Wednesday, August 26, 2009


Insomnia before your first day (afternoon) of grad school is less than ideal. In fact, it's somewhat annoying. But I can't seem to convince my mind to shut off. What with moving into a new apartment and community, starting school, trying to figure out what to do with my days (since classes are all in the afternoon/evening), and catching up with friends after a productive summer, I'm all awhirl. But these aren't the only things keeping me up.

Forgetting. Sometimes it's the easiest part, and sometimes it's the hardest. Isn't life funny that way? It's scary, really, how quickly one forgets one's previous selves. Ok, let's not kid ourselves here--how quickly I forget my previous selves.

Joan Didion's essay "On Keeping a Notebook" has always resonated with me. I'm not going to be able to write about it comprehensively at 4:00 am, but I've always believed this to be one of her most perceptive lines:

"I think we are well advised to keep on nodding terms with the people we used to be, whether we find them attractive company or not."

That line in specific remained in my head; I just went and took down the book to copy it into this post. I intended to proceed from there to my own ruminations on the topic of self and forgetting, but I find that, after all, Didion has done it for me. The proceeding lines read (eerily enough):

"Otherwise they turn up unannounced and surprise us, come hammering on the mind's door at 4 a.m. of a bad night and demand to know who deserted them, who betrayed them, who is going to make amends. We forget all too soon the things we thought we could never forget. We forget the loves and the betrayals alike, forget what we whispered and what we screamed, forget who we were."

And it's true. And it's completely terrifying--especially when one has a sneaking suspicion that one is about to lose a person who was better, in many ways, than the one she is now. (I'm back to 'one' again. Forgive me.)

For instance, my previous self didn't write self-indulgent spur-of-the-moment blog posts in the middle of the night and actually post them.

Clearly, I'm degenerating.


Ezzie said...

Clearly, I'm degenerating.

I disagree.

Northern Light said...

It's all the excitement; savor it!

Chana said...

All my selves write supposedly indulgent sad thoughts in the middle of the night. Firstly, I don't think they *are* indulgent- I think this is a way of keeping in touch with yourself. I think it is healthy and honestly, cathartic, more than anything else. As for keeping on good terms with our previous selves- I think that is a very lovely idea. Thanks for sharing it with me.