Friday, August 26, 2011

My life between the pages

Bookmarks seem like such inconsequential, almost careless things. They’re never anything I put real thought into when I’m using them. Whenever I stop reading, I cast around for the nearest random slip of paper and use that. Sometimes that puts me in a glass case of emotion before I remember where I left off:

Movie tickets. Oh hey, that’s from the first time I drove my own car, to meet up with my best friend like it was no big deal. But it was, and I couldn’t stop grinning with my secret glee the whole time.

Paper wristbands. The blinding neon pink is from when I drank an Irish car bomb while talking about RPGs and waiting through three or four inconsequential local bands to hear who we really came to see. The one printed with ghosts is from a January 2009 dance party, the one where I learned that I actually like to dance. They’re both from the same bar, although at least three years apart.

Fortune cookie slips. My favorite says, “Forbidden fruit makes the sweetest jam.”

Receipts. This one’s from early 2010, in my university’s bookstore. I have no idea what the first book was; the name has been rubbed off. But the second, New York Stories, I still have on my shelf and read through occasionally because I don’t have a subscription to New York magazine and like pretending I do.

Scraps from English classes. I’ve marked two passages in my copy of The Sun Also Rises, one about a bullfight (imagine that) and one as my favorite Hemingway line (“It is awfully easy to be hard-boiled about everything in the daytime, but at night it is another thing”). In Ben Greer’s Slammer, I’ve shoved an essay assignment slip that asks, “Is there symbolism in Ben Greer’s Slammer? If so, what is it?” Oh, freshman English.

Cards from my university’s card catalogue. In their library revamp, the main branch on my campus set out a great big Dewy Decimal System bureau full of old cards that had been computerized. They were free. They were the perfect size. They had book things typed on one side. I used huge clumps of these for to-do lists, notes to myself, and bookmarks, overlapping the uses when I finished the lists and acted on the notes. One of them reminded me to look up the song "Start Wearing Purple" after my college radio station got it stuck in my head. (You’re welcome.)

So what do you use for bookmarks? Does anyone use those official, overpriced but so pretty plastic ones I used to buy at school book fairs? Has anyone ever lost important stuff from using paper like I do (I never did get that water bill back...)?  


  1. Back when I read B&N classics I would use two poker cards per book, one to mark my place in the story and another to mark my place in the footnotes. The cards were symbolic of the books marked, of course.

  2. Your well-thought-out symbolism puts my randomness to shame.