A Daybook in a Life–Day 126

How Easy it is to Spend Someone Else’s Money

Sat. May 5, 1984—New York—Zach arrived here at 9:30, Jo soon after.  We drove to Boo’s in Fairfield, left there at about 11:00, drove to Mystic, Conn. And stopped for ice cream then met J. C. at Pequot Properties at 1:30 p.m.  She drove us to the  house mom had liked but wasn’t able to see inside. It was just as well, probably that she didn’t. Somebody was home cooking hard-boiled eggs and the interior of the house was basically conducive to the odor. We drove out toward Stonington, Conn. to see the “daffodil house” which was very nice, a lot like Maine, but too close to Rte. 1. Then we  arranged to meet A. from Boyer Agency at 13 Grove Street.  A most beautiful house which looked as if the sun had shown in it and the breezes blown in it since the day it was built—1863.  I believe.  A half block away from the water on a nice almost college quadrangle style neighborhood. We went back to Pequoit and bought it. Boo had the only  blank check in the group and signed it over for $10,000. Our first offer of $220,000 was refused—a second one for $225,000 accepted from a telephone booth en route back in Essex.

We ate dinner in the Tumble Down Café and went to the Griswold to await the arrival of Alice with the changes.  Signed, sealed and delivered at the Griswold Inn at app. 9:00 p.m. Dropped Boo off in Fairfield, Jo at her car, Zach at the door and to bed.

Between offers, of course, I spoke with Mom and Dad, on the basis of one phone call, at the Williamsburg Inn, not knowing exactly where they were or if they would be in.  A good sign.  I thought.

A Daybook in a Life – Day 105

Sat. Apr. 14,1984–New York—Looking out the window this morning at 10:00 a.m., it looked cold and deserted as a bad November day.  Discouraging weather.  One must, however, keep up one’s spirits.  What alternative, tell me, has one got.

L.W. called and wanted me to meet H. and J. for lunch. L. said he needed help.  So I trudged down to the Trump Tower in the rain and it turned out not to be a cozy lunch but distant relations. A., M. and Mother S, of whom, I’ve never even heard.  Anyway, we raced through lunch then they tore off to a play and that was that.  L. and H. and I ended up starring at one another as if we’d survived a hurricane on the roof of a house.

I trudged on home in the rain and spoke to L.P.   P.C. is house manager for a settlement house on W. 46th play center so Z. K.  and L.P. and I went down and met P. C. there.  The play was The Shoehorn by Mark Wiston, a pretty dreadful play about marital infidelity among the older generation.  Afterwards we went out and had dinner with the sound and lighting people–a nice girl name L.S. who lives in Brooklyn, a nice, nervous wreck of a kid with an earring–an uneasy addition to anybody’s wardrobe so far as I am concerned and another nice guy who reminded me of G.P. with overtones of C.B.

That was fun.  Home by 1:00 a.m. in a cab.  Englsh cabbie.

A Daybook in the Life–Day 93 and Day 97

Mon.  April 2, 1984—New York–I started off yesterday in pretty high spirits, striding to the bank, having my shoes shined, stepping fancifully around in the nice warm weather.  Things went pretty rapidly downhill though when I’d gotten home.  I was cleaning, folding and vacuuming for Dad’s arrival when I became inspired about taking C.B. out.  So I bought tickets over the phone to Sam Shepard’s True West and called the B.’s number.  T. (her sister) came on and immediately said that everybody had plans and suddenly I went from young man about town to kid in serious trouble.  The nadir was calling W. R., a tough but nice seemingly girl from Berryville, Virginia (scene of some interesting activity during the Civil War), and having her roommate answer and hear W. saying in the background to tell me she was talking a shower.  I had to hang my head at that one.

Earlier though, on the bright side, I signed and mailed my tax returns, completed, including my eye test, and mailed my license renewal and a contribution to William Westmoreland for his libel suit against CBS.

During the day, I got a flat tire (a big nail punctured the tire but it didn’t go down, it just would have) right near where L.B. lives, so I went and left her a note.  In general a hurried retreat turning into a rout on the girl front.

Fri. Apr. 6 1984—New York–A pleasant enough day weather wise.  Did business on L.I.  Had a nice lunch with E. R., P. B, and L. D.  I think half of the girls in that office love L., odd because he is a huge man and looks like a walrus.

I went to see True West tonight—all by myself.  It was kind of nice because in that stunned and appreciative moment when the play ends, you don’t have to start chattering to somebody about it.  I think I called twelve girls to go to it and not a one would come—nobody—nada.  I got to the theater early though and sat in relative comfort eating a bagel out of my front pocket and reading a New Yorker article about Mario Cuomo.

I bought a great pirate Beatle record tonight—File Under Beatles.


A Daybook in a Life — Day 1


Dec. 31, 1983—New York–I have decide to try and maintain a diary this year.  It will be more like a ledger (Scott Fitzgerald maintained a literary ledger detailing a monetary and publishing history of his work as well as a month by month short hand diary of his life for use as raw material–I will try to do the same) than a “dark night of the soul.”  I already make a practice of jotting down phrases which interest me, occur to me or I happen to read, so I will use this diary as a repository for all my little bits of paper.

It might be a nice place to maintain the weather and to reflect a bit on the news of the day.  Since my business actually is carefully registered I will not concern myself with that but I know that I keep hardly any track at all of my social time so that will be recorded.  A minimum entry requirement might not be a bad idea.  A lot of nights I barely get my socks off, or not even, so I might use today as a prototype—the last day of 1983.  A year book is a poor place to reminisce, so I will merely note that the year passes without great feeling or particular regret.

First Daybook Entry

Sat. Dec. 31, 1983—New York–The weather is cold and bright, the sky clear.  Slept on the sofa and slept.  Spent 2 hours on my play, rattled away on the guitar, then took a bundled-up walk down Fifth Ave.  I walked part of the way behind a youngish couple, she with a very hearty laugh, and overheard her talking about her mother walking for half an hour every day round and around the same block.  He said, “So I have heard.”  I approved of that. Once I got home, I sat down and wrote a note to Spectra Films requesting a promotional still photo of Nathalie Baye, a French film actress who is a favorite of mine. J.M. is having a New Year’s Eve party, I probably will go. C.H. said tonight on the telephone, “Happy New Year with skates on it…and stars.”  I hope so.

Ask and you shall receive–hand out photos of Nathalie Baye in La Balance.



A Daybook in a Life

In 1984 I started what ultimately became I guess part of my life’s work—unbeknownst to me.  I bought a notebook at a stationary shop on the west side of upper Madison Avenue, probably in the upper 80’s, about three blocks away from my apartment in NYC.  It wasn’t special.  It was just a notebook and on December 31, 1983 I started writing in it–daily.  Again nothing special, just where I went, what I did, the weather, what I ate, what I heard, what I saw.  There was never anything, “dark night of the soul” about the contents.  It was a daily account of my daily days, good, bad, fun, boring, dull, dramatic, but not merely jotted down, rather a fairly full and carefully composed (for the most part) out line of my day with random thoughts and observations.

During those 34 years, I dated, I got married, I had three children, I met scammers and con men, faced financial ruin, rid a house of bats, stymied conmen and scammers, started a business or two, made maps, wrote books, gave numerous presentations on Civil War Maps and Mapmaking culminating in a nationally broadcast presentation on C-Span BookTV.  I used my wits, held a couple of political offices, wrote a few songs, served on some interesting boards, read a lot of books, wrote and published a few articles,  played guitar on the street, broke my leg—a compound fracture—and my wrist in Carcassonne, and stayed in touch with friends some of whom I had since childhood.

This year I got the flu right after the New Year and in my flu stupor I pronounced to my family that I was quitting, what I call, my daybook.

They would not allow it – “Dad,” they said, in unison.  “Your day book is not for you anymore—it’s for us.  You cannot stop.”

I agreed.

I thought about it….how many people can account on a day to day basis for everything they’ve done for 34 years, 1 month ….and counting?  That’s 300,000 hours, 12,500 days and 1,786 weeks.

So over the course of the next few weeks, months, whatever, I plan to post some of my daybook entries.  I will just use initials for most of the people I came in contact with – except maybe the con men, they might not remain nameless—we’ll see.

And stay tuned.