Dear Queer Diary: A Friend of Journaling Is A Friend of Mine

Dear Queer Diary_Rory Midhani_640px

As much as I love talking about myself, there comes a time in the course of lesbian events when it is necessary to let some of our other dear queer diarists speak, and that time, my beloved readers, is right now.

I hereby declare this August to be the first Intergalactic Journaling Awareness Month, a joyous occasion that we here at the Milky Way Outpost of Diary-Writing will be commemorating with a very special series of interviews with some of the latest and greatest Straddler-Journalers on the planet. It’s going to be a little like Straddler on the Street, except with more pens, more notebooks, and just as many feelings. Straddler in the Journal, we might say?

One of the Straddlers in question, with her journal.

One of the Straddlers in question, with her journal.

Today, it is my pleasure to introduce you to an amazing lady who has been journaling since she could hold a pencil. Even over Skype, it was obvious that she has a wise mind, awesome hair, and a beautiful soul, so please — sit back, relax, and enjoy her journaling genius.

Tango

Tango is a self-described word person — she says she’s “obsessed with language, rhetoric, and discourse,” or, to put it more simply, “I like talking about talking.” She’s an American army brat who’s “not really from anywhere,” but I happen to know she feels quite at home in the comments section of this fair website! She has two cats, Jasper and Molly, who apparently like to lie on bookcases in order to absorb the wisdom therein.

As described.

As described.

So, tell me about your current journal.

My current journal was a gift from my partner’s grandmother — it had a dorky little Walt Disney quote on the front about following your dreams or something, but I actually completely covered it in eyeball stickers from our Halloween event at the retail shop I was working at. So, I have a little four-by-five notebook that’s covered in eyeballs.

That’s awesome. Do you think that’s metaphorical — it’s watching you or something?

Haha. Right? I don’t know…

Tango's journal, before and after.

Tango’s journal, before and after.

Have you always been a journaler, since the time you were little? Can you remember first journaling?

Oh yeah. I’m an only child, so I started journaling when I started writing. I’m an over-introspective kind of type. I go back and read my journals a lot too, and then I write about what I reread, and it gets meta. I don’t have a lot of them, is the sad part, but I can picture some. I know that my mom got me one of those Girl Tech password-protected journal-things when I was, like, 10. I remember I wrote in that all the time, except I could never get my password to work, and I always had to break into it.

Was it electronic? Like you had to enter a code or something?

It was voice-activated! But I guess it captured the inflection of your voice, and I never said the password the same way. I don’t know! It was purple, and it was obviously plastic—the whole outer case was like a hard shell so that it could electronically open and close the lock.

Do you remember what the password was?

I don’t, but I would always have my password in a British accent because I felt like nobody would think to do that.

Someone buy this immediately. (Via eBay)

Someone buy this immediately. (Via eBay)

Nice! That’s very clever! What is your favorite thing about journaling now — what drives you to go and journal when other people are doing other things?

Hmm. The best way I can explain this is with astrology. It’s that in Mercury, I’m a Taurus, so I’m very slow and plodding about my ideas, and that can actually be frustrating for me sometimes. So journaling is a great way to just vom all my ideas out in one, and then I can go back and restructure them and understand myself. But journaling is that free, empty, no edit, no judgment space. Does that make sense?

That totally makes sense. I really like the free, empty, no judgement kind of thing because I definitely try and use it for that — and I have since I was in high school. Because I was a total perfectionist, so was constantly judging myself on everything.

I think I actually became a better journaler after I took playwriting courses in college. A lot of those courses were about postponing your inner editor — it was just about writing for the moment. We had lots of in-class, “you’ve got two minutes, write out a monologue,” whatever, and [my professor] was really great. He was almost like a boot-camp instructor for your inner editor and muse. So, after that, I was able to journal without pre-judging my ideas.

Yes. Totally. Okay, this is kind of a strangely specific question, and feel free to say this has no relevance to your journaling, but given this is Autostraddle, I am wondering if you have any sort of feelings about how your journal interacts with your sexuality or your queerness or however you identify that.

So I’m sure you know what LiveJournal is — do you know what DeadJournal is?

No!

It was kind of a branch website — it had to have spawned from LiveJournal because it was basically like the opposite. Everything was very dark, the whole aesthetic of the website. Your journal was called your grave and your side-panel options were like “go to the mortuary.” Really goofy like that.

Check out that dark and gloomy aesthetic. (Via DeadJournal)

Check out that dark and gloomy aesthetic. (Via DeadJournal)

But similar to LiveJournal, you could add friends and people could read. I had a DeadJournal in late elementary through early middle school, and I had two other friends, and the three of us wrote on there. And we really — it’s really great because I can still go back and look at it — and we really fleshed out our sexualities on DeadJournal together, but not together. Because we could write about our feelings about people and if we thought it was weird or if we thought it was natural. We never really explicitly talked to each other about it, but it was a great place to just express that—and know that someone’s there and that they’re not judging you for it. So it was kind of private-without-being-private because it was just my two friends.

And then, kind of along those same lines, but more recently, in the last year and half, I’ve realized that not only am I queer, but I’m also what would be like, gray-ace demisexual, and I came to that through journaling because I denied it a lot…

I give this page the award for Best Performance By A Crayon in a Grown-Up Journal.

I give this page the award for Best Performance By A Crayon in a Grown-Up Journal.

Do you have any other journaling tidbits, pieces of advice you would share? Hilarious journaling stories? Tragic journaling stories?

I just try to keep my journal on me at all times. Someone once asked me, Is that so no one ever reads it? But it’s mostly because I’m really bad at keeping a journaling schedule, so I’ve found that if I just have it on me whenever there are those moments—like if I am going to pick someone up, I am generally early to everything, so I’m going to be in my car for ten, fifteen minutes and that’s a great opportunity to write down what I’ve been thinking about during the day. My journal is always in my backpack or my purse. Always.

And your journaling wisdom shall always be in our hearts, Tango! Isn’t she so great? Next week, watch this space for more journaling greatness. A gloriously Alternative Lifestyle Haircut-ed lady from Tennessee is right around the metaphorical corner!


Dear Queer Diary is a column about the joys (and occasionally, the pains) of journaling. We crack open our tiny notebooks and break out the rainbow-colored pens on the regular, so get ready to limber up your writing hands and document all your beautiful feelings!

Header by Rory Midhani

Maggie is a freckly, punctuation-loving queer living in the Boston area. She supports her book-buying and tea-drinking habits by teaching America’s youth how to write topic sentences and spends her free time writing postcards and making sandwiches for her girlfriend.

Maggie has written 53 articles for us.

17 Comments

  1. I never got a GirlTech journal or the ones with actual keys to unlock but I did write “NO ENTRY, PASSWORD REQUIRED” on the first page of my Arthur diary (I so wish I could find a picture). I’m not sure why or how I thought that would prevent people from reading it.

  2. Oh wow, this is fun. I also try to carry a notebook everywhere because the precious perfect hardbacks I am afraid of touching, but I can breeze through dinky little purse sized softcover notebooks like it’s nothing.

    • Hmm, well I don’t know how much of a project person you are, but I bet it would be really fun to gather all your favorite mini pages and make your own binding for them. Then it’s like a book you wrote AND you don’t have to carry the precious perfect hardback around since it’s already full. ;D

      • I love projects! I saw a journaler (Suzi Blue) bind a lot of smaller notebooks together in a temporary way to have different kinds of paper in her journal, but didn’t think of doing it for finished notebooks–great idea, Tango!

  3. Oh, the Deadjournal! I was never dark enough for a Deadjournal. I just made my LJ theme different shades of gloomy. There was so much homo angst over that thing though… Aaah, nostalgia.

  4. As a kid I always left fake journals with silly crushes on boys and a confession that I was flushing the cucumber served at dinner down the toilet at dinner instead of eating it. I’ve always struggled with accepting my own voice and I keep meaning to get back into journaling. Maybe I should stick to writing to pen pals instead?

    • My therapist keeps telling me to listen to my own voice, but I definitely did performative journal entries that were for other people when I was younger. Then I stopped journaling. I started a new one this year, and started just with lists about my day … things that happened, things that were funny, things I wanted to do. Before I knew it, I was writing again, and this time, just for me. I don’t even re-read it because I don’t want to allow myself to think about it as something to be read. I don’t know if any of this is relevant to you, but I hope you can journal again if you want to!

    • Jane, your voice is so important. I’ve learned oh so many many many things from you. <3 <3 <3 I hope your new journal is working out, and I will always eat your cucumber for you. Remember that.

  5. I reread old journal writings and write about what I’ve read, as well! I love the point you make about postponing your inner editor — I learned this from a course I took on creativity, but I’m not so great at doing it. I just keep reminding myself that my journal should be a non-judgmental place. If I’m editing and censoring myself then everything I write just comes out dumb and meaningless. Gotta just let it flow!

    • It is indeed VERY DIFFICULT to rein in that inner editor. I think it literally has to be practiced over and over, like building muscle memory. You can’t just talk yourself into it and ~BLAM~ it’s gone. You have to slowly find that unedited flow of feelings & ideas and build a little creek bed which over time will erode into a river. If you try to start with the river, you just end up with a giant puddle of frustration.

  6. Firstly, I LOVE THIS. I had the electronic version of that diary (so no pen and paper, boo) but I never really used it as a diary. I did the love match thing where I’d type in someone’s name and mine and it would give me a comparability score. Ahem.

    This is a question for the awkward paranoid people among us. Okay, I’m just trying to figure out if I’m the only one who worries about this. Does anyone else worry about suddenly dying (cheerful, I know) and people reading their diary? I worry so much I’ve considered burning my diary just in case I get hit by a car one day. I can’t have anyone read my diary. It’s full of feelings! I can’t let people know I have FEELINGS! And my current diary is pretty much my diary of queerness. Like, explicitly so. I was always vague before and too nervous to even write how I felt because I thought that would make it real. I have a tumblr blog and a (password protected) Day One journal but I don’t really care about anyone finding those. But my actual diary where I write everything down is so precious to me I actually can’t handle the thought of someone reading it and I’d consider asking my sister or someone to dispose of it, delete my internet history and my tumblr in the event of my sudden death but that would be kinda weird? Maybe?

  7. I love journaling.

    I was mortified when I found out my teacher actually read mine when I was in elementary school. It was where I confessed to doing a lot of bad things (mostly beating up boys in my grade). After I found this out, I asked her if I was in trouble and she said yes. Haha.

    My journal now has become an eclectic mix of food recipes I want to try out, day to day feelings, poetry (or attempts), and a lot of sketches.

    I was also an only child. I think my parents were probably pretty thankful I took an interest in it, even outside of school.

  8. I totally had that GirlTech journal too. It did manage to usually work for me, but I do remember a couple of times I had to break into it, haha.
    Anyway, this is awesome. I know this person irl, and everything here is true as far as I know – she is awesome, talks a lot about discourse, and she does have fantastic hair! :D

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