Twelve

Every ten days I’m scribbling down some analog thoughts in a black leatherette Journal, which has 200 white ruled pages, each carrying 30 lines and Smyth sewn-bound to lay flat for writing - an activity I carry out at intervals using a recently excavated fountain pen and a bottle of Winsor & Newton dark blue calligraphy ink kept inside a 30 ml round bottle. I usually lay the satin ribbon marker on the page where I've just finished writing, fold it up and put it back on its usual shelf space, squeezing between Indian Vegetarian Cooking and The Times Atlas of the World. Yet this time something, which is always there but fails to draw my attention to catches my eye: a manufacturer trade mark printed in the journal's black/white vertical dotted lines back interior cover - Markings® by C.R. Gibson, bearing a Tennessee address, a website and the words Made in China. The company, which has a long history of making journals and stationery, started in 1870 in New York City. Am I surprised to find C.R. Gibson, the company that produced the journal I am using still exists and continues to flourish and thrive after one and a half centuries? For me, 150 years is a remarkably long time, long enough for a city, my city, to be erased of its history, and much too long for a digital culture, requiring not more than twenty years to take over my life. Now I free myself from pen and paper, ironically, not much out of my own will but necessity. Writing words with a processor, the condition of keeping drafts and manuscripts in their place of origin; a strange place that is both virtual and incorporeal, making it compulsory for any previous, first, second and third thoughts to be obliterated, as many times as needed by my digital big brother, who works hard and unrelentingly helping me change, delete, and write over without any messy traces. Always in my favourite Verdana fonts, legible and unlittered, my digital thoughts appear at all times perfect, clear and unaltered. Shouldn't I be grateful to this conveniency, untangling life's complexities, clearing out every trail I've tread, erasing what I was and what I could be? Contrary to this unerring, polished self-image benefit from my new age of learning, I prefer to revisit my old, unkempt selves, oftentimes jotting down muddy notes in the black journal, flipping over pages and studying carefully with a loupe from my decades long family albums, salvaging fragments of memories, mostly mine but some belong to others, to reinvent, to start, anew.