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things worth saving

My brain isn’t on lately, at least not on easily-digested writing topics that are suitable for blog posts. So I dipped into my hard drive and found this: I used to have an old prompt diary on a journaling website, and Heather covered for me a few times when I was out of town. And I know I should actually be writing something in our workshop, but neither of those prompts have been doing it for me (and obviously not for anyone else, either), so I’ll tell you what: I’ll set my timer for 25 minutes, and I’ll answer this prompt—one that Heather assigned in my stead—and then I’ll reset the timer and do my very darnedest on one of those workshop prompts. One thing I know for sure is that if I’m resisting writing something, it feels a lot better to get it done and out of the way.

Make a list of 10-15 things worth saving. Then write about one of them and tell why you are saving it.

  1. my collection of old journals
  2. yearbooks
  3. a padded mailer of old photographs my mother sent me
  4. a glass tumbler with Jim Morrison’s face on it
  5. a black t-shirt with “St. Maarten” batiked on it
  6. two little pyrex dishes, one red and one yellow
  7. a purple stuffed dragon wearing a string of Mardi Gras beads
  8. the index files from the first index I wrote on my own
  9. the skirt I wore for my wedding
  10. an environmental sound machine that was once used to play a prank on me
  11. a falling-apart copy of How to Cook Everything
  12. a red silk box full of paper letters from Heather
  13. pictures of Myron at many ages
  14. a copy of Ella Shohat’s Talking Visions, the first book I job-managed from the first pages (with very patient training by Maya of Springtree Road)
  15. a satire I wrote in the nineties featuring my friend Dan as the main character in an epic à la The Faerie Queene

The one that jumps out at me from this list right now, with my ten minutes remaining, is the falling-apart book. It’s the one thing that doesn’t really belong on this list, although I’d like to tell you about that Jim Morrison tumbler someday. It doesn’t belong because it’s easily replaceable and it’s in complete disrepair. Any casual reader of unclutterer.com would tell you that I should throw it out. And yet I keep it.

I almost never stick exactly with Mark Bittman’s recipes, but they make great jumping-off points for things I’ve never made before. I’m out of my element with things that I didn’t grow up eating, and if I can’t find a good start in HTCE, I head to the internet before going back into my cookbook shelf. I know where recipes are based on the amount of rippling in the pages near the basic pancakes (Myron’s favorite weekend breakfast until I found the oatcakes at seven spoons), and the book is broken completely in two right at the listing of modifications to make to basic chicken breasts. I can pull at the corners in just the right way to land on about a dozen recipes I feel like I know by heart until I’m standing in front of the stove at five. But this is the cookbook that really saw me through my first year of marriage. I’ve cooked for myself and others for years, but it’s different when you’re a newlywed. I could get a new copy and find a way to mark all my favorites in it, but it wouldn’t be the same. And so though I rarely open it anymore, it stays on the microwave shelf in the kitchen, shredded, but where it belongs.