Monday, February 20, 2012

Life Archive

I have always had an odd obsession with documenting my life. I have written in a journal since 1994, I have thousands of pictures of me, including hundreds of pictures from my childhood, and I have kept ticket stubs, school IDs, stacks and stacks of school assignments, wood cookies from camp, paintings, drawings, spiral-bound friendship notebooks, notes from friends, foreign money, hotel keys, cards from friends, collections of friends' school/homecoming/prom pictures, smashed pennies, name tags, and Disneyland maps. I'm sure that part of this obsession stems from a million Young Women lessons on journaling/family history/scrapbooking, but part of it comes from this weird sense that if I don't document it, no one will.

In the past couple years, I have become less sentimental. I rarely keep a journal. I don't think twice about tossing ticket stubs and deleting pictures that I don't like. And I've thrown a lot of stuff away. Granted, by "throw stuff away" I mostly mean I scanned all of my school work, school IDs, notes from friends, and ticket stubs and disposed of the original copies. Some gems:
But I've largely lost my sense of urgency to record everything about my day-to-day actions and my minute-by-minute feelings on everything. Partly, so much of my life happens online (email, google calendar, facebook, twitter, blogger, Pinterest), that it feels redundant to supplement my unconscious www trail. But mostly, while I used to think that every little thing that I had ever written, created, seen, or been to was some key to piecing my life back together on the off-chance that I want to look back and try to make sense of it all, now I think that a. very few things matter, b. I have absolutely no interest in looking at my life as some sort of archive, and c. almost 97% of everything I wrote between the ages of 10 to 23 is super embarrassing.

Exhibit A: my Opendiary from high school. You remember Opendiary (RIP?). It was the less trashy, but equally dramatic, Livejournal. Before I deleted my account, I copy/pasted my opendiary into a word document. As I started writing this blog post I decided to read it. I thought it would be amusing and endearing in a silly, high school kind of way. And it sort of was. Except I would replace "amusing" with "horrifying" and "endearing" with "annoying." I'm sure I'm being a little harsh to my 14-year-old self, and maybe if I wait 30 years and read it again I'll have more distance to see it as humorous, but it first made me want to take a red pen to it and scream CAPITALIZE "i" and use some punctuation other than ".. . ." and second reminded me that not all writing has use and meaning.


Josephine said...

Kristin! You bundle of surprises! I wouldn't have guessed that you are a self-documenter, but then when you talked about digitizing all of it it suddenly made more sense. So, I need to digitize some stuff, certainly, but I have to say I totally subscribe to the if I don't no one else will thing. It feels pretty narcissistic, I'll admit. Who cares! But, here's one thing I do think matters about some of that young silly stuff. All the personal histories I read are usually written by older LDS people and all they care about are testimony-building experiences. Those are good and all, but are not the only thing I care about and not necessarily the lens I look at my life through all the time. So, I think the views of our lives from different points in our lives is important and useful (well maybe). But maybe not our teenaged-selves' journals. Mine are crazy too. Long comment sorry.

Elisa said...

I had the exact same reaction as Josephine. I was like, "Kristin is so fascinating. On the one hand, she HATES accumulating stuff, and on the other hand she has this whole trove of memorabilia." And then you mentioned digitizing things, and the world made sense again.
I kept an almost-daily journal until I was about 24 or 25. In middle school I did this thing where I tracked how many consecutive "good days" I had, and it got into the hundreds. I don't remember exactly what happened on the day that the streak ended, but I'm pretty sure it was ULTRA-dramatic, like Rory Klein not coming to my birthday party or Tassie Huston shunning me at lunch.

Elisa said...

Btw, I'm clearly obsessed with your blog.