The Smallest Plates

I recently recovered some mysterious writings of ancient date, which I would like to share with you. I present them to you in as direct a translation as possible from the original, but for want of space I share only a few leaves from the text. Archaic spellings and grammar are preserved to convey a sense of the original author’s intent.

March_2007_img_2223June 11, 1979:

Today I made clay figyours it was fun. We had to share are figyours. I relley Liked it. Grandma left today.

Translator’s note: inscribed in the margin in bold letters are the words “Black Printing,” along with a pictographic glyph, which appears to be a hot dog with a toothy grin. At the top is inscribed “My Jrel”; subsequent editors (vandals?) have written “MY JOURNAL”.






March_2007_img_2224June 12, 1979:

today I Felt dizzy and I picked flowers. I made father’s daycards. I wrieted to my Pen-Pal. I relley have nice day/ys.

Translator’s note: once again the margin contains a pictograph, this time seemingly an infant’s crib, on which is inscribed “my poo” (possibly “pad”). A child’s head pokes out from the crib and says, “sigh.”






March_2007_img_2225June 26, 1979:

Today I heard that tumorrow is the Last day of school. I was happy! but, today my MoM Made me teate [translator’s note: subsequent editors (vandals?) have added a letter ‘K’ to the end of “teate”] a bag with my boats in it. it was heavey! boy, it was heavey!

Translator’s note: inscribed in the margin is the phrase, “margen is here so watch out!”

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I’ve read and re-read my childhood journal many times. When I was in my early teens I felt shame at the stupid nature of those earliest writings: I couldn’t spell! And what were those drawings?? Ridiculous!

March_2007_img_2219Now I see real magic (almost Greek magic) in that child. I remember the cartoons, comics and TV shows that inspired those marginalia, and I have vivid memories of the emotions surrounding the events I write about with such succinctness. I remember my sweat and tears lugging home a large canvas bag filled with toy sailboats. I remember crying because my grandparents packed back up in their RV and went home after a long vacation with us. I wonder if those memories only remain because I wrote about them; I have few other memories of that age. At the same time, my journal-keeping is spotty at best. Entire decades slip away with nothing written. Since getting married, my only journal has been here at BCC and the other sites I frequent. I wonder whether I am letting more and more of my experiences disappear into the ether by not writing about them.

People love to theorize about if, or how the mormon blogs matter. Those discussions have focused on the intellectual back-and-forth, information dissemination, or “community” in a vague sense. Those are all perfectly valid reasons to have a blog, but I think there’s something else that hasn’t been considered: blogging as a creative act of self-expression. Posting at BCC or writing for Popcorn Popping, for me in any event, is something as creative and important as journal-writing or creative writing. When we post, we’re keeping a history of our ideas and thoughts, which I believe will become more and more precious to us as time goes on.

Comments

  1. Nice try. You were lying in a bed of poo!

    What I want to know is, why were you feeling dizzy?

  2. Susan, if memory serves I was dizzy from spinning around. I did a good Whirling Dervish impression when I was six.

  3. I think the smiling hot dog is much like a white salamander.

    Seriously though, I remember feeling like an idiot when looking back at some of my creations. I wonder if I have outgrown that insecurity.

  4. Steve Evans says:

    The hot dog sat on my shoulder and whispered to me to burn things!

    Seriously, I think it was from a cartoon where a guy was going to eat a hot dog, but the hot dog ate him. See? Irony!

    J., time and space are the only things that spare me from the shame. I think at least 10 years is required. I look at my post-mission journals from my early 20s and still cringe, but pre-mission stuff is now OK, no matter how corny.

  5. Kevin Barney says:

    Awesome journal, Steve. No need for shame there; totally endearing. How many of us tried to keep a journal at so young an age?

    The only time in my life that I kept a good journal was on my mission, and for a little while thereafter, until the press of life imposed itself and it petered out. Now I just print off a copy of the occasional letters I write to my mother, put them in a binder, and consider that my “journal.”

  6. Steve, this is so sweet. I feel the same way about my early artwork… it becomes more precious as life goes on.

  7. “Margen is here so watch out!”

    This could be the next “Andre the Giant has a giant posse.”

  8. AWESOME! Childhood journals can be so fun to reread! I’m trying to transcribe all of mine into a digital format, so that I can keep them even if they become damaged or lost.

    I think you’re right on with your comments about blogging as a creative outlet. I’m kind of new to blogging and the bloggernacle, and my own blog is more of a creative project than a scholarly project. I really enjoy checking out blogs that are more creative in nature than intellectual (though it’s definitely good to balance things and digest the intellectual stuff every once and a while). The most memorable and edifying blog entries that I’ve read have all had something to do with a personal experience that the author is passionately sharing, be it through art or a sort of personal journal.

    I’ve noticed that the bloggernacle tends to be very scholarly and intellectual in nature. Where would creative, expressive blogs such as my own fit in? I haven’t found very many blogs that are similar.

  9. Mark IV says:

    It’s funny that I should read this now, Steve. Just this morning I was going through a box of old things my mother had kept for me. It contained elementary school report cards, attendance reports (100% in second grade!) Mother’s and Father’s day cards I had made, etc. But what I had completely forgotten about was how in my pre-kindergarten days I used to sit at the kitchen table every day and draw a picture of a horse while Mom ironed clothes or kneaded bread. I would always give them to her and she would put them on the fridge until they got crowded out by yet more pictures of horses. Anyway, there were probably 20 of those pictures in the box I looked through this morning. She had kept them all those years.

    …vivid memories of the emotions… Yes, indeed.

  10. This is great! The drawings in the text definitely make it.
    My childhood journals are full of swear words. I would take my journal to church, and my brothers would steal it during sacrament meeting and change words like duck or hit into something that would get my mouth washed out with soap.
    Sometimes I miss writing in the journal, but mine are so full of angst and sadness (I took life so seriously between ages 10 and 24) now I’m glad for email where I tell things that actually happened to me rather than that I hate myself because I’m not smart enough (or whatever, like I said there was lots of angst).
    I just need to figure out how to illustrate my emails and blogging. Then I’ll be all set.

  11. Great post Stephen.

  12. Steve, thanks for reminding me of those precious years. ‘My Poo’ is the stuffed Winnie the Poo that was your constant companion until kindergarten.

  13. I have good memories of spinning around in the yard and making myself dizzy when I was small. I was drying the fingernail polish my teenage sister had painted on my nails.

  14. Further, I heard it said that reading Meridian causes cancer or eventual apostasy. It is clearly a disturbance in the Force.

    Also, Steve sure was cute as a mop-topped little boy.

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