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 Artifacts  from the Life of Bobby
First page of a letter




February 14, 2006



Dear Ann,

I think about things that I want to say after we hang up. Maybe I can say things better here. Hearing your voice confuses me and when you cry I can’t think. I hope you know that I’m trying to get it all together here. And I know that seems strange, even absurd. Why would a person go to Vegas to get it together?

People think of Vegas as a collection of exciting events; I think of Vegas as a uniformity, like a humming, like all color but undifferentiated, a background, something I can think against. And in the last few weeks I couldn't think at home. The silence of our apartment didn't allow me to think about possibilities, my ideas for inventions, anything good. So that’s why I came here; I know that it was sudden, and I’m sorry for that; but I just had to get out. I had to find a place where I could think.

And during my last few weeks at home, before I came here, you know how things were. And I’m sorry. I just couldn’t get some really bad things out of my head. You know how I think graphically so much of the time? And you know that I wish I could paint? Well during those last few weeks when I was so depressed I kept seeing an image of a calendar. It was a wall calendar with large spaces where you can write things under the days. I really wanted to paint it. In my painting I saw writing in each of those spaces for the days but instead of important notations about business meetings or appointments I saw only “Remember.” In all the spaces, day after day, month after month, one word, “Remember.” And the word would be written in these insistent letters—black, bold. “Remember.” As if all I had in my life were my memories. Even though I have you and you do your best to fill my life, but it can’t be your responsibility; we both know that.

And at the top of the calendar where you usually find a picture of a cat or a Norman Rockwell reproduction there was a picture of sad old me, gloomy old me. A light gray opacity. I wish that I could paint; I’d paint that calendar with, “Remember.”

And there was another image that I kept seeing. I saw a wall, outside, in a bad part of town, and written on this wall—in the same style that I saw on my calendar, bold, insistent—was “It has stopped.” I think that I meant my life. “It has stopped.”

So that’s why I had to get out, Ann. I know that you have been upset, and I’m sorry. But I want you to know that while I have been here I have been thinking hard, getting really creative and taking care of myself. And I have already come up with a new idea. What do you think about that? So I feel so much better.

First of all you remember my idea for the notepad holder that you could strap to the arm of an easy chair? You remember that? It has a leather backing and has nice leather straps that fit around the chair arm—like a rocking chair arm—and a slot for the notepad. I think it’s a great idea: you don’t have to go searching for a notepad while you’re sitting reading and you want to make a note. It's always available on your chair.

Well, just in the last few days I have come up with another great idea. It’s a paper weight that has a well in the top where you can store a pad of Post-It Notes. You know how I’m always losing those smaller Post-It Notes, the ones that aren’t the accordion-type with their own dispenser? I have been thinking that everybody uses those small Post-It notes, wouldn’t it be great to have a nice-looking holder for them? A small block made of steel, with a little well in the top where the notes would fit snugly. I think that brushed steel would look great. I’ve been talking to a few people while I’ve been here. Just a few casual conversations about how to get start-up money—without giving too much away about what I need it for. (And I haven’t been spending a lot of time in bars so don’t worry about that.)

Just thought of this. See how I’m working? How about a Post-It necklace so that you’ll have your Post-It Notes with you all the time and if you need a note you just reach down and grab one off your necklace? That sounds pretty good to me.

Ann, I’m working on my ideas while I'm here, and I know that I’ll come up with more. Remember about ten years ago when I came up with that idea for an off-site backup for computer files? You remember that I couldn’t find any money to get it started? Well, now that little idea of mine has happened and people are making money from it. I was just before my time. I know that one of my ideas is going to sell. I’m going to get a really good prototype together for these two ideas—my armchair notepad and my Post-it Finder—so that my presentation will be sharp and professional. OK, it’s three now, three ideas, if you count my Post-It necklace.

I have to tell you this, Ann. I’m laughing as I think about all these ideas. If you could see me now you would see me laughing, makes me happy.

Something else. I’m also keeping track of all my new sayings, my aphorisms—and they come to me every day— so that I can work on my book when I get back. “Poor Robert’s Almanac.” And I know that some of what I wrote before I left was a little gloomy, but recently I’ve come up with some happy thoughts for my almanac. And maybe it won’t be just sayings in my almanac. Maybe I’ll include interesting facts and maybe I’ll find somebody who can draw, draw cartoons for my almanac. I wish I could draw; I’ve got some great ideas for cartoons, some funny, happy stuff now.

OK, that’s it for now. You know that I miss you, but I’m not going to call every night. I think we both need some time to think. Don’t worry about me and take care of yourself. I’ll be home soon.


I love you,


[Signed, Bobby]

Over the next several months we will continue to publish letters and other artifacts from the life of Bobby Leeds.
Please also see "Poor Robert's Almanac," which was published here last week. We hope to collect more of Bobby's "wise sayings" from family members, and as we do we will publish them as part of Bobby's almanac.

18 January 2008

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