It is all right to wallow in one’s journal;
it is a way of getting rid of self-pity
and self-indulgence and self-centeredness.
What we work out in our journals
we don’t take out on family and friends.
– Madeleine L’Engle
in her introduction to
A Grief Observed by C.S.Lewis
Slice of Cake:
“The time has come,”
the Walrus said,
“To talk of many things:
Of shoes – and ships –
and sealing wax –
Of cabbages and kings –
Of why the sea is boiling hot –
And whether pigs have wings.”
Lewis Carroll’s real name was
Charles Dodgson. He was born on January 27, 1832.
In 1865, he wrote Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland
(which includes the poem Twinkle, Twinkle Little Bat).**
In 1871, he wrote Through the Looking Glass
(which includes the poem Jabberwocky)
**Twinkle, twinkle, little bat!
How I wonder what you’re at!
Up above the world you fly,
Like a tea tray in the sky.”
(And this is where sky-t-tray got its name!)
Lewis Carroll was also a photographer,
and an Anglican deacon with a long relationship to Christ Church, Oxford.
Lewis Carroll kept a diary throughout his life—
starting at age 10. +++
Although his early diaries are lost, nine volumes still exist—
starting when Lewis Carroll was 23 years old.
They cover over 40 years—until just weeks before he died.
I was particularly interested in his 12th and penultimate notebook,
the journal he kept through his 50s and 60s.
As the Lewis Carroll Society tells it, this was a time of
intense creative activity for him:
1) He invented puzzles and games—
including an early version of Scrabble. (!!)
2) He also invented something he called the “Nyctograph” –
which allows a person to write in the dark.
He explains the need for this invention
in a 1891 letter to The Lady magazine:
Any one who has tried, as I have often done, the process of getting
out of bed at 2 a.m. in a winter night, lighting a candle, and recording some happy thought which would probably be
otherwise forgotten, will agree with me:
It entails much discomfort.
All I have now to do, if I wake and think of something I wish to record,
is to draw from under the pillow…
write a few lines, or even a few pages, without even
putting the hands outside the bed-clothes,
replace the book, and go to sleep again.
3) Lewis Carroll had a big idea: He wanted to make Alice
into a musical for the stage.
His first attempt failed: He approached Arthur Sullivan of Gilbert & Sullivan, but
Sullivan turned him down.
In 1886, he succeeded in what was called “a musical dream play in two acts.”
Alice in Wonderland, the Musical opened on London’s West End
to rave reviews and became a standard—especially at Christmas time—
for the next 40 years.
Happy 187th Birthday
* ** Lewis Carroll ** *
++ Photo of Lewis Carroll by Lewis Carroll
albumen print, circa 1857
NPG P7(26) © National Portrait Gallery, London
Although called a self-portrait,
it was probably taken by a fellow students named Reginald Southey,
who encouraged Carroll’s early interest in photography.
according to the National Portrait Gallery, London.
+++ Information about Lewis Carroll’s diary is from
U.K. Lewis Carroll Society, who quote biographer Stuart Dodgson Colling.
Been thinking this week
and why we keep them.
Like Lewis Carroll,
I have kept journals throughout my life.
Like Lewis Carroll,
I prefer plain notebooks. And…
Like Lewis Carroll,
I started early. At age 9.
October 14, 1970
It’s my birthday today. I got this diary, some stationary, a cup of flowers, a necklace, and two pictures.
I wore my necklace to school and Julie put it on and when I asked for it I don’t know if she gave it to me or not. My mom said if she has them to go get them. But she went for shots.
I thought I might have a surprise party, but I didn’t.
Everyone at school was trying to spank me.
My mom gave me a treat at lunch. She gave me white bread on my sandwich, cookies, a ho-ho, and a napkin that says, “Happy Birthday, Kelly.”
October 15, 1970
My necklace was on Julie’s chair. She said that she gave it to me but I put it down because Jon started to spank me and I had to run. So I set it down on her desk and it fell on her chair, because our desks are slanted. Yesterday I got a tea set with two plates, two sausers, two cups, two spoons, and a tea pot. I went over to Lisa’s house with Mary. But Lisa acted as if I wasn’t there. And it started to rain so I left (I wouldn’t have had the nerve to go if it hadn’t of started). Now it’s hailing!
One reason to keep a diary is like the Madeleine L’Engle quote says:
A chance to wallow and self-indulge—and in doing so,
maybe get rid of some self-pity.
What else is a diary?
A place to talk of many things
“shoes and ships and sealing wax”
Even when it’s uncomfortable to do so, like in the middle of the night — a problem Lewis Carroll’s nyctograph tried to solve.
(I certainly know his fear of losing an idea if it’s not written down right away.)
I wrote in my little diary off-and-on for 3 years,
with maybe two dozen entries in all.
I wrote about happy days, angry days, and days that
at least “started out regular.”
June 3, 1971
Today was a regular Saturday. At least it started out regular. But I was full of pancakes. And I walked in our messy room. It was then it hit me. What a mess!!! I desided when I get married I’m going to live in a small airy cottage. I’ll only have about two children. And I’m going to keep it clean!
September 10, 1972
I slept over Josie’s house last night. We we’re alittle late for church…
After dinner I didn’t want any pineapple with ice cream in it cause I don’t like the ice cream and everybody made a big thing about it and I got mad. So I wasn’t in a good mood and Me, Mary, & Steve we’re playing frezbee & I accidentaly made mary land on her hurt knee and I understand her being mad and I said I was sorry but then she hit me real hard on the back! So I kiked her. Not hard but mom balled me out! She only tell Mary not to do that.
I Got Real Mad!
January 23, 1973
We got a dishwasher now. It’s a big help. Starting 29th we don’t have to be at school till 9:15 instead of 9:00. We get out at 3:00 instead of 3:15. We have ½ of a hour less school time. We don’t have to be at Caticism till 3:30. Now I can go home first.
We are going up to Oregon Friday morning till Sunday.
(Oregon meant visiting my baby nephew.)
The very last entry is on New Year’s Eve.
December 31, 1973
We are having a kinda party. My 1st New Years Party. Just family…
We are roasting marshmellows & popping corn tonight
The next time I started a diary,
I was just beginning high school.
My main goal seemed to be self-improvement.
Mainly through organizing.
November 5, 1976
today I guess is the beginning of an organized life. and hope for the future
November 8, 1976 (Monday)
• hand in book report & TV report
• be twenty minutes early in the morning
• check library for book
• check on desert for tomorrow
• straighten livingroom
handed in all reports.
hope I can make up the 20pts for turning the book report in late.
invited Marcie for dinner tomorrow
Tuesdays were my day to make dinner for my family.
I assume that’s what the “desert” was for.
January 3, 1977
• organize folders
• write history book report
• start macrame
I don’t think I ever did learn macramé.
May 26, 1977
• shopping (with list and money)
• go to Mom’s office (with chocolate)
• write up—and practice book report!
• take green pants to Kathy
• ask Lois about Biology
I kept making lists through the summer, only to
abandon that format come Fall. When the next school year
began, I was in a free-flow mode.
Now it was my feelings I was thinking of,
and they were a lot harder to organize.
I wrote of angst, being grateful for my friends,
and quite a bit about boys—plus the thrill of getting
a part in the school play.
February 2, 1978
I guess when I asked for a boyfriend it was not for love’s sake alone and certainly not because I was lonely but because I was bored. Well I’m not bored any longer!
Getting this part is much more fun than having a boyfriend!! I’m really glad Bobby’s playing my husband. I’ve always loved the kid & I like being around him (good for the ego—but more than that). It’s great to be working with Cullen again—this play will probably be somewhat more of a success than the last we did together…
March 17, 1978
It could be just my lack of sleep that is making me feel strange. Life has taken on a dream-like quality…
Between the CSF carnation things, and being a treasurer for lit club and volleyball, I’m being run “amok.”
And then there’s this date thing…
April 5, 1978
If I’m supposed to be able to have a crush on only one person at a time—I’m failing miserably. And yet—I don’t want any more than one to turn into something special. I just don’t care which one.
I guess I’m just putting different faces on the same basic personality…
This diary ends with the end of high school
and me leaving my hometown.
June 24, 1979
It’s a good feeling to wrap up one phase of your life and begin a new one.
Today I’m thinking of how I’ll tie loose ends, gather the things that I will carry over and continue to us and pack away or throw out the extra.
(But later I came back to this book for one last entry.)
November 20, 1979
…In this book as I read over it…three years almost exactly. I could have written the introduction yesterday—my goals, my interests are still quite similar. Looking back always makes me feel good.
…Funny that—in every low point in my life—the panic button
seems to be: ORGANIZE. It’s survival.
I say: this can’t go on.
From now on, every day I’ll…
“Half Cup More”
When I moved to San Francisco for my gap year,
I started a new journal in a blank book with a plaid cover.
This journal helped me think about the changes that
came with becoming an adult.
I was working toward my dream, and my dream was college.
30 September 1979
And now I’m on a staircase—I am no longer where I was nor yet where I will be: both places demand my thoughts—but the stairway itself, though steadily passing, is also worthy of thought.
This book is the journal of my passage on this staircase.
18 November 1979
There is an endless fascination in how daily things, things you can see so clearly now, will become pieces of memory. I can see many such once-daily things fading before my mind’s eye, just as I know today’s have a similar fate.
And that dream, for me, came true.
10 September 1980
College college. I’m really going, it’s happening, it’s real.
“Oh, I’ve had such a curious dream!” said Alice,
and she told her sister, as well as she could remember them,
all these strange Adventures of hers…
Her sister kissed her, and said, “It was a
curious dream, dear, certainly,
but now run in to your tea, it’s getting late.”
So Alice got up and ran off, thinking while she ran,
as well she might,
what a wonderful dream it had been.
But her sister sat still just as she left her,
leaning her head on her hand,
watching the setting sun, and thinking of little Alice…
She pictured to herself how
this same little sister of hers would, in the after-time,
be herself a grown woman;
and how she would… gather about her other little children,
and make their eyes bright and eager with many a strange tale.”
– from the last pages of
Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland
by Lewis Carroll
Thank you for reading!
— Kelly J Hardesty
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