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22 April 2014
There are really good things about keeping a blog, or about journaling in general. It's wonderful to come across things that people in the family have written about certain parts of their lives. For example, I have a travel diary that my godmother kept when she and her husband (my grandmother's cousin) went on their honeymoon to Europe in 1913. The ink has faded so it's difficult to read, though her handwriting is very neat. I don't know exactly how long the trip took, but several weeks. I have not read the whole thing, but what I have read has been fun to see what travel was like in 1913 -- they had to take the ship to Ireland, for example, since there were no flights!
(In the back of the book are a few little clippings that she saved, and a little pamphlet advertising the Maid of the Mist at Niagara Falls, which cost, at that time 50 cents.)
My mother kept a journal when she and her then-new husband traveled to the Netherlands to visit his family and do some traveling with his cousin and her husband. My mother is not an interesting writer and while she told me about the frustrations she was going through at the time, her written account reads more like an itinerary than a journal, so I have only read a little bit of it, but it's there if I want to read it.
(The videos that they took on that trip kind of match the tone of the journal. Fred was a carpenter and the video that I saw showed a brief clip of a bunch of windmills and then endless inside shots of nails and joints and how the windmill was put together. I fell asleep when they showed it to us.)
Funny the World is the story of my life from 2000 forward. Prior to that, I kept copies of letters for a number of years until the size of the collection started to get out of hand (I still have those copies) and then kept journals for various stretches of time. I kept a journal for about 10 years or so of our kids' early life, which I retyped, edited, and had hard bound for the kids one Christmas. I called it "How I 'Did It'" since everybody always asked me how I managed to survive raising five children. Knowing how positively that book was received made me sorry that I didn't continue it, but there is a big gap from about 1988 until this journal started in 2000. Some interesting things happened during that time.
My friend Alison recently gave me her collection of letters we wrote to each other while writing the Lamplighter histories, and that was fun to re-live.
I also kept travel journals when we traveled to England or Ireland or Scotland (by the time we went to the continent, I had Funny the World to write in)
Sometimes it's not exactly nice to relieve those parts of your life. I took a trip of a couple of weeks with my mother and her husband in their RV. Keeping a journal kept me sane. Fred and I were usually cordial to each other, but there were things about him that drove me to distraction, primarily his bigotry. My mother would deny vehemently that he had any bigotry about him, but I heard every ethnic and gender slur there ever was on that trip, to the point where I would go to the back of the RV when he was driving just so I would not have to listen to him. When we parked on their property, I was so very glad that there was a separate trailer on the property to which I could escape when I couldn't take it any more. He would also do things like come into the trailer where we were watching a program on TV and just change the channel because he wanted to watch something else, or turn it off in the middle of a program without saying anything because he was tired and wanted to go to bed. It's all written down in my journal of that trip, which I don't want to throw away. Fred is gone and my mother wouldn't remember.
I found the worst journal this afternoon, though. I haven't seen it in years. It chronicles a period of several weeks when I went to help a friend who was going through some difficult times. I'm not going to be specific, but I remember the time as being absolutely horrible, but when I came across the journal today and re-read it, it was much, much worse than I remembered. She and I were barely speaking during parts of that time, her husband hit on me every single day that I was there and made lewd phone calls to me at work. I barricaded myself in my room each night, piling furniture and suitcases up against the door, for fear he would come in and rape me. The tales went on and on and on. Walt remembers my calling him in tears because I was so miserable. Reading it now, I wonder how I would behave today. I would like to think that I would be on the plane home after the first week, but I was trying to keep peace, grit my teeth and just count down the days until I could finally go home again.
The thing that hurts the most about that time was that I finally talked with my friend after she and her husband had split up, about how he had behaved toward me and how miserable I was, but to this day she has not said one word about it. No apology, no sympathy, no excuses. She just listened. Twice. And after I tried to get her to express something about what I had experienced, she seems to have ended our friendship. I haven't heard from her in two years.
I really should send her my journal. But I won't. I'm still trying to protect her from the worst of it.
I am, for all intents and purposes, still a wimp, even 20+ years after the fact.
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