Tag Archives: diary

“The Diary of a Teenage Girl” by Phoebe Gloeckner

This book is kind of a downer, but at the same time, it made me feel grateful. It’s the tale of a 15-year-old girl who becomes sexually involved with her mother’s boyfriend, which causes a downward spiral of addiction, mental illness, and self-loathing. As a parent, I am so very grateful that none of my daughters got this messed up.

What I really liked about this book is the way the author mixed mediums. While it is written in the form of a diary, it reads like a novel. In addition, the author included her own drawings, snippets of graphic novel style panel illustrations, and letters written by the characters. So it felt like a blend of novel, diary, graphic novel, and epistolary. For me, that is the book’s strongest asset.

As a regular journal writer, I connected with a scene where Minnie (the protagonist) ponders whether her journal writing is an act of creative expression.

Let’s take a little time out and be completely serious for a moment—my writing in this book has become a sort of habit, and a good one. I do think my writing has improved because of it. Would you or would you not consider this journal a creative endeavor?

(p. 65)

Personally, I consider any act of self-expression to be a creative endeavor. Journal writing, especially if one is exploring the deeper parts of the self, is definitely a creative act. Additionally, any practice that one gets writing hones the skill of crafting the written word.

One of the effects of addiction on a person is a deep feeling of isolation. Throughout the book, Gloeckner captures that feeling in beautifully sad words.

I left feeling like the center of the ocean, deep and quiet. Glowing particles of dust or old dead fish atoms slowly filter down from the top through the water. The sun gradually leaves them. They settle down later at the bottom, seven miles below. Dark. Heavy, heavy water.

(p. 107)

As much as this book is disturbing, it does end on a more optimistic note. Without giving away too much, Minnie ends her diary by deciding to start a new one, which reflects the start of a new chapter in her life.

This diary is almost full. The binder rings can barely hold another few pages but I didn’t get a new diary binder yet. Maybe I’ll go downtown to Patrick’s…they probably have a nice serious-looking black binder with heavy-duty rings that won’t burst open. That’s what I want. I want to get a good one.

I haven’t been writing at all because I’ve been waiting to start a new diary. A brand-new diary is like a brand-new life, and I’m ready to leave this one behind me. But since I don’t have a new binder, it’s just too bad: I’ll have to tack a few pages onto my old life.

(p. 285)

Our lives are stories that are being written every moment, and at the risk of sounding cliché, we can change the story or turn the page any time we want. That is the beauty of life and one of the things that gave me hope in my personal dark periods.

Thanks for stopping by, and have an inspired day.

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Afterlife with Archie: Issue #7 (Pursued by the Past)

AfterlifeArchie_07

This comic never ceases to impress me.

This issue is written from the perspective of Betty, who has acquired a blank diary and is attempting to recreate memories from her lost diaries as the group tries to make its way toward the CDC. Her diary entries form a narrative that blends past and present, which works incredibly well. In essence, she is using her journal as a way to dig up the dead, or the past which has been buried in the deep recesses of her psyche. It is almost as if she is undergoing a therapeutic self-analysis.

There is one journal entry which really stands out for me:

… they were all there, Diary. The “dead” we’d just “buried.” They were following us–pursuing us… That became our life. Running, always running, barely ahead of the monsters chasing us…

We often think that our past pains and demons are dead, but this is never really the case. We can bury the past, but never kill it. It is always there, waiting for the opportunity to rise and overtake us. This is the root of addiction, trying to escape the past which never ceases to pursue us. And no matter how fast or how far we run, our internal monsters are right behind us.

While this is a horror story and depicts a “zombie apocalypse,” it is the psychological horror that is truly the most terrifying aspect of this comic. We all have our psychological monsters which haunt and torment our memories, and like Betty, many of us turn to journal writing as a way of dealing with our painful memories. This often helps, but sometimes, it just reopens wounds that we thought had healed.

Happy Friday the 13th!

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