The Rediscovery of Diary-Keeping

Summer Days, Camden Maine By Leon Kroll (1884 - 1974), via Wikimedia Commons

Today I was so relieved to get a migraine. For the past thirty-plus years I’ve gotten migraines regularly; they were part of the whether that happened within and without. I would get a migraine after a manic jag. I would get a migraine before a blizzard. Now I rarely get them. I don’t want to say that I miss being in pain, but I do miss the excuse to not give a shit about all the big and small things I often care too much about and that a migraine eradicates. When I have a migraine I do not grieve the shirt that was put in the dryer by accident and its texture forever ruined; I do not feel undermined by the passive-aggressive person at my workplace; I do not blame myself for failing to be in better touch with my grandmother. My body used to have the good sense to give itself a regular break from my mind. It is no longer sensible.

I welcomed a migraine today because it permitted me to forget that it is the end of summer and we are about to leave until basically next summer, and I feel guilty for abandoning my house. I turned out the lights and sat in the dim living room. I thought, This is what it’s like in this house for other nine months of the year. Lightless and empty. I tried to put myself in the house’s position. I tried to feel what the house feels because this house is a people house. I worry, without people, what might become of it.

–From the August 31st entry of writer Heidi Julavits’s year-long diary, The Folded Clock,  a project she started in adulthood after rediscovering her childhood diaries, which, she found, read like they were were written by a “paranoid tax auditor.” In her review of The Folded Clock, Eula Biss writes in The New York Times Book Review, “This diary is a record of the interior weather of an adept thinker. In it, the mundane is rendered extraordinary through the alchemy of effortless prose.” The book came out this month from Doubleday.

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