National 43-571

“Why write at all?”National1

—Was scrawled in pencil on the Wilson Jones daily planner page for Wednesday, June 10, 1981.

Two days before, I’d written a complete entry in blue-black fountain pen. It begins: “Summer life—led in ‘quiet desperation.’”

Back in the fold of the Family Project, I was living at the new farm in Minnetrista, Minn., and just shy of a sheepskin after two years of community college.

It must’ve been something of a readjustment.

Monday, June 8, was “a slow, cloudy day.” I borrowed the family car and drove out to Excelsior where “I applied for a job at the Minnetonka Sailor Newspapers.” It didn’t look good: “…they can’t hire until the end of summer.”

Having not showered for the day and hungry, I then “drove out to the PDQ to look for a quart of milk, a can of Coke & a quick meatball sandwich. Found only a quart of milk. In front of me was … a pretty blonde. After a while & a good look, it turned out to be Kim. We chatted by checkout, my hair unwashed—probably seemed greasy … we walked outside—before we parted I asked her if I could call her …Sure!

The more I thought about reconciliation, the more hesitant I was to follow up. “I am trying to negate those feelings,” the entry reveals.

Three days later, I still hadn’t called her. “I think that I’m afraid to. I think I don’t want to get bogged in the old swamp of misunderstanding I clearly remember we used to get into … I tell myself just to forget her entirely & live on my own, but now I’m in Mound for God knows how long…”

“Perhaps I’m being too introspective lately,” the entry continues. “Is there such a thing? I sleep every chance I get & I dream profusely. Socially sad to say, but I think I’m beginning to like sleeping my life away, being neither here nor there.”

That fall I’d turn 22. So, I could’ve been experiencing depression for the first time, aggravated by all the sudden change. I admitted as much at the time: “The anxiety of finding a job hangs gloomily above my head! Where to work? Mound Printers? Some Factory God Knows Where? Downtown Mpls? I hate that American Capitalistic World out there. It’s like an oppressively bad dream for the free inquisitive mind…”

—and with that the Wilson Jones pages end.

I needed another place to write and think.

So that’s when I turned to a ruled, page-numbered chemistry book produced by National, item number 43-571. It was likely purchased at the Lakewood College bookstore before I left that spring.

The first entry was July 20, 1981—less in a journal format at the start and just more random thoughts, story ideas and, well, generally, whining:

“I can never die. I want to see every corner of the world. I want to write with confidence.”

“The above, while being largely true, again proves me to be a liar. I’m not satisfied with anything.”

“I think about death and dying a lot.”

“Many times I feel I want to say: ‘I do not believe there is a God.’ Or ‘We do not need a God, there is nothing one needs to do with a God…’ but in the same I’m terrified by the thought of no God. No God, no order, no order: no home, no love that lasts.”

Later I returned to the July entries with a pencil and commented: “Don’t be stupid.”

Regarding Charles and Diana’s nuptials, I wrote: “Royalty weds today and the whole thing smacks of romance and innocence. Nevertheless loneliness comically beats against itself and pants like a blind dog for more food—food for its dark soul.”

…Adding, “But this is just words…”

I’d penciled in, “Yep it sure is.”

I wasn’t writing every day, as I had with my earlier diaries. And that was the problem. I’d become the diarist version of flabby. The entries were all in fits and starts—continuing that way through the summer of 1982 and ending on page 20 (of 124 total pages in the book).

As a journal, it was an utter failure.

But I was learning I needed the outlet. I had to write.

And I would eventually buy another National 43-571 and start all over again.

~ by completelyinthedark on October 24, 2014.

3 Responses to “National 43-571”

  1. It is interesting to go back over old journals and retrace our thought lives. Getting to the point where we accept that writing for some of us is as necessary as breathing is quite an awakening.

    I remember feeling a complete kinship with Madeleine L’Engle when in one of her journals, “The Chadwick Journals” she came to that realization after getting so many rejection letters to “A Wrinkle in Time,” that she swore she would never write again, and quit for several weeks, only to come sobbing back to her typewriter realizing that writing was just something she did – whether she was ever published or not – she needed it.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, this is true.

      Ray Bradbury told a group of us that he used to get physically sick if he was away from the typewriter too long. I sort of understood what he meant, but also wondered if there wasn’t a better use of my time.

      Now, no. Doing what I should be doing and ain’t looking back. 🙂


  2. Reblogged this on Completely in the Dark and commented:

    New post is on hold due to imminent move & major life changes. So here’s a post about going down a blind alley and finding a way out in the end…


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