Tuesday, February 22, 2022

Journey of Old Journals- 1983

This journal was a gift. Not my usual style, but I ended up bringing it to training and conferences that fueled my budding activism. during the anti-war movement was escalating in the mid-80s. Regan in office, nuclear weapons escalating,  and U.S. military action in El Salvador, Nicaragua, and who knows where else. 

The note is partially filled with notes of legalities of select-service,  conscientious objection, small tidbits of locations for rallies and the meetings after the rallies, notes, and phone numbers. So instead of being up location for all these “peaceful thoughts”, it ended up being an organizing notebook.

Signs I saw in DC
No more genocide in my name.
It’s 1983. Do you know where your country is?
Reagan thinks justice is “just us”.
Up your arsenal, Pentagon.

 I also included a short tidbit about a direct action I took at the ROTC military ball in April 1983. I noted the date, which made it a lot easier to reach out to the reference librarian at my alma mater and ask her to send me some images of the day. 

Sunday, February 13, 2022

Journey of Old Journals-1982

 In this journal, I wrote about the disjointed unity of the June 12th rally for nuclear disarmament in 1982. Nearly a million people gathered in Central Park that day. 

That sentiment was reinforced by this blog post, which recognized the power of the gathering; the author calls out the intersectionality of poverty,  war toys, Latin American foreign policy, and racism.

Life went on. I wrote about a friend's elderly Siamese cat who bit my bit me right on the nose when I was petting her. After taking the cat to the vet, I expressed concerns to her owner. I could tell the cat was dying and yet the vet was doing marginal “vitamin treatments”, which didn’t appear helpful.

I lived in a group house with a number of other students close to campus. I shared a room with a difficult personality, who once watched me create a pile of cooked cookies, delighting in the fact that I didn’t know to put them on a rack to cool. We had other conflicts in our shared room and I sensed her seething anger about what I thought was a stealthy simulation habit I pursued to relax. Truly, I thought she was already asleep herself. Little did I know she was a light sleeper. 

I came home from college when my grandmother died. I remember being in her room as she passed and the profound regret of not learning more about her life when she was alive. That’s a topic for another post…

A professor inspiration to look to dogs for stress management because they were rested and relaxed until the moment they were triggered into action. I’d tucked a mimeographed “How to tell if you are a stress-prone personality” quiz into the journal. My score was off the charts. Dr. Rosalind Forbes’ adapted quiz is here

I think I was taking a creative writing class and had a lot of angst about not having any ideas for stories. I was surrounded by creative people, yet felt completely disabled in forming worlds in my own mind. Again writing about all the internal machinations, not directing it into the creation of new work.

Falling in with the lesbian posse, I found a group to belong to and it was only a question of time before relationships became intimate. In my “practice letters”,  I referred to one lover as a perfect pine cone, then became increasingly disenchanted as she burned dinner while she was passed out from drinking.  I was getting feedback from the others that this wasn’t a good idea, but I couldn't let go for a while. My friends were chagrined, as I think they knew that she had been double-timing me.  I remember I wrote about being very excited to be alone again. That's where I felt comfortable

The journal ends with moving in with G. We shook on the deal not to sleep with each other when we lived together.  Weeks later, there were continued overtures.  Our house was way out of town, cheap and cold.  We moved in on January 1st, 1983. The son of the recently passed mother lived downstairs. He showed me how to use a microwave, a novel technology at the time. A young Welsh woman on work-study stayed with us for a semester which forced the issue of sharing a bed. On a beautiful spring day, I begged off staying in bed and instead went out to the gardens that were alongside the house and cleared off old leaves. The bulbs were emerging, as they do.  The elderly neighbors next door were excited. neighbors were so excited. They brought me in for a cup of tea, the calendar on the wall reflecting the local feed store, and crocheted dishcloths the likes of which I hadn’t seen before. 

In hindsight, I don't remember what the blossoms looked like from the garden.  I remember a horrific lung infection and coughing. G made an onion poultice for my chest, continuing to push for a relationship when really I wanted to be left alone.

My love of flow charts!

Sunday, February 6, 2022

Journey of Old Journals-1982


I didn't put dates in this journal ~except for the first page at the beginning and the last page at the end.  This rambling discombobulated notebook doesn’t contain a lot of strong sentences of time and place, instead more internal musings and recycled poetry themes.  

However, it became clear at this point that  I was using the journal for my own best friend,  a practice that remains true to this day. This new format also facilitated some more flow. There's a page where I gush on and on about the ability to just free write on anything. I wrote about what was happening In my mind, not what was happening in the world.

Here are a few things that happened during this time:
  • I became increasingly concerned and “radicalized” around the issue of Mutually Assured Destruction, which was the banter of the military justification at the time.
  • I supported the World Peace March as the group traveled through Buffalo and Fredonia. What I didn't write about, but remember vividly, was the very strong proposition from one of the young men in the group. He did his best to entice me into a wild field clear we could just get it on. his hips vibrated wildly in desperation. It felt pathetic. 
  • I was coming out as a lesbian and fell in love with H.  New emotions, intensity, navigating an unfamiliar path. I also felt accepted and part of a group, the first time since my party-buddies in High School.
  • I wrote about being away for the weekend with the gal team and coming back to find obscenities written on my dorm door.
  • An across the hall dorm neighbor stole a couple of my syringes for drugs. I have lots of letters from her, too. We were close for most of college and a couple of years after. 
  • I moved off-campus for the summer~  I didn't return to Poughkeepsie for the first time in my life. I found a job working with my buddies on a vineyard In Western New York where I trimmed overgrown grapevines grown for the Welch brand amid asparagus gone to seed and the miracle of ladybugs piled on top of each other, everywhere.