The Time Machine: Meet Me Circa 1985


I don’t usually talk about myself on this blog, I talk about my writing struggles and triumphs with getting my short stories published, that sort of thing. So, today, I’m going to talk a little bit about me, which frankly, makes me uncomfortable but I’m going to do it anyway. I’ll consider it a learning opportunity on how to connect with my blog readers.

I’ve been a writer for quite a while. In fact, I’ve been keeping a personal journal since I was 8 years old. I’m much older than that now, so that makes an awful lot of volumes of hand written journals. I’ve got black leather journals, and red leather journals. I’ve got journals with red courdoroyand I’ve got cork covered journals. I probably have about fifty (50) volumes of my personal journal at this point, but honestly I’ve lost count. (Uh, I don’t write one volume a year so don’t go thinking that I’m 58 years old or something. I’m not.)

Sometimes I go back and read my journals and re-live parts of my life, other times I just have to get something down on paper that I want to remember and I just write it out. It’s nice to read about some of my traveling adventures, or personal achievements, and it’s painful to read about when my father died. Still, it’s all in there for posterity, I suppose.

So, as I’ve said, I’ve been writing this personal journal forever. But I didn’t mention that I have also written extensive amounts of poetry too. The poems on my “Poems” page on this blog were published when I was in college. In fact, they were written when I helped edit The Anthologist, which was published by Rutgers, where I went to school. No, that’s not true, I went to Douglas College an all-girls school, which was a part of Rutgers University. But I participated in The Anthologist on the Rutgers Campus, with three other kids from Rutgers.

I loved those kids, especially my very dear friend Scott Nicolay, who I met in a Senior Seminar on James Joyce. Our professor was kind of wacky, and Scott and I both loved that class. That’s where we bonded. Eventually Scott moved to New Mexico and got a job teaching English on an Indian Reservation. Then he fell in love with an American Indian woman, got married and they had two children.

Before he moved west, Scott publish his own journal, called American Standard. American Standard was handmade, something he photocopied himself, then mailed to all his friends. Scott had a massive writing talent.

Another one of the “kids” at the time was Leslie Wheeler, who has gone on to acclaim as a poet. I think she is teaching poetry these days too, but I haven’t spoken to her since our college days. I’d love to reconnect with her.

Like Scott and Leslie, I got my undergrad degree in English Literature. My major emphasis was on American and British poetry. I love Wallace Stevens, Gerard Manley Hopkins, Adrienne Rich, Wm Butler Yeats, Anne Sexton, Marilyn Hacker, Langston Hughes, TS Eliot, blah blah blah. You get the idea.

So given my experiences as an undergrad, I recently went back to look at my poetry journals from that time period to see what I was writing. I found a bunch of poems that were sentimental, over-wrought things. Then there were others that were image poems, and some of the lines were pretty good. And after sifting through even more, I came across Alarm Clock.

I wrote Alarm Clock in 1985, and when I re-read it as my adult self I thought it wasn’t half bad. Reading it brought me back to my earlier days as a writer, and my love of alliteration for instance, and it made me remember how much time I spent writing then. I envy that of my younger self these days.

As long as I’m being honest, I’m going to come clean. When I rediscovered Alarm Clock I sent it around to see if anyone would print it. I got some nice feedback from some editors, but no one wanted to publish it. I’m okay with that though. Alarm Clock is as much a sentimental journey in time for me as it is a single poem. It represents something about who I was, and who I still am, even if that earlier self is more deeply buried inside now.

Anyhow, here it is, a portrait of me as a young writer, circa 1985.

Alarm Clock

The hum hung in the air. It buzzed, it sang there like destiny. A simple white job, it didn’t even glow in the dark. It only reminded one of the time in the open-aired daylight. It was raw and blatant and it hummed. A sort of thrumming electric hum, it never stopped. It reminded one of the unpleasant shock that would strip one of the layer of sleep the next morning. It foreshadowed this stinging shock; it thrummed. And as it stung, it steadily stung, this thrumming stung one’s ears, surely one felt it. It hung in the air, that hum. And so it sat, white and buzzing, white and singing like pure destiny. It sat, happily sat, electrically stinging one’s ears, knowing it would thrum like a drum in the morning, knowing it would incessantly thrum until one bolted upright and smashed down that little button to make that loud stinging hum stop. No one wanted something so blatantly white and pure like destiny to remind one so incessantly of the thrum. No, no one did.


6 Responses

  1. How fascinating! You are lucky to have been so consistent in keeping your journals over the years; mine are so sporadic and get lost in the chaos of my life. You have a great gift there to be able to reflect on yourself at different points of your life. Your 1985 excerpt is wonderful – you showed great promise and it seems your talent came to fruition!

    • Thanks so much Louise. It’s funny, I don’t think of myself as a shy person at all (ask anybody that knows me, I’m NOT shy) but when I read nice comments like what you wrote above, I blush. It’s still hard for me to accept my own work as “good.” Wierd of me, I admit.

      On the journaling thing, I don’t write everyday, but I create a consistent record of my life. As I’ve gotten older, I write less frequently I think because life is so damn repetitive. The most recent entries are more like “highlights” than capturing my thoughts everyday. It doesn’t matter though, because I can go back and read what I wrote ten years ago and it’s the same thing. (Yes, I mean that.) I don’t know about anybody else, but I haven’t changed much over the last few decades in terms of how I think. Again, wierd of me, I admit.

  2. Actually, I think you’re very shy – retiring, reticent, reclusive. LOL.

    Neat poem. Excellent for such a young writer.

  3. I love it! It reminds me of a Dr. Seuss book with all the repetition and word play.

    It takes talent to keep anyone interested in the sound of an alarm clock for a few sentences, but you definitely pull it off.

    And you say you have a poetry section? Hmmm . . .

    Thanks for sharing. 🙂

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