first portrait

I’m going through stuff here in Spencer’s house in LA.

physically, I mean — but of course in every way.

there are thousands of books, not really exaggerating — only half the books from our parents’ house, but still, way too many books. I’m not capable of just dealing with them wholesale: I go through each one, deciding which to keep, which to sell on Amazon, which to donate. I enjoy the process, really: finding Joyce’s annotations in Virginia Woolf, a copy of an obscure anarchist novel next to pretentious right-wing Russell Kirk (my parents’ politics are inscrutable), it’s all cool.

so here’s what I came upon in a copy of Jim (not yet James) Beard’s Casserole Cookbook of 1955:

Here’s what I can tell you about this piece of paper. The writing is my father’s, from the summer of 1958, and it’s a slightly mysterious set of accounts of income he expects for August of 1958. I can figure out Interlochen (where he taught that summer), and various music publishers: Holt, E B [Marks], Peters, for whom he did music copying work. Here’s a close up view of the accounts:

The reverse side is a blank form (mimeographed I think), for the service music choices at the First Methodist Church in Plymouth, MI, where my mother was the organist. (I was baptized there in October of 1958.)

So of course, the line drawing below can be none other than a pre-natal portrait of me by my father. I was born 22 July 1958, and my guess is that he was working out the numbers to be sure he could pay the hospital bill for my birth.

I love this portrait of a fetus reading. love it completely. and it makes me patient with this whole process of sorting through books. but I guess I was set up to be bookish from the start, no?!