Fictional short stories and poems are my writing preference, and so is writing all-new pieces to post here, as I originally resolved to do when I changed this blog to the “public” setting, this past September, but a non-sequitur is happily welcomed sometimes. Hundreds of pages of my past writings, however, are in the form of non-fiction- diaries, journals, reports, essays, articles, and research papers. Reading over a few of my old diaries this week reminded me of something I’ve known for a long time and also imparted to my writing students (back when I taught writing and not just Reading/Literature, as I do now): Writing, in an uncrafted, purgeable way, can be a tool, to be utilized by the writer, for the writer, (not just for an audience), in order to calm the mind, empty the mind, and reexamine the thoughts that require one to do so.
A diary serves as a reflector. And, although one is fantasy and the other reality, it is not unlike a pensieve and the way Severus and Albus observably extracted silvery wisps of events remembered out of their heads into a basin. The other difference here is that the emptying, achieved through the use of a diary, and not a wand, is not meant for another person, the way it was when Harry was shown other wizards’ thoughts; it is done primarily for the writer’s own well-being alone.
By seeing our own thoughts, physically on paper, that once felt overwhelmingly innumerable as the amount of Stephen King stories in the world, the writer’s stress decreases; a person *can* handle the finite amount of chaos on a few sheets of paper but not the abstract lightning storm within his/her head. Some readers of their own diary may even say they recognize and dislike their own petty and ugly thoughts and seek to change themselves in future events for their betterment.
Even though my diaries were originally for me, I thought I would extract some entries from them and make a pensieve of sorts here for you now. So, others can fall into my memories along with me, my unaltered memories as proven by the photos of my carefree, teenaged handwriting; (I wouldn’t attempt to alter them as Horace Slughorn once tried to).
Here are the silver, smoky, non-liquid/non-gas, strands of fitful thoughts and ideas that once concerned the mind of an American, mid-western, young woman from the ages of about 17-20 years old, just having started her independent life. I was transitioning from one way of thinking to another and, at times, I wrote about embarrassingly immature feelings that show the remnants of juvenileness that still existed within me. It is both humorous and tender to read now.
The text underneath each following pictures corresponds to the photo directly above it. The typed version of the original text in the photos appears within quotation marks. (I tried to pick the more PG excerpts, if you know what I mean.)
When you’re so sarcastically meta, that you could possibly sabotage the beneficial process of diary writing:
“Ok now, here comes the part of this entry that is the main purpose for having a diary, telling my thoughts and asking a bunch of rhetorical questions.”
When you are simultaneously self deprecating and confident:
“Ok folks, this is a historic day in my little, pathetic life. I conquered the obstacle of — and now I’m going to reach another goal, albeit a much more difficult goal.”
When you’re happy but you lack the ability to describe your strong feelings or discern whether an event holds some actual significance:
“…and then he raised his eyebrows and started kissing me. That was so cool. God damn that was cool. I couldn’t stop laughing. And also, I know whenever I feel down, I’m going to think of Steve making funny faces at me on the way home from the movie in the back of Joachim’s van. And I gave him a hug and he smiled. He also said that he thinks I will make a very wonderful mother someday because I’m so nice and caring. That made me feel good.”
When you’re eye-rollingly over-dramatic and you just can’t even deal, not even with your own self:
“…miserable. Every single minute of every single day I just feel like I can’t take it anymore. I’m fed up with everything. I’m so fucking sick of myself. I’m sick of being a failure, being worthless, being unsure of my future, having a boyfriend that I care about more than anything in the world but he has so many issues I have no idea what to even think or do anymore.”
When you claim you don’t act like a little girl but your own words say otherwise:
“So my spring break is going pretty well. My parents left today for a bar mitzvah in Canada and they won’t be back until 3 am on Monday. I hate to admit it but I am sort of glad they aren’t here for the rest of my break. Both my mom and my dad have been breathing down my fucking neck ever since the first minute I walked in the door last Friday. They still treat me like I am a little girl! Why? I don’t act like a little girl! Maybe they miss ordering around someone and now that Brandon and I are here, they feel like they have to bitch as much as they can and they only have one week to do it.”
When you’re young and fairly level headed yet don’t realize marriage and children are not the only means to ultimate fulfillment:
“…I mean c’mon, isn’t it only natural to have thoughts about marriage to the person you’re currently dating? I feel dumb admitting that I do but it’s the truth. I worry about who I’ll marry a lot. Some days I want to fast forward to when I’m a wife and a mommy. Then I wouldn’t have to worry about it. Sigh. Well if I skipped all that time, I’d probably wish I could get it back. Just like now. I wish I could go back and live my life better instead of just letting it pass me by.”
When you’re in a decent groove with your present life in a fairly adult manner, yet you find a goofy incident diary-worthy- and yes, it is still funny to me to this day:
“I’m really proud of myself today. I have a paper due on Friday and I’m almost finished with it today, which is Tuesday. Ok I have been chuckling about something to myself and this might be really hard to explain but I want to have this memory forever maybe. Well ok, in Tae Kwon Do class, there are these 2 greasy guys. The other day we had to do 200 push-ups and they just lay on the ground and lifted up their torsos a little. It was so fucking funny. Oh and we have to yell “keeyap” in Korean each time we kick or punch or even finish a set of 10 push ups. Well the lankier of the two greasy guys yells really loud and it like echoes through the gym. It’s so funny because one, everyone used to feel embarrassed to “keeyap” and two, he is doing it blatantly to be disrespectful. I find it so amusing and I was even laughing about that in Physics class today. (Sigh.) God I wonder if that will ever stop being funny to me.”
When you consistently hit your stride and are motivated and hopeful:
“I feel really relaxed lately, or maybe just today. I feel like I really have my act together. I don’t procrastinate quite as terribly as I used to. I manage my time well and use my free time wisely. I figure out when I can set aside time and extra time to do work or have free time to do something fun or even take a nap. I have all my work done for school pretty much. I feel good overall. I got a B+ on my history paper, the one I was stressing out about. Oh and the other paper for English, not only did I get an A, but Ms. Vasquez (my teacher) liked it so much that she read the first page of my paper in front of the whole class. She said, “this person obviously read the assignment and has it together and it is clear from the very start.” I felt so cool! It made me feel so warm and great. I felt like I was being rewarded for something I put effort into. And I was!! Well anyway, tomorrow is Passover. My family and I are going to Skokie to have a seder with my relatives. I’m excited to see my new cousin Jack, and Lynne and Tony, and Caryn and Brian — Well I’m looking forward to seeing everyone for that matter. There is another essay contest I’m going to enter. I hope this isn’t bad of me to actually think this, but I really want to win (1st, 2nd, or 3rd place). I want to be able to win another essay contest so that I know I’m a good writer and it wasn’t just one good essay I happen to have written.”
When you’re at peace with your slight apathy and move on to deeply shallow thoughts about your life:
“Tomorrow I have a test in Physics which I am not ready for. There is just too much stuff to study and I just never know where to begin or what will exactly be on the test. So, all I do is go to class and take notes. I skim through the chapters maybe. This is why I’m going to have to settle for a C. Oh well. I should do fairly well in some classes. I wonder where I’m going to be in 10 years from now or even 5 years. Will I be different? How much different? Will I be much smarter? Will I be prettier or uglier? What if I’m still in school? Hee hee. I wonder what my high school reunion will be like, or if we even have one. I hope so. I think it would be neat. I’m in the laundry room right now and it’s scary in here.”
When you find out the world is not quite as content and chill as you are nor are you able to completely fathom that people don’t actually have your same opinions and attitudes, but you’re still open to it:
“Why do people argue? I mean why do people that care about each other fight over stupid little things? Why do people have opposing viewpoints? I see myself as a reasonable, fair, considerate person and still, some people I really care about have completely different opinions or feelings than me. How can that be? Am I wrong? How can they possibly not even for a second, see it my way? Am I being unreasonable? Do I expect too much from people? I wonder if I will ever find the answers to these questions. You know people always say that the world is such a great place because all the people in it are different. Well, I’m not so sure I agree with that. Wouldn’t it be fun if everyone was pretty much the same? Isn’t it true that things go the best when you have a lot in common with a friend or someone you date? I wish I could find someone with my personality.”
When you actually live in the present moment, grateful for it, and your life sounds like a tampon commercial:
“…express how happy that made me. But that wasn’t the end. The next day we all drove to Starved Rock and John and Cory came with us. My period started and I was a little upset but there was no way I was going to let something as stupid as that ruin my day. We played softball and went for a hike. I loved it! I had cramps and felt uncomfortable for a while and Steve was so sweet. He kept asking me how I was and putting his arm around me. Then, when we got back, we went to see Election. Sigh. I will always look back on that as a very fond memory. And now I’m just looking forward to a fun-filled summer hanging out with Steve, my friends, and also going to LA to visit Jeffy again. I really should start looking into getting tickets because I don’t think Joachim’s idea of a road trip is going to happen.”
When you sound like a whiny, bitchy brat, albeit a hilariously cynical one:
“…the point of tears. My mom makes me so mad sometimes!!! Well I only have one more night in our condo sleeping on the uncomfortable-as-hell hide-a-bed with the fucking air conditioner down to 5 degrees and I have to get up in the middle of the night 10 times to piss shards of ice! It sucks having old people around because they have to live in an igloo and you can’t go anywhere because they always have to sit down. I suppose that will be me someday so I should stop thinking those things. I wonder if you do get wiser as you grow older. I’m not talking about birth to 20, I mean adult to late adult. I guess I’ll find out. Well it’s been a week since I’ve seen Steve. It’s been just fine. Only 2 more weeks and I’ve only had one dream about him. It was quite strange. I dreamt that I was on the phone with Steve’s mom and she said she found a postcard that…”
“…me a loser sigh. Only one more day of mindless conversation about the weather and food and dieting and the view from our window and how my Auntie Lynne is stubborn and won’t go to Branson. I think I just might go crazy. It was good to get away from work through.”
When you’re intelligent but won’t put up with the arrogance of other smart people:
“It’s been a while. I’m well into first semester of my sophomore year. Steve is at Indiana and it’s going pretty well for him. So much has happened. I have to say I’m not too pleased with my roommate or my floor. I feel really out of place on the honors floor. Being in the program isn’t that difficult, but being around a bunch of people who think they’re God’s gift to the world is! My roommate Megan is just an inconsiderate person…”
When you’re hurt but you get all insightful:
“…and I just felt on edge about school and not sure what I’m going to make of my life. I’ve also been going through a lot of crap with my family. My mom is just giving me a hard time it seems. She yells at me and one night told me to “rot in hell” because she was mad I left a family dinner early. I really worry about what my parents are doing in our house all alone. I think they are having problems and taking it out on me.”
When you volunteer to teach Sunday Hebrew School but organized religion just isn’t working for you:
“Well, obviously I’m at Sunday school and I’m miserable and there’s just about any other place I’d rather be. I am just simply sick to my stomach. I love teaching but not here because I have a problem with religion and the school is completely fucked and unorganized.”
When you know you absolutely need to be your own person and are ready for challenge:
“It’s been a little while. I only have one more final to take and then I’m done with my sophomore year of college! I got into U of I too! I am very very excited to go there next year! It will be wonderful to be away from my family so they can’t bother me and I will control and me responsible for everything I do. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not like I want to shut out my family but I think it will be good for me to be totally independent at least for a while. I have great parents but they’re not without their problems. So is everyone I guess. Anyway, I’m going to U of I next year and I’m very happy about that but as far as leaving my friends, I don’t know how I feel. Right now I’m living with Katie.”
When you do a good deed but you’re not a complete saint either:
“So this summer is not that great. I’m taking a Bio class which is the usual pain. And I must be out of my fucking mind to tutor Brandy in math and even attend lectures. I just do it to get my mom to shut the fuck up. I do care about Brandon graduating too.”
When you realize there is plenty of good in your life at all times.