The Twenty Transition

Forget Facebook. THIS is how you journal.
Forget Facebook. THIS is how you journal.

In September 1998, my journal (sometimes lightheartedly referred to as “Lord Byron” from a name I gave it in high school) turned 20. I thought of marking the occasion in several different ways. One somewhat radical concept I had involved writing the next 20 years in the margins of the first 20 years, which were all handwritten in huge Mead spiral notebooks. It had a conceptual high art feel to it, but my friends talked me out of it.

Also Ran
A woman I dated in the 1980s also wrote a journal in Mead notebooks, but insisted on writing a pun associated with the word “Mead” next to it on the cover, like “Mead and Podadoes.”
I was reading a lot of Albert Camus in the late 1990s, and I'm sure his writing influenced my own. This is me reading "The Plague."
I was reading a lot of Albert Camus in the late 1990s, and I’m sure his writing influenced my own. This is me reading “The Plague.”

It was around this time that I was frequenting book stores. Remember those? Borders and Barnes & Noble were in their heyday, and had whole sections of blank journals. Some of the journals were fairly plain, while others were clad in the finest Italian leather. Some had faint designs on their inside pages, while others were entirely blank. My pages of choice were simple ruled paper, so I could just write. All of them were dimensionally smaller than the college-rule spirals, which I stuck with for the first 20 years because that was what I had when I started writing the journal in tenth grade.

It was on September 5, 1998 that I made the switch. In addition to smaller paper, I abbreviated the date, which I had always written out in the Mead books.

Upon looking over the transitional period, I began to discover that I was really writing well during that period. At least I thought I was.

February 25, 1998
I wonder if this journal is what sets me apart from the millions who toil like Sisyphus every day, pointlessly churning out paperwork or rubber dogshit or the culture of excess and disease. Or is it my photography? What sets me above?
I have always been a list maker, from those first journal days in 1978, to this very day.
I have always been a list maker, from those first journal days in 1978, to this very day.
March 14, 1998

I desire to be brilliant. Ready? GO!

Cynicism is not the answer. Who is happy? Not the cynic. By definition, happiness is the goal. But the definition of happiness eludes us. To believe one’s self to be happy but in actuality being destructive, ignorant, lazy, stupid, or not using one’s potential is not happiness, just the illusion of happiness.

These are the hardcover journal books to which I switched in 1998. I continued to write in them until about 2008, when my handwritten product was replaced by typewritten and online product.
These are the hardcover journal books to which I switched in 1998. I continued to write in them until about 2008, when my handwritten product was replaced by typewritten and online product.
May 11, 1998

The biggest imagination gap: self-image. So many people look and act like complete idiots and believe they are the coolest thing since ice cream. How can you think you look good in that ball cap, that moo moo, that pair of urine-soaked golf pants?

LOOK AT YOURSELF!

Then there were the lists.

Write It Down

  • The only happy teenagers are the stupid ones.
  • I am the sky, and I must go home.
  • What I wouldn’t give to write this page in my own blood.
  • I would snap you like a twig.
  • There but for the grace of not being a flipping idiot go I.
  • I feel that I can write much more honestly now that I have a document shredder for my notes.
  • Sometimes I feel like I need my anger the way I need my next breath.
  • “That was very sexy.” -T, after watching me lick salt from my margarita glass.
  • Never in my life have I been so good at concealing my feelings.

I have written a lot of words over the years. Most of it is drivel. In fact, almost all of it is drivel. Occasionally, however, there is a pearl.

This is the Richard who filled up one notebook after another in 1998.
This is the Richard who filled up one notebook after another in 1998.
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3 Comments

  1. “Most of it is drivel. In fact, almost all of it is drivel. Occasionally, however, there is a pearl.”

    That is certainly how I see my own writings, at least my poetry and fiction. There is something like a 10:90 ratio in my poetry and a 1:99 ratio in my fiction … This is counting line by line or sentence by sentence. If you count finished work, it’s much more often drivel.

    My journals, however, were mostly simple recounting of events, very often devoid of feeling or opinion.

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  2. For some reason that last photo of you, Richard, reminds me of Chris Martin of Coldplay. Or maybe I’ve had too much beer.

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  3. I remember coming to see you and a journal open on the desk, which I proudly own now, open and pen in hand. I still use the spiral bound, I like it. I like a good pen as well. I look back at some of my own entries and see how very far I have come in life and realizing how little I know about it. I always felt like a kindred spirit with you of lists making and jotting down our thoughts.

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