Now that I got that rant off my chest, I can speak about what I came here to speak about.
(A few weeks back)
Parker: Guess what my mom found?
Me: I don’t know, what?
Parker: My grandma’s diary!
Me: Uh oh…
Parker: No, it’s great. We’ve been going through it.
When I think of a diary, I think of something totally scandalous. A piece of evidence that could be used against you by your running mates in an election. A compilation of stories that will embarrass your parents and disgust your kids. Stories that will enrage your friends. A book that your grandkids will kind of freak out about. Pages that might get you put on medication or put in a mental institution.
What I’ve come to learn is that the term “diary” really varies from person to person. My family has a weird history with diaries that I won’t get into, but my mom and I once had a discussion about it.
Mom: If something happened to you, I would want your diary.
Me: What? Ew, why?
Mom: Because it was yours!
Me: Would you have wanted Grandma to have your diary?
Mom: Well, no, I guess not.
Therefore, when Parker told me this and then added that not only had his mom read it, but she was giving it to him to read, I was really taken aback. To me, a diary is a really personal thing. I’m not saying no one should read it, and according to Grey’s Anatomy and Tiny Furniture, it’s okay to read your mom’s diary. Probably because you’re an actress and she’s not actually your mom in real life, so hearing about someone’s sex life won’t freak you out. To me though, that diary could contain anything. Like all the things I mentioned above.
Parker hadn’t read the whole thing, so while he was playing video games or whatever he was doing this morning, I read his grandma’s diary. I started reading it to myself, if nothing else then to spare Parker from hearing about any emotionally traumatic information about his grandma’s secret past. I soon realized that this probably wasn’t going to happen, so I read it aloud and added my own commentary.
Either she had known that someday she’d have kids and one of them would end up with her diary, she was afraid that a parent or sibling would find it, or she just didn’t have a lot to write about. I’d also like to point out in defense of Parker’s grandma that it’s a 5 year diary, so she had limited space to write. I realized this when it started to feel like Memento with all the entries out of order. At first I thought she’d just written the year because there wasn’t much to say, and I said, “This is a weird journal! January 5th has 19, 19, 19 all the way down the page, and so do ALL these pages,” but I’ve never been good at math. I didn’t deduce this until afterwards when it said “5 Year Diary” on the front. I didn’t go back and re-read it in the proper order, because it made some of the writing more interesting sounding.
Me: “Today we bought a house.” Wait a second! Did she skip the part where they got married or did she just not include it? Did I skip it? Did they live together before they were married!? (I love family intricacies and secrets, and it even says that about my astrological sign.)
Parker: I don’t know.
Me: “Today, Vernon asked me to marry him.” Okay, he’s definitely not her brother! (A few pages later) Wait, what happened to Vernon? What did she say? How did he propose? She should’ve added an “…AWKWARD!” after so I knew her full feelings on this.
It took me many pages later to learn that things ended up being fine between them, although she didn’t end up marrying him.
Unlike my family, Parker’s doesn’t have a history of mental disorders and substance abuse on both sides. I won’t say specifically what, and I’m not saying it to bad mouth anyone in my family at all. Instead of sighing and saying, “There’s a history of Diabetes,” I usually state it half proudly/half just loudly when people ask. They feel bad if you have certain congenital or habitually adopted health problems, but mental disorders and substance abuse make people uncomfortable. Which is why I tell my friends and acquaintances when they inquire. It makes health histories for anonymous surveys more interesting to fill out, because I get to skip all the boring ones and go straight for the juicy ones. My mom, as my grandmother used to point out, always had a way (when she wanted to) of saying things really eloquently. If there was ever something uncomfortable or sad or strange, she would just say that it would make for good writing. On the other hand, Parker could probably read the diaries of his family members without having them proofread by a friend.
Which is exactly what I plan on doing if I find/inherit a diary of anyone in my family. I will have someone else read it first, then mark off the pages I’m not allowed to read, much in the way one would if you were writing a paper and wanted to remember quotations. I actually still do that with some of the books I read. I know, it’s nerdy. Parker will probably be forced into that task, but he doesn’t know that yet. Shhh, don’t tell him!
It also makes me want to write a fake diary for my kids to find. Something like, “I did cocaine today. I ended up in the hospital. While there, I cut my wrists. It was the worst. DON’T DO DRUGS KIDS!” Then they’ll never know what to believe about me so any of the diaries I have with actual truth in them will seem like cake compared to whatever horrendous fake diary I could make up. Which would probably be the tip-off.
I’ve kept a diary since I was ten. The bummer thing about reading your diary years later is that all the stuff you don’t care about now is what you wrote about. All of the things you’d like to hear more about you didn’t write about. For me, I would spend an entire entry gushing about one thing, then at the end mention, “I had a weird dream” or “then my mom and I fought” or “my dad and I spent the day together. It was nice.” To me, it’s a cliffhanger ending to a show, because most of what I wrote about I DO remember, but the stuff I didn’t write about feels important, but unlike television, I’m not going to find out. It’s actually probably like LOST (only less intriguing) where some things are revealed much later, but then it creates all these unanswered questions. Of course, just like now, I tended to write either really angry/sad entries or really light, amusing ones.
I’m totally going to work on a fake diary for my kids. Shhhhh, don’t tell them!