I have a black book

It is neither little or black—that is just what I call it. I keep it by my chair, as I have for, oh, the last 35 years. This is the fourth one I have had and it is dark purple, like Welch’s grape juice. However, the original one was black, so that is what I call it.

It has a calendar page for each week–at the end of each year, I staple last year’s calendar together and put in my file. You know, just in case Perry Mason asks me what i was doing on….May 24th 1972. (Working at Robert’s Farms, packing early peaches and apricots. Babcock’s and Satsuma’s. It was a Wednesday.) How much did I pay for electricity in 1989? Which month? When did Rocket get her shots? What was that place in Idaho with the gorgeous lake? (“I”-Redfish Lake, Stanley, ID).

It is also my address book. This isn’t just any old address book, it is the ADDRESS BOOK. Everything is in there “with the exception,” as my friend, Kim would say, “of the last novel by Dickens.”

Phone numbers and addresses are only part of the the complexity. I have birthdays (under “B”), all things medical? Under D, for doctor. Insurance numbers? “I”. Every college I have ever gotten even 1/8th of a credit for? “T”, for transcripts.

My college room mates? (U for byU). I have every juice contact at work, along with fax numbers at work under “W”, of course. I work for the government in a fairly high security place. However, the extensions are sequential. So if I know where your office is, I can figure out your phone number. And the password to your computer. Well, if I know who all used to be in that office.

And in general, every contact I have ever made–because you never know when you are going to have to track down Gwen, who used to be my secretary, before she went to work at the regional comptroller’s office (where our checks are generated). From there, she went over to the hospital. No idea what she does there, but when I wanted to find out when our retro checks were coming? I called her and then she called a couple of people who called a couple of people. And now I know. (Monday or Tuesday).

It is also a good source for getting the straight information on any gossip I hear.I just call up someone who is close to the source. It makes me feel like 99. (You know, 99. Barbara Felding? Get Smart? I just recently even got that the Get Smart meant get Martin Smart).

I have lost it ONCE in my life. I had just returned from three weeks in Ireland and took the airport bus from LAX to Bakersfield. I left it On.The.Bus.

Frantic hysteria. I had the entire O’Leary/Doherty/Behan contact information in there. Addresses, phone numbers, children’s names and ages. Directions. Yarn shops. Places to eat. This was…well, it was devastating!

I called the airport bus place and drove right back, the minute I got home. (Pre cell phone days). I had just finished a 28 hour trip and I added 2 extra hours onto it, just in case someone mistook my black book for junk.

Before I got married, I kept the names of all the guys I was dating (“G” for guys)–along with their phone number, any tidbits of information about them so when they inevitably called in the middle of the night, I would instantly “remember” their dog’s name and ask about Hamlet or Othello or some little piece of info he had mentioned “Did you get those new tires?” Of course, when it didn’t work out, I would scribble out their names/info with several colors of ink pen and then Magic Marker them out of my life. I still say, “I will Magic Marker you out of my life” to people who get on my totally wrong side. They have no idea what I am talking about.

I used to drag it around in my handbag/tote but because of where I work, I decided I would just keep it at home, by the phone. I have a little calendar/address book I keep in my handbag and it has ONLY the numbers I would need in a work emergency. And my calendar. Everything gets transferred to my black book every night. I have little post-its to tag appointments.

I have a PDA but it is too much like texting. Too much trouble. Plus it has to be plugged into my computer and everything shared up. Plus I can’t take it into work with me, so it is just one thing that is one thing too many.

And I like to be able to just write a note on my hand (my palm pilot) and get the information into my book, where it won’t evaporate because it needs to get saved or charged.

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