Dawn Reader

Dawn Reader
from Open Door Coffee Co.; Hudson, OH; Oct. 26, 2016

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Do You Really Remember That?

One of the words I hate is journaling--it's down there with parenting.  I call them "lazy words"---words we've concocted because we're too lazy to say being a parent or writing in a journal. 

On the other hand, languages always compress themselves, becoming as truncated as they can while maintaining the ability to communicate.  You may go into a fast-food place and say, "I'd like a large order of French fries."  But the cashier will refer to them as a large fry. 

(BTW: The spell-checker on Blogspot accepted parenting but not journaling.)

Anyway, about journaling--uh, I mean writing in a journal.

I don't recall that I kept a diary when I was a kid.  It seemed to me in those years that it was the sort of thing that girls did.  The diaries you'd see in the department stores were definitely not in the sports department, which, to ten-year-old me, was the only reason even to have a department store.  Or to go to one.  Diary-makers, as I recall, designed them to appeal to girls (the pastel colors, the little prim clasps), not to manly-man ten-year-old lads still nursing the daffy certainty that they'd one day be the All-Star catcher for the Yankees.

I also do not think that any of my public school teachers asked us to keep diaries or journals.  Maybe they did, but if so, all they would have gotten from ten-year-old me was something like this.

7:00 a.m.     Evil parents wake me for school.
7:15 a.m.     Evil parents call me a second time.
7:20 a.m.     Evil father cries "Last call!" at the bottom of the stairs.
7:20:01 a.m. Out of bed.
7:21             Ablutions completed
7:22             Breakfast
7:25             Off to school [note: bike or foot, depending on weather]  Pretend my bike is my cowhorse.
7:30             Screw around on playground while waiting for Mr. Sticker (his real name was Mr. Steeger) to open the doors
7:45             Into the building and the classroom
8:00-10       Sit in classroom and think about baseball and cowboys
10-10:20     Run around on playground.  Smear the Queer, etc.
10:20-noon Sit in classrooms and think about baseball and cowboys
noon-12:40  Lunch and recess.  Smear the Queer, etc.
12:45-3        Sit in classrooms and think about baseball and cowboys.
3-5               Play baseball or cowboys in the neighborhood
5-5:30         Supper
5:30-dark    Play baseball or cowboys in the neighborhood
Dark           Go to bed & dream about baseball or cowboys.  Or cowboys playing baseball.  Or baseball players riding horses.

Sounds pretty appealing, doesn't it?

I also do not recall much in the way of journals in college, though I do have a wisp of a memory about one of my writing classes--about keeping track of our thoughts and then trying to use them in a story.  Maybe that happened.  Would not testify to it.

Later, a teacher myself, I began to assign journals from time to time.  Even my very first year or so I had kids writing what I called "Daily Observations," but the paper-marking became so overwhelming (I had as many as 200 students per day during some of those early years--five classes of forty each) that I pretty soon changed them to "Weekly Observations," which then evolved into "Friday Writing" and then "Free Writing."

On our Free Writing days, a lot of kids would just tell me what they'd been doing lately--though others wrote continuing stories, September through June.  Sometimes a kid would complain, "I can't think of what to write about!"  And I would counter: "Write what it feels like when you don't know what to write about."  Oddly, the kid rarely found that useful.

I was also doing the Free Writing with the kids, and for a while I wrote journal-like entries, too, though soon I got tired of that and started writing YA novels on Fridays, continuing week to week.  In those Harmon School years I actually wrote four YA novels (one--Mind Boggle--is available on Kindle right now; another--Kicking and Screaming--will be there later this week; a third--Bob the Slob, which is actually the first one I wrote--will be up around Christmas time; The Memoirs of Victoria Frankenstein will be in the spring, I hope).

When I had the kids keep actual journals (usually in a writing class), I would do it with them, and so I have a scattering of that sort of stuff lying around my study, waiting for our son to find it when I'm dead, to read and blush and shred.  And try to forget.

And then, in January 1997, things changed.  I retired from Aurora.  I started keeping a real journal.  And about that will I write tomorrow!

(Stay tuned--things are going to get very interesting!)

PS--Weekly link to my Amazon Author Page: Link

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