Sunday, October 28, 2018

blogs, diaries, and other evidence of a life

Readers (and I say that on the off chance I actually have regular may have noticed I've been reformatting things here on ye old blog and making it a little easier to navigate and find what you're looking for.  Since I tend to write about any number of things and also post artwork and occasional girly fashion & decor things, you can now find exactly what you're looking for in the menu bar.  I am also trying post a bit more regularly in all the various categories--especially writing related posts, that I feel are what the blog was initially intended for back in the heyday of poetry blogs. Also because I still prefer this medium to other social media outlets (maybe with the exception of instagram) for lengthier more in depth content and updates.

 This space is where I'm more likely to think outloud and figure things out, so it's as much for me as it is for potential readers. Also, I've found it's excellent documentation as time goes on for referencing timelines and things you don't want to forget. I had a couple teen diaries and started keeping a written journal in marble composition books when I was 20 up til I moved to blogging. While they sometimes make me cringe, I love revisiting my college years and the things I apparently though were important then--notes on what I was reading and writing and obsessing about--sometimes interesting and sometimes ridiculous. Even having spent the past 15 years in this space, some years more present than others, yields some interesting insight into where my head was at any given time point.

I am lucky to own one of my paternal grandmother's day's tiny little bound book with a kitten on the front I purloined from a box in the basement at some point after my parent's had cleaned out her house. I'm sure there were more, not sure where, and in fact, for a while had some ripped pages from another somewhere.  I'm not sure they give much insight into the woman who died when I was only 6.  I mostly remember she liked camping and fishing and once raised show dog St. Bernards (only one of which was still alive when I was born, but there were a lot of trophies and ribbons.)  But that's about it. The diary is one of two things I own from her, the other a tiny porcelain flower jewelry box I have broken and glued back together at least twice. My memories of my mother's mother are fuller because there were more years and more time but this grandmother is more the enigma.

The diary is very spare, though, more like brief jots and lists and I wonder her motivations for keeping them. It's dated 1980, the last year or her life and there are references to doctor visits, not feeling well and sleeping a lot. My favorite are her entries of "didn't do much" since most days were filled with dailyness  shopping trips, chores, card games.   Some entries are as simple  as "rained in the morning" or "bad storm, our cherry tree blew over". Then " awfully sick-- beautiful day"

Midway through the diary there is an ominous "This is D Day, operated on @ 9:30 found cancer" after which the entries get even shorter and then end.   A hinge on which I suppose her life pivoted.  Then many blank pages toward the end. But the sadness is buoyed by all the familiar things that reference that time I remember from my own point of view, young  as I was--her weekly trips to play bingo with my mom, outings when camping is Wisconsin to restaurants I remember, trips to the Dells. My own memory is fuzzy from these years, but between her notes and that fuzziness I can almost recall the adventures with a bit more clarity.

I also feel weird sometimes like maybe she never meant for the diary to be read by others.That I am somehow, nearly 40 years later super-intruding on her privacy by even talking about her words.  But then again, someday, these might be the only thing left of any of us (and obviously. I have no problem putting everything out there very publicly in the world, otherwise I wouldn't be a writer. ) The entries seem mundane and routine, without much sentiment, opinion, or commentary, but they tell a story of a life still, even in snippets that otherwise would only be left to memories of those around her.

She also makes occasional notes about money spent on things, which echoes my dad's tendency to jot reciepts and bills into tiny notebooks (and drive my mother mad Maybe it's genetic and in my blood somehow, all this jotting of details and graphomania. I don't really write down monetary things,that would be especially depressing since I really don't want to remember how much I over spend (yikes!), but I am obsessively scribbling words and phrases and to-do lists. The compulsion to document as much as I can. Which of course is why I took to blogging like a fish to water even in the early days when I started on Xanga in 2002 as soon as I had access to a computer on the regular, If I were to die tomorrow, maybe books and blogs and weird little scraps of paper are all that is left of any of us.

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