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About First 40

The original working subtitle for this undertaking — I guess you could call it that — used to be: “a partial record of things heard, seen, and said from the first 40.” (As in: the first 40 years…) But I realized that didn’t do much in the way of clarification. Here’s a better explanation of what’s really going on.

“First Forty” is, at heart, a pet project: a look back on events as I’ve chosen to record them through various journals, scribblings, letters, photos, and audio recordings. I’ve always been something of a closet archivist when it comes to matters of personal and family history, driven by an impulse to preserve stories across a variety of media. This would include a journal I’ve kept (albeit sporadically) over the years, and it is this on-going log that I expect will comprise the bulk of the project.

The impetus behind all this has been my wife, Yumi, whose playful barbs regarding my predilection for getting-it-all-down — “Who is ever going to read all that stuff, anyway? You never will because you never stop writing!” — has given me pause: Who really is going to read all this? When will I give myself the time?

Then, on a trip back to Wisconsin in June of 2006, I undertook the job of scanning all of my father’s slides. While waiting for each batch to be scanned I’d find myself with some time to kill, which I’d then utilize by thumbing through old journals. During these breaks I came across names, events, and places I’d completely put out of mind, and at times the reading was difficult to put down. Now, granted, this is my story after all, but in another sense it is — across time, countries, and cultures — the story of so many others, whether they were actually there or not. That aside, this is, really, but a story: one that just so happens to have been written down. I decided right then and there in Dad’s basement the time had come to let this story out of the box.

With the advent of podcasting I now have at my disposal the perfect medium for finally doing something with all this “stuff”. True, it may be of interest to only a mere handful of people (myself primary among them), but organizing all my reading, reflecting, scanning of old photos, etc., around some kind of public project will, I hope, keep me focused and situate the task in some kind of larger, meaningful context.

So why the name “First Forty”? No particular reason, really, other than it’s easy to remember. 40 will be coming up over the horizon for me soon enough (!) and “first” has a hopeful ring to it, which I like.

At this point in time I’ve decided to split the story up into “strands”, if you will, rather than plod through everything chronologically. I’ve got a lot of material to cover and I think it’ll be more interesting for me to work simultaneously on five storylines rather than just one. We’ll just have to see how it goes.

David
2006

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