Saturday, December 04, 2004

"Everyone knows diaries are just full of crap,"

says Bridget Jones as she stands half naked in the snowy street when she finally catches up to Mark Darcy in Bridget Jones's Diary.

While Bridget searches for "...genuinely tiny knickers..." Mark Darcy, finally in her apartment and ready to seal the relationship deal, reads Bridget's diary while he waits and finds out that over the course of the past year she has hated, loathed, and despised him. He says, "Right," and leaves. Bridget, meanwhile, hears the door close, runs to the window and throws it open to the storm, and watches him walk away down the street, calling after him. Dressed only in t-shirt and genuinely tiny knickers, she searches for a reason and finds her diary open to some very hateful remarks about the man she has come to love, and runs after him, desperate to stop him and explain, even if she must deny the feelings behind everything she has written all year to get him back. It's either a relationship with Mark Darcy and happiness or standing by her words. There is no middle ground. After all, "[e]veryone knows diaries are just full of crap."

Aren't they?

When I was a teenager I kept a diary, writing down all my questions, fears, hopes, anxieties, and hurt, exorcising them onto the page where I could see them and sort thru them all. Then my mother, after finding out I was keeping a diary, searched for and found it and punished me for what I wrote. Most of the time I didn't remember what I wrote once I consigned the tears, anger, and pain to the pages and closed and locked the diary. It was my confessional, my place to think, to ponder, to figure things out in my mind. It became a way for my mother to invade my privacy and punish me and so I quit keeping a diary.

I didn't begin keeping a journal again until I was in my thirties as a way of sorting thru my emotions and thoughts, trying out dialogue, working thru characterizations, or just plain complaining about the problems and grief in my life. It was the only place where I felt safe to voice my thoughts and emotions.

When I left Ohio several years ago I entrusted the many, many journals I had kept to my youngest sister with orders that if anything should happen to me the journals were to be burned. Once again my mother, certain I had written horrible, nasty, and vile things about her, got hold of my journals and got a big surprise. There were some entries about my interactions with her, but they were fairly rare. She was shocked at some of the language, but overall she was stunned by what I wrote on hundreds of different subjects. She eventually told me she had read my journals and that she felt I should have them published. That was something I had considered in the back of my mind should I ever become a well known, or even cult, writing figure and why I wanted them burned. I did not want people to pry into my private thoughts and my personal tragedies and pain, but suddenly the idea had merit. After all, I have always been completely open about my life, the good and the bad parts, and having people read my journals was just another way of being completely open.

Two years ago a friend convinced me to get online with Dead Journal, so I did. Then she moved on to LJ and a year later I caved in and followed. I never really thought anyone other than her would actually read what I wrote, but I treated it (and treat it still) like my paper journal, a place to sort out emotions, thoughts, and writing. To me, diaries/journals are not "just crap." What I write is most times not even edited (as you can plainly read and as my youngest sister continues to gleefully point out when I misspell a word), but it is a true version of how and what I feel. Many people sanitize their journals or use it simply as a way to socialize and meet people, a way to fit into online/offline society, a place where they can mask who and what they are, or simply just for fun. What you read on the virtual pages of my journal is who and what I am. These are the day-to-day events of my life and a look into the way my mind, heart, and soul work. This is me.

I treat LJ and all my other online journals, of which there are three, the same way I treat my paper journals. The only thing I hide is what I write specifically to one person, only because they are intimate exchanges and it is one of the few ways we have to communicate. It's like writing love letters to each other and as such is not for public consumption.

What I write here and cross post to my other journals is a true representation of me, most of which are written in the heat of the moment. That is not to say that I do not think out some of my posts, but most of them are stream of consciousness, except, like this post, on occasion when I take the time to think about what I'm going to say and how to say it. I do not sanitize, edit (except for spelling and grammar), or otherwise expurgate my writing. What you read here is my voice, my thoughts, and my feelings, passions, fears, and life.

Welcome to my world.

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