The Blink of an Eye
If you guessed from the quotation and the title that this month’s journal is about time, you are correct. The last I knew, it was February and here we are, courting May. Sometimes multitasking (a.k.a. doing too much, having a full plate, being oversubscribed) is responsible for feeling as if the last few months went by like the blink of an eye.
It may be a product of aging, but I couldn’t tell you most of the details unless I consulted my calendar. One glance shows how project-driven my life is. But, I am not complaining; it’s all good - making and delivering artwork, coordinating a writing series, preparing for an audio version of the docent program, generating materials for a new and different web site. And, the largest project - revising Poet Stanley Kunitz’s Boyhood Home Docent Outline, which is the basis for training volunteers to give house tours.
The revision is the main reason for my not lifting my nose from the grindstone for three months. The 2009/2010 version had about 25 pages of information and as many in the appendices. I had been picking away at the revision for about a year, but felt overwhelmed by the sheer amount of material I had gathered over these five years.
Then I did the thing that shot me into orbit: I promised the docents I would have the revision completed by May, so they could study it for the next advanced training. Making a promise can change your life.
I knew that I had to get my head together to accomplish this, as well as do my other work. Being a visual person, I took a blank sheet of paper and created a project map. It’s a strategy I have written about before: draw an oval in the center of the page and write the project name. Then draw lines from it and label the main parts (front matter, bibliography, index; appendices-9 sections; revision sources; binding ideas, further research visits). You might know what most of these mean, but if you don’t that’s okay, because I do. Notes, reminders and new ideas are added daily to each main part.
The point of keeping this map is that it tells me where I’ve been and where I will be going. One of my pleasures is to take my blue hi-lighter and cover a completed task. Sometime in May, I will see only blue on this paper. And what a pleasure it will be to hold the document, with its main section having grown from 25 pages to over 60, and its appendices bulging with source material.
My goal is to develop the be-all, end-all reference tool that compiles everything anybody knows about Stanley Kunitz’s early life in Worcester. I will also highlight the correspondence between him and Greg and Carol Stockmal, the couple who unknowingly purchased his boyhood home in Worcester. Once Kunitz accepted their invitation to step into the house after a sixty-year absence, a twenty-year friendship developed that lasted until his death. All of this will enrich an understanding of his poems, so many of which have Worcester in their bones.
My role is that of a gleaner of all that was said or written by him or the Stockmals that concerned Worcester, Vernon Hill, and his/their home on Woodford Street. What fun it has been to find a tidbit of information and drop it precisely where it needs to be! It’s better than a treasure hunt. The journey has taken me to historical museums, departments of records, registries of deeds, and on-site and on-line archives.
As I write this, I could go to my files and see where else I‘ve been. But, you know what? I want to get back to work!