Just a thought… If you read someone else’s diary, you get what you deserve. [David Sedaris]
Well, here we are, at the end of the first (partial) week of 2019. I don’t know when I’ll get used to saying that new number, but at least I’m not finding myself filling in the 19– part of a cheque book, page after page. I would always do that anytime the new calendar changed in January.
There’s another tradition I kept up nightly from the age of 12 until about age 50: keeping a diary. Every five years I’d ask for – and receive – a diary. Early on, I’d record mostly the minutiae of teenaged day to day life: what I ate, what someone at school said that day, what boy I had my eye on.
Eventually someone had his eye on me, too, but having learned from an awful experience where my mother discovered a diary, read and confronted one of my two older sisters about a boy that she’d been hooking up with, I vowed if I was doing anything Mom wouldn’t like, there was no way I was going to rat on myself! So what did I do? I learned something called “briefhand.” I wish I had a diary with me so I could shoot a page of it. It’s rather akin to something you might see on the wall of an Egyptian temple.
Not to be confused with shorthand, it’s a form of abbreviation that was once (and may still be) used in some secretarial circles. Since one of my sisters was studying to become a legal secretary and still living under the same roof as I was, I had at my disposal her briefhand books.
I enjoyed teaching myself different ways of shortening words and replacing letters, a skill that I used to great advantage when I became a reporter just a few years later. Best of all, I was the only one who could decipher the swirls and dots – a great thing when you’re writing a secret, coded diary. (I suppose my sister could have figured it out, but why would she care what I was up to?)
Or was it such a great thing? Now that I’m old enough to know that I should’t have been doing things I wanted to write in code anyway (!) I don’t think – if I had a gun to my head – that I could be forced to decipher what I was writing about my activities at that time. Now, before your mind goes too far into sketchy areas, I was as close to an altar girl as you could get (not that there were any then, mind you) and I really wasn’t up to much.
I’d love to sit and just try to figure out the language and meaning of some of the stuff I scrawled out in those last years of high school, but what would be the point? Maybe one day I’d have translated it all and shared some of it with Lauren, but to be honest, the time to even try to do that would have been when Lauren was the same age. And I doubt she’d have cared much, busy as she was leading her own life.
Later, as I went back to writing in English, my diary would become a sort of homemade ancestry.com. When Mom wanted to know what date or year so-and-so died, or when we travelled here or there, I just had to look it up. They did come in handy after all, and that’s why I still have them.
So, somewhere sits a pile of little, differently-coloured five-year diaries, some of them with silly tarnished locks along the side (that were easily breached by a curious/furious mother or a mere snip of scissors, I’m sure). This year, after having dropped writing in a diary years ago (thinking, with this journal, just how much can one pen about their own non-royal life, anyway?) I’ve picked up a daily planner.
I figure with so many things happening (especially in the first few months of the year) it’ll be good not only to have records in our iPhones and on our shared computers, Rob’s and mine, but a bit of an actual journal. A real, old-fashioned diary. Because I want to remember every good minute of this year.
Have a lovely weekend as the world prepares to ramp up into full GO mode on Monday – and I’ll be back with you then. Next week, more book stop details as they unfold!