Dear Diary

7:30 AM

Gwendolen Fairfax: "I never travel without my diary. One should always have something sensational to read in the train."

If you would have asked my opinion two days ago on the subject of diaries and journals, I would have emphatically told you I was not a fan. What is a diary but an excuse to gossip about the people and places you've met and been to, a permission to pour out all your hatred and spite, a go-ahead to daydream about things you ought to be thinking about?

That sage advice for authors to keep a daily journal fell on deaf ears in regards to me. As to the effectiveness of such a practice, I wouldn't know - I couldn't do anything consistently if my life depended on it. To quote myself, if you don't mind: "How many diaries have I started? Four, I think? And how many unclassified journals, notebooks and story spirals? Let's just say my two desks are choked, the book holders are stuffed and I've probably contributed to the death of sundry giant oaks" (Diary 2009-2011, August 7, 2009).

But there are some days when I have to write and it borders on something like compulsion. I can't blog about it; I can't talk about it; and the only place to put it is within the pages of diary.

I had that compulsion the other day. And I glanced through the other pages in passing - and was hooked. Not because I was a fantabulous writer, but because I had forgotten that life was so happy back then, so hopeful. I was so content to rest in the Lord and seek out the joy in life.

That moment, I realized the importance of remembering. Of recording. Of saving the special moments in life - the things that truly count - so that when the big, unimportant things roll, I can still see God's hand. It was literally like watching a drama unfold, a flawed heroine stumbling and then learning, of presuming and being proved wrong, of loving and reaping the fruit of that love.

What is my opinion now? How kind of you to ask. Here it is.

- Keep a diary.

"But I suppose I should leave some record, though I'm not to be married, will never be crowned queen and am not likely to be poisoned - if I don't, Kathryn Lasky might be hired to write a fake diary for me...and who know what my character might inspire" (August 7, 2009).

- Don't worry about updating it frequently or minutely. Just keep it open and nearby.

"So much to tell, but I can't tell it all. Too late for that. Perhaps memory will be restored me when I am old, and have grandchildren who view my life as prehistoric" (December 19, 2009).

- Don't focus on the big party you went to or the trip to the zoo. It won't matter three days from now.

"I wish I could trap my life in a jar sometimes, and watch it over and over again - and maybe let it out, just once, and hope that it doesn't fly away. My absolute favorite memories would be with Mommy, side by side on the couch, learning together. It's nothing very [astute] or profound; in fact, we are terrible at keeping anything serious. ... We're terrible, I tell you, brutally disrespectful [of my self-important poetry book] and distracted. Giddy, Mum calls it" (January 20, 2010).

- Focus on the funny things your baby brother did, the random household drama, the joke that made you laugh, the new friend you made.

"A deadly mystery has fallen into our hands. Someone must hold a profound grudge against us to commit such a crime. I call it...The Case of the Smashed Mailbox, Shirtlock Colmes presiding" (August 14, 2009).

- Don't use your diary as a tool for gossip or slander. You'll regret it and have to resort to ripping pages or a dark, dark marker.

"There seems to be something less than honest in a person who engages in debate solely for the other person's benefit without risking their beliefs. ... How patronizing can you get?" (June 17, 2010) [I'm on rather more-than-good terms with this person now].

- Get a diary that's easy to write in. Spiral-bound for me.

"I'm dead tired. There's no way I'm going to be able to get up at six and read Beowulf and recite 1 Samuel 1 and do Pilates and all that (if you even capitalize it). But I can't sleep. So I write. I think I'm turning out to be a real whopper of a writer, don't you?" (August 18, 2009).

- Handwritten is better. You have to think more about things that take longer to erase.

"Pencils hide the fact that words cannot be taken back" (December 24, 2010).

- Write about God. Your spiritual journey is amazing to look back on.

"I have such a desire to give, and yet I forget I still have such a huge need to learn. You teach me, Father" (August 25, 2009).

- Read it every once in awhile. You'll be surprised how much you've changed - and how much you can learn from your former self.

"I have come to the conclusion that growing up involves not complaining about how growing short you are" (October 7, 2009).

...stop and consider God's wonders :: Job 37:14

Your thoughts? Prize goes to the best self-quote you can extract from an old diary!

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28 impressions

  1. I have kept a diary all my life, and I'm really quite pleased you wrote on the subject. You're totally right about the slander, btw-- major regret. I learned that when I was around 9.

    I will occasionally go back and read them, and one part I always remember is my naive self complaining about how jealous I was of L.M. Montgomery and C.S. Lewis. More specifically, their supposedly far better childhoods than mine...

    It makes me laugh now. :)

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  2. Very much enjoyed this post. Kept saying "yep", "yes", "exactly".

    I don't keep a diary, it's a journal. It's stuck in the door pocket of my car. Come to think of it, it's not even a journal just a repository for random thoughts: interesting places, ideas, addresses and phone numbers.

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  3. Love this entry! I journal, extensively, and have since I learned to write, I think. I still have a diary I kept when I was about seven and it makes my sides hurt to go back and read it. That's one of my favorite things about it.
    Hmm ... let me search ... I'll hunt up one of my kooky quotes for you. Beware!

    Natalie

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  4. By the way, I don't recognize the quote right off, although I have a guilty feeling like I should. It does smell like Jane Austen, but I don't think it is. Who is Gwendolyn Fairfax?

    Ignorant again,
    Natalie

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  5. Found some! I'll try not to bombard you.

    "I hate the way you read my diary. Stop it." - April 13, 2010

    "I ache all over - an uncomfortable, undramatic ache, from an excess of heat, sitting, reading, and wearing hard plastic headphones and tight shoes." - May 27, 2010

    [Warning: Complete, out-of-control drama-queenness ahead. Proceed with caution.]
    "I had kept my despair under control until that moment, but the mention of serving my family watery rice with a slotted spoon just about undid me. How could I face that? Call me insanely over-dramatic if you want, but that would be more than I could bear. I would not cry, however, so I got a slotted spoon and sat down at the table with a scarlet face, and while Daddy prayed for safe travel for the Kennedys, I prayed for that water to absorb before anyone opened the lid." - June 24, 2010

    Laugh away. I get ridiculous sometimes in my diary.

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  6. I'm not about to quote anything from my diary - not that it is "secret" but it might ruin myself completely. :P

    Ah yes, the case of the smashed mailbox. Which could also be called, "The Case of the Smashed Red Car that Slammed into our Mailbox." :D

    *hugs*

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  7. "I ate rice crispies today."

    That gem is from yours truly from when I was about...nine?

    Oh, and yes, I know "crispies" is spelled with a K, but my nine year old self did not. :)

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  8. Well, my self-quote certainly will NOT be as good as any of yours, Bailey!!

    But, I have kept a diary/journal for 12 years, so there should be something in there that might amuse you. ;-) I'll take a look later on!

    Love in Christ,
    Vicki

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  9. ROTFLOL! Y'all are cracking me up. I don't think Natalie's can be topped. :D

    (By the way, the quote's from my all-time favorite, The Importance of Being Earnest. Her counterpart Cecily Cardew had some pretty hilarious quotes on diaries, but I thought of Gwendolen first. ;o))

    Sarah Mae - that must have been a wicked bowl of rice krispies to warrant entrance into your diary.

    Natalie, I'd love it if you emailed me. Do you think you're up to it? :o)

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  10. Here are a couple of random quotes I found:

    1. (2008, writing "to" my journal) "Don't laugh at me, okay? Thanks. I knew you wouldn't."

    2. (2007, after hearing a Joshua Bell concerto) "Hmm, some girls idolize rock stars, I idolize a classical violinist? I am in bad shape."

    I'm sure there are plenty of other kooky quotes from my scatterbrained past, but these were some quick ones I pulled. ;-)

    Love in Christ,
    Vicki

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  11. Bailey-
    I found your blog a few days ago, and really enjoyed reading your review of "Joyfully at Home". I had started reading that book a week before and was (and still am!) perfectly delighted with it. My mom, too, has heard a lot of "Jasmine this, Jasmine that". ;-) I've probably given her a complete oral book report by now.
    I'm glad you have had a change of heart about diaries. ;-) I have always loved journaling. I've kept diaries since the I was about six or seven, and the spelling in those distinguished first volumes, in and of itself, is enough to make you laugh out loud.
    If I were to find the best self-quote I've ever written, I'd have to go through fifteen different journals (yeah, I bet I've helped kill some sundry giant oaks, too ;-), but I did run across this rather lengthy passage:
    "When I grow up, I hope I tell my children stories. Not just stories about what my siblings and I DID when we were young, but stories about who we WERE.
    "Your Uncle David," I will tell them, grinning down into their upturned little faces, "Always wore the same pair of pants. They were green and blue camouflage pants, and they were ripped all the way across both knees. He wore a belt, to which he clipped more things than you'd think anyone but a rock climber would need...
    "He had lanyards and rope clipped to that belt, and dangling from the rope were any number of things: at least three knives; a pocket knife, a sturdier knife, a little swiss army knife, knives he had carved out of wood, little LED flashlights, tweezers, and other STUFF. And sometimes, you know, when I thought to listen, I realized he jingled when he walked!"
    And they would laugh, and try to imagine their Uncle David with all those things clipped to him, and probably fail utterly." (September 2010)
    Journals are a priceless way to keep memories; safely written down in a special book. For me, writing is a need, so a diary is the perfect place to ramble for a long time about whatever...the events of the day, what things I'm thinking about, or new insights I've had into God's word.
    Well, that's a long comment!
    Anyway, I'm glad to hear you now approve of journals. =)
    -Julia

    P.S. Your "Unsocialized Homeschooler's Gazette" was very funny. You should write another one. ;-) My only objection is that you forgot about Twilight. Aren't Bella and Edward also plastered all over everything a girl can wear or curl up in? Not to mention everything they CAN'T wear or curl up in...

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  12. When I was about nine, my aunt gave me a pink Hello Kitty diary, with a lock on it. I hope you find my first entry amusing. I did, at least.

    "Dear Diary,
    Aunt Sara just got here, and she gave me you! I am so glad to have you! I have been wanting you for a long time! I have to go now. Good-bye!
    Love, Amy"
    I probably have more excerpts. Pardon me while I go check.
    By the way, "Natalie", I enjoyed getting a peek into your closely guarded diary. (I was not the one who read it.)
    <><

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  13. Okay, I seriously need to get a life and go make dinner, but your quotes are all so good.

    Vicki - LOL! Love that first quote. A true winner right there.

    Julia - Huzzah! Another Jasmine-lover. She has a whole bevvy of delightful followers, and I'm glad I'm beginning to "meet" some of them. :o)

    Aww, I love diaries/journals written to children. (I might have to tear out some pages before I let any peeping eyes see mine....)

    Rats. I did forget Twilight. And there was even an article on it in the high school newspaper.

    Aemi - love it! I always lost the key to my diaries, which was just dandy...the locks always broke.

    You know what's truly frightening about all this? The quotes we're laughing at are mostly from 2010. Like, 12 days ago. :o)

    Keep 'em coming! *Hugs to all.*

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  14. I agree with Julia; I'd love to see another "Unsociolized Homeschooler's Gazette. At least one more. Please?
    Not sayin', just sayin.
    <><

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  15. Bailey, you guessed it. I lost the key and the lock broke. The entries are months apart, each one opening with profuse apologies for neglecting my pink diary so long. I think you have inspired me to keep a diary. I have a mostly empty one that I started last year...
    Well, bye for now. I need to go get a life, too.
    <><

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  16. Yes, a few days after that traumatic evening from which comes my rice excerpt I suddenly realized, "Wait a minute... that totally wasn't that big of a deal!"
    The rice turned out perfectly, btw. It's now one of my favorites to make!

    Natalie

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  17. VERY wonderful and inspiring post. I know I probably should keep a journal or diary, and I have, before. I don't think I shall um, *aherm* share any of it!

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  18. ADDENDUM:

    The frontspiece of my first (cat-covered) diary: "I, am 7 years old. I like cat's. My MOTHER got this for me on Christmas day 2001."

    January 24, 2002: "Diarys. They seem everyware! And I just finished Elizbeth's Diary. Wich was very good. And my frined has one. They just seem everyware. But some books like Elizabeth's Diary, they look like there good, but you might come across some mushy parts. But thats what diarys are for. Man."

    {{{Best Day Ever}}}

    January 27, 2002: "But that wasn't the best part. I went to go see a skit. I got strawbery shortcake ice cream. And I'am going to be seven and a half tommorow."

    January 28, 2002: "Today was not like other half birthdays. Today was not specil. All I got was to have the spechil plate. And I had to do school work. What a day."

    February 18, 2002: "I had a hard time doing my math today. It was hard because it was tims. You should see my wall, its covered with pichers. I colred them at Awana."

    {{{WORST DAY EVER}}}

    February 20, 2002: "Today I finished my math book. My Mom began to sing. My brother said I was fat. But I do not care. last night I had a bad dream. I woke up seven times. I have a cold. It makes my head hurt. The clothes that I'm wering is thin. I'm writing while my head hurts."

    February 26, 2002: "I'm scard up here. Whers Mom?"

    I haven't even passed seven pages and I've quoted almost everything. I amuse myself.

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  19. Oh, I can't WAIT go scour my diary! It's from about ten years ago, when I was 18. It should make for some hilarious, angst-y reading. :)

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  20. By the way:

    "Today was not like other half birthdays. Today was not specil. All I got was to have the spechil plate. And I had to do school work. What a day."

    "Lol" does not begin to express the way in which I almost fell off my computer stool while reading this.

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  21. Ah, Bailey, now I'm going to have to go dig out my 6-or-7-year-old diary. Those are just too funny!

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  22. I know I'm new to your blog, but I love keeping a journal, and based on these amusing diary entries here, I thought it would be fun to include one of mine...from YESTERDAY! (don't laugh!)

    "I stayed up late waiting for [my sister] to come upstairs for bed so I could play for her on the harp the song I just figured out from "North & South" (since she loves the harp). And then...she doesn't even notice I was playing! Note to self: remember this when you have a husband some day--he won't notice either!" =)

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  23. Leanna :: Welcome to my world! Aw, poor you...but that was so sweet. Sisters have a weird way of appreciating and forgetting to express that appreciation. (If your sister's a big sister, then she's part of the universal way of the elder sister. It's complicated.) Hopefully it's not the same way for husbands - and I think if he's totally gaga for you, he'd notice. ;o)

    ((hugs))

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  24. Oh, Bailey, you shouldn't have, but I'm glad you did!

    I was just telling my mom that the only bad thing about reading your blog is that I spend too much time trying to write a comment- there's way too much to say. I usually just quit and try to talk to you about your post later face to face...but I forget.

    I enjoyed getting to see inside your, as well as your commenters, minds for a few lines. I also like being reminded of your thirteenth birthday when I gave you a diary. Yeah, you also got a few littlest pets..I think one of them was named Bethalaylee.

    Anywhoo, I'm getting too off subject (see what I mean?.) I'll go scan through my diaries and be back in a jiffy...Ok, I'm back.

    I couldn't find real ancient ones, but I do remember a few entries that even came with pictures I drew to substitute for a lack of words. One I can remember says "grounded" with a picture of my mom pointing to my room. The only things I could find were very serious. I had (and still have) a certain diary for certain things, I was an intence journaler..

    "I could go on babbling on about a lot of other stuff, but I must go to bed." (June 10, 2007)

    "It's so funny how people are so different, yet they get along somehow. I guess it's just one of God's miracles. It better be, or I wouldn't be able to Love [my brother]. (June 23, 2007)

    "All my dreams are coming true. And it's all thanks to God." (April 22, 2008)

    (Talking about what God has done for me) "Like a mirror, I will give it back to him by discovering his heart, by watching him move more than I watch 'Back to the Future' (which is a large amount)" (December 7, 2008)

    "Well, I finally have a new diary after about two years with my first one. It's hard to believe that I actually finished a diary." (February 6, 2009)

    "Truthfully, I like myself" (June 15, 2010)

    "Just living one day as a human being, things seem to get complicated." (November 9, 2010)

    This was great looking back, Bailey. Great post and challenge- now I'll go write in my diary about this!

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  25. Okay, answering a question about 75 comments later ... yes, Bailey, I'd love to email you!

    Natalie

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  26. Twenty-five, to be exact. :o) Yay! So here's my email address :: maiden4Jesus@charter.net :: and if Aemi wants to email, she's more than welcome. If she doesn't, make her. ;o)

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  27. I realize that I'm practically two years late with this comment (and I'm not completely sure you'll even see it). But I just stumbled across this post (I think under the "blog" category at the top).

    I had to say thanks for the laughs...especially for the addendum comment. Oh my goodness, I laughed until I cried. Especially on the Jan. 24th one. :) I needed that!

    {I've been journaling pretty consistently since I was about thirteen. I recently disposed of one of my earlier journals, because I was embarrassingly boy-crazed at that time. I really love journaling, though, and can't imagine my life without it. After reading this post and comments, I'm highly disappointed I don't have one from age 7. Even if I did, though, I don't think it would be as hilarious as ya'll's. :) }

    ~Kristin

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  28. Hi Bailey,

    I've been pouring over your blog discovering kindred viewpoints from pet peeves and favorite books to standards of living. I really enjoy your writing style. :D

    I love "The Importance of Being Earnest"! it's my favorite play but I don't know a whole lot of people who have read it. I got to play Gwendolyn once in drama class and I've been an ardent fan ever since!

    I have a book for you, since you seem to like so many of the same things I do. Maybe you've read it already, but it's a favorite of mine and I can't resist telling anyone and everyone about it :) It's called "The Hidden Hand" and it was written by E.D.E.N. Southworth - hope you enjoy it!

    Anna

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Hit me with your best thought! I'm very interested in your unique perspective. If you'd like to discuss things in private, feel free to email me! :)