Recording Everything

For 4 months I kept a bar graph in the back of my journal and at the end of every day I would record how many times I had had sex with my boyfriend. I’ve kept a very detailed account of everything I spent money on, everyday, for the past 4 years, with a break of a couple months when I moved back to New York from Louisville, KY and felt like my life was going to shit anyway, so why bother?

I love itemizing my life. I love recording dumb, over looked details that a normal person would not have the discipline to keep track of, or would otherwise feel was a waste of time (after all, who likes to rush home and write down the number of times you farted that day??) I get a thrill from looking at pie charts I’ve drawn or trends I can see in myself as time goes on (like, how much money did I make at work last September? or the September before that?).

Going back through old journals one can see a very detailed look at how I felt. I would draw pie charts and indicate to the precise percentage that I felt accurate for what my mood for the day was. “I feel 27% happy and 5% confused and 38% sad…” etc. Fascinating, because now I can clearly see how those percentages have changed as I’ve gotten older. Although, I don’t keep pie charts anymore, I like to measure a certain amount of happiness in how little I can spend money in a day, and how much money I funnel into doing things I love.

Occasionally I will meet other nit-picky anal outliers who also record all the details of when they took a poop that week. There is a special bond there, an unfathomable understanding that I think the layman could never hope to understand. A bond that says “Hey: I know what it means to get a high from keeping track of these things, and I see you for who you are and not the weirdo your girlfriend thinks you may be when you picked up your phone to record another piece of important information that only you will ever see.”

Especially when I am feeling down in the dumps, I like to turn to my records and re-record everything. “Oh, this is how much money I spent over 6 months and I can clearly see the ratio of spending to saving as indicated here, here, and here!” Another coping activity I used to do as a kid was do math problems in my journal. I loved to watch as the numbers grew to impossible lengths as I kept adding them up. I never did anything that involved a lot of thinking, just that I would add 1 and 1, then 2 and 2 then 4 and 4, until I would wind up with numbers that would stretch from one edge of my page to the other. After doing those math problems for what felt like hours to my young brain, I would look at all of the digits and admire the simple beauty of having recorded and created so many figures on my journal page.

I think, honestly, the reason I have kept a journal pretty consistently my entire life is because I love to record my day for the sake of knowing I recorded the day. Now, as I read another witty memoir about a famously interesting comedic women; I see that I am not alone in my eccentricities. Lovely. I feel enriched and encouraged. I can’t wait to collect all this data and write a best-selling memoir about my life. I talk about it all the time, and I think at this point it’s just a matter of figuring out the style in which I want to tell these stories. All in good time… Until that day comes when I can stare at my first draft, I’ll continue to record my life in this blog and my journal, because facts about me are totally fascinating to me.

September 19, 2012 at 3:15 am by Natalie Allen