For several years during my early 20’s, I kept a journal that I called the “Read Me Journal.” There are three volumes, all written in floral hardbound notebooks, with the words “Read Me” scrawled across the front in black nail polish. They are all fat and include various newspaper and magazine clippings, drawings and a few dashes of perfume to supplement the handwritten account of my life. Each has a detailed table of contents, written in A.A. Milne style, beginning with the words “In which…” They also include handwritten comments from my friends on whatever I had written.
I wrote in the journal daily, capturing snippets of my life. I left the journal out on the coffee table, in a house where I lived with four roommates, and invited them to read my journal and comment on what I had written, or to even write their own journal entries there for others to read. I brought it with me when I visited other friends, and left it on their coffee tables. Surprisingly, my friends did read the journal, and even wrote their own entries in the journal for me and others to read.
Although I no longer keep a Read Me Journal, the three volumes on my shelf hold the record of a funny, strange time in my life and in the lives of my friends. At the time that I was writing it, I wondered if it would ever become a public memoir.
I tried to be as honest and open as I could in my Read Me Journal. However, as an open diary, there are many things I did not write about: deep insecurities, negative thoughts about my peers, or anything too controversial. I tried to write things that would entertain my friends, teach them more about me, or to get some kind of feedback from them on things I was thinking.
I remember when I first heard the term “blog,” I asked a fried what it meant. She replied, “It’s like your Read Me Journal, but it is online.” There is an entry in my last Read Me Journal titled, “In which Meg considers putting the Read Me Journal online.” I nixed the idea, preferring the physical journal that I could carry with me everywhere and leave on coffee tables. Besides, I reasoned, I couldn’t include scents in an online journal.
The Read Me Journal never made it online, but when I am writing blog posts, I often think about the Read Me Journals. I sometimes struggle to find things to write about that are related to my work in academia, but that won’t get me into difficult situations with my colleagues or institution.
What do you censor when your diary is open?