March 21, 2013

The Fabric of My Life

Inspired by Anne Frank and her dear "Kitty," I started keeping a diary in 6th grade. Anne wrote lofty observations about humanity, I tracked my progress towards getting a bra. ("FD" being my very secret code for "further development.")   
I continued through junior high, chronicling my yearnings for that first kiss and my fury at how Cheri acted at Gayle's bat mitzvah. It kept up through high school, college, and all the years thereafter. The outside of each book reflected every stage and pretention of my life but the inside...well, it always held the most honest of words.

 It was exactly these Most Honest of Words that started to weigh on me in recent years. I had made the grave mistake of reading through bits and pieces of my brother's journals in cleaning out his stuff after his sudden death and I became very worried about my own legacy. Thoughts captured in a rage or hormonal flux could really sting innocent eyes and so, several years ago, I ripped out the worst offenders ...

 and ceremonially fed them to the firepit. Now, this winter, in my general purging of Stuff, I began to feel that 40 years of carting these books around was getting pretty old. I sat with that and yesterday, I decided that I no longer needed them.  Baskets overflowing with endless chronicling of moods, fallings in love and breakings apart, psychic restlessness and question after question after question...ugh.

The pages bored me. They had little to do with who I am now and boy, do they take up room.   Firepit, here we come. Until...

Until I found something incredible.

Tucked between the ramblings were the tenderest of young girl moments...

the Dear John Julie letter, complete with tear stains...
The sage words of my new college roommate, so new that I wasn't sure how to spell her last name...a perfect chronicle of the birth of a 40-year friendship (I SEE YOU CRYING, J) :

The frantic agony of just trying to grow up...
The joy of getting there. 
 I found a heart that was wide open...

And a joi de vivre that I really like.
So, here's what I know. The ramblings still bore me.  But beneath them, I now see the history, the heart, the spirit that is me. Words are the warp and the weft of my life and so these old pages, well, they are like the lacy handkerchiefs and yellowed linens tucked in your grandma's dresser (mine had receipts for gold coins and old Dear Abby columns).  Over at Spirit Cloth, Jude Hill teaches us to look for story in fabric, especially the old ones.  And to make a cloth with meaning.  And so here it latest quilt, made from the fabric of my life.

The story of me. Without the dirty parts.


  1. A lovely story and well told...without the dirty parts *smile*
    I did morning pages for many years...and each time I finished a journal I shredded the whole thing...or so I though. I came across one lone journal the other it and became worried about me...quickly shredded it also as not to worry others that might cross it's path.
    See you in "What If" Mo'a

    1. Yes to "worried about me"....I understand the value of writing it all but think, in the end, I might have been better served by volunteering to help someone else and get out of my own head. Cuts down on the paper, too. Thanks for coming, Mo'a!

  2. fantastic quilt! and also your looking at yourself, at your thoughts and feelings, the turmoil in a (young person's ) life and now you are here, sharing this: I appreciate your willingness to share, the ramblings as well as the history

  3. So great to have you comment, Saskia, I am such an admirer of your work. And your dancing Bird! I have more tolerance for the adolescent turmoil than I do for the excessive emotional drooling of the rest of the years, that's for sure. But its all cloth, ain't it?

  4. Julie...a beautifully written entry into the "log". was all that
    wasted? i have asked myself that same question many times. i didn't
    write when i was young. my father gave me a box with a combination
    on it, you know, the ones you dial in the numbers, and then i found
    it open when i got home from school. i guess 7th grade? and all
    those diarys with the tiny brass key lock? same
    but undaunted i wrote. all my adult life till not all that long ago.
    back to the original question...was it wasted?
    its that question What am I supposed to know
    how beautifully you put that....
    such just an elegant post and to put the notebooks like this, and for
    me to know something so much more about your quilt squares now...
    I just love this. just so so tender how we keep working it out.
    Thank you for this. so much.

  5. I always wanted one of those diaries but my mom didn't spend that kind of money on feelings. I also remember leaving mine out, hoping she would read it, since we never talked about real feelings much. Both your memories and mine, how opposite and how poignant.

    Was it wasted? I don't think so...its kind of like throwing up, there's no real value in the end product but the process sure is important. I probably would have been picking (more)fights with those around me or engaging in the myriad of self-harming behaviors in my youthful repetoire

  6. hey julie i am trying to get around a few of the what if class blogs, so many great ones ! i love your journal quilt here, and i love what you said in an earlier post about loving your lollipop quilt ( yummy) And hand stitched recycled fabric ( those piecesof yours are lovely too ) . I too, have two Sorts of stashes and love of all kinds of quilt and colour and sometimes feel a little confused like i need to take a side...well of course, this And that. Thank you ! (lindamorris)

    1. Hey Linda (glad you are not anonymous!), feels great that you stopped by. I too have been spending time on all the What If blogs,I feel like I found a bottomless treasure chest. Taking a side, exactly what I was trying to express! See ya in the forum.

  7. OHH, Julie. My gosh, this is BRILLIANT! Your words, the photos, just everything.
    And I read so much of myself here, so many vintage thoughts. whew.

    Lovely to *meet* you through what-iffing.... ;>]]

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  9. hi Julie. have no idea why i'm just getting here--to your blog. but here i am and so glad. will need to figure out a way to get auto posting notices. but about these journals. did you do it? did you burn or purge? i have boxes of these things laying around. sometimes wake up in the night, almost in a cold sweat, wondering why i haven't disposed of them. you're right, there are some things better left unread by others--real things, real emotions, real reactions--but the realness could also cause loved ones discomfort to say the least, and a lot of pain at worst. so i think tonight i will start that bonfire. Sunday night here. if the weather is good and the sky is clear. and i'll just bite the silver bullet and purge. thanks for reminding me of this necessary task. love xoxox

    1. That cracks me up that you were kidnapped and taken here, of all places! (I think hitting "subscribe by email" below gets autoposting started). Anyway, isn't it weird how just having the baggage haunts our dreams? Forget the silver bullet, just get a glass of red wine and go slowly and gently and remember, with each little act. Are you feeding pages or BOOKS to the fire????

  10. pages--many many pages. i don't think i could get a fire hot enough to burn the books. it will be good.