I’ve tried since the age of 10 every few years to keep a diary, with limited success. I usually run out of steam by the 6th of February. ISTR (= I seem to recall) my most successful year was 2004, when I wrote a full diary apart from the month of March, when I seemed to have a blip. For most of the year, I was on a real roll, such that, when I was writing my MSc dissertation during the wee small hours of the summer, I had a pact with myself not to go to bed until I’d written a full page entry in my A5 day per page diary. Sad to say, normally I haven’t had the self-discipline, focus and time management to write a diary entry no matter what.
This year I started out with good intentions again. In fact, last autumn when I told “Oxfordshire Girl” I was planning to start writing a diary this year, she very kindly ordered me a nice Moleskine A5 day per page diary, and very nice it is. I think I got to 7th February before the daily entries petered out. However, I have tried since May to get back into the habit of writing a diary. Maybe it’s all about time of day considerations. From May I started bringing my diary to work and writing away during the day, eg during coffee breaks or after key points in the day. Being between jobs has also given me the thinking and writing time to write a diary entry most days.
Main “venues” are:
- The English Library
- My local Stadtbücherei
- Starbucks on Königsallee
Now, as an aside, why is it that some people who sit at the big “study table” at Starbucks (the one where you can read a big non-tabloid paper like FAZ, the Rheinische Post, the Daily Telegraph, etc, in comfort) tut, humph and sigh and a roll their eyes when other customers dare to sit down at “their table,” as if you’ve walked into their living room and sat down on their sofa?
Today I spent two hours in Starbucks. Diary time, decompressing as a result of feeling “matschig” and irritable. (Monday morning blues, I guess.) Followed by writing my tasks list for the next few days. On the Myers-Briggs personality test I’m ESTJ, a type which means I tend to write jobs lists and tries to strike each one off as I go along. To quote the grafitti I onince saw the men’s toilets at Nottingham University:
Man without target hits nothing.
I digress – as ever.
I find writing my diary very therapeutic. I’ve been depressed at times, but I’ve never wanted to take anti-depressant tablets. I think talk therapy is more effective, anyway. Writing in my diary is, meiner Meinung nach, just another form of talk therapy, a soliloquy in written form. Besides there’s nothing like sitting down with a hot cup of coffee (in fact twice today, my coffee ended up cold – luckily refills only cost 50 cents.
Why a diary, when I could just blog?
- A diary is that little bit more private than a blog.
- Actually, that’s not always the case. One time, when we we both in our mid-teens, Bruv suspected that I’d written about him (which I had) in my (need I state the blindingly obvious?) private diary. He then went into my locker, opened the lock, took out my diary and “corrected”my entry for the day in question, all without any sense of guilt or shame or understanding of his own actions, even years later. I’m still not sure that he really understands the concept of respect for boundaries. Sometimes, I seriously wonder when I read about elements of sociopathy and anti-social personality disorder… (You can complete the rest of this sentence.) That’s going off at a huge tangent.
- Now that I live on my own, I don’t have to worry about super-snooper. Nonetheless, every now and again, I have written diary entries in Russian, just in case… Being a Russian-speaker has proved useful in that respect from time to time. I used to have a colleague several jobs ago who had the habit of eavesdropping on my phone calls at work, who would even put down her pen, stop working and actively sit and listen to my calls and then comment on each one afterwards.
“I didn’t know colleague X was responsible for Leeds SDH project…” or, “I didn’t know you were doing Italian at evening classes.”
- (Well, she didn’t know – until she heard the college phoning me up to say that tonight’s evening class was cancelled due to staff illness.) Once, when I rang a colleague who also spoke Russian, and then spoke to her in Russian, the aforementioned colleague chuckled,
“I presume your eavesdropper colleague is there?”
- There are things I don’t always want to share even anonymously with people on the net. I don’t do family rows on Facebook. Some people do. If they do, I generally de-friend them. I do open up more in my blog thanks to the greater level of anynomity that a nom to plume provides. But then there are things I just want to keep to myself. Besides, do you really want to know about every single aspect of my life?
- I’m old-fashioned. I admit it. I love writing with fountain pen. I’d love to be able to write in proper copperplate, like on the inside of a British passport. But I don’t have the patience. Besides, I’m left-handed, and that makes it more of a challenge. Writing it out “in neat” (as my teachers used to say) forces me to slow down, calm down and concentrate.
What I have found out as an ex-pat living in Germany is how difficult it is to get hold of a standard A4 day per page diary in Germany. It’s easier to get hold of Marmite, decent teabags and other British goodies. I’ve searched high and low in Mayersche, local bookshops, even on amazon.de. All to no avail. (Are the Germans diary-phobic? Does the term “Tagebuch” make them think of Anne Frank and the fake Hitler diaries? (“The tablets I have been taking for heartburn are giving me terrible flatulence,” etc.) Even the €32 (sic) A4 Leuchtturm day per page diaries are not quite what I am looking for. You can buy an A5 day per page diaries at the cheapo shop, and that was a good result. Cost: €1. But to get A4, I admitted defeat and ordered from amazon.co.uk, £11 including P&P, rather than €18 ordered from amazon.de. My plan for next year is to write each day a page of A4, as A5 is rarely enough – as you can see from some of my blog articles. That’s my ambition, at least.
Have an ambitious day, won’t you!