Just for grins and giggles, I want to tell you about a project I spent some time on last year. Like most of my endeavors, it was pointless but fun.
I will help you to know, I am a record keeper and collector of things, from LPs, CDs, and DVDs to ticket stubs, photographs, cards and letters, whatever.
Last year, I finally acted on an idea I’d been kicking around for a long while, about creating a “Timeline” of my life. To be specific, an Excel spreadsheet featuring stuff that’s gone on, from the day I was born, to yesterday.
I figured I was uniquely qualified to create such a thing because of my collector’s nature, meaning I have a ton of sources to go to, to match dates with events.
I started with a list of places to which my family and I had relocated, then added every 10th birthday. Then it was time for the spreadsheets.
I have full spreadsheets that include every concert (108) or sporting event (325) I’ve attended, and medical issues I’ve experienced. (Yes, really.) I created those soon after I got my first computer in 1999. I just started with every concert I knew I’d seen, cross referenced them with the ticket stubs I still had, and pictures I’d taken. The sports events were almost all based on ticket stubs, along with some occasional date-estimated remembrances from my youth. It really wasn’t too hard to do. Once you have all your old history added, you just take a minute or two to add the rest as you go. And the internet was a big help in coming up with final scores and attendance at long-ago games. (Yes, I tracked a lot of data, right down to the game jersey I wore, so I could keep track of the mojo effect.)
I created the medical thing after I had my first atrial fibrillation diagnosis and treatment, because I figured I’d better keep track of that stuff, since there’s no way I was going to remember all those names, dates, drugs, and procedures. And you know that’s always the first thing new doctors ask for.
So with that as a framework, I then dove into my journals. I’ve kept journals of sorts throughout vast swathes of my life, starting in 8th grade. I have a book that covers 10th and 11th grades, and then appointment books from my sophomore though senior years of college. I ran my life with those appointment books, in which I not only recorded classes and assignments, but parties, nights out with friends, and romantic entanglements. It was a wealth of information from my young life.
Once I was out of school, I journaled again from 1985 in my first solo apartment in Toledo through 1988 in Cleveland, in 1990-92 in Albany, with another appointment book from 1995. I had one journal just for describing my softball and rec-league hockey games. I tended to journal the most when I was alone, especially when living in another new town.
To fill in some more holes, I have a year by year school book with old teacher documents and report cards, photo albums with records of family trips and riotous Barn Parties, digital picture files from the non-film camera age, old Far Side calendars I’d kept from the 80s, and info from Facebook and other social media outlets.
With all this information in hand, I sat down and went through it all, page by page, looking for anything that might be vaguely interesting. The whole thing probably took me about a month to do. As of today, there are 1019 entries.
Yes, there was much I didn’t put in the Timeline. Maybe one day I’ll go thought and make a “Director’s Cut,” with all the scenes that didn’t pass the initial editing. That’ll draw a hard R rating though.
So, why did I do all that work? Just for the hell of it, I suppose. I thought it would be a fun experience. And I did learn a lot. In fact there were several scenarios that I realize I’d mis-remembered regarding the order of events that may have happened in a relationship. But there was no arguing with the dates recorded in the appointment book or journal. Data trumps my faulty memory every time, (especially data I created myself).
And now that I have a searchable database of my life’s events, why not inflict it on my Facebook friends and family? So every day, I do a search on that day’s date and see what turns up. If it’s something I think might be interesting to a cross-section of Facebook connections, I write up a paragraph or two, especially if I can come up with an applicable picture to go with it. And yes, there’s a LOT that I skip, usually stuff that would only be interesting to me.
So now, should I accidentally become famous (or infamous) for doing something monumentally great or stupid, my biographers will have a wealth of information left behind to reconstruct my life story of being either an inspiring example or cautionary tale.