Tuesday, March 04, 2008

The Truth Isn't Always Pretty

Happy Army Day! March 4th, Army Day, yeah I know, lame joke. It was from my 6th grade English teacher and why I’ve retained it all these years is anyone’s guess. The one good thing about it is that I get Jonny with it every year. 17 years we’ve been married and I’ll bet you anything that when I wish him Happy Army Day tonight he’ll look at me like I’ve been back into the Vicodin. I get him every April Fool’s Day too. One of the advantages of having a Scottish husband, he never remembers the holiday.

Speaking of 6th grade, I found an old diary from 1983 in my nightstand drawer. I think it was there because that was the year I ran my first marathon and at some point I must have been looking up something about it and never put the diary back with all the rest from high school/college. This discovery prompted me to dig out my 1982 diary which presumably would have the thought process behind why I decided to enter my first marathon. It’s not a particularly obvious decision to make for a college freshman and though I have my memory about the decision I thought it would be interesting to go back and see if my memory matched reality.

The only trouble with this is that oh my gawd, after reading about 6-7 pages I’m ready to stick hot pokers into my eyes. On September 28, 1982 I bought a pair of yellow flip flops for $4.39 from Discount Den. On September 29 I got 21/28, good enough for an A-, on my Chemistry exam. Go me. Sept. 30 gets a little juicy, I had Nancy Adams (name changed to protect the guilty) for a lab partner in Chemistry. ‘She was pretty good and I was civil to her’. Oooh, rawrrr, cat fight, who was this Nancy and why did I have it in for her? I have absolutely no idea. We were synthesizing nylon and ‘the stuff we worked with was dangerous and the fumes were noxious so I didn’t enjoy it very much’. Huh, you think? Oh those wild and wacky college years. October 2 was the weekend so I kicked loose a bit. In the morning I ran a 10k in ’53:31 or 54:41’ (why the ambiguity? I can’t even guess. Sad thing is this is probably my PR for the 10k), got a medal for 3rd place in my age group and went to watch a horse show. It goes on and on and on like this. How could 18 year old me possibly think that 43 year old me would find this the least bit interesting? It appears I was an even bigger geek than I remember.

Wait though, the following weekend I, gasp, overslept and missed the ‘Illini Pride Stride’ which I’m guessing was another race. What crazy wild antics was I up to the night before that caused me to oversleep? A hayride with my boyfriend’s fraternity that involved an overnight stay at a farm. The truly horrifying part is that apparently I enjoyed the stupid thing according to all the gushing in my diary. Now my present memory of that night is not so generous. As I remember it I got mint juleps and hay tangled in my hair and was contemplating violence against just about every single frat boy on the trip. I was dismayed when my boyfriend joined the frat (he only did so because his mother paid him to) but did my best to go along with it.

It almost seems like I wrote this diary with the fear that somehow someday it would fall into the hands of the people I was writing about and I didn’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings. Or maybe I thought that when I was dead after being rich & famous people would be reading my diaries so they could write my biography and I didn’t want them to think I was a mean person. There is no dirt, gossip, back stabbing or use of the word ‘bitch’ even once. As evidence I present my October 13 entry. ‘Bob’ took me to see Rush and I had nothing but nice things to say about the experience. Now I know we tend to distort our memories but I’m sorry folks there is no possible way that that evening as ‘an interesting experience’. We were in the third row, my ears were bleeding from the volume level and oh yeah I hate Rush with the burning heat of a million billion suns. Unfortunately I didn’t realize this until I was in the third row of a Rush concert surrounded by a million zillion screaming, stoned out their minds Rush fans.

But waaait a minute, what am I doing out with ‘Bob’ at a Rush concert just 4 days after the hayride with my boyfriend? Hmmm, maybe I’m not such a goody goody after all. I do remember breaking up with my boyfriend sometime during those months but maybe we had only agreed to see other people as well as still see each other. Here’s the thing though, I do remember Bob driving me home to Chicago one weekend and my boyfriend also going home that weekend and the 2 of them being about 3 seconds away from a fist fight in my grandmother’s driveway over who was going to drive me back to school but there is not a single mention of it in the diary, just some chipper drivel about a whole big pile of nothing that had gone on earlier in the day. All I can think is that I was too horrified and embarrassed by the whole incident that I didn’t want to write about it. So I’m not trusting this diary. Who did the 18 year old me think she was fooling? Why did I leave all the interesting stuff out and prattle on about only the mundane?

And in 20 years what am I going to think about my current blog? Will I look back at some of those posts about my agility trials and wonder what I was smoking that I thought this stuff was the least bit interesting? And where is all the scandal and gossip? I suppose that’s a little unfair since anyone has access to this. I do come home from trials with plenty of gossip but I’m not going to share it here for obvious reasons. And listening to people rant all the time about every little thing that pisses them off gets old pretty quick. But sheesh am I still sugar coating everything? Apologizing for whining about being laid up with foot surgery? What the hell is my problem?

Oh and things did get more interesting in college. There were funny haircuts/colors and clothes, road trips to St. Louis during finals to see the Ramones, punk rock concerts in my living room that got shut down by the cops and oh so much more. But I’ll bet if I pulled out my diaries from that time period they would put you right to sleep. Heck, I think I'm gonna pitch them all. When I grow up to be rich & famous I don't want the people writing my biography to find them and think I was a pukey little Pollyanna.

4 comments:

  1. As usual I have no witty retort, but I'm sorry, I just had to say,

    Dang! You are *funny*.

    Still laughing... (with you, not at you.)

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  2. I kept a diary off and on through the years. I'm sure that I didn't put anything really noteworthy in there. I'll bet that I didn't even talk about how we got smog days off from school. (Smog days! Wow, things have sure improved since then. Would've been interesting to compare.)

    Actually all the interesting diary stuff like why your husband is making you want to tear your heart out and run it through a shredder because it would probably hurt less than what he's actually doing are the sorts of things that the Ann landers and the Dear Abbys of the world suggest that maybe you destroy so that your loved ones don't find them and read them after you're dead and be hurt and miserable all over again.

    On the other hand, I don't have kids, and I'm not married any more, so maybe it doesn't matter.

    I think I just rambled a bit there.

    -ellen

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  3. Roxanne10:26 AM

    I burnt all my old diaries and even some of my old writing from my youth. All that angst poetry made me want to croak. BUT, I do have a box of writing that dates back to elementary school. In there are creative writing pieces, my undergraduate thesis ... stuff like that.

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  4. I think most of the writing I did in those diaries was more of an exercise in recapping my day and maybe clearing my head and wasn’t meant to be read at a later date. I probably figured that if something big and interesting enough happened I would remember it so there was no need to write it down. And who wants to relive all the painful stuff by writing it down? Thankfully I was never into poetry, that would have really been adding insult to injury in my case.

    ReplyDelete