On Journaling and Other Foolish Endeavors

I always wanted to keep a journal.

No, I didn’t go to this college. A friend did and I “borrowed” her notebook.

I’d write in it every day and when I die, some family member will find my vast pile of notebooks, read them, get them published, and my genius will be discovered.

(I always imagine myself published posthumously. In some bleak sense, it gives me hope.)

By the way, have you read the blog Exile on Pain Street? Besides having a really cool blog name, he often shares items from the journal he kept in his younger days. Good stuff.

Great stuff, actually.

It got me to thinking… while it’s true I never managed to develop a daily habit of journal writing, there were times I tried.

Maybe if I look through one of those notebooks, maybe I can find something of value to post on my blog?

Yeah. Right.

Most of my entries are variations of, “Okay, this time for sure I’ll write in this every day!” and, “Oh, wow — totally forgot I was doing this!”

I was hoping this notebook would give me a glimpse of my younger self. What were my hopes, dreams, and aspirations? What were the concerns that plagued me? What deep thoughts did I ponder?

I have ugly kneecaps.
I was looking at my kneecaps just now and realized how ugly they are.
Does everyone have ugly kneecaps or is it just me?
I’m not complaining, mind you. It’s just that I rarely view my body so intently. Sometimes I find parts of myself I never knew existed.
Taking a shower can be a very enlightening experience for me.

None of the entries are dated, but I know I pilfered… er, borrowed… the  notebook in 1983. That would make me… um… younger than I am now.

I’ve always looked younger than I really am, which is annoying.
When I was 19, I looked like I was 14. When I was 10, I looked like I was 5. When I was born, I looked like a fetus.
I’m telling you, it’s been rough.

When I was a kid, it seemed every year I got a diary for my birthday. They were always pretty, girly things with locks on them, to hide all those deep, dark secrets. Pretty sure every diary was pink. Possibly baby blue.

Pretty sure every one of my diaries had a grand total of three entries.

But serious writers, they keep journals. That’s where we write our serious stuff. Ponder life’s mysteries, uncover great truths. Stuff like that.

Only it seems I missed that memo…

Last night I had an erotic dream concerning my mailman and a pineapple.
On an unrelated note, I wonder why I’m not asked out more often?

One thing I did learn about myself — at times I have a dark sense of humor.

Like, really dark.

And weird

I’ve been feeling so lost and insignificant lately. I wonder what the point is anymore? Yesterday, trying to escape my misery, I slashed my thumbs.
I called my sister to say goodbye.
Clearly she was overcome with emotion as she screamed at me, “The wrists, you dummy! You’re supposed to slash the wrists!”
The whole incident has left me quite shaken.

College photo
The truly sad thing is, I wasn’t drunk in this photo.

Here’s the thing: I’m in college at this point. Clearly things are happening, right? I’m learning things, discovering things, experiencing things.

So why didn’t I write about those things? Why didn’t I write about what was really happening, instead of:

The love of my life ended our relationship. How can I go on?
I realize I shouldn’t have expected so much from a man so quickly after he picked me up, but how could he do this to me after I gave him the best hour of my life?
I’m so depressed that I’ve been sighing steady since it happened.
My friends think it’s asthma.

Later on there’s an entry of how I joined a anti-nuclear group that lives in the woods and eats pork and beans. I hint there’s a mystery surrounding the absence of pork in said pork and beans. I vow to get to the bottom of it.

Sadly, there are no other entries.

I’m unsure if I should try keeping a journal again. Maybe this time the habit will stick?

How about you? Do you journal?

29 thoughts on “On Journaling and Other Foolish Endeavors

  1. Hilarious post and enjoyable read. I am very happy that you blog your thoughts to all of us instead of keeping them to yourself in a journal.

  2. I have several journals and most of them are entries about boys….I’m a little disappointed I didn’t write about other things more, but I guess I have a lot of material for some romance novels.

    1. Good for you! Honestly, I hoped to find at least SOME of that in this journal, but alas. My love life was a desert wasteland. Guess I had other things on my mind. Like kneecaps.

  3. I had a similar experience when I re-read my diary from my early teens! Now I keep a sentence a day diary and have managed to keep it up for 18 months. I try and write positive, happy things in it. It’s fun to see what I was doing a year ago aswell!

      1. I love mine, it’s really fun to look at what I was doing a year ago – next year will be even better to look back at the last 2 years!

  4. More journal entries PLEASE! That was hilarious!
    I’m too embarrassed to go through mine. It’s all angst and agony and my declaration of love for peanut butter sandwiches.

      1. Haha! You’re right Claudette. I shall no longer keep my love for peanut butter sandwiches under a bushel, but will proclaim it to the world…cos obviously there’s not enough crazy in the world. 🙂

    1. Ha! Maybe when the weather cools a little, I’ll see what the notebooks stuffed in the garage contain. Just for you, Lily dear.
      Claudette’s right, peanut butter sandwiches are a worthy love. Think of it – has one ever let you down?

      1. Has peanut butter ever let me down? Well there was that one time in 1989 when the bread was too soggy and the PB wouldn’t spread evenly. But I’m still too traumatised to speak of the event.

        I really do hope that you print more of your journal entries. I’ve recently read a few blogs where the authors has documented their childhood/teen years with some success, but those little nuggets you posted, are so much more hilarious and witty than all of those blogs put together, in my opinion.

  5. As usual, I have a multi-part answer, because I love the risk of creating an awkward run-on sentence. I kept several extensive journals in my youth (lengthy tomes, furtively scribbled), but all of my writing prior to the age of 21 was destroyed as the result of a disastrous roommate situation that escalated into vindictiveness and destruction. (THAT full story will be coming out someday.)

    After that, the career took off, and there really wasn’t much time for personal writing. However, since I spent the majority of my years at Verizon as a quality trainer, I was constantly “writing” documents and newsletters and memos. I was never one to strictly follow protocol, and those materials became an outlet for my “stories”. Looking back at some of those things now (there are dusty boxes shoved all over this house, brimming with the effluvia of that time) the one thing that keeps coming to mind is “how in the world did I get away with saying the things I did and not get fired?” I apparently walked a very thin line between productivity and entertainment.

    Finally, chiming in with your and Joe’s discussion above, a blog is really a journal, if you do it the right way. So, in that sense, I’ve kept the same journal (in various forms) since 2008. It’s not really a “private diary”, of course, and this digital concept lacks the fake-gold lock of our little pink and blue tomes (a lock that could easily be snapped, by the way, so the key, before you lost it, was kind of pointless). From a legacy perspective, a blog is much more durable than a little book that a future relative might toss into the trash while clearing out your house, unaware that they are disposing of your midnight musings in a callous and disheartening manner. Unless someone manages to destroy the Internet. But if that happens, then the world has probably been plunged into anarchy and no one will have the time to read your thoughts concerning the cute boy you saw in the lunchroom, no matter how gorgeously written….

    1. I always get excited when I inspire you to write a blog-length comment! 😀
      This one is epic — with stories of betrayal, loss, redemption and hope. Yes, when you’re ready, the disastrous roommate situation sounds worthy of several blog entries, at least. 🙂
      At my current job, I’ve gotten a reputation for my emails and what I write in the staff newsletter. One of the English teachers told me she was doing a lesson on humor and irony, so she read one of my articles to her students – I was telling the teachers they better get to my desk pronto to sign a roster, or they’d miss out on a substantial chunk of pay (no kidding, seems like they’d be on this sort of thing, but it’s amazing how many blow it off and then panic afterward). Anyway, she asked them “What is she REALLY saying here?” and one said, “She’s calling you all idiots.” She said, “Exactly! And the reason she gets away with it is because it’s funny.”
      I had to reread the article because I hadn’t *intended* on calling anyone an idiot — but, uh, yeah, I guess it’s there. 😮

  6. Really enjoyed reading your thoughts. I did for a period keep a diary, but after I reread it I destroyed it – it was so depressing (it was a very roller coaster time in my life), I would have hated for anyone else to have read it.
    Perhaps you should just make up the stuff that you would have wanted to write 🙂 just think how unlimited your life would have been and make it happen. 🙂

    1. Ha! Too true. That’s the best part of fiction writing — we get a chance to imagine how things could have been, rather than how they were. I’ll have to consider that. 🙂
      I understand completely your horror over someone discovering your diaries. Although it made me think of an article I read about a guy who in his will left his poems to a friend, with the order that they be destroyed. Instead, the friend had them published and the poems were widely recognized as brilliant (I can never remember names, but it’s probably someone famous.)
      Can’t help but wonder, would the guy be pissed knowing his orders were ignored, or did he know full well the friend would publish them? My hunch is with the latter.

  7. I thought your journal posts were pretty funny! Maybe you should keep one just to look back on and laugh about. I’ve kept journals my whole life and looking back through them years later is always fun. It’s interesting to see that sometimes you change so much, you don’t recognize the person that wrote it.

    1. That fantastic! I really wish I kept one my whole life, but my attempts were sporadic at best.
      Lately I’ve been challenging myself with five minutes of journal time every morning. So far – three weeks in – it’s going well. I’m hopeful this time it sticks.
      Also, welcome to the neighborhood! Always glad to see a new face. 🙂

  8. I try to journal daily, though it’s much more of a listing of what happened on a given day then really deep thoughts about what I’m currently thinking. That said, I always feel better when I really, truly journal and empty my head of whatever crazy is rattling around. I have a habit of buying new notebooks with just this intent, only to write one or two entries then toss the notebook entirely, worried someone would read it.
    Basically, I like the idea but it never really happens unless I’m having a hard time working through something.

    1. Yes, I see what you mean. I think it’s the mundane ‘diary’ entries that bore me and make it hard to keep going. Since I wrote this, I’ve been trying to develop a daily journal. I write for about five minutes, just whatever is in my head. So far, so good.
      Thanks for your comment!

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