Saturday, March 12, 2016
Do I Have That?
When I was a kid, I never forgot what I owned--for a simple reason: I didn't own much. A baseball mitt, some clothes and comic books, a few "real" books (most of which my parents had bought for me in the desperate hope that I would read them; they didn't understand that I was saving most of my reading for my Later Years). A Timex wrist watch that I lost. A bike.
So ... if someone had asked me, "Do you own a baseball mitt?" the answer was simple. As it would have been if they'd asked me, "Do you own a hair from the great Cham's beard?" (I stole that one--the example, not the hair--from Much Ado About Nothing.) Simple answers.
Years pass. Decades.
And now the question is not so simple. I have so much clutter that I can't remember what I have and don't have. This insight pierced me yesterday. Again.
The story: As some of you know, for three days each week on this site I've been serializing a (very rough) draft of a book I'm calling Frankenstein Sundae--about my ten-year pursuit of Mary Shelley, et al., a pursuit that commenced in 1996 and cooled (somewhat), well, about 2012 (earlier, really), when I published The Mother of the Monster: The Life and Times of Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley on Kindle Direct.
But then I got the idea to write a memoir-y sort of book about all the fun I had--the places I went--the things I read--to prepare for that wee volume.
And it was then that I began realizing that I'd forgotten much of the detail--not just of her story but of the materials I'd collected to research her story.
In the past couple of weeks I've been writing about what (to me) was one of the most fascinating portions of her life--the mid-1820s when, a widow back in England, she became enchanted with Washington Irving. She actually had a date (sort of) with him. Frankenstein Meets the Headless Horseman. It was just too good to be true.
So, as I began reassembling the story to tell in my blog, I realized (1) I'd forgotten a lot of it; (2) I had no idea what resources I owned that would help me re-cage those flown details. I did remember that one key text was a volume printed in a very small run--The Romance of Mary W. Shelley, John Howard Payne and Washington Irving, 1907--or, as the book puts it, MCMVII. I remember finding that book at the Kent State University Library. Reading that book.
But did I buy it?
I was pretty sure I had--but where-in-the-hell is it now?
Couldn't find it among my Shelley things. So I hopped (!) online and bought another on ABE--$35 well spent, I told myself.
Until, just moments after the confirmation of purchase arrived from ABE, I saw the book standing on the shelf, exactly where it should have been, almost glowing with delight. (It would have a sibling! A twin!)
Well, I've done this before--far more than once. Bought a book I already owned. Even worse: I've (more than several times) read (unintentionally) a book I'd already read and not realized it until it was far too late.
By the way, I do own a baseball mitt. But not a hair from the great Cham's beard.