We all keep moving on, that is, if we're smart. I'm not that smart and I waste the time between one task and the next (I love that word, task). I find transitions to be difficult. I'm finished with something and i know what i have to do next, but I don't do it . I pause, for too long. I'm at my worst when it's time for bed. I can't let go. I putter or doze or gaze into space and I can't seem to be able to get up and leave the day. Very time-consuming. Very wasteful.Very annoying.
When I was reading women's diaries for my book about women's diaries, I found one woman with whom I identified completely in this respect. I remembered her name was Ethel and I remember making note of what she said, in the margin. Did you know, an archivist told me, that they welcome margin notes, if they're by a writer? It's not defacing the book, it's enriching it. Right now I am trying to retrieve the notes from a book I gave to the University of Manitoba archives because of the margin notes, which are very special.
This is a tangent; I'll return to home base shortly. I loved Tillie Olsen and her book, Silences, about the silences imposed by society, husbands or self on women writers. I made extensive marginal comments because it touched a chord. Then I met her in the Banff Writing Studio and I asked her to autograph my copy of her book. She didn't just sign it; she asked me for the book so she could read what I had written in it and when she returned it, she had written a dialogue: comments on my comments throughout the book, with an encouraging note at the end along with her signature. Oh my. I need that book now, for something else I am working on and I asked the archivist for it and he said I could get the book from a library. No, no, no. I have another copy of the book, but I want that annotated copy.
That's enough of that tangent.
I remembered the book my Ethel was in and what side of the page. Her diary was never published, that I know of, although it is copyrighted (is that correct use of the past participle?). The excerpt is all I have, in the book, Private Pages: Diaries of American Women, 1830s-1970s, ed. by Penelope Franklin, published by Ballantine Boooks in 1986 - the same year of the copyright in the names of Clara Whiting Bomboy and Carolyn Whiting Murman. Since Ethel Robertson Whiting's diary was written between 1924 and 1930, I am assuming that these latter woman are her granddaughters, not then born, to whom she addressed her diary.
Anyway, I found what I was looking for: it's number one in a list of her faults and I happily quote her:
"1. My evil habit of sitting up, by myself, until one or two o'clock at night. Not without a struggle can I bring myself to surrender the day, with no assurance that another of equal happiness will follow.. To surrender it...at the moment when ones (sic) brain begins to come alive and thoughts arouse themselves is asking too much!"
Surrender the day!
In the margin beside her words I wrote,"I love her!" I haven't forgotten it after lo, these many years. Now, if e-books had existed then, I might not have been able to track her words. Another reason for print.