8.10.2007

One of the problems with being a word wonk who feels the compulsive need to overshare and habitually document every-damn-thing is that I live in constant fear that all the records of my tragically misspent youth will come back to bite me in the ass.

So of course it practically goes without saying that I am torn about what to do with three of my old handwritten journals that I uncovered recently in my parents’ garage. Hardly an important archaeological or anthropological find, these, but nevertheless there they are, in all their neglect-scented floral-bound glory.

I have to say, if you think I’m an emo kid now, you should see the stuff I wrote back then. Jumping Jesus on a pogo stick, some it is almost physically painful to read. Not just because it hurts to remember the situations and events, but also because these books are lousy with horrifyingly bad writing: overwrought idioms, twisted metaphors, random melodramatic punctuation.

You know, not at all like now. Heh.

That’s the part about all of it that’s so discombobulating. As far as I can figure from using an exclusive proprietary scientific method of carbon dating and reading the names of my idiot ex-boyfriends, these diaries are from about 15 years ago, when I was still in high school. And I still sound exactly the same.

For example, here is an actual verbatim excerpt from an entry labeled “13-1-92” (what the hell kind of shorthand is that? a date? January 13th 1992, maybe?):
Poets and Broadway musicals make a big deal out of being in love. Irving Berlin said in Annie Get Your Gun that “falling in love is wonderful … in every way.” Well, I beg to differ. Right now I feel kind of like I have the flu in reverse. Instead of upset stomach and light head, I have an upset head and a light stomach.

My heart is eternally optimistic, forever the romantic. My heart is madly in love with being madly in love. When I see Scott and I get all warm and tingly all over, that’s because somewhere in between my eyes and my brain my heart gets in the way, and my perceptions are distorted.

But my brain … well, that’s a different story. My intellect is not 100% behind me in this endeavor. Part of me – the part that I used to call my conscience, but I don’t anymore, because there really isn’t any “science” involved – keeps making me second-guess myself. That little voice keeps screaming, “Wait! It’s too soon! It’s too fast!”
I can’t be honest with myself and still say that I wouldn’t write something like this now. I mean, some things have changed with the passage of time – instead of quoting show tunes, for example, I might now pull a line out of a Patti Griffin song, and of course I am no longer writing about the parade of hapless dorks that I’m dating – but that language is all me.

Guh. What have I been doing with my life? I have a degree in Writing, ferchrissakes. Am I really using my hundred-thousand-dollar education to come to the conclusion that I hit my peak around the same time I was dating Scott Buhrman? I know that God allegedly has a plan, but can this possibly be it? Really?

And also: now what do I do with these journals? They’re kind of hanging around, like so many albatrosses around my neck. I shredded a couple of pages last night, and G had a look on his face like I’ve never seen before. “Some people want to hold on to their history,” he said, as if this was some kind of ground-breaking genealogical study. It’s kind of a good point – maybe someday I’ll be able to show it to my kids and prove that I was once their age and I once had the same kinds of feeling that they’ll be having when they’re teenagers.

But on the other hand, do I really want to keep these books around as reminders of what used to be? Especially when what used to be was obviously not all dead rats and warm cream? I’ve moved on to what I believe are bigger and much better things, even though my craft doesn’t appear to have developed any additional sophistication in the intervening years. Still and all, I am what I am, and my life is what it is – what good can it possibly do to look back on what was never going to be?

The toss-up in all of this is one random passage I found written on the bottom of one of the pages of a journal that was started in about 1991, I think. I find it particularly meaningful in ways that maybe only resonate with me. The entry is dated January 31st 1993, almost a year before I started dating the man who would eventually become my husband. If you know G, you will understand why I believe that the Universe must have been trying to tell me something that day when this particular thought occurred to me.
Quote of the Day: “Don’t ever let anyone monkey with your swing.” – Ted Williams

2 comments:

  1. Don't do it! You have to keep the journals. Just for some good reading material when you 105 and sitting on the porch swing, drinking diet lemonade, and trying to remember what it was all for. Not that 1992 is what it was all for, but it'll bring back memories of a different time, and then that'll spark other memories, and then you might just remember another wonderful memory.

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  2. Just want to say what a great blog you got here!
    I've been around for quite a lot of time, but finally decided to show my appreciation of your work!

    Thumbs up, and keep it going!

    Cheers
    Christian, iwspo.net

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