oubliette: n — a dungeon, often in the form of a deep and narrow well designed for the permanent incarceration of those whom it is desired to forget
Wait! you say (and by “you,” I mean you who were getting my word-a-day emails). Wait—she's already used that word! It's going to get tedious if she's going to repeat herself. To which I answer, it's been months since I wrote. Maybe you've forgotten by now.
To which I also answer, I left out an important secondary definition. To wit:
2. oubliette: n. — (regional) the space behind my books and the back of the bookshelf
This comprises mostly a casual sort of dungeon—though not an accidental one—used to dispose of annoyances. A framed photo I don’t have room for and don’t really care about. A roll of wrapping paper I’m too lazy to put away, not important enough to be remembered later. A second row of substandard books— including first-rate-second-rate (a term my father used to describe, in another genre, Mendelsohn and Vivaldi) romance novels by Rosemary Edghill (nom de plume of Eluki bes Shahar, if you can believe that) and Clare Darcy (nom de plume of, as it Wikipedia informs me, Mary Deasy) that I have a weird sentimental attachment to but no interest in ever opening again. (Aside: I have no shame in keeping my first-rate Georgette Heyer Regency romance novels on the front of the shelf—next to Hemingway in fact. And I have no shame in admitting I enjoy them more than Hemingway.)
Then there’s the less casual. Today (and by “today,” I mean at least a month and a half ago), I finally decided to deal with a shelf that had been sagging off its bracket for over a year. And found:
A quart-sized takeout container stuffed with individually packaged hypodermic syringes, including needles
A tiny photo album that my sixteen-year-old German mother created for her best friend, whose family left Berlin in 1941: “Please, Macky, do promise that you’ll never, never forget me. I hope to see you again in two years. I hope, we’ll be friends during our whole life!” (in English)
An art piece, made from an opened book. On the verso side, in a niche cut into the pages, a tassel from a piece of African (Yoruba?) fabric. On the recto, 2 niches, one with a tiny clay pot and a piece of coral; above it a space containing a pottery shard with a tiny scrap of paper making it into a candle or a hearth, and on the underside of the top edge, the words “Find out everything.”
Strinkley, a wooden elephant, my childhood toy, made by my father.
This oubliette means business.
I’ll end on a cliffhanger—that’s all for this entry. Curious and amusing so far (I hope). But the trove kicked off a tangle of stories long to write about in email form—and not possible to write in my genial email voice. Which is when I decided, it’s got to be a blog. Who wants to open emails, expecting an—can I say amuse cerveau?—and end up slogging through my memory lane while I train this voice? I hope you do, but I won’t make you.
Also end on a cliffhanger because I need to know how to post appropriately sized photos before I go on.
And because of a third definition of oubliette, to wit (again):
3. oubliette: n. — the backs of printed-out Guardian crossword puzzles.
I never leave the house without at least a ream stuffed into my bag. Fronts, self-explanatory. Backs, for vital (and I mean it) info like reference numbers for purchase transactions, ideas for perfect presents I can get for distant birthdays (a particularly difficult exercise the nearer an occasion gets), contact info, curious things I’ll email tonight/when I have more energy/when I start my blog/etc. Once I scribble, though, all is lost. Because I finish a puzzle and out it goes—and with it, my memory. I did that, for instance, with this entry. Or is it my brain that’s the oubliette?
Mustn’t overthink. Bye-bye.