Sixteen years ago yesterday I pulled into Minneapolis on a Greyhound that had left Philadelphia a day earlier and… well, I’d like to say I never looked back. In fact I’ve moved away twice since then. But I’ve lived here for just a little over half that time, and I plan to stay until I die or at least until Mayor Dan Cohen builds his downtown casino and I have to scoot across the river to St. Paul.
I was feeling my age as crushingly, desperately, and persistently as only a 27-year-old can. After a year selling cigs and Pick 3s in a Jersey convenience store my waist was the slimmest it had ever been (a size 29!) and my brain was its most frenetically scheme-ridden.
The journal above, begun on the bus trip, was my first project. The idea was to keep a diary in the form of letters to friends, which I would then photocopy and mail off. I’d been frustrated with how the act of journaling, of sitting alone and writing something no one else was meant to see, encouraged my maudlin tendencies, and I wondered if allowing my friends to peek over my shoulder like this would deëmofy me.
I abandoned the journal before Christmas, but not before writing something called “Notes on Creative Poverty” (which is basically about how libraries are cool and I should learn to cook) and more than one long passage drawing elaborate connections between the Spice Girls and Wu-Tang in an effort to unlock the secret of effective creative collaboration.
Of course, I probably wouldn’t have done this at all if I’d been able to anticipate that within a few years nobody would ever write anything ever again that everyone else couldn’t read instantly. And that being able to publish your thoughts instantly to strangers worldwide wouldn’t cause you to censor the whiny, weepy, whimpery ones, not even a little bit.