Sunday, August 7, 2022

Journey of Old Journals: 1984


As we open, I’m back in Fredonia, sorting things out with G. The journal proceeds with thruminations and doubts about why I couldn’t pick up and

start my own life without her.

Questioning myself, the unknowing why of who I was, and the bond that transcended

fights, passion, and disagreement. There were nights she was late, arriving with excuses. I wrote, “Continually, I am disgruntled that my diabetes prevents me from achieving

everything I’d like to do, like the Peace Corps or going to an impoverished country and

helping the poor.” And a resolution to start “dating my journal,” which only meant

I added the dates to mark the passage of time.

I remember being very disappointed that G made no effort to meet my parents, noting how

unattractive and sullen she appeared at my graduation ceremony.

We made plans with a group to move to Boston after my application for an internship

in Japan was denied. I worked on my submission for the Peace Ribbon project.

I worked as a crew chief for the Chautauqua Private Industry Council that summer,

which I only remembered when I found the business card.

Throughout the summer, I read: Patience and Sarah. Alma Routsong Mrs. Stevens Hears the Mermaids Singing. May Sarton The Writer on Her Work, ed. Janet Stanberg Women Hating, Andrea Dworkin Silences, Tille Olson Doris Lessing Despairwork, Joanna Macy The Left Hand of Darkness, Ursula LeGuin Bury My Heart At Wounded Knee Blue Highways, William Leastheat Moon Medicine Woman. Lynn Andrews The Color Purple, Alice Walker Seven Arrows, Hyemeyohsts Storm The Politics of Women’s Spirituality, Charlene Spretnak Adrienne Rich Witchcraft as Goddess Religion, Starhawk Les Guerilleres. Monique Wittig Ariadne's Thread: A Collection of Contemporary Women's Journals, Ed. Lynn Lifshin The Spiral Dance, Starhawk. Ultimately, I told G that I was infatuated with a graphic designer who helped me design a canvas for an embroidered pentacle project, which ended it. She had no interest in continuing intimacy, and while nothing ever came of the crush with the recipient, it was the feeling I needed to change the dynamic. I found solace in a local reservoir where the water rippled in the shade of pines. I got a tattoo, a yin/yang symbol that I copied from the Tassajara Bread Book. Through all the travails, I began to get very excited about moving to Boston, having a support system in place but free to pursue my path.

Journey of Old Journals- 1983

This journal begins on the last day of my summer internship at the New York State Archives, where my main project was to rebox files from SingSing prison from the old to the new acid-free archival boxes. As I would review the contents, I would heft the larger files from the box to see how they began. Inevitably, juvenile petty shenanigans (at 8-13 years) escalated into larger and more serious crimes.  I looked at Julius and Ethel Rosenberg's telegrams received before they were executed and marveled over a handmade weapon resembling a circular saw.  In the end, I let without anyone saying goodbye; I was not supervised well. 

However,  I did a great job on a paper I had to write for the college credit, which explored the nuances of how the dehumanizing elements of the prison system perpetuated the trauma instead of being rehabilitative. I explored the Friends Alternatives to Violence Project and read prison notes from people who were published. I remember leaving my notes in a folder on the grass, losing the details yet being able to reconstruct enough to create an acceptable final product. 

I spent time at the women’s peace encampment in Romulus, New York, and was fascinated by the culture, bravery, and long, drawn-out discussions about nonviolent action. I also learned you could put a wooden platform beneath a tent and have a bed and dresser inside. I think I went back to Joslin clinic for more education. I remember traveling from Boston to Buffalo on a plane, writing about low blood sugar tears from a missed flight and the saffron-robed Hare Krishnas.

In the end, as I returned to school, my love interest at the time had found a new apartment and a new lover. My writing is fueled by betrayal, anger, hanging on, and the complicated approach of staying within a relationship because “monogamy is misogyny.” 

I ended with an observation, “I feel like I’m losing my leaves becoming bare, shedding a part of my life which has changed colors, dried out, and shall pass into a different stage.”