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Where our weirdest, purest selves reside

This is Ode To…, a weekly column where we share the stuff we’re really into in hopes that you’ll be really into it, too.

Open up your Notes app. Take a quick scroll. Not 100% sure what’s going on there, are you?

For the most part, we don’t compose Notes with an audience in mind. In fact, we assume that no one but us (if we remember to look) will ever see them again. The result is a surprisingly authentic account of what we’ve been up to, what we’ve seen, what we want to remember — a stupidly earnest, unintentional diary.

My Notes app is a mélange of grocery lists, pitch ideas, and context-free reminders. Aside from the grocery lists (some of which, like one that reads, “pasta / Drano,” are deeply confusing), I only have a foggy idea of what most of my Notes mean. 

What date, indeed.

What date, indeed.

On June 18, for example, I wrote a Note that says only “what date is this.” This, I assume, was a passed Note — the silent message you type out in the Notes app, then show the person next to you so you don’t have to say it out loud. In this case, I was probably asking whoever I was with either 1) the calendar date, or 2) to guess which date — first, second, fifth — a nearby couple was on. I love eavesdropping!

Then there are the night Notes, or (in some cases) the early morning Notes. These are the Notes we do not remember writing because we were drunk, still asleep, groggy, or some combination of the three. These Notes are thrilling to read after the fact. They are a gorgeous window into the psyche. 

Case in point: this Note from a coworker, which reads “Glove thing.” She does not know why.

What does it all mean?

What does it all mean?

Then there are the lists — grocery lists, hardware store lists, pro-con lists made in the heat of some moment that seemed important at the time. The lists tell us what it was, on a particular day, that we needed or wanted — even if that was just “dish soap.” And, for the most part, we can trust them to be honest. After all, no one else would see them.

(The breaks between the items are interesting, too: did you delete foods from your grocery list as soon as you found them? Were you feeling organized enough to divide your list by store? The Notes app keeps that mostly useless record.)

A Target list.

A Target list.

A grocery list.

A grocery list.

Among the lists, messages, and one-off ideas for your novel, you might find some Notes that are genuinely moving. They read like miniature diary entries: set lists, bizarre observations, funny quotes from your friends. These are the best Notes — you wanted yourself to see them again.

From a colleague: Phish at Wrigley Field, 6/25/16.

From a colleague: Phish at Wrigley Field, 6/25/16.

A good way to eat French fries.

A good way to eat French fries.

So one day, when you don’t have service on an airplane or in the subway, take a moment to peruse your Notes. Check back in on your grocery lists and your mysterious, bad ideas. Maybe you’ll be reminded of a fun day you’d forgotten. That’s why you wrote a Note about it, after all.

Just don’t write your apologies in there.

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