Dear Queer Diary: All The Feelings (and Alison Krauss)

Dear Queer Diary_Rory Midhani_640px Allow me, my dear queer diarists, to set the scene: institutional carpeting, crepe paper décor, and large bowls of Skittles on white plastic folding tables. “When You Say Nothing At All,” by Alison Krauss, plays from rented speakers as 150 slightly sweaty thirteen and fourteen-year-olds sway back and forth like exceptionally awkward algae in a gentle ocean current. From the corner next to the Skittles, you gaze longingly at your crush, who is slow-dancing with a tall boy in your pre-algebra class. When your parents pick you up in the family minivan, they will ask you how the dance was and you will make a noncommittal noise that sounds something like “fine.” You cannot be bothered to converse with the humans who gave you life! You are already planning what you will write in your diary as soon as you get to your poster-plastered bedroom.

I would like to dedicate this photograph to the 1990s. (Via Buzz Sugar)

I would like to dedicate this photograph to the 1990s. (Via Buzz Sugar)

Although I am sure not all of you fearless journalers were blessed with the same suburban 1990s middle school experience that I hold so fondly in my memory, I am sure you can all relate to the need to write down your woes in your dear queer diary. After all, as one of my favorite pieces of Autostraddle merch (which is currently on sale!) so clearly reminds us, feelings are what journaling is all about! Even now, many years after my last traumatic middle school dance experience (one happy memory involves vacuuming the floor of the cafeteria in a pink fairy costume in my capacity as Student Council Co-Vice-President), my diary is full of feelings. In the last year alone, I have felt:

  • “very grumpy and frustrated”
  • “fed up with everything. Including my pen, which never works!!!!”
  • “like there was more hysterical laughter than usual”
  • “hella awkward”
  • “somewhat dusty” (I think this was literal, not metaphorical?)
Let’s all take a moment to appreciate the beautiful handwriting with which Straddler Isa documents all the feelings!

Let’s all take a moment to appreciate the beautiful handwriting with which Straddler Isa documents all the feelings!

Another selection, from July of 2013, attests to the way that I have not lost my seventh-grade capacity for mixed emotions:

“Meh meh meh everyone is silly and annoying and I am going to miss them I guess.”

The above selections speak to the way in which the emotions that most frequently make their way into my diary are more Eeyore than Winnie the Pooh. When, in the words of the Beatles, I find myself in times of trouble and Mother Mary comes to me, the words of wisdom that she frequently whispers are, “Write in your journal.”

Only in animated donkey form can pessimism be so adorable. (Via Disney)

Only in animated donkey form can pessimism be so adorable. (Via Disney)

If you’re up on your Autostraddle archive-perusing (who isn’t, these days?), you may have read about writing your feelings before. Real live internet doctors say that writing in a journal can help with depression, which Riese’s diary has described in a number of strange and strangely truthful phrases. As a self-identified English Major For Life, I am basically the farthest thing from a doctor, but I can tell you from my very own experience that writing in my journal generally makes me feel better when I am upset about everything from love to landfills to linguine. And yet, as much as I rely on journaling as a tool to deal with sadness, annoyance, and anger, a quick flip through my notebook indicates that I am far less likely to write when everything’s coming up roses and sunshine and daffodils.

My favorite face may be "hysterical." (Via SF Insights)

My favorite face may be “hysterical.” (Via SF Insights)

Why is this? Am I going to look back on my journals and determine that my twenties were far less lovely and wonderful than they truly are? I don’t think so. After all, there is the entry where I talk about how “I love, I love, I love” my girlfriend, the pages dedicated to the books I am reading, and even the part where I describe the delicious dinner that I enjoyed the night before. Although I can accept that my journals may contain more angst than elation, my own personal goal will be to try and balance them a teeny tiny bit better in the coming months. Why not take a moment to write about how delicious those Skittles were before launching into drama and heartbreak of the middle school dance?

This skunk is happy! (Via Jenny’s Sketchbook)

This skunk is happy! (Via Jenny’s Sketchbook)

What is the ratio of happy to sad in your journals, my dear queer diarists? What emotion most accurately describes your most recent journal entry? Most importantly, do you miss slow dancing to Alison Krauss as much as I do?

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

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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.


  1. In older journals of mine, I frequently apologized for only writing when I was upset about something.

  2. I’ve noticed that when I’m happy, I journal maybe once every two weeks, but when there is sadness and dramatic things occurring I’ll write upwards of twice a day. There are entire months missing from last year where I was apparently too carefree to bother writing it all down. Which is silly, because when I go back to read about last year it’s like whoa I don’t remember it being quite this mopey at the time.

  3. I definitely write more when I’m sad, because I stopped using my journal as a way to chronicle my everyday life in high school. Now I only write if I’m really overwhelmed with feels, which due to the nature of feels, happens more often if I’m upset or confused. Lately I’ve been overwhelmed with happy feelings, though, so I’ve written about those and it’s great! Your friends might get sick of hearing you talk about how great you’re feeling, but your diary never does. :)

  4. Yepp. I either lament like Poe for pages or scribble three sentences about a nice day. When I’m really excited or happy about something, I tend to make a video recording rather than a journal entry.

    • Can I just say how pleased I am that you have compared yourself to Edgar Allen Poe? FANTASTIC.

      • Oh golly, my angsty pre-teen self adored & identified hardd with Poe. In 8th grade English we had a 3-part writing assignment which consisted of two research papers: one on a person and the other on a time period, and one story which incorporated said person and era. I put Poe in the 1960’s and explored what his writing subjects would linger towards if he had a hankering for psychedelics instead of booze.

        And, when I was visiting my school some six or seven years after being in that class, Ms. Douglas totally remembered my name..and that paper.

  5. I tend to journal after something awesome happens or when I have a lot on my mind and need to get it out. I used this article (and some music) as a journaling prompt. It produced notes ranging from declaring the awesomeness of certain books to my mixed feelings about my own decisions and recording questions that occupy my mental energies because I feel I have no one to discuss them with. Book love went to Half of What They Carried Flew Away by Andrea Rexilius.

  6. I write the most when things are average. I update more often when I’m stressed or sad (often posting (it’s a LiveJournal) in the middle of panic attacks to calm down), but I write the longest entries on days when things are normal. I’ve written nearly 2,000 word posts about days when nothing out of the ordinary happened, just about what I did at work that day and my lunch and a funny thing one of my students said or did.

    Days that are super awesome rarely get written about in much detail, because I usually come home and fall asleep straightaway.

    • I totally feel you on the falling asleep thing– the tiredness factor definitely affects what goes into my journal!

  7. I journal quite a bit. I am generally happy mixed with a bit of melancholy. I know it sounds strange. My emotions like to take unexpectated turns all the time. So whatever I write is usually just everyday stuff. Today though my journaling is really introspective and depressed. Today has been a ride.

  8. For years I guilted myself because I should obviously be recording my life and times… because posterity! This year I discovered 5-lines-a-day reflection book and I’m really digging the micro-journalling experience. Since it’s only 5 lines I don’t burn myself out and it’s a fun challenge to try to capture the gestalt of the day in a small space – like writing a haiku without the syllable accounting.

  9. Like a lot of you, I’ve noticed that my journaling habits depend on my mood/how tired I am at the end of the night. Sometimes, though, if something either amazing or horrible happens at work, I’ll write up a quick post in my Day One app in the moment but yeah. I should journal more often.

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