Wednesday, August 24, 2005

3 by 5 Cards

I have developed a habit of using three by five cards to write notes to myself so I don't forget whatever it is I’m trying to remember. I’ve been doing this for about eight or ten years. Before that, I used yellow Post-It notes, which I didn’t like because of the glue. Unlike a stack of three by five cards, Post-It notes don’t stack nicely, like a deck of cards. And you can’t fan them out, like a deck of cards, when searching for a certain note or sketch. One day I read that the glue on Post-It notes played havoc in the paper recycling industry. That was enough for me. I switched to white, un-ruled three by five cards right away and have never used Post-It notes since.

I write down a lot of reminders and draw a lot of sketches; ideas of how to solve a construction detail or other problem. I use a black LOGO II 0.7mm mechanical pencil to make my notes and the pencil serves as a clip to keep the cards together. Eventually the stack of cards gets too thick to carry around in my shirt pocket and I pull out some of the older cards and put them aside somewhere. Usually, when I do that, I thin them out, keeping only those I feel are important to keep.

A recent card, that I saved, had these topics listed:

Wisconsin Atlas
35W 12V bulbs
Power of Attorney
Living Will
Primitive Radio Gods
Safe @ Casa P.
Story idea: Man plans suicide: Crash helicopter into traffic at rush hour
Story title: Pros and Cons of Staying Alive
boulevard tour
Call Dr. K
color of ext. doors

Some of these notations have been transferred from other, older cards. What happens is that I scribble things down and cross them off when I get them done. The objective is to get all the things done and to throw the card away. Inevitably, some of the reminders are things I can't get to, so rather than keeping a card that has only one or two notations left, I transfer them to a fresh card. Sometimes I simply add the old card to a stack because I don't imagine getting around to doing whatever it says. When I return to really old cards, I often have no idea what the notation is about. Another problem is that I sometimes have to write “over” in the lower right corner and then that side gets filled up as well. Sometimes that leads to confusion because when I fan the cards to find a particular one, I forget to look on the back.

The notation "Gagalski," for example, is one that I have transferred from one card to another at least a half dozen times over then last ten years. It's a reminder to call Mr. Gagalski, who is the last surviving member of the Blue Band, which was the band that my father, a musician, played with when I was growing up. Although unknown to anyone outside of the community of Polish immigrants that populated Chicago following the war, the Blue Band was a favorite to that crowd. I know that The Blue Band recorded at least three albums, maybe more, but I only have one of them in my possession. I was ten or eleven when they recorded it. I think I left the others behind when I got divorced the first time. You tend to leave a lot behind in a divorce.

I have wanted to call Mr. G and ask him if he would loan his albums to me so that I could at listen to them again and maybe record them on tape. Of course, I have been procrastinating. About seven years ago I finally did take time to call Directory Assistance and obtained Mr. Gagalski's phone number. The phone rang and rang, but nobody answered and I put the card away. A year or two later I called again and a woman answered, but he wasn't home. I didn't leave a message because she didn't sound friendly. Eventually I misplaced the card with the number and a year or two passed before I remembered to make the notation "Gagalski" on a fresh one. For some reason, I just didn't get around to calling Directory Assistance for that phone number again for several years. When I did, about two years ago, the operator informed me that there was no such listing. I tried Switchboard, but didn’t find it there either. I imagine that either he moved to a nursing home or passed away (he would be in his eighties, if living). I don't know what happened, but I still keep his name on one of my three by five cards because I have this fantasy that one day I will take time and find him and will finally get my hands on those old records. I will savor listening to them. I envision pouring myself a tall shot of plum brandy and settling back after letting the needle carefully drop into the groove. After a few pops, crackles and scratchy noises, I imagine hearing the Blue Band come alive again; Mr. G on the drums, the band leader on the accordion, all the others there too, and my father playing his clarinet, in his crisp white shirt, black cummerbund and black bow tie, and I, becoming overwhelmed by nostalgia and the sound of that music, I will be miraculously propelled into the past, instantly and furiously, back into my adolescence, and time will momentarily will stop and I will experience, for at least one brief moment, for a least a split second even, that sublime innocence of youth that so quickly and quietly has slipped away.

John Brzezinski

Copyright 2005 All Rights


Blogger Crazy Me said...

Thanks for visiting my blog. Hope you find those albums. Have you done an online search?

6:39 PM  
Blogger 20-20 said...

I did, but found nothing. My guess is that Mr. G. is no longer with us. This was a 2-pack a day, hard drinking guy. I can't imagine he is alive and even if he is, I imagine he has been packed into a nursing home somewhere and the bulk of his belongs were divided into two piles. One for a garage sale and another for a large dumpster. I'm busy saving stuff for that eventuality myself. Thanks for writing. I like your blog. It's a little ascerbic, but the humor gives it balance.

9:50 AM  

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