Tuesday, May 1, 2018

In which I was 24 and really, really awful at journaling

A nice thing about digital diaries, as opposed to scrawling your deepest (or shallowest) thoughts into a journal that your granddaughter might find some day, is that most of them will be lost to the sands of times. Yes, you read that right. Some Lost Corners are better off lost.

I made valiant efforts to preserve my digital ephemera from the 1990s and early 2000s. Across time and many different computers, I saved personal word-processing documents and emails from old accounts (hello, AOL) as text files. And then I saved those text files to floppy disks. And then, when I realized there wouldn't be anything to insert those disks into, I printed out hard copies of all the files. Years of saved emails and documents and, yes, some truly terrible journal entries by yours truly.

Last weekend, I was doing some cleaning and Paper Weeding™, so I started going through that thick pile of printouts.

So, so much of it was unnecessary. The pruning cut deep, and it was a boon for the recycling bin.

Among the printouts that I bid farewell to were personal journal entries from 1995, typed into my PC while I was living in West York. The purge was definitely a big favor to myself and potential future readers. Awful, awful stuff. I must have been channeling Ethan Hawke's character from Reality Bites, right down to the F-bombs, with my whiny, twentysomething angst.

Don't worry, though. I saved a few bits for you to laugh at. Alas, these curated excerpts have one more shot at being preserved.

Be gentle in your mocking. (Though I was not gentle in mocking myself.)

  • "10:08 p.m. on a Sunday night, September 24, 1995: What to write? What to say? I suppose this is better than all the Internet roaming I've been doing for the past two weeks, Fiddling around with my mouse as I search the world's computer databases for trivial information that's way to [sic] unimportant to actually put in a book. Thank goodness I now have a resource for all the Genesis lyrics..."
  • "10:56 p.m., Wednesday, Sept. 27, 1995: Nine months have flown by and I've written a hell of a lot of boring headline [sic] and layed [sic] out a lot of meaningless pages. Haven't written a damn meaningful thing for publication other than text blocks and briefs. Not that they're meaningful either. Guess I could ask to do some writing on the side, and they'd [The York Dispatch/Sunday News] probably let me. But do I have the energy and desire to do a good job with stories when I'm putting in 50 hours a week as a copy editor? Maybe, maybe not. I should probably give it a try; but wouldn't that just cloud the issue that I need to move on. ... Where does one start to write a novel or short story? I suppose a plot would be a necessary element. Some well-drawn characters, perhaps. Which first? Or both at once? Can I create interesting characters and THEN try to think of things to happen to them? Or maybe just come up with one great scene as a starter and let things flow from there?"
  • "Wednesday, October 4, 1995, 12:38 a.m. (like, in the wee hours of the morning). Current state: Not sober, but not completely schlonkered, either. Other current state: well, Pennsylvania, sort of. Well good morning. Not sure this is going to be of much use, but I can't seem to connect to AOL right now, so I might as well do the journal thang. One thought that popped into my head tonight, I've taken a lot for granted in my life, and I've assumed a lot of things. (Wow, I've just used the dreaded 'a lot' phrase twice in once sentence; this obviously is not destined to be a night of high literary happenings.) Anyway, I think I shouldn't taken [sic] my WRITING for granted anymore. I have a certain amount of talent in this area, and I guess I've always assumed it would be there. This, however, is an ability that needs to be nutured [sic] and feed [sic] and expanded upon, or, ultimately, it will be wasted. This, perhaps, should be taken into account in any future career decisions that are made. Just a thought. Not exactly a deep thought, but an observation nonetheless." [I then go on to ramble a whole bunch and note that the waitress let her hair down that night.]
  • "November 12, 1995: 11:38 p.m. on a Sunday night. This is gonna be short. I can't think of anything that I desperately want to write about at this point, but perhaps that's because I've once again gotten out of the practice; it's been about five weeks since my last journal entry and the end of that little spurt of entries I had going. Oh well. Life rumbles onward ... never any time to figure out what the heck is going on .... never trying to MAKE any time for such reflection to occur. ... And so as I approach the quarter-century pole, I essentially have nothing else to say. How pathetic is that?"

Fire up the DeLorean! I need to go back in time and smack Young Me upside the head. And also beg him to stop using "schlonkered" and "thang."