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My original blog

What defines a blogger?
 That couldn't be further from the truth.  Let's try something else.
 That’s more like it.

One of my favorite questions to answer is “Where/when/how did you learn to write?”  It’s not an easy question, because I never really learned at all.  I’ve just always done it.  Sometimes I can't eat a meal or clean the house until I've written something.  Anything.  I’m a compulsive writer, even when I have nothing to say.  So I'll search for drama in my own life to tell a story.


This is the beginning of a five-page account of a weekend in 1999 that was, I suppose, a bit unusual for me, but in retrospect I wouldn't go so far as to describe it as "weird".  But that's just my way.  I've been a keen observer of life for as long as I can remember, always looking for the story in everything.

As a child, I used to type stories on my mom’s old typewriter until I broke it.  Rather than punishing me, my parents (or Santa, rather) gave me a toy typewriter for Christmas.  Unfortunately, the thing only typed in capital letters.  I hated that.  I was eight years old, I think.  I shouldn’t have even known how to type at that age, let alone care about proper capitalization.  But I was a perfectionist from the very beginning, and I had this inexplicable urge to write.  In addition to the silly stories I typed in all caps, I kept a diary in my dad’s year-old day planner.  Everything was off by a day, but I made do.  I would write about something I did in school, complain about the bully who lived down the street, or paste comics from the newspaper that I liked.  The year was 1980.  I only know that because I remember trying to change the “79” on the fake leather cover to “80” using a ballpoint pen.  It didn’t work.

A couple of years ago I dug out a pile of old journals from a plastic storage bin with the intent of scanning them, page by page, so I could reduce clutter by throwing away the hard copies.  It was a considerable amount of clutter:  Twenty-eight books dating back to March of 1989, averaging one-hundred pages each, which made it a considerable scanning project.  Rather than performing this task as quickly as possible to get it over with, I couldn’t resist reading them as I scanned them.  That’s where the fun began!


Ah, youth.  This was the ending sentence to a journal entry after my first night, ever, at a bar.  I was fifteen years old and I had just gone with my friends to a dance club that had an "under 21 night".  I saw a boy I liked while I was there, and I talked to him.  Just talked, of course, but apparently it made my night.  Although my handwriting might indicate otherwise, there wasn't a drop of alcohol sold to any of us youngsters (this might have been in my "I swear I'm ambidextrous" phase).  The irony is that I had entirely forgotten about that evening until I read the journal entry two years ago.

 Things became more interesting as I got older.  Drama queen alert!


Over the years, journal writing became a cheap alternative to psychotherapy.  I time-traveled deep into my head and re-lived all the things that bothered me in years gone by.  I read the often lengthy descriptions of the dramas I've endured and was sometimes amazed at how efficiently I worked things out.  I was equally amazed at how easily some things are resolved by much simpler statements:


It seems that boy trouble is a recurring theme for me.

Sometimes, when I don't have a story in my head, I'll pretend my own life is fiction and make something that happened to me sound a lot more interesting than it really was:


Other times I will wax poetic on younger, more carefree days:


Lots of times I just need to get something off my chest that is way too embarrassing to say out loud to anyone:


That's why the whole world is happy I don't have a Twitter account.

More frequently than I care to admit, I write things about other people that I can't say to their face.  As bad as that sounds, I think it's much healthier than gossiping my unflattering thoughts.  After all, my creativity goes out the window when I'm venting about someone who has done me wrong.  As a teenager, I would cry about it like it was the end of the world, but fortunately I've grown wiser in my old age and I can write off many things with my favorite, extremely effective - if overused - insult:


Whenever I'm on a journaling binge, my hand cramps up and I ask myself why I don't just type my journals.  I once almost convinced myself to make the switch, but after seeing all of those books while scanning them, I have never considered that option again.  My handwriting tells a lot about my state of mind as I write.  I can tell when I'm relaxed, stressed, alert, drunk, angry, or tired (ink blotches abound in the books from my college years!) based on how straight, sloppy, flourished, angled, or downright incomprehensible my writing is. Typing my journal would take away half of the experience.


Strangely enough, I was describing myself that time.


None.  I can't not write.  It's what I do.  I may have taken lessons in music and dance, and studied many different things over the years, but through all of it I've always been a writer.  Regardless of the career that (barely) pays my rent, I still need to write.  If there's nothing to write about, I will find something.  Naturally, in the infancy of my journaling, blogs weren't even a "thing".  Heck, the internet itself wasn't even a "thing".  Without even realizing it, I was practicing for twenty years the technique and art of being a blogger.  Now I'm learning as I go the technique and art of censorship, which eluded me during the handwritten writing sessions.  It's safe to say while writing blogs I've erred on the safe side, because 99% of the accounts in my journal would never make it to a Chrome Phase essay.  Trust me, that's not a bad thing.


What the F does that even mean?  Does anyone care?  It came from my sixteen-year-old supposedly ambidextrous mind, so... no.


Right.  Nobody wants to read the narrative which follows that statement.


That's a little better.

So there you have it.  Now you know the reason why you never see a TMI status update from me on Facebook:  I keep it all in these books.  I'm sure my online friends are very grateful for that!  I will leave you with the piece of advice I repeatedly write to myself.  I saw it at least two dozen times throughout the approximately 2800 pages that I scanned...


(This is a whole new can of worms, but that's another blog for another day.)

Comments

  1. You are not missing anything by not having a Twitter account. I tried it out last month to see if I would enjoy hearing what some famous people I liked had to say on a day-to-day basis. Not only didn't I enjoy it, but it shattered my perception of said people and I now wish I could un-see what most of them are really like.

    I also agree that writing can be a good means of free therapy, but damn...2800 pages? I suppose as long as it makes you happy it's a good thing, right?

    ReplyDelete
  2. I'm pretty screwed up, I probably could have written another thousand pages easily!

    Twitter has never held any appeal to me. I get annoyed by the people who post their every move on Facebook, and Twitter just seems to be rampant meaningless status updates. Too much information to sift through that ultimately won't make my life, or anyone's life, any better. Some folks would do well to follow my lead and keep a journal instead!

    ReplyDelete
  3. The thing about Facebook that I find most annoying is that thing that tracks people's locations every minute and even gives a map so you can track them. I think it's called Foursquare. "So-and-so just went to the dentist. So-and-so just got coffee at Starbucks. So-and-so just went into the shoe store in the mall. So-and-so just checked in at home."

    To the people that use this:

    First of all, nobody cares where you are every waking moment of the day unless you are a secret agent or a celebrity of some kind, so knock it off.

    Second of all, have you thought this through? You're giving people a map showing exactly where you live and telling them exactly when you are not home. Foursquare is every burglar's dream.

    ReplyDelete

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