Saturday, October 30, 2010

Milk crates full of memories...

Journals and diaries

Faced with housework, I procrastinate in every way possible. This weekend, I organized my journals while putting off vacuuming. After my move this spring, they'd been crammed onto shelves in no particular place or order, so I gathered them from the four corners of the house and arranged by date. (Mostly by date, anyway--for some reason, there are a few journals in 1997 that overlap. Apparently 1997 was the Year of Living Disorganizedly.) They span some twenty-seven years now: that little one all the way on the left was given to me for Christmas when I was six, when I was first learning to write.

And of course, once they were all nicely organized like that, I proceeded to yank them off the shelves (those classy milk-crate shelves...) and look through them. Some are in better shape than others. The colored journals I favored in the nineties fared the worst: the blue fountain pen ink I used in some entries vanished, and at least one journal was the victim of temporary storage in a damp basement. And there are large gaps in the record: I tend to write more when there isn’t as much going on, which means that most of my entries, especially those in the most recent journals, are mundane daily details and rambling. Their value is in the writing of them: they help me process my days and sort out thoughts, and many may never be read again. But other content makes me smile, or laugh out loud, or get a little weepy. Inconsistent though they may be, they contain a lot of memories, these books.

There is evidence of my long standing fascination with office supplies:
Translation: John and Jim got a car. I got crayons.

There are birthday reports:
12th birthday
I recall this as one of my best birthdays *ever*, especially the bird seed, strangely enough!

Book reports:
January 9, 1989

I’ve waxed poetic:
The Forest
I was twelve when I wrote this entry, and apparently hadn’t yet learned appropriate apostrophe use in its vs. it’s. I guess I’ll cut my young self some slack....

I’ve attempted artsy:
An attempt at artsy
Everything's coming up daisies

Sometimes relatively casual entries make me smile, looking back. Stumbled across this comment about a conversation with my brother as I was flipping through...

I'll say...
A wedding and several children later...I’d say it turned out pretty well!

I’ve recorded thoughts on births, deaths, current events, pets, books and music, bemoaned my own bad habits and worries about the present and future. Reading through these, I’m amazed at how much I’ve changed in some ways, and how little in others. It’s kind of fun to revisit once in awhile on a rainy afternoon.

And speaking of revisiting and rainy afternoons, tomorrow is the one-year anniversary of the day I picked up the gloriously restored Olympia SG-1 from Blue Moon Camera.

Shinied up Olympia SG-1

Happy rebirthday, big guy!


Adwoa said...

These are lovely! I remember being too scared to keep a journal as a child because I just knew my parents/siblings/classmates would read it. The thrill of getting "caught" inspired me to write sometimes too, but it wasn't so much fun when I got scolded for writing something they didn't like. I journal sporadically - sometimes I get into it (January 1!) and keep it up for a few months, then I fall off the wagon... and then I convince myself that blogging is "close enough" if I can manage to do it consistently. As if.

Oh, and for some reason I read that as "John and Jim got a gun"!

snohomishwriter said...

What a cool set of documents. I didn't start journaling until roughly ninth grade but I still have every one. I have some pretty big gaps in years. What you said about journals helping you process and sort things out is one of my main reasons for keeping one. I also want to record my family's history, so-to-speak. I want my boy to some day look through them and maybe learn new things.

Anyway, cool post.

Little Flower Petals said...

I just wish I'd been more consistent--and that the damaged journals with the vanished ink weren't from one of the more interesting periods of my life, when I was in the Air Force and stationed in Germany and Italy. Hindsight is 20/20 and all that...

Adwoa, I struggled with the interpretation of my red pen scrawl, too. But the crossed out word looks to be "cars," so I think I wrote "a cars," realized the goof, and corrected it to car. It would fit with the time period: John and Jim would have been all of about four and three at the time, and I remember a lot of Matchbox and Hot Wheels in our lives about then!

And I definitely got "crans." :)

Eva Sylwester said...

What kind of fountain pen did you use in the journals where the ink vanished? I too have been journaling since elementary school, and I consistently stuck with Uni-Ball Vision waterproof pens from age 13 to age 23, but then, about a year ago, I got a Lamy Safari fountain pen as a gift and started using that along with the Lamy T10 cartridges in my journals. Uh oh.

Little Flower Petals said...

Eva, I've not used Lamy ink, so I can't speak for it. Most of the vanished blue ink came with an inexpensive fountain pen I bought at a drug store when I was in Germany. I don't believe it had a brand name on it. I've also had some pretty serious fading occur with Waterman Blue-Black, though, and even Waterman Black. I suspect the paper in those cheap journals was a part of the issue, but even in that big record book, which is supposedly archival paper, there are entries that have faded badly in just a few years.

I was totally clueless about how non-archival many fountain pen inks were (same goes for a lot of ballpoint inks, for that matter--witness some high school notes I have around), and it broke my heart opening those books to find the entries gone. I felt like, "Why didn't anyone tell me?!?"

I wonder if older inks may have had more staying power, as I often see people talk about having documents written by older family members in fountain pen ink. And there are many new permanent inks (I use a lot of Noodler's bulletproof and semi-bulletproof inks if I do use fountain pen in journals these days), though they are, in fact, I wonder a bit how they'll do over decades.

It's one of the reasons I've been using a lot of pencil lately. Yes, it can be erased and it can smear, but unless I use really soft pencil, the writing should remain legible so long as the paper holds out (and if I could bring myself to use nicer journals, that part of the equation wouldn't be an issue either). I don't necessarily care if it lasts centuries, since these are really just for my own use and I'm not even sure I *want* them to outlast me, but I'd like them to stick around at least more than a few years.

Eva Sylwester said...

I gave up on pencil in middle school because I thought it smeared/transferred from one page to another too easily, but recently my local art museum displayed some travel journals from the mid-1800s, and the pencil sketches therein were still crisp, so that may not be a bad idea.

I'm trying to switch back to archival pens — Faber-Castell's PITT artist pens hold up even better than Uni-Ball pens — but I will really miss the Lamy fountain pen colors. The PITT pens have artist brush tips in lots of colors, but writing tips only in black, sanguine (rusty red) and sepia.

Little Flower Petals said...

I'm sure my fading issues were partly caused by bad luck and circumstance--the damp basement thing, for example, and other less-than-ideal storage conditions. I make a lousy archivist. I do think the fountain pen inks billed as permanent (and there are lots of pretty Noodler's colors!) are probably just fine. And there are others who use more standard inks apparently without an issue...but I just don't feel easy about them anymore. Once bitten, twice shy and all that.