The “Work for Blog” Folder

Gil Hernandez at Eisenhower High School, Lawton, Oklahoma, 1980
Gil Hernandez at Eisenhower High School, Lawton, Oklahoma, 1980

There is a folder inside my pictures folder on my iMac that’s called “Work for Blog.” No, I’m not standing on a street corner, holding up a sign that says I will work for blogs. The folder is full of images I have scanned or found on file that I decided one way or the other might be the source of a good blog entry.

This blog, and the others that have sprung from it (see here), are all outgrowths of my journals, which I wrote on paper for many years. The journal grew and matured over the years, but one thing remained: I always had something to say. After lots of years and lots of volumes, I rivaled Anais Nin herself in sheer prolificacy.

The journal started in September of 1978, as an assignment for my English II class taught by a young teacher named Gil Hernandez. He was a free thinker, and got me to read Richard Bach’s Illusions: The Adventures of a Reluctant Messiah, a feat that might be regarded as politically incorrect today. (Sidebar: as years have gone by, I have liked Richard Bach’s message less and less, and when he divorced a few years ago, he totally jumped the shark for me.)

The assignment in that class was to write three half-page entries a week, which we would turn in and have him grade every quarter. Before, long, though, I was writing a page or more every day, since it seemed at the time to be the one thing I could do really well. But on that day in my first week in high school, I opened my blue Mead spiral note book and wrote…

My first journal entry; the paper and the notebook itself are harshly weathered from being carried to and from school every day of the cold winter of 1978-1979
My first journal entry; the paper and the notebook itself are harshly weathered from being carried to and from school every day of the cold winter of 1978-1979

Tuesday, September 5, 1978

Fantasy. There is a great enemy in my spirit. That enemy lingers on forever, never ceasing to attack and condemn. I am my enemy.

Reality: I have more enemies than friends, I’m afraid. Today I went to the doctor to have my ears examined after an infection. After watching a woman with her eyeballs pointing in different directions, I turned my attention to two children in the waiting room. First one would clap, then the other. Then one would stick his finger in his eye, then the other did the same. These people are not my enemies, but are they my friends?

A strange thing in the weather: rain, but no rain smell. It usually smells of ozone, but oddly today only of the flowers in the field behind the house.

Typical teen angst drama, but pretty deep for a kid who just turned 15, if I do say so myself.

At one point, my girlfriend Tina and I named our journals, and mine ended up being “Lord Byron O’Malley.” (Sidebar: just today I thought to myself, “My first girlfriend was Japanese.”)

In 1998, the 20th anniversary of the journals, I toyed with several ways to reinvent my journal, including writing new entries in the margins of the old ones on the same date 20 years earlier. Oddly, my friends scorned the idea and instead I switched from schoolboy spiral notebooks to smaller hardbound volumes.

As I discovered the dynamic of blogging, and as my penmanship disintegrated in the computer age, I gradually tapered off the traditional journal in favor of the product you see before you. An added benefit is that I can use my photos and words together to express myself, which is a perfect marriage.

Your host with 25 years of handwritten product, September 2003 (Photo by Abby S. M. Barron)
Your host with 25 years of handwritten product, September 2003 (Photo by Abby S. M. Barron)
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4 Comments

  1. What about Richard Bach’s divorce seemed jump the sharky for you? Was it that the act was so in opposition to what he’d espoused (ha — see how I did that there?) all along?

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  2. Not exactly, but some. His writing got lamer and lamer as years went by, and SO preachy about the whole “soul mate” concept. And then when he divorced, his public statement was yet lamer still:

    Amazon.com: Are you and Leslie still together?

    Bach: No. That is, Leslie and I are no longer married. Soul mates, to me, don’t define themselves by legal marriage. There’s a learning connection that exists between those two souls. Leslie and I had that for the longest time, and then a couple of years ago, she had this startling realization. She said, “Richard, we have different goals!” I was yearning for my little adventures and looking forward to writing more books. Leslie has worked all her life long, and she wanted peace, she wanted to slow the pace, not complicate it, not speed it up. Not money, not family, no other men or other women, separated us. We wanted different futures. She was right for her. I was right for me. Finally it came time for us to make a choice. We could save the marriage and smother each other: “You can’t be who you want to be.” Or we could separate and save the love and respect that we had for each other. We decided the marriage was the less important. And now we’re living separate lives.

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  3. That lady with the eyeballs going in different directions was probably my real mother.

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  4. Wow. That quote about the divorce is so much horsesh*t. It’s the kind of thing people say when their marriages aren’t working, only he had more words to say it with than the average divorcée.

    If you want to stay married, you can do so without ruining yourself. If you want to divorce, you can do so without coming up with some hyper-spiritual explanation.

    More honest might be: “Guess what. We didn’t work out. Maybe we *were* soulmates at one time, but neither of us feels that way anymore and we no longer feel like honoring the commitment we made to each other.”

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