Theft by Finding Diaries 1977-2002 by David Sedaris

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That’s the thing with diaries, though. In order to record your life, you sort of need to live it. Not at your desk, but beyond it. Out in the world where it’s so beautiful and complex and painful that sometimes you just need to sit down and write about it. (p.9)

Reading David Sedaris’ book, Theft by Finding, is making me feel like I live a very mundane life. While I have been afraid of making mistakes, or getting in trouble, or wondering what other people think, he has been doing whatever he wanted.

Things I like about this book:

  • It’s honest and vulnerable.
  • It shows how everyday life can be fascinating.
  • It’s funny.
  • David is only five years older than I am, so I can remember the places and things of which he speaks that aren’t around any longer. Like Ronald Reagan and gas going up to $1.00 a gallon.

Things I don’t like about this book:

  • After awhile it sounds like whining.
  • This man is crazy.  What I thought was an interesting way to live, I’m now considering to be largely haphazard. No wonder he couldn’t pay his phone bills to Ma Bell if he didn’t hold a steady job and took meth all the time.

In summary, who doesn’t love to read someone’s diary? Even if you can’t relate, or end up being disappointed, getting insight into someone else’s mind has always interested me. Keeping a diary has always interested me.

My favorite Illustrated Faith page so far, with a favorite verse

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“But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us. We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; struck down but not destroyed…”

2 Corinthians 4:7-8

(As for the page itself, I find myself preferring a simple entry rather than a complicated one, a watercolor entry vs. slathered on acrylic; one word rather than many.)

“Flip Through” of my Midori for July

I may have told you, through my blogging years, how much meaning an analogue life holds for me. Which is an interesting thing to note on a digital format. There is so much pleasure in looking back over one’s day, or week, or month, or years(s). Better than a scrapbook is the Midori Traveler’s Notebook, for it holds a calendar, a journal and photographs; a paper trail of that which is my life.

So why tell you that here? Because as summer draws to a close, and fall is showing up ever increasingly in the darker morning, the bits of red edging the leaves, the ads for Back To School, I suggest this system for you.

My Midori holds my “calendar” as pictured above, but also an insert for the Bible studies I do each day, as well as a commonplace book for the reading I do.

I can’t imagine how I managed life without it.

Have I Shown You My Midori Traveler’s Notebook? Have I Told You How Much I Love It?

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I have long been a record keeper, from trips to France as a child, to the horrible years before my first husband died, and beyond. I have a large selection of Italian leather bound journals, Moleskines, and various notebooks from places such as the Art Institute of Chicago. But none of them seem quite right because once filled their purpose seems largely done.

However, the Midori Traveler’s Notebook from Japan is more ideal than any I have ever used before. If only you could feel the patina of the cowhide leather, turning to velvet beneath the repeated touch of my hands. I have my name stamped in gold on the bottom cover, and a charm hanging off the bookmark such as Japanese girls like to hang on their phones.

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Inside are various inserts, such as the 2017 Weekly Diary which I use as a calendar and memory keeper,

as well as lined inserts which I use as a type of commonplace book: one for scripture verses I love, and one for a book journal.

But, the possibilities are endless! Once an insert is finished, it can easily be removed and replaced with another. There are all kinds of inserts to choose from: lightweight paper, grid, lined, sketch, or kraft. They are only about $6.00 each, and they all hold up to fountain pen ink without bleeding through.

My favorite shop is Baum-kuchen in Los Angeles, where Wakako weaves magic in the merchandise she sells. Today, this package arrived containing the items I had ordered all wrapped so beautifully.

There is a new lightweight paper insert (#013), a roll of 4 Season washi tape, a box of brass paper clips, and an Essential wallet to carry valuables such as credit cards and money.

 

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For I, too, believe that, “logic will take you from A to B. imagination will take you everywhere.”

It Does Not Really Exist Until It Is Put Into Words

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I’ve been thinking about my journals lately, about how long before I began putting words to keyboard I would put them to paper. Even at six years of age I took my little red leather journal with lock and key to Canada, recording every grilled cheese sandwich (and time I saw the Golden Boy), while constantly having my spelling corrected by my grandmother. It daunted me not one bit, for the urge to record what I saw, and what I felt, was far stronger than any reprimand.

I never travel without my diary. One should always have something sensational to read in the train. ~Oscar Wilde

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One of the things I love to read best is my old journals. They are more significant than a scrapbook, able to take me back in time and place better than a photograph. The handwriting on the page, subtly changing as I grew from child to adult, brings me back to the person I was. The life I lived.

For any writer who wants to keep a journal, be alive to everything, not just to what you’re feeling, but also to your pets, to flowers, to what you’re reading. ~May Sarton

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Writing a blog is not a substitute for keeping a journal. At least it isn’t for me. When I physically write, with my favorite pen, the thoughts seem to flow with greater alacrity. The inner critic is silenced, for I know the words will not be seen by strangers’ eyes. I am writing purely for myself in my journal, uncensored and uninhibited about expressing vulnerability.

It’s different with a blog. Somehow my writing stiffens up, and pales in comparison with those whose writing I feel is so erudite. It doesn’t flow, it doesn’t even express my self the way my handwritten words do.

Writing, then, was a substitute for myself: if you don’t love me, love my writing & love me for my writing. It is also much more: a way of ordering and reordering the chaos of experience. ~Sylvia Plath

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Yet even a journal is not sacrosanct. Last summer I looked at a whole decade of journals, a box of memories I no longer wanted to remember. The entire carton went into the dumpster at school, and I cared not if mice gnawed the edges should they come across the discarded books. The mice, the rodents, the insects underground had more use for those painful words than I.

Will I live to regret that decision? Is it, as Dodie Smith suggests below, somehow cheating?

I should rather like to tear these last pages out of the book. Shall I? No-a journal ought not to cheat. ~Dodie Smith

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As of today I do not regret it. Even though I am not foolish enough to believe that by discarding the journals one can also discard the pain, I know that half of the healing lies in the writing. Keeping the books perhaps, is not quite as important as putting one’s truth into words.

There is, of course, always the personal satisfaction of writing down one’s experiences so they may be saved, caught and pinned under glass, hoarded against the winter of forgetfulness. Time has been cheated a little, at least in one’s own life, and a personal, trivial immortality of an old self assured. And there is another personal satisfaction: that of the people who like to recount their adventures, the diary-keepers, the story-tellers, the letter-writers, a strange race of people who feel half cheated of an experience unless it is retold. It does not really exist until it is put into words. ~Anne Morrow Lindbergh