Sunday, January 20, 2008

To Blog or Not to Blog

If blogs are this new century’s version of the old fashioned diary, I will stick to the ludite version of things for one very distinct reason. I can destroy the evidence. When my family moved this past February, a seismic shifting of books from their old dusty book shelves to built-in bookcases that have yet to suffer from neglect took place. Ultimately, the move resulted in the discovery of some long abandoned journals; mine.

These private tomes have jumps that can be measured in eons of life experience: newly engaged, a color sketch of the ring is provided. Next entry: Newly married, most every sentence is exclamatory! Several practice signatures of new full name with various flourishes are also available for viewing. I winced at my own over the top enthusiasm, it all seemed so superflous and high schooly. Next entry: Moved to new city, working a new job, pregnant. Multiple pages detailed my neurotic worrying about being pregnant and then nothing. Next entry was placed strategicly in the middle of the journal to indicate a desperately crazy notion of filling in the unwritten pages and back dating them.

By my best estimation, that next entry was two babies later and focused on weight. One entry on the next page is recorded half a year later and talks about taking up guitar. (I took about six lessons in the summer). Next entry: A New Year’s Resolution. Three days of vapid entrees in a row chronicling the fact that I went to the gym. Four years later, “Just found this! Lost 2 pounds!” chronicled with explanation points. One year later, “just found this. Gained fifteen.” no explanations given.

I could have tolerated most of my children eventually finding this, and then there was a poem; a really bad poem; a what-was-I-thinking-kind-of-shoot-me-now poem. Another lost journal holds thoughts from when I was dating my now husband of nineteen years. It also has my high school locker code and a long screed about how unfair it was to have to sell candy bars during lunch on the Friday of Homecoming. I have secured both items in the laundry basket that holds socks, certain they will remain undisturbed by any of my children for at least three decades, by which time I should have gotten around to having a good book burning.

Part of the reason for the writes-like-she-drives-a-stick-shift style entrees was the dawn of computer use in my daily life. The journal would move from room to room, meaning sometimes I’d forget where I left it. The computer could not move, so it became an easy place to pour out the thoughts of the day. I liked writing a daily log just for myself as a teacher; I even printed it up for the next day, to remind myself of what had worked or not the day before.

The journals would occasionally turn up like an old friend from out of town, but the computer became a cozier companion for my personal memories and ideas. These were the days of a more innocent time of the internet, before I discovered that Emails and blogs and computer journals never die. They are stored somewhere, even if you turn the ancient monitor into a fish tank and strip the old computer for parts; some teckie somewhere like my brother can wire it, juice the sucker and discover every rough draft of a thought ever written. At this point, there are three old computers, not counting the Texas Instruments one we had when I was a kid, holding enough intellectual compost from my past to make the five o’clock news or at least the Drudge Report if I ever run for elected office.

The crinkled pages of my old books do not illustrate every nuanced thought that popped into my brain. There was something of a natural editing process, I wrote when I needed to write. I had to find the book. I had to find the pen. I scratched out stuff. I edited my own work. It was private. Blogs on the other hand, while infinitely editable, are also retrievable. Do I really want my children to know how innane I could be? No. If they were going to think I was stupid, it would have to come from their own memories and not my memoirs!

When I proposed the diaries be destroyed, objections were raised.

One day in the far off future, my children could happen upon the uncensored unplugged thoughts of their mother in her youth and find solace. I considered this possibity, that some child that felt estranged in life will find sympatico feelings with me post mortem through my own words. It could happen but I doubt it. The journals are more likely to confirm to even the most gentle and loving offspring of mine that their mother wrote in a Jackson Pollack style at best, and made a gulash casserole journal of her life most of the time. Plus it seems all she ever wrote about was how much weight she either gained or lost.

I've decided I would prefer their memory of their mother in the edited and in some cases, even mythic version. In the mean time, I’ve started a new hand written journal. I’m keeping it in the computer room in the sock basket, just in case.

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