I’ve gotten a few questions since I started posting here, most of which can be summarized as “what the hell is sticky note?” I cannot tell you what this thing I’m doing will become, but I can try and give some context…
I have very fond childhood memories of my aunt and mother using “sticky notes” to convey messages to others in the household or as helpful reminders posted on cupboards, rearview mirrors, or the sides of purses that helped them stay on task. I’ll explain why I use the moniker today as a description for this blog in a second, but first let me tell you about two remarkable women who have demonstrated the truest and most unconditional love imaginable. They inspire me.
“Sticky note” or “sticky” for short was my Aunt Judy’s term for the ubiquitous “Post It Note” (always in yellow). I’m not exactly sure how she discovered the sticky or how it became the modus operandi for her life, but that woman runs her house (and everything else) like it is a Naval ship engaged in battle that double-times as a comfortable bed-and-breakfast. Everything including her house is immaculate, she cooks an amazing goulash (but you better drink your glass of milk), the wall-paper on every wall is lined up down to the millimeter, there’s ice cream in a mysterious and unmentionable place where a monster lives, and the couches are soft and welcoming but also seem to say to you, “screw up these pillows by laying on them and there will be consequences.” I’ve aspired to such a home. I’ll never achieve it.
As a child I’m pretty sure I tried as hard as a child could to bring some disorder to this system. I’ll never forget when I broke the wall clock by tugging mercilessly at the long metallic pulls which were intended to keep it running. It was the same force I had exerted weeks earlier when I had done so on our family’s grandfather clock which stood at the top of the “balcony” of my childhood home. As with grandfather clock though maybe slightly less dramatic, the wall clock tumbled to the floor. The grandfather clock took a similar tumble down 14 steps, and crashed in to the front door leaving a dent in the hardwood. Today it stands in my sister’s living room. Neither has told time for 30 years or more.
I was taught a lesson by my aunt when I yanked the clock off the wall. I don’t exactly remember what my punishment was but I remember that the lesson I was taught was to treat people and their things with respect…even if you didn’t quite understand why it mattered to them. I remember fighting back at my aunt and saying, “it’s just a silly clock.” It wasn’t just a silly clock. It was my aunt and uncle’s clock, it was on the wall at the entry to their bedroom and also in the middle of their cherished dining room.
I have never asked my aunt or uncle if that clock had any additional significance and I probably should. But every time I’ve returned to their home in the past 30 years, I’ve walked by it with deference and with a subtle but noticable bow of the head. I broke something that someone I love values.
It’s unconditional love that have erased this story from the memories of almost anyone that would have known it — except for mine. I need to find a way to say not just “I’m sorry” but also “I love you” for teaching me a lesson before I really knew what it meant.
Jill (aka ‘ma)
There are so many stories told of misfit travelers and unlikely companions. The type of story where two people happen to come in to each others lives, recognize they probably need each other to survive, and unfailingly love each other regardless of the twists and turns and bumps the road ahead brings. That’s my mother. That’s me. We are cut from the same cloth — proud, headstrong, opinionated, infinitely kind and willing to give but misinterpreted, flawed.
So on this road we travelled together we both tackled an amazing amount of change in our lives. I’m not ready to write about that right now…
She used stickies too. She’d leave me messages most often of the nagging-mother variety like “make sure your dirties (aka smelly underwear and socks) are in the wash.” Then there was the day I stayed up all night to write her a letter telling her I was gay. I was 17. I was scared I would be thrown out of the house. I stayed up all night on the phone with Chris Kryzan crying and praying and hoping that I wouldn’t wake up to her screaming at me angrily for being who I was.
The next morning, I woke up peacefully and in fact, there was no one in the house. I walked downstairs quietly in case my mother was still asleep (but it was a weekday…). On the cabinet on a yellow sticky was a note I’ll never forget. On it, in blue ballpoint pen in my mother’s perfectly frenetic cursive were the words, “I know. We’ll talk. Love, ‘ma”
Unconditional love erased all the sins I thought I had committed being who I was and made me feel safe and gave me the space to become who I am. We never really had the talk that was indicated on the sticky…it wasn’t needed I guess. But perhaps it’s time for me to leave the sticky for my mother that says, “It’s okay, we’re good. Love, JPie.” I’m so sad that I’ve waited this long to say that.
So here we are…Project Sticky Note.
About a year ago I started to realize how many fleeting thoughts I was having. Moments where I’d see something I hadn’t before or understand something in a new way. Moments of insight. These were triggering something inside of me because they were important but I had to grasp at them and hold on to them so I could have a chance of understanding why. So to make sure I remembered the trigger or idea, I littered my house with sticky notes and permanent markers. Each time I had a thought or felt there was something worth coming back to, I wrote it down and began to put it on the wall of my living room. One year later it looks like the picture below.
And this blog…it intends to explore each one as well as those that I haven’t yet written…including the one I just put in a place of significance which says “It’s okay, we’re good!”