April 4, 2008, I ended my composition book journal with this quote from Brave New World:

Actual happiness looks pretty squalid in comparison with the overcompensations for misery. And, of course, stability isn’t nearly so spectacular as instability. And being contented has none of the glamour of a good fight against misfortune, none of the picturesqueness of a struggle with temptation, or a fatal overthrow by passion or doubt. Happiness is never grand.

I was looking at it because I just finished my 30th journal today. That’s 30 since I was 7 years old, and I still have all of them except my first one 😦 I also have an additional 12 completed that had specific themes, like just letters I wouldn’t mail, or just poems, or just lists, or whatever. And that number may be off, because they’re not all filed away. Some are just lying around my room.

I definitely thought I had more. But I guess that’s not a bad number.

I’m not ready to read them yet (except the really old ones, which are fun, because they say things like, “Hi! I’m Hannah. I’m 7 years old. I’m glad I have this notebook, because I really like to write.”) because I feel like I’m still not really any better than I was a few years ago. Everything from maybe tenth grade on represents cycles of being treated badly by boys and friends, of thinking that this new year is going to be different and better, of having a great idea for a book to write that I never finished, or that this best friend is the real one. I guess it’s good that not all the cycles are bad. It’s good that I’ve consistently been excited by writing and by books. And I got to re-read the “yearbook” comments that I got at the end of camp in 2003 and 2005. Advice I didn’t take seriously (“acting overly sexy won’t get you the guy”) I understand now, and the compliments still feel genuine, even if I lost touch with most of the people long ago. And I’m thankful that some of those people are still in my life, because they’ve meant more to me over the years than a lot of the people that I see daily.

I also just love looking at all of them. They’re so pretty. And they’re a reminder of the single most consistent and reassuring thing of my entire life: words and pages and pens and writing. That’s actually not a single thing, but it feels like one.



6 thoughts on “thirtyish

  1. ever since i lost the journals i kept from 13 – 18 i’ve kept my documentation virtually entirely visual. losing an entire anthology of writing took the wind out of my sails and i’ve yet to recapture that immediate spirit. keep it up! no matter the form, journaling is the most beautiful way to illustrate cultural history.

    • how did you lose them? it’s nice that you had some other kind of creativity to replace it, though. or was the visual stuff something you found after losing the writing?

  2. i left most of my belongings behind when i was trying to get out of a toxic situation – clothing, furniture, books – all gone – but it was all for the best in the long run – stuff can always be replaced [even tho i do miss those books of bad poetry!]. i started taking my visual work more seriously when i took photography and drawing lessons, it helped me understand coding and composition much more in a formal setting. switching from liberal arts to textile arts changed the way i work drastically as well – more as an accompaniment than a full out replacement, i guess.

  3. I also have a LOT of filled journals but since I started my business last year (selling notebooks I make + photographs!) I find I have written less by hand, simply because I am online so much. However, during my recent trip to Paris I filled an entire book again, a book which I had made specifically for the trip…

    I think it’s good that you save all the books and don’t get bad feelings about the more negative things! It’s a way of growing up, I guess. Documenting yourself.

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