Sunday, 11 September 2016

How My Life Has Changed

On the morning of September 11th, 2001, having decided to stop en route in order to vote, Hilary North was late for work. Had she turned up on time, it’s almost certain that she would have perished along with 176 of her co-workers, for her office was situated on the 103rd floor of the World Trade Center’s South Tower, approximately 20 floors above the entry point of the hijacked jet airliner. Hilary wrote this list shortly after the tragedy; a recording of it being read aloud was featured in the Sonic Memorial Project, an audio archive of reactions to the event from all over the world.

Transcript follows.

(Source: The Lists of Note book, via Library of Congress.)

How My Life Has Changed
Hilary North

I can no longer flirt with Lou.
I can no longer dance with Mayra.
I can no longer eat brownies with Suzanne Y.
I can no longer meet the deadline with Mark.
I can no longer talk to George about his daughter.
I can no longer drink coffee with Rich.
I can no longer make a good impression on Chris.
I can no longer smile at Paul L.
I can no longer confide in Lisa.
I can no longer work on a project with Donna R.
I can no longer get to know Yolanda.
I can no longer call the client with Nick.
I can no longer contribute to the book drive organized by Karen.
I can no longer hang out with Millie.
I can no longer give career advice to Suzanne P.
I can no longer laugh with Donna G.
I can no longer watch Mary Ellen cut through the bull.
I can no longer drink beer with Paul B.
I can no longer have a meeting with Dave W.
I can no longer leave a message with Andrea.
I can no longer gossip with Anna.
I can no longer run into Dave P. at the vending machine.
I can no longer call Steve about my computer.
I can no longer compliment Lorenzo.
I can no longer hear Herman’s voice.
I can no longer trade voice mails with Norman.
I can no longer ride the elevator with Barbara.
I can no longer say hello to Steven every morning.
I can no longer see the incredible view from the 103rd Floor of the South Tower.
I can no longer take my life for granted.

Tuesday, 1 December 2015

Integrated Bus Suggestions

60 years ago, on December 1st, 1955, the course of history was changed when Rosa Parks refused to give up her bus seat for a white passenger and was subsequently arrested. For the next year, until racial segregation was deemed unconstitutional by the federal courts, a boycott of the public transport system, headed by Martin Luther King, took place. On December 19th of 1956, the eve of a historic victory for those opposed to such segregation, King prepared a list of guidelines for those soon to be re-boarding the buses.

Transcript follows. This fascinating document can be found in the Lists of Note book, along with 124 other compelling lists from throughout history. For more info about that book, go here.

Image © The King Center, Flip Schulke, Benedict Fernandez



This is a historic week because segregation on buses has now been declared unconstitutional. Within a few days the Supreme Court Mandate will reach Montgomery and you will be re-boarding integrated buses. This places upon us all a tremendous responsibility of maintaining, in face of what could be some unpleasantness, a calm and loving dignity befitting good citizens and members of our Race. If there is violence in word or deed it must not be our people who commit it.

For your help and convience the following suggestions are made. Will you read, study and memorize them so that our non-violent determination may not be endangered. First, some general suggestions:
  1. Not all white people are opposed to integrated buses. Accept goodwill on the part of many.
  2. The whole bus is now for the use of all people. Take a vacant seat.
  3. Pray for guidance and commit yourself to complete non-violence in word and action as you enter the bus.
  4. Demonstrate the calm dignity of our Montgomery people in your actions.
  5. In all things observe ordinary rules of courtesy and good behavior.
  6. Remember that this is not a victory for Negroes alone, but for all Montgom¬ery and the South. Do not boast! Do not brag!
  7. Be quiet but friendly; proud, but not arrogant; joyous, but not boistrous.
  8. Be loving enough to absorb evil and understanding enough to turn an enemy into a friend.
Now for some specific suggestions:
  1. The bus driver is in charge of the bus and has been instructed to obey the law. Assume that he will cooperate in helping you occupy any vacant seat.
  2. Do not deliberately sit by a white person, unless there is no other seat.
  3. In sitting down by a person, white or colored, say "May I" or "Pardon me" as you sit. This is a common courtesy.
  4. If cursed, do not curse back. If pushed, do not push back. If struck, do not strike back, but evidence love and goodwill at all times.
  5. In case of an incident, talk as little as possible, and always in a quiet tone. Do not get up from your seat! Report all serious incidents to the bus driver.
  6. For the first few days try to get on the bus with a friend in whose non-violence you have confidence. You can uphold one another by a glance or a prayer.
  7. If another person is being molested, do not arise to go to his defense, but pray for the oppressor and use moral and spiritual force to carry on the struggle for justice.
  8. According to your own ability and personality, do not be afraid to experi¬ment with new and creative techniques for achieving reconciliation and social change.
  9. If you feel you cannot take it, walk for another week or two. We have confidence in our people. GOD BLESS YOU ALL.

Wednesday, 3 June 2015

The Lists of Note book (U.S. edition)


The very handsome U.S. edition of the Lists of Note book, pictured above, is soon to be published by the clever folk at Chronicle Books--on June 16th, to be precise--and I'm extremely excited. It's a gorgeous book, if I do say so myself, filled with 125 fascinating lists from throughout the ages, written by such people as Marilyn Monroe, Johnny Cash, Christopher Hitchens, Sylvia Plath, Isaac Newton, Rudyard Kipling, Thelonious Monk, Walt Whitman, Susan Sontag, Leonardo da Vinci, and many, many more.

Pre-order via this link and receive a Moleskin in which to write your own lists, plus a signed bookplate (this offer is open to US residents only and ends tomorrow, 4th June, so be quick!).


Wednesday, 1 October 2014

Joan Didion’s Packing List

In her 1979 book, The White Album, American author Joan Didion reveals and explains the packing list she used when working full-time as a reporter:
“This is a list which was taped inside my closet door in Hollywood during those years when I was reporting more or less steadily. The list enabled me to pack, without thinking, for any piece I was likely to do. Notice the deliberate anonymity of costume: in a skirt, a leotard, and stockings, I could pass on either side of the culture. Notice the mohair throw for trunk-line flights (i.e. no blankets) and for the motel room in which the air conditioning could not be turned off. Notice the bourbon for the same motel room. Notice the typewriter for the airport, coming home: the idea was to turn in the Hertz car, check in, find an empty bench, and start typing the day’s notes.

It should be clear that this was a list made by someone who prized control, yearned after momentum, someone determined to play her role as if she had the script, heard her cues, knew the narrative. There is on this list one significant omission, one article I needed and never had: a watch. I needed a watch not during the day, when I could turn on the car radio or ask someone, but at night, in the motel. Quite often I would ask the desk for the time every half hour or so, until finally, embarrassed to ask again, I would call Los Angeles and ask my husband. In other words I had skirts, jerseys, leotards, pullover sweater, shoes, stockings, bra, nightgown, robe, slippers, cigarettes, bourbon, shampoo, toothbrush and paste, Basis soap, razor, deodorant, aspirin, prescriptions, Tampax, face cream, powder, baby oil, mohair throw, typewriter, legal pads, pens, files and a house key, but I didn’t know what time it was. This may be a parable, either of my life as a reporter during the period or of the period itself.”
The list read as follows.

(Source: The White Album; Image: Joan Didion by David Shankbone.)

2 skirts
2 jerseys or leotards
1 pullover sweater
2 pair shoes
nightgown, robe slippers
bag with:
   toothbrush and paste
   Basis soap
   face cream
   baby oil


mohair throw
2 legal pads and pens
house key