Life Books

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Every year my date book starts out clean and fresh and ends up as a messy, intimate record of my life that year.

I have post-it notes, phone numbers, doodles, quotes, course descriptons, fortune cookie fortunes, love notes, hockey & baseball schedules and other junk scotch-taped all over my planner or stuffed in the cover pockets.

Years later when I thumb through an old book they add color commentary for the year. Sometimes they spark a wonderful memory; other times I wonder who the people were or why they were so important to me then.

The NY Post recently featured an article subtitled “Finding art (and joy) in scraps of memory.” The article focused on the people and reasons behind starting web sites to collect and show old grocery lists (Grocerylists.com), book inscriptions (Bookinscriptions.com) and bits and pieces of life’s flotsam and jetsam (Foundmagazine.com).

Bill Keaggy, the founder of Grocerylists.com, was leaving a grocery store one day when he found a yellow post-it note stuck on a shopping cart. The list was nothing special, but he found himself fixating on the person it belonged to.

“It was so ordinary–that’s why it was so great,” he said. “I like the little things in life that people don’t pay attention to. But it’s details like these that make up the minutes of our lives.”

He was particularly struck by the honesty of grocery lists. They aren’t meant to be seen by anyone else, even though the contents of grocery carts end up on a conveyor belt in plain view of everyone.

“One of my favories was one that had obviously been written by a wife to her husband,” he said. “She wrote, ‘Coke, bread, milk. If you buy more rice I’ll punch you.’ And I thought that was so great. There’s a life behind each list.”

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