Wednesday, April 11, 2007

The story of my life

I am not a person who journals. I know that every self-help book in the world, and Oprah, say that journaling is good for the soul and helps you keep track of "life's journey" but I just can't bring myself to do it. I've tried, several times, to keep a written record of my life -- but most of the time it just depresses me. I'll write something that feels so profound and moving -- and then two weeks later read it and think "who is this loser?" and tear out the pages and burn them. Either that or I begin to channel Sylvia Plath and at the end of making an entry want to put my head in the oven. It's a very slippery slope from reflection to wallowing in self-pity for me. Someone told me I could avoid all these feelings by just not reading the entries once they are written -- and leaving the journals for my children to discover. Yeah, because I really want is for my kids to find my journals the day after my death and through their tears cry "who was this loser?" And for those of you smugly thinking "well, isn't your blog like a journal" the answer is no, and shut up. My blog is a carefully edited version of my life filled with witticisms and half truths. My journals were more like a boring version of "Sybil."

Before he met me Ryan used to keep journals. It's one of the many things that died when he married me. Now he just scribbles the occasional help note that he tries to sneak out on Sally's collar. All of his old journals are in the basement in a big box -- which I hadn't looked in to protect his privacy, and because I didn't actually know they were there. I should have rifled through them though -- because they are comedy gold.

Last night Ryan pulled out one journal he wrote just after college. We were talking to Lindsey and Jason about stupid youthful ideas and Ryan brought up the fact that he once rode a Greyhound bus from Salt Lake to Boston to "take the pulse of America." And luckily for us he wrote all of it down.

It started out earnest, with lots of references to lost dreams and a country in a coma suffering from a "myocardial infarction." For the first three hours everything he saw seemed to trigger a profound thought that had to be written down. Then about hour four the tone of the journal changed. I think that's when he realized he was going to be stuck on a bus for 36 hours. Instead of entries written in full sentences encapsulating whole thoughts there were instead short lists of nonsensical words, or small haiku like poems, or half thoughts about the nature of black holes. It was a record of a man slowly losing his mind. I loved it. I think I can use them if I ever want to have him commited.

I can't wait to show them to our kids.


Amanda said...

Come on - you wrote great journals when you were a kid. I should know - I read them.

cate said...

Could we read on Christmas Eve as kind of a family bonding experience?

MOTHER said...


doradrama said...

You're a trend-setter, Lib. Seems my journals have been like depressing versions of Sybil as well, and not nearly as hilarious as what Ryan shared with us the other night. God, he was cute and courageous to pull the old notebook out... Anyway, I've recently made an attempt at blogging and you are right, much better than journaling.