From the Vault: Diary

By Eilene Lyon

I would guess that most people who become writers have a journaling habit. My “daily” diaries are mostly compendiums of minutia, a way to remember what I did for all those countless yesterdays.

One’s first diary is special. I don’t recall who gave this to me for Christmas in 1972. Maybe my parents, perhaps some other relative. The first entry lists my gifts—except the diary. The very next day, I noted that former president Harry S. Truman died. Because the pages are pre-dated, the earliest entries are in the back. I managed to write for a week, then abandoned it until January 1, 1976.

Gilt glows from the edges of the lined pages. The padded cover feels substantial, but the lock is just a flimsy thing, easily infiltrated by pesky little-brother types. At least a third of the diary remains a tabula rasa.

My diaries exist in steno pads and bound notebooks of many varieties; this is the only one that was truly born to be a dairy. I never developed a daily habit. Entire years are absent from the record. In my younger days, the happier my life, the less inclined I was to write. My mood is less relevant today.

The possibility of forgetting my past is one motivation. Yet, it solves nothing. As my mother declined into dementia, she didn’t read her diaries—she threw them away. I would probably do the same. I don’t intend for them to survive me, or to ever be read by anyone else.

With this one exception.

The musings of a 14-year-old girl can be quite entertaining! A local (now defunct) social media company hosted a public reading for teen diaries. A dozen readers enthralled the full theater. I won first prize.

The content gets better as the diary progresses, but the first week will give you the flavor.

Thurs. January 1 ‘76

Dear Diary,

I decided once again to start writing in you. ’72 was a long time ago. I’m going horseback riding today. I hope to see Rolando there. I really blew it on Muluk on Tues. How embarressing! I just remembered, I have to pack for a youth retreat tomorrow. I have to get my allowance. I wish I had enough money to buy a lot of records but my brother has all of the good ones available. I might buy some singles though. I sure wish I could get Chavi to notice me. He isn’t really handsome but he is very nice.

My room is a mess. As soon as I get back from the retreat I am going to spend the next two days cleaning it up.

Bye now

Eilene

Fri. January 2

Dear Diary,

I don’t know if I will write in you on the 3rd or 4th. Today we arrived at camp. I met some nice people. Two of my better friends are Cathy + Joy. We wrote answers to some embarressing questions and then they read them. I left when they read mine. Our cabin got raided twice. Once by our counseler and once by one of the boys cabin. The raids will probably be worse. Boy, is today cold! We’re supposed to be able to swim after lunch but who want I didn’t get to go to horse back riding yesterday so I didn’t get to see Rolando. Shucks! Mark showed up at camp I didn’t think he would come. I hope no one sees this.

Eilene

Sat. January 3

Dear Diary,

Today we didn’t do much. Our cabin only got raided once but not much was touched.

José + Peggy, Mr. Acuña, and Jean Haas gave their testimonies. They were really good.

I’ve been wondering things all day but no definite questions have come into my mind to put in the question box.

I’ve just found out that someone cares. I’m going to try hard to be a nicer person. I know this is a short entry but I’ve got to go. Suzanne was really nice tonight.

Eilene

Sun January 4

Dear Diary,

Today was the best day so far at camp. Since Linda lent me her extra blanket I slept very comfortably. We really had good food all day. About the best in the camp. Mark sat by me in chapel but I guess that doesn’t mean any thing. I cried today because everything and everybody seemed against me. Rinda tried to comfort me but she’s one of my main problems. She’s nice, but she never pays attention to me in a nice way and when other people are around she’ll do anything to have people say nice things about her even if she has to be mean to her friends. I wish they would realize it. I’m sure she does.

Eilene

Mon January 5

Dear Diary,

I didn’t get to write all I wanted yesterday. I found a verse yesterday during quiet time that is good for my problem. Luke 6:26. Yesterday Joy + Cathy broke my moms mirror. They paid for it though. Last night I slept in another cabin. I was so comfortable that I slept til 8:20 and missed breakfast like everyone else in my cabin (4). I wonder if Mark likes me. Sometimes he acts like it. I really am not the kind of girl to go steady. If I ever say yes to anyone I will have to really love him. Jan. 1974 Young Miss has a good story for it. I think I like Mark but I’m not sure. He’s too young for me any way. He’s not really my type.

Eilene

January 6

Dear Diary,

Today has been pretty good until now. This morning Steve and I rode bikes downtown. First we went to Montufar then I went to Rinda and we went to Hardee’s for lunch. I stopped by my dad’s office for awhile. Horseback riding turned out pretty well today. Mosquetero is an awful horse. I can’t stand him. I wish I could ride Muluk again. Maybe in 7 mos. I saw Shiva I think. Rolando was there. Big deal! as if he would ever notice me. I try to do the best with what I have and I try to be nice but no one acknowledges my presence anymore. I had to practice my horn today. Oh if I could only give up the stupid thing. My family is so mean to me. Steven is the only one I like any more. P– always calls me a ‘bitch’ for no reason

Eilene

January 7

Dear Diary,

I’m writing this on the eighth. I don’t really remember to much but I do know that my mom and I don’t get along to well at times. I remember when P– + I used to get into fight and we went to mom and she always said not to come to her with our arguments but now, who is the first one to butt in and break it up? I hope some mail comes for me. I can always use some. I finally played some of Steven’s new records. I wonder if I’ll see Rolando tomorrow. My hair never wants to stay put. It drives me crazy! I really have nothing more to say. So Adios

Eilene

Want to read more? Let me know!

61 thoughts on “From the Vault: Diary

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  1. What fun! You told a lot more in your diary that I did in mine, back in 1955 and 1958! I still keep one, jotting something down at the end of the day. Journaling is a brain dump first thing in the morning, in a loose leaf notebook.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I’m always amazed by people who have things to write in the morning. You must have some fascinating dreams or something going on. I read in the morning, sort of “priming the pump.” My grandmother wrote a diary at age 15/16 and she really didn’t say much compared to what I wrote at 14. But her pre-printed diary didn’t give her a lot of room, either.

      Like

  2. This is so fun! Please, more! I was an avid diary writer from 1980 to 1992 with some entries all the way back to 1974. I’ve been very spotty since 1992, though. This reminds me of my horseback riding lessons and my crush on Scott, a truly wonderful guy. I also recorded the days in 1981 when I discovered genealogy.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. That’s so great that you have been writing in diaries for so long! Horseback riding was such a special time. I never did it after high school. Have you ever shared any of your diary writings?

      Like

  3. Love it, especially your comments about your hair! I wish I’d kept a diary growing up. I recall discovering my brother’s childhood diary (about age 8-9) in some of my mom’s stuff. On one page he wrote “Nancy (my given name) is really an ass.” It cracked me up so much to imagine him as a kid writing that sentence! I laughed for days!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Didn’t we all fret about our hair and siblings? I don’t think about young boys writing diaries. I wonder what got him started? It really is funny to look back at what seemed so important to us back then.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Yeah, my spelling wasn’t perfect, for sure. And I had to look up the verse, too, when I transcribed this! I am not religious at all now. But I do still have a Bible lying around (and all those other religious tomes).

      Like

  4. What a fun share!!! 🙂 I’m sure I still have some of my old hand written journals laying around somewhere, I’d probably cringe reading through them today hahahaha. Most of my journaling is done on the computer now, it helps me keep up with it better.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks, MB! I still like the feel of pen on paper more than writing on the computer. Totally old school, I know. Yeah, old journals can make you cringe, but also laugh your ass off! Get digging, girl!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I enjoyed that Eilene! I still have my first diary, which looks similar to yours, nice binding, gilt and a flimsy lock, which my older sister broke into and teased me about. I was only 11, so not much boy stuff, (although my first crush was the actor who played The Artful Dodger in the movie Oliver – 1967 and I was mad that my mother wouldn’t let me go see it twice.) I was diligent the first few months – the big daily highlight seemed to be skating at lunch hour on the outdoor rink at school, and a few entries about books I had read, then I quit altogether, except for a few entries in the summer about Oliver. It’s fun to read it though, even though life wasn’t very exciting – just the same old school routine etc. I’ve kept a few journals sporadically over the years, but usually ended up abandoning them, including the gratitude journals. A friend gave me a five year five line journal five years ago for Christmas, and I do jot down a bit about the day in that….it became a nightly habit, so after five years when it was full, I actually bought another one. I have my dads five year journal from the 1950’s, with entries about my siblings births etc but he had abandoned it long before I was born.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I can relate to the movie star crushes, too. Had pinups from Tiger Beat on the wall (Donny Osmond, etc). I like Kurt Russell from the Disney movie “The Computer Wore Tennis Shoes.”

      My grandmother had a diary with about five lines per day, but it was only for one year. She faithfully filled in every day (age 15/16) and never kept another one. Mostly mundane stuff, even though she managed to get pregnant and married on December 31!!

      That’s great that you’ve kept those 5 year journals going. Maybe having just that little space to fill makes it easier than big blank pages.

      The ice skating and innocent activities of childhood are fun memories to have, even if they’re not exciting.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Oh I remember putting those pin ups from Tiger Beat on the wall too, only mine was the Monkees, Davy Jones etc, although I liked Kurt Russell and David Cassidy too. I was too young for the Beatles. I found a whole stack of Tiger Beats in the attic when my mom moved off the farm.

        Liked by 2 people

      2. Oh! I loved the Monkees, too! Davy Jones and Peter. David Cassidy was okay, but later I really had the hots for Shawn Cassidy. He was on the Hardy Boys TV program, plus he sang some remakes (“Da Do Ron Ron”).

        Liked by 1 person

  6. This is fantastic! I have kept a journal off and on over the years and the content swings from ramblings about mundane daily events to ramblings about what’s bothering me.

    However, I realized a few years ago that it’s when I stop writing that I likely need to be writing. If I have a real problem, it might get noted once and then I avoid that book like the plague for days, weeks or even months.

    I haven’t written for a few weeks even though it’s sitting out in plain sight for me to ignore daily. I should probably face the music and get some thoughts out.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I wonder why that happens. I guess sometimes we’d rather just mull things over in our head or push things far to the back of our mind, rather than hash it out on paper and then what do you do with it?

      I suppose that’s why I mostly just write about the day’s accomplishments and activities. Once in a while a gripe or two.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Our brains are interesting, aren’t they? I often just work out the issue by living with it long before I’m ready to write about it. I couldn’t bring myself to write at all when my aunt was dying last summer. Some things maybe are best left unwritten.

        Liked by 1 person

  7. I loved this. DId you ever go out with poor Mark? Your diaries sound a lot like mine at that age. I kept a diary on and off from the time I was ten until I was a senior in high school—mostly filled with obsessions about boys, cattiness about girls, fights with my siblings and parents, and so on. During that time both Kennedy brothers were assassinated as well as MLK, the Vietnam War raged, we went to the moon, civil rights battles were fought, but those events rarely made my diary! Thanks for sharing.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. We do get wrapped up in our own lives at that age. My grandmother never mentioned anything about the depression or dust bowl issues in her diary, mostly school and socializing, clothes, chores, etc.

      No, Mark and I didn’t ever go out. I only had one real boyfriend while we lived in Guatemala. He played bass guitar in my brother’s rock band. I don’t have a diary from that time, though.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Your diary writing made me smile Eilene. I have never kept a journal and I don’t know why, but as a young girl I got a diary which looked similar to this one in my Christmas stocking one year. It was pale pink leatherette and had a flimsy lock and key. I remember that I thought I should use it as it was a gift, though I was puzzled by why I got it to begin with. I don’t have the diary now, but when I found it a few years later I read very few entries, among them I was bemoaning the fact that “someone stepped on my brand-new Jeepers today because they said they were too white – now Mom’s going to kill me.” “Jeepers” I think were a Sears trademark name for sneakers and my mom warned that she didn’t want to see them dirty, so to keep them clean or next time I’d go back to darker sneakers.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Hahaha! I can see you having some white sneakers called Jeepers. I wonder if that’s where the phrase “Jeepers creepers” came from. Diary writing certainly isn’t for everyone. Sometimes I do wonder why I do it. And would I have found my way to it if I’d never been given this first diary as a gift?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. When I found that entry I was shaking my head, but at the time my mom was pretty peeved about it when I said “one of the kids said they had to stomp on it to make it dirty.” (The sneakers incident ranked up there with moving to the States and kids calling at the door for you to come out instead of knocking politely on the door – my mom said “they knock, or you don’t go out.”) I wonder if that is the origin of the phrase? You’ll always wonder about the diary writing. I had a class where we briefly kept a journal, but a class assignment and not something I did willingly afterward.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. That’s what civilized people do, whether they’re kids or not. Both my parents were aghast at calling out your name at the door. Another trick was using one of those air horns. Kids used to have long red plastic horns and they were very loud … it wasn’t like the air horns people use now to scare away wildlife while camping, hiking, etc. That’s interesting that the practice stemmed from frontier days.

        Liked by 1 person

  9. I’ve never been good at consistently writing a diary. I dabbled on and off between the ages of probably ten and sixteen, but the earliest entries tend to just be lists of Christmas presents or Easter candy I received, and the teenage ones are pretty depressing. Lots of angsty song lyrics and descriptions of the ways my awful boyfriend at the time treated me, but that I of course blamed myself for. Yours are far better written and probably far more fun to look back on!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. There’s plenty of teen angst in my high school diaries, but no boyfriends. I didn’t date much in high school or college, actually. So, I wrote about boys as unrequited crushes and tried to focus on other things.

      Liked by 1 person

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