You don’t have to be a professional writer to pack journals or loose leaf notebooks and pens. And you notice that I use the plural, for if you’re going anywhere for any length of time you’ll use more than one. And you might find it difficult to buy what you want in a foreign country for a reasonable price (twenty years ago ballpoint pens were $20 in Zimbabwe, but I know that’s changed…they might not even have them now!). On my first round-the-world trip I filled fourteen large spiral notebooks, staying up every evening to record the amazing adventures that took place during each day: conversations, impressions, misadventures, and minute descriptions of people and places. And it was from these detailed accounts that I wrote the book, Madam, Have You Ever Really Been Happy?
Hey, you say, today I can simply record my trip on e-mails sent from cyber cafes. But that’s not the same as sitting quietly with a notebook on your lap and mulling over the day’s highlights. And you can’t paste mementos and post cards into a computer, or keep a record of places you stay and people you meet along the way. You think you won’t forget anybody’s name, address, or e-mail. Trust me, you will…but not if it’s in your handy journal!
I know I sound like a nut, but one other thing that is very important when keeping a journal is the quality of paper and the type of pen. I’m sure Staples wanted to kill me as I scribbled on numerous back pages to see which one could take which pen without bleeding through. Get good quality or you won’t be able to use both sides of the paper. And while you’re at it, take a couple of Glue Stics for any photos or cards you don’t want to lose. They also give your journal extra pizzazz. And try to write at least a couple of sentences a day before you crash.
Theater update for Broadway addicts: Thoroughly enjoyed the humor and singing in the musical, Shrek, which I saw with Judy Wyman-Kelly and Leah Kelly, who will soon celebrate her 11th birthday. We were lucky to see the fabulous Sutton Foster of the original cast. Also saw a short play by Alan Ayckbourn, My Wonderful Day. He’s the prolific author of the screamingly funny Norman Conquests of last season. This play was not as good, in my opinion, but the acting was superb. It was part of the Brits Off Broadway celebration during November and December. Finally, there was the spectacularly staged Turandot at the Metropolitan Opera. One of Puccini’s greatest! Among the famous arias is my favorite, the moving Nessun Dorma.