Twenty Years of Journaling

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As a kid who read Holocaust memoirs and most every thing written by V.C. Andrews, I had this morbid fantasy about dying young and having my diary, you know, live on and touch the world.

Well, thank gawd that did not happen. Because after perusing two decades worth of diaries this weekend, I can tell you with certainty, I'm no Anne Frank.

I am, however, a prolific journaler. (Journalist?)

The first journal began in 1992 when I was just 10 years old and featured bike rides with neighbor girls, tales of chasing boys on the playground, and my various boyfriends. Yes, plural.

In 1995, I began writing regularly thanks to a beautiful green faux-leather birthday gift given to me by extended family members during a reunion in Gooding, Idaho. I'm pretty sure that book kept me from murdering my baby sister on the long, hot car ride home to California. Baring my soul soon became routine, and it was not uncommon to have "a new diary" as standard on my six-months-apart birthday and Christmas lists.


journals


More than two decades of diaries

Since 1992, I've scribbled 27 small tomes. Although the content is mostly vapid nonsense -- seriously, I was apparently boy crazy from day one -- I love having a little life history to reflect upon. Thanks to my writing habit, I can remember all major family events and why I never, ever want to go back to junior high or high school. I know how my first boyfriend broke up with me in the school gym during a basketball game, and that I held special fondness for the words "hella" and "fine." (It was the 90s, okay??) I know what happened during the 7th grade camping trip to Sonora, and why I hate canoeing and vegetarian hot dogs to this day. Through the early books, I can trace the complex web of friendships, alliances, and frenemy situations that only tween and teenage girls can develop.



I love that little girl diaries come with a guise of security. Itty bitty locks!

More poignantly, though, I was shocked to read how negatively I viewed my body during those awkward junior high years, (seriously, I drew exaggerated pictures of myself!) and that I kept track of just about every interaction with boys, no matter how small. Just flipping through, I cringe to see how much meaning I assigned the attention of random guys.

Shudder.

My trip down memory lane was purposefully brief, though. I glanced, but did not read carefully, about the dramatic and sometimes traumatic family events of high school. (Blending families is not easy, people!) I skipped over the fights and drama and grief of friends lost too soon. I bypassed much of the boyfriend-obsessed college years and traipsed lightly through memories of my first apartment, first job, re-meeting Mr. T, starting grad school, working for unbearable bosses, losing dear friends and family members, going to PhD school, fighting with family again, getting married (!), traveling, finishing PhD school... You get the idea.

Some day, I'll read each book carefully (maybe when I'm ready to write memoirs?) but for now, it's good enough to know that I have a pile of history sitting safely in my bedroom.



These self-written inscriptions crack me up. "Only me & Jesus. Thanks, ME."



I laughed aloud to read the 10-year-old me's practice apology letters to boyfriend Dan (of S.W.A.K. letter fame, by the way) inside this first diary. "Dear Dan, sorry I was weird on the playground today. I was mad at my mom. See you tomorrow at school. Love, Shawna K. L. Malvini."


The book that really got me started!



A relic of my goth Hot Topic years. Enclosed you can find all manner of cringe worthy teenage attempts at poetry.



A beast of a journal. This sucker must weigh 5 pounds, but that makes sense because it covers my first year of college. Lots of learning in that year.



My favorite journals are often gifts, like this one from my sis.



Le sigh.



Past journal covers reflected interests of the time. Dance, religion, cats, fairies...



A handmade journal from India, brought back by my dear friend, Shan.



The early PhD school years captured in a book that I purchased in Port Townsend, WA before Kristi and Whit's nuptials! This book inspired my "24 hours of terror!" post, when I thought for a day that I left it in the seat-back pocket of a Southwest plane.



I prefer slender and easy-to-carry books of this size as I can slip them in a travel bag and go.



Another sis gift.



Something slightly terrifying... a missing volume! I'm praying it's around the house somewhere.



Advice I've taken to heart.



Who sprays diaries with perfume? This girl. Well, just this diary anyway. And 15 years ago. It smells so not-quite-right now.



Goal keeping pre-spreadsheet era.



The current volume. One of the few diaries I've purchased for myself- a handmade Italian leather cover and lined pages. Sadly, it's thick pages and heavy weight make it a difficult travel companion so I've been remiss in writing over the last year.

xoxo,
shawna

National Blog Posting Month:

Day 1: National Blog Posting Month on BlogHer: I'm in
Day 2: Project Green Thumbs Season 5, winter edition!
Day 3: Things I'd rather do instead of "killing my darlings"
Day 4: A grateful heart: A man who understands writing deadlines
Day 5: Velveting: The secret to restaurant quality Chinese chicken
Day 6: Note: "Tea bagger" is NOT the same as "tea party"
Day 7: A moment in travel
Day 8:  Fall in the desert
Day 9: The world's best salted caramel brownies
Day 10: It's not everyday someone throws a fish at you: Berryessa Gap Paella Cook-off
Day 11: Thank you, veterans
Day 12: Flying history: Buzzing around in the Boeing Stearman biplane
Day 13: How to not go broke with an e-reader, aka why I heart the public library
Day 14: Cliteracy

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