The Secret Lives of Diaries

Watching Africans Starve

Posted in Society by secretlives on March 30, 2006


March 30, 2006 

Television is the most malevolent drug of the millenium.  It lulls us to sleep, and we drift, imperceptibly, from authentic living.  "What a pity," we say, as we floss the meat from our teeth and watch the Africans starve.

Name: Giovanni

Age: 56


Neural Collage

Posted in Inner Life by secretlives on March 30, 2006

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March 28, 2006

I was just sitting there.  I was tired and I started doodling this picture.  When I looked at it when it was complete I could see all the messages it wanted me to have.  It's a snapshot of my life over the past month; maybe the past year.  See what you make of it.

Name: Ken

Age: 41

Thinking of You

Posted in Relationships by secretlives on March 29, 2006

March 28, 2006 

I think of you, my frolicking friend.  Will I ever see you again?  Will we laugh and cavort as we once did?  What became of our easy friendship, our natural connection?  Was it poisoned by dreams?  Thrust away by a guilty heart?  Stowed away forever in a dusty dark corner?  Will we ever meet each other heart to heart as we did before?  Easily, hungrily, connected.


47 for a few more months


Posted in Characters by secretlives on March 26, 2006

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I'd finished my degree and had gotten a teaching position in a community in   Northern British Columbia.  However, it was July, I was flat broke and needed money to help me start my position in September.  I found a job working in a liquor store in a very poor part of a city in the South.  And it was a revelation.


September 25, 1973

I was on unemployment for a while until I decided to find a job so as to have enough money to get started in Mackenzie.  (I will be teaching grades 8 – 12, English language and literature).  I found a job at the 6th avenue liquor store in Prince George.  I liked it for a while but am now getting tired of it.

The store is situated in the poorer section of town, consequently some of the customers are strange, and reflect a life I've never known.  They come for "Calona White Medium Sweet" – a cheap wine: $1.31, with tax (about 26 ounces).

Many of the Winos I serve have common sense wisdom that tends to be striking.  For example, a Wino was being served by the Till next to mine; an attractive blonde was in line behind him.  He turned and said something to her with his drunken manner; she berated him, and he reiterated with one of the most profound thoughts I've heard spoken in that store: "Lady," he said, "it takes people like you to make people like me."  Wow, if that isn't insight I don't know what is!

There is one short, old, hunchbacked Indian man who comes daily to buy "Villa Canadian Medium Dry Sherry": $1.25 + .06 tax = $1.31.  He is called Stinky because he smells horribly, and when he seeks service the cashiers run from him; I have often been left to serve him.  The poor fellow consistently pees his pants, and consequently smells of ammonia.

Shortly I will be going to Mackenzie to teach in the new high school there.  Rent [for a one bedroom apartment] is "phantasmagorical": $215 per month.  That is outrageous!

Bursting To Tell!

Posted in Celebration by secretlives on March 25, 2006

March 24, 2006 

Ever have one of those things you were BURSTING to tell but you knew it wasn’t time yet? Well, I’ve got one of those and I just HAVE to tell someone! I got asked to co-author a book today!!! ME! She wants ME! She was halfway through it, stuck and looking for inspiration. And she picked me! I am more excited than I’ve been in decades. YAY!!!!!!


Am I Making The Most of It?

Posted in Loss by secretlives on March 24, 2006

March 23, 2006 

This is how I feel today. Sad for no reason. Until I remember that I heard yesterday that my cousin has breast cancer, and I heard today that an old friend’s child died of cancer. Is that what’s eating away at my mood today? The cancer of grief for threatened and lost life? The hovering angel of death so close, reminding me that this moment too could be my last. Am I making the most of it?

Age 47

Spitting Backward

Posted in Humour by secretlives on March 24, 2006

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The diary of Samuel Pepys One of the most famous diaries of all time, an intimate record of the daily life and reflections of an ambitious, observing, and lusty young man, it extends from Jan. 1, 1660, to May 31, 1669, when failing eyesight forced Samuel Pepys to stop writing. Pepys’s diary gives a graphic picture of the social life and conditions of the early Restoration period, including eyewitness accounts of the great plague (1665) and the great fire of London (1666).


January 28, 1661

To the Theatre, where I saw again ‘The Lost Lady,’ which do now please me better than before; and here I sitting in a dark place, a lady spit backward upon me by a mistake, not seeing me; but after seeing her to be a very pretty lady, I was not troubled at it at all.

Turning To Stone

Posted in Characters by secretlives on March 24, 2006

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Jean Cocteau was a French artist and writer, who made his name widely known in poetry, fiction, film, ballet, painting, and opera. Jean Cocteau’s works reflect the influence of surrealism, psychoanalysis, cubism, Catholic Religion; occasionally they were opium influenced. In his time Cocteau was a promoter of avant-garde styles and fashions. His friends included such prominent figures as Pablo Picasso, the composer Erik Satie, the writer Marcel Proust, and the Russian director Serge Diaghilev. Here is an exerpt from his diary.


January 10, 1953

[With] the young duke of Kent and his sisters, taken to see a famous illusionist in a London music hall.  The number ends with some nudity, and the nanny doesn’t know what to do.  As they leave she ventues to ask, ‘How did Your Highness enjoy the performance?’  ‘I’m scared.’  ‘Why, Your Highness?’  ‘Mama told me if I looked at naked women I’d turn to stone – and it’s starting.’

Nonna Vidotto

Posted in Characters by secretlives on March 22, 2006

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It is July 2, 1971, I have just graduated from university and am on a hitch hike tour through Europe.  Italy, the land of my birth, is my first stop.  I am visiting my paternal grandmother who lives in one of the state retirement homes.  She is in her eighties; a practical woman who has lived through two world wars, a depression and the ongoing transformation of Euorpe.  I am about to leave Oderzo, the small town in which I was born, and I have come to say goodbye.  I sense this will be the last time I see her.


July 2, 1971

My grandmother Vidotto belongs to a world so different from mine.  Her logic is so simple; she is so jovial and merry, for she knows few things.  She cannot read or write; when she signs documents her signature is an “X”.  She doesn’t even know how old she is.

She is very devoted to the traditional Christian concepts of God and Jesus Christ, and the duties which we must perfrom in order to appease him.  Her God is a paternal one, a great bearded figure who loves you when you attend church and the sacraments; who hates you and is angry with you when you fail to do the above.

On one occasion I went to se her in a pair of white tennis shorts.  She told me, seeing that goose-bumps were appearing on my legs, that she would give me a pair of pants she had stored in the bottom of a trunk.  She returned with a pair of 1920’s, long white pants which I accepted graciously.  I told her I would try them on the lawn over my short pants.  “No, no!”, She said, “someone might see you.”  To her it did not matter whether I was already wearing a pair of pants which hid my nakedness.  The sole act of dressing was, to her, a private affair which you performed alone.


I remember that she had cautioned me to be careful about returning to Canada by boat because “if you die, they cast you into the sea.”  Before I left her she went into her room and gave me about 100,000 Lire – which was a great deal to her.  When I graciously objected, she insisted because she was convinced that those who ran the home would plunder her belongings when she died.  I didn’t understand her urgency that day until I returned to Canada a few months later and she died.

Name: Giovanni
Age: 56 

Thumbing It

Posted in Characters,Memories by secretlives on March 21, 2006

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It is September 14, 1973.  I’m living in Victoria, British Columbia. I attend the University of Victoria and am studying to be a high school teacher; I’m 22 years old.  As I walk down Douglas Street I see a fellow holding out a sign on 8.5″X11″ paper, to all the passersby.  Finding this odd, I look at it and this is what I later write (I can remember the fellow clearly now as if it were yesterday).


September 14, 1973

This afternoon I met a straw-hatted fellow on Douglas Street who held up a sheet of paper for all to see.  When I saw him there, smiling beneath his broad hat, I felt curious; I went up to him and read a poem he had written.  It was called “Thumb”, and beside the poem he had drawn a sketch of a large thumb protruding from a hand in hitch-hike posture.  The poem went like so…

One by one
they pass me by

Yet none
escape my eye

Even backseat imps
are frightened by my glimpse

And none
not even alcoholics
escape the frolics
of my pollex

They’ll get their due
it’s true

For I know how it feels
to travel on wheels

They’re all selfish
like I used to be
when I had a car

                                   Author: Howard Halpern

When I finished reading the poem he gave me a copy of it, and we began talking about poetry and yoga.  Fifteen minutes later I shook his hand, and we made it a point to say hello to each other in our next lives.

The reason Howard held up his poem was so he could have it read by a varied cross section of the people.  he could not get his poem published, so this was the next best thing.  He also got to meet a lot of people. (end of entry)


When I think back on this entry I remember his broad, straw sun-hat beneath which much of his head was concealed.  And so – I don’t know what possessed me – I boldly asked him to raise it so that I could see what he looked like beneath it.  He had a magnificently rounded bald head – a veritable cue ball.

Is he alive?  Does he still write?  Is his baldness now, no longer a choice?  I wonder if he remembers that bold young man who asked him to lift his hat?  I wonder.

Name: Giovanni
Age: 56

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