Unfinished Notebooks

Archaeology & History

Well, that was a month of unplanned hiatus. I hit a bit of a block with my one post per week goal, for various reasons. Impostor syndrome insecurities about what to write, and general procrastination. But I will take as many new beginnings as I can wring out of the world, and I did see the first bumble-bee of the year today, so I’m calling that a good omen.

I've also told WordPress to nag me about posting every week.

I’ve also told WordPress to nag me about posting every week. We’ll see how that goes.

One development while I’ve been gone: I started volunteering as curator at a small local museum. Apart from the whole lack of salary aspect it’s pretty much my perfect job at this point in time.

Last week the other curator and I went into the storage room of the museum to take stock of the artefacts we can use to build our upcoming exhibits. There is all kinds of wonderful stuff down there, it is very hard not to get distracted on random tangents all the time. Even surrounded by so many things — letters, photographs, receipts, ID cards — touched and made and changed by the hands of people who lived and are most likely dead now, it’s sometimes hard to remember that those people were real. That’s why I really liked this particular one; it made me feel an instant feeling of connection to the person who used it.


It’s a grey cash book from the early 1900s, from one of a set of boxes labelled „Henry Skilton“, which appear to contain Henry Skilton’s whole life in documents, with research notes for an article of some kind.

The inside cover has writing in it.

Page one, too.

But then…

Apart from occasional pages in the middle of the book, the rest of it is pristine blank pages.

There’s something intensely comforting about the fact that Henry Skilton from a century and a decade ago also had notebooks lying around that never got fully used. I have a stack of them in my desk drawer. It would be awkward to use them for anything else now, but they’re not being used for their original intended purpose either. I know nothing about this person, I can barely even read the handwriting in the book, but I felt a powerful sense of kinship flipping over those blank pages.

It’s nice to get reminders that history is real — that people are real. And aren’t people great and weird? We’re great and weird; I love us.