Thursday, February 28, 2013

Back writing again

I joined a memoir group and my daughter laughed at me. "You're back writing again, just can't stop can you."

It was a surprise; did not think of memoir as writing--

But the first meeting in lovely friend's lovely living room consisted of just that: writing. There were handouts, there was discussion, and there was writing exercise.

Oh well. Just stay away from wasting time on publishing anything.

So this morning came a new strange anxiety attack. What is the matter with me? Why so jumpy? Why doesn't my skin fit better? Better take a nap! Better get out this new notebook with the red cover and this pen...

The goal is to produce some things for future genealogists like I wish I'd found more of in the papers I have: details of daily life and work. My second great-grandfather had a dry goods store--how big was it? Was it basically a wooden place, floors shelves and all? My great-grandmother, taught piano--but piano teacher doesn't show up on any census forms I find for her. Did she teach in the ten years between censuses? Or was her occupation so little regarded as to be subsumed under the description of 22-year-old Fannie as "At Home"?

So for the benefit of future archivists if there be any I started writing the details of my job as a real investigator for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts Board of Registration of Real Estate Brokers and Salesmen. I described walking the wide tiled halls of large state office buildings, where I grew fond of big institutions and learned to untangle red tape. One had to know the state house, the court systems,  and deed registries in order to clear up grubby little crimes done against trusting gullible persons.  I worked among the people, where our agency nested in a culture of mediocrity and Massachusetts politics--which included hiring the handicapped long before any private enterprise did. For those not in a protected category, there were constant shakeups and rumors of shakeups.

One day for some reason, I brought my four-year-old daughter Amanda into the office. A fuss was made over her, and the head of the agency taught her to do a highland jig. On the way out after work, a woman in the elevator asked her, "Did you go to work with Mommy today?"

"Yes," Amanda said, "there really wasn't very much to do."

Woman laughed, knowingly.  Good job, though.

And writing about it, that was OK too.


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