It’s always happening to me — I reach for something in my handbag and instead of finding it, whatever it might be, quickly and easily, I emerge with a handful of paper remnants, snippets of napkins, business cards with things written on the back, sales slips with faded, scrawled words and phrases. Each time, I make a silent resolution to clean out the contents of my purse and restore order (the hope is that by so doing, I can perhaps instill some order in my life — to date it has not happened).
I have writer friends who swear they do the some. Is it then a shared affliction?
And, what to do about it?
On a recent foray into the depths of my “carry bag” the yield of remnants was especially telling. Aside from the assorted receipts which clearly no longer serve any purpose and which I cavalierly tossed in the trash, I found:
- 3 words on separate remnants of old paper – Inkheart, badinage, and “old-fangled” – attesting to a quirky thought process. I like to think that I treasure words, and explain to family and friends, especially the young ones, that words are “fun” and that learning meanings is a game. They often respond with blank stares.
- 3 scraps with phrases – “Now is the time,” “sede vacante,” and “Americans: Outliers among outliers”
- One square yellow sticky note with a name and time scribbled in red ink – important appointment would be my guess. Surprisingly, I have no recollection of ever meeting or talking with “Rae.” So, Rae, if I missed our appointment, I am truly sorry. Perhaps you could contact me again.
- 2 slips with dollar amounts, nothing major: Simply $12.97 and $3.34. Really?
- One half of an old bank deposit slip with the following numbers: 12-17-36. I thought perhaps it was a combination, the safe deposit box? Then I remembered: It’s Pope Francis’s birthday. Shouldn’t we all know when the pope’s birthday is?
- A 3×5 file card with an email address (which I will not print, because I really do know him).
- Two recipe cards picked up at a local grocery store – Snapper with Parsley and Cilantro Rice, and Haddock over Walnut Rice. I see a pattern there – they sound good, too; I resolve to try both.
- And, finally, two scraps with what I will assume are either pieces of song lyrics or phrases from a book I was reading; no attribution, however. But I am known for doing that – scribbling phrases that I find moving or meaningful and then forgetting the occasion or the author to the point that I am always afraid to reuse them out of respect for copyrights and creativity. Maybe I wrote them and I shouldn’t worry. Maybe they are things my grandmother used to say and I should simply laugh. Maybe they are the code to a secret strongbox full of jewels. See where my twisted mind takes me?
In writing this, I decided that I really did not know the precise meaning of the word “foray.” So I Googled it. I have become a child of the computer age, however unwillingly!
And I found:
A sudden attack or incursion into enemy territory, esp. to obtain something;
a raid: “the garrison made a foray against Richard’s camp”.
Now, that is a definition I will nevermore forget. And it describes perfectly my reconnaissance mission to my handbag. It was successful. It was effective. And, as I explained to my grandson just yesterday:
“We are always learning, aren’t we? I think that we should try to learn something new every day.”
He nodded, smiled, and fell promptly asleep.