I keep a teaching journal that, for the most part, I use to write about sundry classroom experiences. Most entries deal with my mistakes (um, because that’s usually what’s going on), a few herald my accomplishments (or at least try to catch that lightning in a proverbial bottle), others offer a glimmer of hope or a moment of utter frustration and anger. Fairly benign, all told, though my language maybe leaves a bit to be desire in the decorum department. Nothing scandalous, or even interesting for that matter, and certainly nothing to think twice about.
Or so I thought.
Today, while waiting for an appointment, I pulled out my journal to record a few thoughts about some planning I did today for the remainder of the semester and I noticed some unfamiliar handwriting at the bottom of my most recent entry. Um, let me state that again: some handwriting in my journal THAT WAS NOT MINE.
My first thought?
I mean, really, that was the word that crowded my mind. Breach. Not as strong as “penetrate,” not as simple as “trespass,” but definitely a transgression. Another person had been “in” my journal, had pulled back the little elastic strap and put pen to paper. And while I’m sure it was out in plain view—DAMN.
I’m certain the party who wrote me a note in my journal simply saw it as a way to communicate with me because the message inside was encouraging and interested and kind. But I ain’t lyin’ when I say that seeing that writing there really startled me.
Final thought here, and perhaps a question.
First, when I write in my journal, in any journal-type space, I try to imagine that I’m writing to/for someone. Even if that someone is a future me.* But seldom have I entertained the possibility that anyone might actually read my words. Especially in the realm of the print journal.** Again, let me be clear. I’m not upset per se—there’s nothing particularly incriminating in my teaching journal—but when I went back to read some of my entries, I felt… well… I wished for context, I suppose. I’m not sure if there’s a lesson in there or not.
My question? Has anyone else had a journal breached? What did you think? As noted in my title, I am at once amused and aware. It seems both funny and scary that someone out there knows I’m bad at teaching and stupid at the same time!
*I don’t care what you say, you diligent journal writers, you. You’re editing as you go—maybe because you think you’ll be immortalized as a famous writer someday, but mostly because you can’t bear to read your old shit and think: was I ever that naive and/or self-absorbed? Projection? I have no idea what you mean….
**Writing for a blog is entirely different. I know anyone can read this stuff and it’s presented accordingly. It’s still vapid, but it’s a special brand of vapid just for you.