I was at it again this week. I was working on my calendar. On a normal day I write notes in my calendar on my computer of what I did that day. What artwork I worked on, where I went, or any other simple or complex thing that I did. I’ve been doing that since December of 2008 in an attempt to show myself that I do get things done. Otherwise whenever I make a piece of art and put it away I tend to forget about it and it feels like I’ve never done it or anything. With a glance at my calendar I can see that I have accomplish something and it can lift my spirits.

It was back in 2012 that when I was going to clean out the garage of a bunch of old tax receipts that I realized I could use those old papers to reconstruct what I was doing back then in the 1990s and enter that information into my virtual calendar. I ended up doing research on myself. Sure it interested no one else but I thought it was cool. I made a little map of my past. It was a lot of work though. And like many things that are a lot of work for no real reward I worked on it for a while and then put it away. I figured I’d finish the rest of it some other time. Then six years passed by.

From 1999 until 2004 I kept a paper calendar. That’s where I first got the idea to keep track of some of the things that I did and I also used it to write in. Just a short paragraph a day. Over the years I’ve mined those short paragraphs for various things but I never transferred the general information into my digital calendar. Back in 2012 I was mostly working on early 1990s receipts so I never made it as far forward in time as my paper calendars. I’m not even sure why I stopped keeping the paper calendar but I did. Still it was those ones that inspired me to start up on my calendar project again.

For about a week in May I became obsessed with filling in the missing years from my paper calendars into my digital one. Early in the mornings, at lunch time, at dinner time, and while watching TV at night I entered information into my computer. Instead of reading or surfing the web I typed for the week. It took a lot of effort.

The paper calendars were easiest because all the information was in one place. It was all written down in a handy spiral book. I used to buy and write in the Ansel Adams desktop calendars every year. I guess I got bored with them by 2004 since I used a different calendar that year. It must have broken the spell though because that one odd calendar was the last one I ever used.

The other part of the project were the receipts in the garage. That were also broken down by year and by subject matter too. I had receipt categories for art supplies, transportation, equipment, and a few other things I can’t remember right now. Plus there were bank and credit card statements in there. I could tell if I bought something or if I used an ATM near me or in NYC.

As I was doing this I couldn’t decide if the receipts or the paper calendar were easier to deal with. The receipts could be broken down into pieces and handled a little at a time but they took time to organize. The paper calendar took no organization but had a lot of information in one single volume. So it took some time to do. It somehow seemed easier to just take the art supply receipts and do them but then when I was faced with a years worth of receipts to organize it seemed easier to grab a paper calendar. I, of course, ended up switching back and forth between them.

One of the little things that particularly interested me this time around was that I got the the year to eighteen months where I took the train from Tarrytown into the city instead of the bus from Haverstraw. I remembered doing that but I had no idea when, how often, or for how long that happened. I had receipts for the rides so I could tell when I was on the train and not the bus. It’s a minor thing of no consequence but it made me happy to know.

I ended up finishing a lot of years. I think I had from 1990 until 1997 already done and this time I finished up 1998 until 2004. Now I just have a gap between 2005 until 2008 in my calendar. The earliest information I now have in my calendar is from 1983 and 1984. One of the things I note is when I go to the comic shop. Usually I go every week and so I put it in my calendar. I found among my tax papers receipts from when I went to the comic shop back in high school. I have no idea why I kept them but most of them had dates on them so I entered that info.

By the end of the week I burnt out on doing it. I wanted to finish and fill that four year gap but I just couldn’t take it anymore. I even organized the receipts for 2005 so they were all ready to go but I didn’t get to them. It seemed so pointless as is the danger of doing this sort of work. It’s emotionally taxing. At first it’s fun and fascinating to go through my life and see all the small things that happened. It can be nostalgic and joyful to say to myself, “Oh yeah, I remember that.” But after a while I start to feel bad because I’ve forgotten so much. Most of everything gets forgotten. That’s the way life is. I wonder if it’ll take me another six years to finish up.


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