I began blogging a year after Facebook was born and a year before Twitter hatched. I was very committed to it. Not many people that I knew were blogging. In fact, I felt sort of bashful jumping into the fray, being so public with, well, anything at all. Quaint, right?
I blogged approximately four times each week. It was good practice. I had already worked on a book and many personal essays and plays. Blogging was a great way to get some words out there while I waited for other things to solidify. It was great practice. It gave my life rhythm.
Blogging was quite popular, remember? A few years slid by and Facebook took over. Then Twitter flew in. Blogs were eclipsed. But I kept blogging because I have a hard time stopping things. I also did not want to adjust my focus from something that felt quite natural to things that appeared so bizarre and annoying. I barely understood why anyone would want to have friends online as opposed to in-real-life and my brain turned into soup when I tried to figure out what to do with an @ or a #. No matter how many times people explained them to me, I just got confused. I kept blogging. It felt much closer to how life is really lived. I went at it pretty hard for about ten years. I tapered off, though it felt like I was abandoning something I had started and I felt guilty and strange. Like how you feel when you were young when you stopped rotating all your stuffed animals on your bed. But my gut told me that blogging had become yesterday's mashed potatoes. There was such a wave of cat vids and pokes and two different choices of news feeds and walls and mayhem, and people just going sort of crazy for snippets, that if you blogged, you sort of looked like you were trying to join the digital conversation with a buggy whip. I joined the others, blogged less, and headed into the future toward an American election controlled by Russians and racists.
But long before all this ramped up Gutenberg-on-crack--there were diaries, journals, scraps of paper thrown into a shoebox, that felt much more important than blogging, even.
On February 16, 1973, my mother was cleaning out the dining room server. As I walked by, she pulled out a desk planner diary for that year. My father's overlord was General Motors, and the company sent him some kind of executive desk planner each year, until they stopped. My father never used it. It came in its own box. It was a grayish powder blue. In those days, anything that was kind of new and nice, well, it seemed a shame to throw it away. So, I'm walking by, going where, I don't remember, and my mother, with serving bowls and table cloths on the floor, a can of Pledge, a rag, and the desk planner in her hand, asked me, "Do you want this?"
"What is it?"
She told me what it was. I said, "Sure."
She said, "Don't take it unless you're going to use it."
I took it. I put a rectangular smile-yellow sticker on it with my name in the middle and a thin black border around the edge. The font was thick and 70s funky. This sticker came from a collection of stickers that were printed in many shapes and sizes that all said my name. You could find your packet of stickers in a twirling rack, arranged alphabetically, at Expressions or Spencer Gifts at The Nanuet Mall. I added an 's to my name on the sticker and wrote the word Book beneath it. Titled and ready, thus began my one-page-per-day diary/journal entry habit that I have maintained every day since. It's sort of OCD. But then again, it was born from an OCD tendency (my mother's cleaning) and my OCD tendency (no reason to stop any habit).
I skipped 1976. I think I was going through a too-cool-to-do-it phase. But I missed it, so I picked it back up again in 1977. So I am in my 46th year. Perhaps this is what made me a writer: the need to keep things clean, recorded and remembered. Then, because that may not be too interesting to others, I figured I could make something out of these honest recordings, or really any unvarnished truths from life that I remembered that were or were not written down. Then, to make it fun, you add some personality to it. Keep in mind that almost every story is a fight between love and fear. Fight for some sort of clarity and justice, humor and connection. Pick a format--play, book, film, poem, song--And just keep going.
This might be a little nuts, writing it all down, every day, not missing even one twenty-four hour period. But besides 1976 (which I summed up at the beginning of my 1977 journal) I have never missed a day. I have all my stories. When I was a kid, I called it My Book. Sometimes, I still call it My Book. Nothing seems to change. Other times, I do call it my journal or my diary, more often, my diary. I had no idea I would become a writer. I thought I would own an aquarium store or, in my real big fantasies, become a pop star.
If you think we did something together on some date since February 16, 1973, just ask me. I can look it up.
January 17, 2019