all touching. At likely six or seven hundred triangles per page.......god my brain nearly explodes.

Everyone picks up some habit of their parents, it’s inevitable, it rubs off. If you’re lucky it’s not belching in public for a laugh or buying closets full of wing tip shoes.

If a computer keyboard had a triangle key, maybe I’d be doing little triangles with stick figure people inside; my slant, my variation on the theme. But instead, I write poems and little stories, reams and reams of both. So what you’re hearing from me isn’t truly made of whole cloth, it’s weaved of genetic material, the doodles of a doodling son trained subconsciously by a doodling mother. We should all be so lucky.
If only that key existed you could be staring at pages and pages of triangles rather than the babbling of a madman. I’ve never seen that key.

Your loss.

1 comment:

  1. I don't know if this is sad or if it's marvellous. A little of both, perhaps.