Diary Monday!

It has been a long time since I mined my past journals for this blog’s amusement, but since I am up at five in the morning on a Monday, facing a week loaded with a minimum of four meetings per day, and even a meme seems a bit too taxing, I think it’s entirely appropriate to return to my graduate school diary and finish the work I began with it so long ago. On a sad note, I recently lost the journal I was keeping for the last year and a half. I no longer write a ton of personal information in my journals…blogging seems to have taken care of my desire for self-documentation…but it had over a year’s worth of story, essay and character ideas. I’ve been trying to be philosophical about it but I’m still a bit in mourning. I really need to get my booty to the bookstore and buy a bigger, better replacement! With sketch pencils!

In the meantime, here are some excerpts from the final year of my graduate program, when S. and I were living apart, I had a two hundred and fifty page manuscript due at the end of the year, and I was experiencing quite a bit of anxiety, which I tried to solve by reading a book called The Quiet Mind.

September 26, 2004

I am beginning to realize that there is a significant portion of people in the world who manage to get a lot more done in a day than I do. And these people also manage to read outside of class, see movies, remain organized and keep their apartments clean. I overwhelm myself with the sheer amount of work I have to do in a day and therefore end up scatterbrained, thoughtless? [ i honestly believe it wasn’t until this year, in my early thirties, that I have been able to cut myself some slack. What is it about your twenties that make you think you are never doing enough? Working hard enough, having enough fun…I freaking love my thirties. Life is so much better!] Need to find more time in my days and make my days longer – awake earlier, go to sleep later, add more structure!

October 17, 2004

I’ll be doing new kinds of journal entires to coincide with my attempt to glean inner peace. [What the hell?] My book The Quiet Mind says we all need to take time see what is around us, so today I took a walk instead of a run. [My search for inner peace can often be boiled down to any way to avoid cardio] It is a cloudy dark Pittsburgh day, but the leaves are changing and it’s quiet out, which I like. It’s been cloudy for days. I have to say, S. doesn’t seem particularly worried about finding inner peace but that doesn’t mean I can’t! [Um, probably because he has never been a narcissistic mess …okay, I have to stop judging 27 year old me…)

October 18, 2004

According to The Quiet Mind today I should pick a metaphor for life – MY metaphor for life. I will say my life is a wave, and I will ride through its crests and dips. [Well, seriously, no point in reading the rest of the entry after that profundity]

November 1 2004

Tomorrow is the presidential election! I cannot wait to wake up and vote in the morning! I pray that Kerry wins…I honestly believe four more years of Bush is dangerous for our country. I believe Kerry will win – there is no alternative. AM SO EXCITED!! [oh, I do feel bad for younger me right now…the day after the election was just crushing. Gearing up to do the whole thing over again, a little more cynical this time]

November 2 2004

Midnight and still no president! I can’t take it. Our country is being held hostage by a bunch of evangelical hillbillies. But maybe that’s not fair, because where are the democrats? How can we be so fired up, so passionate, and still lose this fucking election? God, I’m so depressed.

November 4 2004

Today the Quiet Mind asks what we want in our every day life. I want to spend some time reading every day, and i want to spend time journaling every day, and I want to spend some time every day in greater prayer and reflection that what I currently practice. [Um, seems the book had a good point…I still do all three of those things every day now. Whoa.]

November 8 2004

The Quiet Mind wants me to spend time doing nothing but id doesn’t say what doing nothing IS. Is doing nothing reading a book, or listening to music, or putting photos in albums? Or is it actually doing nothing? Just sitting around doing nothing? That can’t be possible! [Because that would probably have killed you!]

November 9 2004

The Quiet Mind says we should define our idea of doing nothing which is like a day late and a dollar short for me. Seriously, I do NOT have this kind of time. I DO NOT HAVE THE TIME TO DO NOTHING. I’m done with this book – I’m reading for fun in its place. [Well, it was fun while it lasted, hmm?]

November 13 2004

I am a writer by accident. [That’s it…that’s all I wrote! Are you kidding me? Was I quoting someone? Was it my own idea? What the hell?]

November 30 2004

[oh, i actually like what I wrote here…this is why writers should journal! I must get a replacement asap!] Of course, I realized where I was going wrong with my essay too late in the day to do anything about it but it was pleasing regardless because I know where to start tomorrow. And I think sometimes that it is all we writers can ask for…a good place to start tomorrow.

December 2 2004

I never thought Pennsylvania geography would inprint itself on me the way it has. I went for my run today and paused where I always pause…about half way up the hill on Ellsworth Avenue, and I realized – I have seen these hills when they are snow covered and twinkling and I have seen these hills in the autumn, the color of pumpkins and I have seen these hills in the early morning and at dusk and all the times in between and oh my goodness, I will desperately miss them when I move to Michigan.

Well, that’s a lovely thought to end on. The journal continues for five more months, into my 29th birthday, but the only bit that really caught my eye was “cleaning out the linen closet SHOULD NOT be equal in importance to doing well at my job.” Amen, younger me. Amen.

Listening to: Emmylou Harris, Red Dirt Girl

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This entry was posted in Hopelessly Indulgent Reflection, The Private. Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to Diary Monday!

  1. Pete says:

    I really like this idea of “Diary Monday”. I went back to my journal of the same time and, well, I think I’ll have to blog about it since it was quite disturbing. In your post I love those comments (and then the comments on the comments) on The Quiet Mind. Very funny. And nice comment on the imprinting of Pennsylvanian geography.

  2. Pingback: Diary Monday (on a Tuesday) « Couch trip

  3. Smithereens says:

    I’m way too shy or weak to look back at those diaries… Every time I have done so I found my younger self silly, naive, if not worse. I really admire your courage in your Diary Monday!

  4. Emily Barton says:

    Oh, I feel for you losing your journal! I once, on a business trip, lost a notebook that was full of stories and story ideas. To tell you the truth, I still haven’t really gotten over it, always convinced there was something BRILLIANT there that I can never reclaim (of course, if I still had that notebook, I’d be reading through it, bemoaning my lack of original thought and talent as a writer). Maybe we should all do “Diary Mondays,” although I don’t think mine would be half as much fun as yours, and I’ve been leaning more towards the lazier idea of “Favorite song lyrics Monday.”

  5. Pete – thanks! My diaries are often utterly ridiculous but I like looking through them every so often – it certainly helps put things in perspective.

    Smithereens – oh, mine are utterly embarrassing. However, I have no shame and no problem sharing them!

    Emily – I love the idea of favorite song lyrics Monday. If you start it I will absolutely join in!

  6. nova says:

    Love this idea for Diary Monday.

    This is why I wish I still kept a journal. I forget how things felt… I think it’s important, as a writer, to go back into the moment without any filters from the present put over it.

    You make me want to dig out my diaries from high school… now where are those awful things? I’m getting curious. But I have a feeling they will be mortifying!

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