Though it may be hard to believe, I was something of a “Playground Playboy” back in my youth. And by youth I mean Kindergarten. I have vague memories from that time of a little freckly face red haired girl named Amy that I developed a crush on and somehow coaxed into being my “girlfriend.” (And no I’m not mixing up the events of my own life with those of Charlie Brown again.) There were even a couple of times we exchanged kisses at recess, much to the delight of a large group of our hooting and hollering 5 year old peers. Alas, sometime between Kindergarten and 1st grade she disappeared.
Luckily I found a new crush in 1st grade. Her name was Christy and she had big bright green eyes and long wavy brown hair, but I was more fascinated for some reason with this grayish blue woolen sweater she wore to school sometimes. (Apparently I was a clothing fetishist even in the 1st grade.) One day we were all sitting on the floor having “story time” and she was sitting in front of me and somehow by the end of “story time” I was petting the back of her sweater and even more exciting: she was quite content to let me do so! These events also somehow culminated into an actual “romance” of sorts and she and I used to hang out at the top level of something called “The Rocket Slide” during recess, and when nobody else was looking , would steal hugs and kisses.
This is me, sometime prior to my early Casanova years, standing at the bottom of “The Rocket Slide.” The slide is still there to this day, albeit under several more coats of paint.
My memories of these two girls are quite vague, though I’m certain the aforementioned events actually did take place. I only wish I knew how, at such a young age, I had managed to get myself into such situations with veritable ease. In any event Christy was in a different class by 2nd grade, and I suppose it didn’t matter because by that time I seemed to have more or less lost interest in cultivating romances with the fairer sex, and moved on to more important things, such as my burgeoning collection of Star Wars toys and comic books. (Interests which have not yet waned some three decades later.)
It would be five or six years before my interest in girls would surface again, but unfortunately for me it was around that same time when my face erupted into what was perhaps the worst case of acne in the history of the known universe. There were quite a few girls I took an interest in, but I couldn’t even get close to them for fear that an erupting boil might spray them with much undesired pimple ooze. Nothing seemed to help; Stridex pads, special creams, prescription medicine; all were doomed to failure. The only cure, as it turned out, would be to finish high school, but of course I wouldn’t know that for another 4 (or 5) years.
So in the meantime I kept the pain of rejection at bay, for the most part, by delving into my studies, and at some point began to hone my lifelong interest in drawing. I also continued my obsession with comic books, and much of the time the girls of my fantasies were not even real people, but characters from said comic books. Shadowcat, She-Hulk, Cheetara, yes even Betty and Veronica: these were my girlfriends during the long cold winter of my adolescence.
I had a particular fondness for Kitty Pride AKA Shadowcat.
You may be wondering by now just what exactly the point of this blog is. Am I going to go on rambling incessantly about various girls I kissed when I was 5, girls I liked when I was a pimply faced teenager, or comic book characters I fantasized about? No. This blog is about something I rather affectionately refer to as “My Journal”, but hold on I’m getting to that.
So eventually I found myself in what was supposed to be my last year in high school. (SPOILER ALERT: As things turned out, there would be one more relatively pimple free senior year that I would have to endure, but I didn’t know that at the time, and besides, that tale will probably make good fodder for a future blog.) I had a job and a car. I was also still scrawny and had horrible acne, but had acquired by this time a certain amount of punk rock culture, gleaned primarily from my rebellious high school friends, that seemed to lend me an air of “cleverness and mystery.” (Most of the people in the small town grocery store where I worked had never heard of The Pixies, David Lynch, or Rocky Horror Picture Show, but I had, and just in time too, because it was right around that time that “Smells Like Teen Spirit” would hit the radio waves, thus making me, a previously unnoticeable freak, suddenly seem almost like “One of the Cool Kids.”)
So let me get to the point. I finally get a girl to go out “on a date” with me, the whole situation crashes and burns, and I find myself in what seemed to be the deepest darkest depression I had ever known. I don’t really know how to handle it, and proceed to take comfort in: after work kegger parties, my one brief attempt at becoming “A Smoker” and by purchasing deck after deck of playing cards, which I would use to play solitaire for hours and hours. Then, on November 6th, 1991 (which was exactly 22 years ago on THIS day) I took one of my fifteen minute breaks from work, purchased a red, college ruled Mead notebook and a 4 color Bic pen, and sat down in the break room with it, to begin my destiny.
On the right hand top corner of the page, in black ink, I wrote the number 1, and circled it. In the left margin I wrote, also in black ink; Nov 6th, 1991. Then I decided, for whatever reason, that my first entry would be in red ink, and I wrote in that color: “Journal Entry # 1” and began furiously dumping 17 years worth of angst fueled emotion and rage onto the paper.
I blasted through that first notebook in only a couple of months, filling the pages with teenage frustration, nostalgic memories of childhood, daily chronicles of my everyday affairs, song lyrics, and a few really bad forays into fiction. (The latter most item is something I never do in my journal these days.) The first several hundred pages of this Tome (And I really feel like I can call it that now.) are nothing short of embarrassing, and yet, I love and cherish every word. (Though I’m not likely to let anyone read those horrid early entries. You’ll have to take my word for it. Imagine Catcher in the Rye as it may have been written by Horatio Alger)
Page 1, just as I described it.
Naturally I have held on to almost every page of this work. (Unfortunately there was a relatively recent incident in which a drunken stroll home from the bar in downtown Ann Arbor resulted in the loss of my latest notebook, which luckily contained only a mere 30 pages or so.)
Each subsequent notebook has been numbered in sequence beginning with page 1 of that first red notebook, as have the journal entry numbers. I have continued using a BIC 4 color pen to write the entries, and I generally favor rotating the colors in this order: Red, Black, Green, Blue. There is no particular reasoning behind that color sequence, other than a deliberate avoidance of having red and green in sequence, as that would be far too Christmasy. (Not that I have anything against Christmas, but that only comes once a year, and my journal is supposed to be for all year.)
Rumor has it this guy also kept voluminous journals, but with no dating, no page numbering, and stored on shelves in no discernible order. He also killed people. (He is also a fictional character in a movie.)
I wish I could say I have done this every day since I started it. Unfortunately, as is the case with all my obsessions, this one comes and goes. It also tends to follow the same pattern as the rest of my motivation, meaning there is usually a fresh burst of excited almost frantic writing in the fall, followed by a slower but consistent jaunt through the winter, followed by sporadic but desperate attempts to keep it going in the spring, followed by, all too often, complete lack of interest in the summer, when all I want to do is stay inside in the air conditioning and watch movies. There have also been good years for journal writing, and bad years for journal writing. In fact through the years 1995-1997 I wrote not a single solitary word in it, then for the next five years, during which time I found myself employed third shift in a relatively quiet small town gas station, I cranked out over 1000 pages. (This time period also saw my longest unbroken streak of some 137 days without a missed entry!)
Still, in 22 years I have managed to write 4648 pages. (Yes that’s 4 thousand, 6 hundred and 48. Pages. Hand Written in ink on paper.) That is more pages than any one Victor Hugo or Stephen King book of which I am aware.) The entries themselves range in length from a couple lines, to over 20 pages apiece, depending on my mood at the time. I almost always have my current notebook with me, even if I haven’t written in it in months. (You know, just in case I want to write.)
The whole “Kit n’ Kaboodle.”
The journal has been my constant companion on many adventures, and non adventures. It has filled lonely and bored hours of time, both in preserving and reliving moments of my existence on this planet. I have thought of it as an invisible audience ready to listen to whatever mindless rambling I feel like bestowing upon it. I can discuss it for hours. In some ways I feel like it actually is me, more so than I my own physical being can ever be. After all, it has remained, and grown, while I myself am still just me. It is somehow a sum of all my parts for the past 22 years and more. It will (hopefully) live on beyond my own time on this planet, and who knows maybe someone somewhere will read it long after I am gone. That thought gives me comfort. (As long as it’s long after I and everyone I have ever known personally is dead.)
If you’ve ever thought about starting a journal, but have not: Do it. Right now. For real.