Hours in the attic.

29 07 2008

I’m heading back to NYC tomorrow for another week and reminded myself this morning I needed to find my food processor. I couldn’t remember if I’d stored it in New Haven, at Dennis’s parents’ house before I left for Brazil, or here in Vermont. So I headed upstairs to the attic where my mother stores most of my things, and began to sort through my stuff.

Besides my food processor, I found my waffle maker, mixer, and drill with bits. I found my little decorative plates and a salsa dish. I found books I bought at the annual Southport book sale three years ago, and I found my photo albums, five of them, organized by boyfriend. 

But most importantly, I found my writing. When I was in graduate school, I took the best writing course of my entire life with the best writing teacher I’ve ever had, Jody Lisberger. At the end of the course, we had to compile all of our drafts and thoughts about our drafts into a large envelope to give her. I placed my best writing into one thick grey envelope, and put all of my other writing I did for the course into another. Shortly after the course finished, we could pick our envelopes up with Jody’s comments written throughout them, and shortly after that, I moved to New Haven, carrying those envelopes with me and storing them carefully in a box of important materials. 

But somewhere in the mix of moving from downtown New Haven to Wooster Square, to needing some particular piece of writing in those folders to share with my New Haven students, to being somewhat homeless before moving to Brazil, to then living in Brazil for two years, I misplaced the envelopes. And once, a year or so ago when I thought to look for them again, they were nowhere to be found. And somewhere in between my writing the pieces and moving to Brazil, my hard drive had been erased entirely, thus leaving me with absolutely no evidence that I’d written anything at all. Needless to say, my heart was crushed.

Until today, when, after leafing through the boyfriend #2 photo album in my attic, I came upon the two grey envelopes. All of my writing from the 2004 class was there, just as I’d left them. The pages were stiff and bent, but they were there. So now I feel like I can move ahead with the revisions I’d had in mind for them. I’m so thankful to have them again in my possession and feel like the next project I have is to type them and save them on my computer so that I will have them in electronic form as well as the hardcopy.

Last night I finished another book called “Hole in My Life” a memoir by Jack Gantos about drug smuggling and prison time. While he was in prison, he wrote his own thoughts in between the lines of a prison copy of The Brothers Karamazov, and when he was set free, the guard wouldn’t let him take the book with him. Gone were his words forever, and like he said, “I knew I’d always have my memory, but my heart was in that book.” I felt the same way for the past couple of years not knowing where my words were. It was like coming home again finding those envelopes.

***************

Yesterday in Burlington I went to a favorite old store of mine, Old Gold. It sells vintage clothing and accessories and I found and tried on several vintage Levis. Whether they fit me around the waist is beside the point, because what shocked me the most was how each and every pair I tried on fit me absolutely perfectly in length. This is NEVER the case now. Are Americans getting taller? Whenever I buy a pair of jeans now they are either just slightly too long or hideously long on me, even though I am trying on a petite pair. I have short legs, I admit. Shorter than most grown women, I think. My inseam is somewhere between 27 and 28 inches long. That’s just a little over two rulers’ length. But every vintage pair I put on yesterday looked and felt like it was tailored to my legs exactly.

What is going on with jeans manufacturing? I know the deal with the sizes—-why, when I’ve been one size at the GAP for my entire life would I one day wake up and be three sizes smaller? There’s no possible way. It makes me feel good to see a smaller number, sure, but that number doesn’t mean anything if it’s just a substitute for the real size. They might as well just draw pictures instead of putting numbers. “Oh, hi, do you have this in an Apple? I tried on a Fire Hydrant but it was too big.” I guess that’s one thing I respected about the vintage pairs I tried on yesterday. I tried on a 28 in all sorts of styles and they all fit the same way. Now, if I go into the GAP, I’m  X; in Anthropologie I’m  Y; in Red Engine I’m a B52. And in all of those stores, the jeans are too long, so then I’m spending a trajillion dollars getting them hemmed. (Well, I would be spending the trajillion dollars; I haven’t yet had anything hemmed, but I’ll do that soon.)

 

Ech. Who cares.


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5 responses

29 07 2008
Rachel L

Oooh I LOVE that feeling of finding something that you thought you lost. It must feel so good to have your work in your hands again, and to be able to read through and see how your writing has improved over the years. Yay!

29 07 2008
weezie

gina,

Did you know that Jody Lisberger went to Camp Arcadia? She was one of three Lisberger sisters who came to Arcadia, perhaps in the mid to late 60’s. Her older sister, Lin, is an artist who lives in Maine. Lin’s adopted daughter, whose name I forget, attended camp in recent years–maybe she still does. I think that Jody’s twin siste, Martha, died when she was a teenager.

I’m so glad you found your writing. I have a shelf of about 50 journals, and a file with quite a few memoir pieces, and I would rather lose almost anything than all that writing. You write beautifully by the way; I have loved being led along on your journeys.

It was great to see you on Saturday, and I hope I’ll see yopu again in August.

30 07 2008
Susan

I found my writings from a college class loading boxes into the back of a U-haul when my parents moved last winter. It is the only time I’ve ever been published and for some reason the box had “disappeared”. It felt so good to have it back with me.
No idea why they think all Americans are 6 inches taller these days. I’m pretty tall and jeans are still long on me sometimes. Its crazy!

30 07 2008
Cousin Tom

when are you and dennis coming to fairfield?

30 07 2008
ginacoggio

I just drove through Fairfield today! Maybe we can come up in the middle of August?

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