3/3/2018 Journals Cliff Notes and The HandMaid’s Tale

I have been cleaning and decluttering for three weeks now. I usually do every three months or so; it’s very therapeutic. My mother has been listening to Peterson on audible, and wants to clean her room, so she is decluttering too. Last weekend, in her effort to overhaul, she brought me two boxes that were wrapped in duct tape, and promptly dropped them on my bed.

She said, “I didn’t open them, because I know what’s in there. You told me before that I didn’t want to see in your head.” I already knew what was in the boxes, my journals from high school and college. I had honestly forgotten about them, but I am glad she didn’t look at them. Hell, I kind of regretted opening the boxes myself.

I have been keeping a journal since I was 14 years old. How many things have you been doing for 20 years? I mainly write down random thoughts, because you can’t always say random thoughts out loud. You might offend someone, or worse, make something known that maybe would have better left unsaid. One thing about reading back on past random thoughts, is you get to go back and see how ridiculous or relevant your life was, or maybe still is. I am a note taker from way back when it comes to reading, so a lot of the journals are notes from all the books I have read over time. I still do this, again its therapeutic.

Inside the first box was a stack of composition books, these were my journals. They were cheap. There were also some old flowers that had been wrapped in tissue paper in there, but who gives a crap about flowers. I must have used to give a crap about flowers, but I don’t anymore. Flowers die; they are a waste, just like the words that are sometimes connected to the flowers. It doesn’t matter if you use the word love, as an adjective, adverb, or a noun; the flowers don’t make the word real. Ew, that was deep, but I'm going to leave it. I actually threw all the flowers away, and sifted through the rest of the box.

The second box had more journals, and also some books. This was like finding buried treasure guys. I was so elated. I am materialist when it comes to old things; old books, old wine, old houses, old art, and old music (Like Frank Sinatra and Bing Crosby old). It does not take much at all to make me happy. Anyhow, the first book was a very worn and tattered version of “Leaves of Grass”, by Walt Whitman. The book smelled like old leather and the pages were crispy. Walt Whitman was so passionate, and wrote things that meant so much, I love his work. I am notorious for marking up books, and I had turned back some pages in this book. Listen to me. I knew the poetry before I ever turned to those pages. One was “To A Stranger”, and the other was “Are you the new person drawn toward me”. I cannot write the words here, I’m sorry.

The other books were just as meaningful; a copy of ‘Pride and Prejudice” which was the first book I ever bought with my own money, and the other book was my Senior year copy of “The Handmaid’s Tale”. I also have another copy of this book, which I just finished reading last night. I have actually read this book three times now. Once for a senior year in high school, another for a college Literature course, and I just read it again, because I wanted to. Each time I have picked it up, I think I have taken away something different. I felt like some of Margaret Atwood's ideas seemed thought provoking enough, but I also wrote this down in the margins, “We have come so far, why put us back here? Sexual and religious suppression.”

I packed all that stuff back up after going into emotional overload. I am not ready to read every random thought I had over the last 20 years. I mean, I am not even ready to read the random thoughts I have today.

​As for The Handmaid’s Tale, I was once again left without closure at the end. No matter how many times I read this, I still am left floored by the fact that I don’t know if Nick is helping Offred or if they are dragging her away to be hung at the wall for sharing state secrets of Republic of Gilead? God I don’t know. One thing I will say for Margaret Atwood and her writing in this book, she is very good at reminding us of all the modern things that we take for granted (like clothes, shoes, good food, and maybe even sex). The beginning is slow, but I think that she thought that was necessary to introduce you into the monotony of Offred's life. It picks up around chapter 11 and gets mildly interesting. She has some fantastic quotes in here too. And, I have actually always cared a lot about what might have happened to Offred, but have never just figured it out. This book is definitely a reminder of things I read about feminism in the 1970s, when the movement was just beginning to really take shape, but we really have come so far now right? I did understand the book, but I don’t think that anything remotely like the Republic of Gilead will ever be formed, at least I hope we will never revert back, and to such a society. Again, we have come so far.

I will say this, that if a man had written this book, I wonder if the hype around it would be so great? I wonder if he wouldn't be stoned to death in the streets or something? Just a thought. I did enjoy the book though, very much. Fiction is one of my many weaknesses. So is pizza and queso. So, I am off to get lunch at Mexican with my kiddos. Have a fantastic Saturday, thanks for wasting some time here.

*I am still trying to "cliff note" this bit*