I have been reading Michelle Obama's lovely autobiography, Becoming, over the past few days. Normally I plow through books in one or two sittings, but I am enjoying—no, savoring— her writing style and story. She's a good writer, and tells her story in a way that induces me to pause at the end of most sections and chapters and reflect on the parallels and differences between her life and mine (among other things).

After writing "I expect that Michelle had a very good editor who helped her figure out what details to include and what to leave out" just now, I was curious enough to go to the Acknowledgments at the end of her book. She not only had a good editor, but an entire team of fact-checkers and friends who helped shape her book. But her words are her own, based on journals and transcripts and conversations with family and friends and staff. And of course she had Barack and trusted friends read her drafts.

I think I'll have more to say about Becoming in the coming days. But I bring up editing, of course, not just because that is a large part of what I do professionally, especially these days (writing this in the wake of having edited some 13+ camera-related reviews and several other ancillary photography-related articles over a relatively short time span) — but because I am discovering, as I sift through the files and (thankfully diminishing) piles of papers and memorabilia — how… transient and sometimes even untrustworthy memories can be.

Tiny case in point: I have a sheaf of papers with notes from calendar entries from various time periods sitting on the desk. The paper on the top of the disorderly, unchronological heap happens to list a few events from 1980 and 1981, when I was in grad school at The Lord's University™. As it has relatively few entries compared to other papers in the pile, I'll jot them down here— along with what I remember for each one, as an exercise in showing the need for an editor(!!!)… and to illustrate how many of my memories have disappeared, even with notes intended to remind me of the details of the events. Note: the entries themselves are also unchronological, and I've retained that (lack of) order.

DMBA (knee) 80225047, $1,547.05: This must refer to the knee surgery I had to have following my first time downhill skiing. My sort-of, mostly ex-boyfriend at the time was an expert skier and kept encouraging me to try more and more difficult runs. I was doing fine until I hit a patch of ice and did the splits from the knees down… and stupidly kept right on skiing. Couldn't walk the next day. As this was an official church activity, the ward's insurance paid for it and for physical therapy. (The DMBA + number was either the insurance claim number or the hospital invoice number—more likely the former, as "DMBA" stands for "Deseret Mutual Benefits Administrators," which is the Mormon church's insurance company.)

Especially for Youth, June 16–20, 1980 (crossed out, I don't know why): I was a counselor for all three EFY sessions during the summer of 1980. Not sure why I didn't include the dates for the other two.

61st Ward Talent Show, 8 Sept 1980 — MC (different costumes—full scale): I did indeed emcee the ward talent show, and there are a couple of photos of me doing so, resplendent in my curly-haired perm at that time. But I don't have any photos showing me jumping on top of the desks and being absolutely over the top (manic?) in the role. (I think I was also MC at our ward Thanksgiving dinner, and that may have been when I was desk-jumping, come to think of it….)

17 Aug 1980 movie — "Airplane"?: While I remember the movie (largely because I saw it more than once, and still see certain funny clips on Facebook and YouTube from time to time), I don't remember going to see it then.

8 Dec 1980 tuition refund: What this doesn't say, but only implies, is that I dropped out of… not sure. The MA program in English? The pre-nursing courses I precipitously enrolled in at some point, unhappy as I was with pursuing English? (I was back in school for a while in 1981, however.)

22,23,24 Oct, 1980 — Monroe, Utah: I think this was one of my stints as a teacher in training (I ended up fulfilling nearly all the requirements for a Utah teaching certificate before figuring out that I'd never be able to live on the starting pay).

Friday Night Live: No clue, except of course that it was an event that followed the format of Saturday Night Live—was I a participant? or just a member of the audience?

Orem Jr. High, "The King and I," Feb. 26-28, 1981, M2, w/Diane (roses): I have no recollection of the performance. I assume that "M2" is the seat. I went with Diane Cooper, whom I'd met at EFY the previous summer; I think she was student teaching there. As for "roses"— maybe we brought some for the actors? Again, no clue.

W/ Robbie—Talent show (Zing & Mame) (no date): "Robbie" was an elder in my mission (the leader of the touring musical groups); he lived at home in Orem at that time, while going to school and teaching French at the MTC (missionary training center). We must have reprised the "Zing" number—as a comical addition to our spring tour, I lip-synced to the recording of my mother singing "The Italian Street Song" from Victor Herbert's operetta Naughty Marietta; I assume Rob took on the role of the men's chorus. "Mame"? Well, I know the musical from having seen the movie, but I don't know what we would have performed from it.

12 Aug 1980—lunch for Tanya P—Old Dan Tuckers (icky soup), Tanya knowing Arabic: Tanya worked with me for a while at KBYU, and I think this was a farewell lunch before she went on her mission to… Italy, if I'm not mistaken. No recollection of the "icky soup," however. Though I didn't know it at the time, of course, she and a friend of ours from Grenoble days, Melinda, knew one another from high school in (I believe) Beirut. (I found that out after reconnecting with Tanya on Facebook a short time ago.)

10 April 1981: Marilyn Nagle & Warren Ricks married — @#! reception: I do not remember who these people are at all, and why their reception merited the "@#!".

Wakefield piano contract: I can only assume from this that I rented a piano (which I certainly would have done, and had done at least one other time when an undergrad at BYU).

RSM window: This entry is accompanied by a scribble of an angel Moroni blowing a trumpet; this was, I believe, something that I painted on a Wilkinson Center window—with permission—while involved with the Returned Sister Missionaries organization. And not only was there an angel on the window, but apparently this poem as well:

Another Angel has flown!
His message is plain:
To the world make it known
Christ is coming again!

•••
Thus endeth the entries for this page. And now, dear reader, assuming you're still with me here—NOW you know why people need editors, especially when dealing with autobiographical material. Yes, I will edit out the things I don't remember. But there's clearly more to the job than just that. I could (and may yet) write out, flesh out a couple of the stories that go along with the entries here, but figuring out whether doing so for those specific entries is worth the time and effort… is something else again.

"To be continued" (but no, don't worry, I'm not planning on subjecting people to this same kind of thing again!).