Thursday, May 5, 2011

"What have I remembered
what did this used to be?"

Crash Test Dummies, "Winter Song"

I finally decided it was about time to do some spring cleaning.  I've held onto just about everything I've ever written, from the first story I attempted back in fifth grade to triplicate contributor copies of the magazine containing my first paid writing gig, an essay about chem-free college housing.  (I bought an $18 Sephora lipstick with part of the money)

So I dug up my trunk and dove in.  Out went the workshop manuscripts from an undergraduate memoir class I hated (the teacher made us read Dave Eggars, ugh) Goodbye letters from people I don't remember writing to.  So long early drafts, bad poetry (SO much bad poetry) and X-Files fanfiction.  I saved a few pieces of writing from old friends, including "Betty is a God," by Jason Bates, which remains one of my favorite stories of all time.

To prove how hip and with it I am,
here is a picture of Jeff Goldblum from 1996
I also found my old diaries.  I didn't dare looking at anything from earlier than college; it might just all be too embarassing and sadly, a lot of it has degraded, faded and smudged over time.  I took a peek at my 8th/9th grade diary and all it did was make me laugh.  I was such a dweeb.  Good thing I've gotten over that phase and am now completely cool.
I've been keeping a diary since 6th grade, but my late college diaries are the best.  I'm not sure if it's because I had a lot of fun in my senior year of college or if I just more creative with collages and little pictures glued next to my entries--mostly pictures of Ewan McGregor and Clive Owen, although there are mementos from dates, movie tickets, secret confessions of love for movie stars I would die before admitting I liked*.  Programs from plays and my first public reading, a wrapper from a Dum-Dum a crush had given me and entries written in colored gel ink.  It was this wonderful time of anticipation and excitement and fear--I'd started a new relationship with Ian, Sin City had just come out and I'd just discovered Tom Waits and Raymond Chandler.  I had all these great friends and threw fun parties and headed up the Pen is Mightier fiction club (yes, named for the Celebrity Jeopardy skit).  Everything in those days seemed perfect, and I chronicled every cup of Bubble Tea, every SVU marathon, every pulp novel and every late-night conversation after fencing club over Dr. Pepper and curly fries. It was a bittersweet read, because a lot of those people aren't in my life anymore, and I miss them.

I was also happy to notice that I was extremely funny in my diaries.  I made all these weird little observations and thoughts and captions for pictures.  But I was also extremely melodramatic at times, which is not as cool.  What can I say?  I was an ex-goth English major.

As Randy Hickey once said, "That was fun until it was sad." The flipside to reading old diaries is that I read a lot of stuff I wish I hadn't written down, stuff maybe I would have been better off not remembering in such detail.  I had to relieve the death of my cat Scallion, the slow decline and eventual death of my grandmother, my mom and stepdad's awful divorce.  It's not like I was going to forget those things, but reading how I felt at the exact moment they happened seriously bummed me out.

So why do we keep diaries?  Is it to remember what we might otherwise forget, good and bad?  Is it so that we can share them with our children (God help me if my kids ever see some of the stuff I wrote--I can't afford that kind of therapy on a Plucky Journalist salary) or is it in arrogance and hope that two hundred years down the road, someone might read and put them in a museum to display what it was like for a 21 year old girl in Binghamton, NY?  I'm not really sure what the point is.  But I know I can't part with a single one of them, from the Kerioppi notebook to the oversized sketchbook which, at last count, was 50% Jeff Goldblum, 40% Walton Goggins and 10% complaining about my family. And frankly, Walton Goggins is the only real change since 6th grade.

*It's Jude Law, okay?!?  I think Jude Law is kind of cute . . . you know, for a total cad. 

No comments:

Post a Comment