I have to admit that I am generally quite poor at writing journals. The only time I was really consistent was for a few years in undergrad, though I do have some notebooks from high school. I will periodically write a few pages of what I am up to every few months, particularly if it involves a dream, since I don't feel like imposing my dreams on others. Generally, however, if I can keep the events short enough, I would prefer to put them in an email or, increasingly, post them on the blog. First, I may get some reaction and, second, the editing required to turn one's life into something at least a bit interesting to others is good practice.
What is a little sad is that the number of people that I can have reliable email exchanges with has gone way, way down. Partly people are in different mental spaces in their 40s than in their 20s or even 30s. And I can be an exhausting correspondent, and I have certainly burned through and burned out a number of former email friends. I think I really do try to respond to what they are saying and not just go into my own life and issues, but it is hard to tell. Probably putting more of these things on the blog is the way forward. I do remember that for the longest time I felt I was repeating the same mistakes over and over, particularly in relationships. I am still doing the overwhelming and burning out friends thing, though my internal "regulator" is a bit better. Now I have a different set of things that I keep doing (working too late, obsessively working through lists of books, trying to capture/experience all the great music and art of Western Civilization) but some of the other issues hardly seem like a problem any more.
In any event, I am just about done with scanning and collating all the email that I saved from the 90s (yes, Virginia, we had email -- and computers -- back then). There is a lot of it, and there are some things that I barely remember that I wrote on quite extensively at the time. I suppose it is less surprising that what I have forgotten the most is what was going on in other people's lives, particularly their romantic travails (there was a lot of that in the emails back then). No question there was a lot of oversharing (which I am always attacking the Millennials for engaging in), though in my defense it is quite different to email a story or situation to one or two friends versus putting something up on Facebook or, even worse, Twitter.
Two things that seem worth dredging up from all these journals and the masses of email messages. It turns out that I left Toronto in August 1994, so I will be returning (in triumph?) almost exactly 20 years later. When I realized this, it gave me a bit of a shock. The situation clearly demands some reflection.*
Second, I found some very interesting discussions with a friend that I had totally put out of my mind. She had been telling me about some adventures that were not strictly state-sanctioned and a few other things that were perhaps a bit shocking, at least coming from her. And perhaps she was trying to shock me. I wrote that after she offered up these morsels, she sat back, looking as amoral as a cat, and waited for my response.** Perhaps I passed, perhaps I didn't. We remain friends, though someone distant ones today. It is tempting to write more, but that would certainly be too much information and wouldn't allow me to deny the identity of this friend if she ever happens to come across this post and wonder just what the heck I am talking about. "You don't mean that time that I--?" "No, no. This isn't about you at all," I shall reply.
* Is it finally time to either write out this story that is essentially my life in Toronto in my early 20s
or just to let it go? I've had professional success that very few
people from Gen X ever achieved (to say nothing of those poor Gen Y
suckers), so why am I so fixated on this one period when I was failing
at being an English major, to put it bluntly? Is it that the story that
I have conceived is simply the most dramatic of all the storylines one
could conceivably generate from my life (that would be ok) or is it
something more mundane like just not wanting to grow old? If it is the
latter, then there just isn't much point in pretending that what I come
up with is going to be interesting to others, and I should save my
** I was actually going to tie this in with all the cats in the Delayed Mercy review, but that one already ran a bit long.