There is a box in my hall closet filled with journals that I wrote from 1989 to present day. The more recent entries are usually ideas for stories or shows, with scraps from my actual day. The older ones, they’re a bit different. In those journals I have to sift through page after page of superfluous details about my life. Not much of it seemed terribly interesting to me then (or now for that matter) and the bits I deemed worthy of shock were usually given less than three lines amidst the discussion of endless, mundane rituals. I distinctly remember doing this as a defence against possible diary infiltrators. Make the diary seem boring and no one will continue to read it. Clearly there were some serious trust issues going on. That, and a ridiculously inflated sense of self importance.
As I have been reading about my life as a kid in the early ’90s I find a few moments endearing or entertaining. Like my serious use of “gag me with a spoon” for instance. Unfortunately, more often than not, moments make me cringe.
On a grammatical level, my 32 year-old self doesn’t like that my ten year old self couldn’t consistently use the correct “there”,”their” or “they’re”. When I think about it objectively it’s understandable that after a fight with my sister my need to blurt all of my hardships onto paper overrode my ability to distinguish homonyms. I was writing in the moment, just feeling the pain of being forced to dry the dishes when I wanted to wash them (seriously).
Eventually I can get past the spelling errors and temporarily the cringing stops… until I recognize something worse. There were times where I was clearly acting like an asshole – a self-righteous, ten year old, little asshole. Reading moments like those, I find myself re-imagining the memory to make me a better person. But, the journal page returns me to the truth where in my own words I defend my actions or emotions. The crushing reality that sometimes I was the kid that I always hated in the movies dons on me. And I was very blonde, which makes it worse somehow. Blonde kids who are dicks just seem worse. And when you realize you were the blonde dickish kid, multiply that by a hundred. What do I do about this? Do I apologize now for past actions?
Entry after entry I talk about how someone made me mad. Clearly I understood the need to control this. In one entry from January 1, 1992 I write:
“It’s already 1992… I had my champain [spelling cringe] and my new year’s resolution is to not fight with my sisters and keep my temper down.”
I was only eleven years old and already I recognized the need to work on my temper. Spelling errors and grammar issues aside, at least I was somewhat self-aware. That said, I’m really disappointed that I wasn’t more of an optimist. I feel like I was a happy kid.
Reading these entries, I start to wonder how my temper manifested and what my sisters (and friends) truly had to deal with. Have I changed all that much? I still actively try to reign in the red-cheek anger that flares up at seemingly minor criticisms or challenges. I’m an emotional person and clearly have been for quite some time.
It isn’t all bad. So what if I over-reacted to the injustice of having to return our movie videos to Anderson’s Video while “Julie gets to stay at home and relax and be all dandy-doo.” I also cheered for the Blue Jays when they won the World Series, and much to my surprise I seemed to like and miss my other sister Adrienne when she was away on swim team trips (I seriously thought we hated each other until she left home – so that discovery was neat.) My ten or twelve tomes of whining are also filled with moments of pause, celebration, and self-analysis. I didn’t always let myself off the hook.
I will continue to write in journals my whole life. Overall, the cringing is worth it. I can see who I was and who I’ve become. I can see the similarities and the differences. I know this is a part of who I am. Maybe I’ll look back at this blog in twenty years time and cringe at a typo I’ve missed, or how wordy I was in my early 30s. Or maybe I’ll laugh because I’m still the same highly sensitive writer.
“Well, talk to you soon. Bye” (an actual sign off I used frequently).
ps. I’m sorry to all my friends, family, and teachers for sometimes being an arrogant jerk. Seriously. I’m cringing!!!