Remember last month I wrote about a bridge my three-year-old self almost met my untimely end on? (See: Falling Off a Bridge Can Be Harmful to Your Health … and Other Lessons) I talked about how I felt my dad never really tried to connect with me. This is the rest of that story.

firewtowerBut first, a little note about fire towers. I’ve realized that some of you may not know what these are.

Way back in eras past, before cellphones–I know right?! There was a time before cellphones??–and none of those other satellites that could count how many Pringles were in the can you just ate . . . there were these towers in the wilderness, poking up above the treetops, where forest rangers would live and watch for wisps of smoke.

Sadly the satellites came along and put Smokey Bear out of a job, but many of the towers still remain . . . and you can rent them, to camp out in . . . way up there!!  Let me tell you: it’s awesome.

Here’s a little poem about something that happened in one of those towers somewhere in the wilderness of southern Oregon. It goes something like this . . .

I Never Cried

Seventy feet above mossy ground
a retired fire tower continues to watch
evergreen spires stretching to the horizon.

Ten feet for each year since my father
became an etched granite stone, as silent
as I remembered the man who rested beneath.

Camping in that glass box lightly swaying,
my companion paints a silver lining:
her father hunting for unfamiliar gentleness.

The words catch me off balance. I stumble
and fall from my safe perch, a waterfall
of memories, crashing to a distant ground.

My father snatching me from drowning.
My father steadying my first bicycle,
or unrolling a huge roll of plastic that became

A long soapy slide on a hot summer day.
My father’s boss offering me my first real job.
My father’s impish shit-eating grin.

Decades of blame, perceived neglect, eroding
in a river of memories, my only words:
“I never cried at my father’s funeral.”

Picturing my father, barely sixteen, driven
by puberty and his first crush, unaware
a family would be thrust upon him so young.

In a secluded tower, a country and a lifetime away,
darkness grows so complete that stars blaze
white in spaces I once thought empty.

And I knew he’d done his best.

I wonder how many of you identify with this one . . .

~takes a big breath . . . steps up to the podium~

Hi, my name is Miki, and I’m, uh, . . .  I’m addicted to office supplies!!  ~sobs~

It’s been two weeks since I last bought a G2 pen . . . well, a whole pack of them actually, indigo blue, fine tip.I can’t help it, they’re my favorites.

While I was there I may have looked at a few composition books, the kind with quad-ruled lines in them, which my inner engineer gets all excited about! And those colored sticky notes I never find a use for!! And OMG, multicolored binder clips!! Eek!

20 pack of Pilot G2 pens
Heaven in ink . . . sigh

I wonder if there’s a 12-step program for compulsive writers . . .

Oh, and there may have been some highlighters and a laser pointer I thought my cats might like. No, really: I can’t use a highlighter without a couple of fuzzballs pouncing up to sniff glassy-eyed around my homework. I need the laser pointer to literally throw them off the scent!

But that’s nothing compared to my excitement around anything with paper in it. If you’re a writer, perhaps you know what I mean. It would be nice to know I’m not alone.

When the urge gets to be too much, I will likely set out on a pilgrimage to my favorite place of quill repute (see what I did there?), a wonderful not-so-little place called the New Renaissance Bookshop on 23rd Avenue here in NW Portland. Along with lots of lovely inspirational things of all flavors and genres, there exist whole walls of blank-paged books crying out to be filled with awesome words and thoughts.

If the beautiful covers don’t draw you in . . . the artfully etched or pressed or drawn bindings might, covers meant to be touched as much as looked upon; in a plethora of inspiring scenes and designs. Perhaps the gold-edged or round-cornered pages will call out to you instead. These beautiful books range from the heavy, metal-clasped-and-hinged “book of shadows” variety, to the perfectly mini idea-book sized ones that yearn to live within your purse or backpack, ready to collect your wily ideas.

I can’t walk in that store without fondly admiring–or is it fondling admiringly–at least a dozen of these little journals.

journalsnotepads_ss61But for all this love of the blank page, I will rarely give in to this particular compunction. Experience has finally taught me that the empty pages that so attract my writerly sense will not placate my writerly needs. Often instead I will return home with a lovely book already filled with someone elses words.

The irony here is that although I love the physical form of journals to record my thoughts in, it is the computer keyboard that ends up fitting the bill. But it’s so less romantic . . .  sigh.

Here’s how this happens . . .

On one shelf in my home at this moment sit a half dozen lovely journals, still waiting to be filled. Most of them have their first ten or so pages carefully torn out. Many times have I blindly followed an inspiration to begin a physical journal in one of them, but a few pages in, my impatient fingers remind me how much faster my ideas could be recorded on a keyboard. I shake this thought off as unworthy and tarry onward, thinking how truly wondrous it is to lay ink to paper, ignoring the growing soreness in my wrist. But then, around the tenth or twelfth page mark, another unruly realization invades my paper-and-ink love affair:

My forgotten “organization foible” has unmasked itself once more! ( . . . stay tuned!)

Suffice it to say that I realize that every word I have painstakingly scribbled within those lovely pages . . . will have to be methodically retyped into a computer anyway, if for no other reason than for me to actually see them again. I know from years of trying how impossible it is to locate an entry in all those consecutive pages, especially trying to scan for words and ideas in my own handwriting. Perhaps one day they’ll make paper-and-ink journals with built in keyword search capabilities. I will come back to them then.

Until that day, I’ll stick with my Evernote app. I’ll talk about that one later, too, if that’s okay. I think it might be worth having one blog post just on that. For those of you who dream of becoming paperless, Evernote or one of its clones may be the way to go.

I think it may be a foible within a foible that alongside my love of pen and paper lives a deep desire to be completely paperless . . .  every idea, note, or journal entry digitized, tagged and search optimized.

Ah, the dichotomies that occur when foibles meet. =)