Tuesday, May 10, 2016

April 17, 1997

Thursday, April 17, 1997
Dear Diary,

We’re moving. I don’t know if that has to do with the way I feel but one minute I can’t stop laughing and the next I have to restrain myself from bawling.
Malin came over yesterday and we had a good, long talk. She’s living up in Bellingham now and I can’t wait to spend time with her there next year. I got into Western last week and I’m sure I’ll be going there. I’ve got time on my hands lately but it all goes fast and I haven’t done homework in ages. I don’t know what I’d do without Emma. Or Nina.
Tucker and I got together on Monday. He puts a smile on my face. All day at school on Tuesday everyone was asking why I’m so smiley. But that turned out to be a rough day.
I went to the soccer game (guys vs. St. Vincent) and I saw Aidan (I’ll get into that later). Emma, Jordan, and I got coffee and met Frieda and Margo at Allegro. We went to Aidan’s and Vic’s. Frieda dropped Margo and me off at the bridge later and we talked for hours.
I went to see Tucker last night. He’s in Utah now but he’ll be back tomorrow and we’ll kick it at Colin’s. I went running yesterday and Tuesday. It’s good for me and I need to make it a habit.
Aidan is causing me stress. He got home on Friday and we all kicked it at Magnuson. I was so happy for him to be home. I went to Skykomish with Drew to meet everyone on Saturday night and Aidan and I got together. I’m sick to my stomach about it because of Tucker and Margo. I couldn’t get to know Aidan again because this happened. I don’t want to look at him now and things won’t be the same.
Austin Bergman asked me to prom today so I guess I’m going. I need to cry. I need to laugh for a couple days and then sleep for a week. I’m a wreck and today Nina said, “I hate to see you like this because you never get like this.” I haven’t lost hope and I don’t think I will but there’s a deep sadness in me. I can’t stop listening to Fiona Apple. I didn’t write a quarter of what’s going on with me but this helps. I leave for Colorado on Wednesday.

Love, Meghan
Minor: Volume One - The Journals of Meghan McDonnell
Novice: Volume Two - The Journals of Meghan McDonnell
Limbo: Volume Three - The Journals of Meghan McDonnell

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

March 10, 1997

Spring has always inspired conflicting emotions in me, especially early spring, just coming out of winter. It fills me with longing. It makes me feel pasty and squint-y (hello, pale sun) and irritable. The thawing out. Come deep spring, I am alive again and happy, loosening in anticipation of heat and freedom. The entry below captures my adolescent spring ennui.

Monday, March 10, 1997
Dear Diary,

I don’t know if it’s a girl thing or a human thing but people get worked up about things when they think about the future or they dream people and things up to be more or different than they are. Example: I care for Nate. But the reality is this: I called him to ask if he wanted to see “Kerouac” with me and it was stupid and I can’t talk to him anymore and it’s annoying and why did I overestimate him and me and us to be different than we are? This happens with everyone and it is disillusioning. I am vain and proud and fake and fucked up and clueless and scared. Every day, it’s: do I go work out? Do I have a cigarette? Do I go running? Do I drink water? Do I play guitar? What should I do? I waste my precious time and I’m too frustrated to describe it, to figure out what is good and right and important to me. I need to rethink my motivations. I need to see my reasoning for why I do and don’t do.
I’m so sick of Mr. Wiseman’s spirituality class I could wretch. I feel lonely and there is separation between everyone lately. People are sprawled out into all these different groups and weird shit is going down. I can’t talk to anyone about this. Everyone, including me, is preoccupied but when I think about it, we’re preoccupied with frivolous shit. I can’t have a normal conversation anymore. It’s all like, “Man, I’m faded,” or “I’m so irritated,” or “Yeah, let’s kick it.” That’s all anyone says and we don’t kick it. We stand around getting faded, talking about how faded we are and then some girls will get in a fight or something. Where’s the fun in that? What’s wrong with me and everyone? Why can’t I talk to anyone about this and why does it bum me out that there are only three more pages of this journal?
On Saturday, Emma, Chelsea, Rita, and I went to Western and chilled at Martin’s and I met a hottie named Gray (a Scorpio) who bought us beer. The weekend before last we went to Flip Busby’s and out on Claire’s boat. Claire had people over. On Thursday, I crashed at Margo’s. We got out of school at 10:45 on Friday. Frieda and I went running and everyone got faded at Claire’s and went home early. On Saturday I went to the baseball game and we won. I had people over. I’ve gone to Forrest’s with Emma for the last two nights. I’m going to Canada with Mary, Frieda, and Shelby for spring break. I don’t feel like myself lately.

Love, Meghan

Excerpt from Minor: Volume One The Journals of Meghan McDonnell
Novice: Volume Two The Journals of Meghan McDonnell
Limbo: Volume Three The Journals of Meghan McDonnell

Thursday, February 4, 2016

December 28, 1996

This snapshot covers a fair amount of my adolescent anxieties: alienation from peers; curiosity and insecurity about a boy; my sister diagnosing me with serious conditions when I had a common ailment. I find it amazing that even at the ripe age of 17, I felt I needed to "unload" "emotional baggage." Almost 20 years after the fact, I still contend with a couple of these anxieties. Does everyone?

Saturday, December 28, 1996
Dear Diary,
It’s a winter wonderland outside and snow continues coming down. I’ve been listening to music, cleaning my closet, and doing laundry. I pulled out Oliver’s old tape and have been listening to Mother Love Bone.
Martin and Cara are in town visiting John and Elizabeth. Last night, John’s friends spent the night, drank beers, and we played Trivial Pursuit. The day before that, Emma and I went downtown, went to her house, drank champagne, and listened to Van Morrison.
Christmas was good but strange. I’ve had a hard time getting into the spirit. On the 20th I went to a keg at Lower Woodland and I only talked to Nate for a few minutes. He’s at Mt. Hood right now. On Sunday, I went to Cedar and Nate and I went to the beach and had a fire with a few guys and we tried to go to a pub but his ID didn’t work. Leah came over on the 23rd.
I regret not writing sooner because I can’t recall what’s happened since the 9th. I was sick and had severe laryngitis and Elizabeth scared me into thinking I had diabetes.
I haven’t talked to Nate since he dropped me off at the ferry. This fall went fast. As I cleaned out my closet tonight, I found all these things that reminded me of freshman year. I wondered: when people get past a certain point with me, if they get scared of me or don’t understand me. Like I lure people in with this fun, happy-go-lucky exterior, and after a time they see my other sides: my emotions, sentimentality, and complexities. And I wonder if it’s too much for them. Maybe I’m misreading it, though. I form very deep and intense relationships with various people and then they are gone. Like we get too close too fast and understand, relate and connect and then boom: the next day we’re casual acquaintances who don’t know each other anymore or secretly and silently resent each other. Nina and Emma are the only people this hasn’t happened with, knock on wood. As for other people, the list goes on (Tilda, Tiffany, Shelby, Brent …). Maybe that’s how it is in high school.
I have emotional baggage to unload and go through before I go off to college. I’m trying to eliminate my fear in this whole thing called life.
Leah is moving to Hawaii. We went to Beth’s the other night. It was good but it wasn’t the same. What the hell is? I feel lame writing Nate’s name in here anymore than I already have but he’s taken up space in my thoughts and he’s a question mark on my life.

Love, Meghan

Excerpt from Minor: Volume One The Journals of Meghan McDonnell
Novice: Volume Two The Journals of Meghan McDonnell
Limbo: Volume Three The Journals of Meghan McDonnell

Thursday, January 14, 2016

October 2, 1996

I went to a Catholic high school and though there was some expected traditional guilting, it was a Jesuit school and therefore a little more liberal, hip, and mystical. Mr. Wiseman, my spirituality teacher, was a hilarious hippie, deeply into self-introspection and talk therapy. I am usually all for that, too, but I got annoyed with it in the throes of teen angst. Hell, I'm 36 and I still get annoyed with that shit sometimes. 
I think I did experience depression as a teen but I also think adolescence and depression can be synonymous. Sometimes I look back at my friends and I drinking in high school and I mourn for our still-developing brains and bodies. I wonder why we weren't hiking or doing more constructive activities (though we did those things, too). At other times, I feel like our behavior was utterly typical and I thank God we weren't into more serious substances or stealing or eating disorders or cutting or lighting small animals on fire for yuks:
Wednesday, October 2, 1996
Dear Diary,
I’m irritated. My spirituality class is discussing the complications of being young and having too much to do and not being able to do what we want to do because school and preparation for college take up all of our time. We discuss our frustrations and there’s no inspiration in it. Mom thinks I’m depressed. It’s not that. It’s that these are turbulent times and I can’t say I haven’t enjoyed my high school years, but there is work and strife and stress and sadness intermingled with the goodness and joy. I’m growing up and taking responsibility. I don’t go out on weekends. I work, do homework, and sleep but I don’t mind because I know I’d go out and get drunk if I didn’t stay home. But I’m taking Sunday off and going to Cedar on Saturday.
Things in my past affected and hurt me and I need to deal with them. Like moving when I was 14. I talked to Oliver a couple nights ago. I’ll see him when I visit John in LA in November. Emma and I are going to Western in a couple weeks. I talked to Brian for a long time last night.
I have guitar lessons tonight. I hope I go far with that and don’t throw it away. School and the people there fuck with my head. I hate how they shape my mind and feelings.
I love the fall. It’s a sad, quiet, reflective time. I hope I get into Western. I miss Aidan.

Love, Meghan

Minor: Volume One The Journals of Meghan McDonnell
Novice: Volume Two The Journals of Meghan McDonnell
Limbo: Volume Three The Journals of Meghan McDonnell

Thursday, December 17, 2015


Tomorrow, I publish the first three volumes of my collected writings. For 28 years, I've devoted my life to writing: blood, sweat, tears, heart & soul on the pages consistently - coming to it with love, fear, passion, sorrow, despair, rage, and transcendent joy - and I continue doing so still. I realize the work ahead of me. This is only the beginning. And I realize I'm not doing this for money or recognition or to be an entrepreneur or a personality or to coerce anyone to do anything. I write and now I have books for sale and to keep my head on straight about it, I liken it to making hotcakes.
I want to remove all the give and take, all the bargaining, all the rules. I keep writing books and now I'm selling them. If I made and sold hotcakes, I'd want people to buy and eat my hotcakes. They could gorge themselves on them or eat them slowly or throw them on the ground after one bite. That's up to them. They could eat them alone or share them with their friends or family or do whatever they want. But I'm going to keep making hotcakes and offering them. Have some. Buy them. Take them for free. Whatever you want. I'm going to keep making hotcakes because it's all I know to do. So have some hotcakes. I'll be here my whole life makin' hotcakes. There's no right or wrong or good or bad. Just me making hotcakes and maybe you wanting them. And maybe sometimes it's hotcakes season and maybe sometimes it isn't. But I'll be making hotcakes regardless and by hotcakes I mean books and when it comes down to it, it's no big deal. It's just me making books and everyone living their own lives and doing what they do and sometimes wanting certain kinds of books or hotcakes.

You can find out more about my hotcakes here:

Minor: Volume One The Journals of Meghan McDonnell
Novice: Volume Two The Journals of Meghan McDonnell
Limbo: Volume Three The Journals of Meghan McDonnell

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

June 29, 1996

Looking back on my high school years, I feel like I was always filled with this mild existential angst and I could never locate its source. I wouldn't go back to that era if someone paid me. It's so challenging to be an adolescent; not a kid anymore but not an adult. A multi-year limbo of confusion and hormones and ennui; unsatisfying, not cathartic at all, practically voiceless. And for me it happened in the mid to late 90s. I feel overwhelming gratitude that I didn't experience cell phones, Facebook, Instagram, texting, FaceTime, and on and on as a youth. Kids have it far harder now than I did. 
The following passage is me weeks before my 17th birthday, on my way to summer camp in Northern California. I was thinking of Brian, a boy I'd met in Alabama and had a crush on. I was also thinking of Matt, a guy I'd known for years but whom I'd never thought to consciously look at in a romantic or sexual way though it had always been in the back of my mind. At this stage of my life, I had never been in love. I couldn't wait to be. I couldn't wait for passion and desire and for places to channel and fulfill them.

Saturday, June 29, 1996
Dear Diary,
I’m on the plane to Sacramento. Five minutes ago, I stood at my gate and the sun was shining in the windows. Looking out on all those planes felt like it did when I was leaving Alabama. Brian and I have a link and I will see him again. He called me on Thursday night and we had the best talks. He said, “We have to keep in touch,” and I hope we do. (“I still believe she was my twin” - Bob Dylan).
I picked Emma up and we went to her house with Elizabeth. We talked and played guitar all night while I thought about Brian. I wrote Emma a letter and left it by her bed. Yesterday, I picked Margo up from Cat’s Eye CafĂ©. We went to Lincoln Park and had an awesome talk about guys, our “guy style,” and got smoky.
I drove to Oliver’s last night but he wasn’t home. I stopped by Mason’s and seeing him made me realize that I have changed and I need to be with a guy who is solid. I don’t want to live how I used to live. Not that it was so bad when I was with him, but I could have done without it.
I came home and Oliver called so I packed for my trip before driving back over there and drank a brew and chatted with him, Elise, and Matt. Some others came over and we went outside to look at the moon. Matt and I wound up sitting in the living room. He told me he was very attracted to me and said that he was seeing me in a different light. We talked about how we’ve known each other for so long but we don’t know each other. I told him I was attracted to him, too. I asked if I could write to him and he gave me his address. He walked me outside and we stood there hugging and we kissed and now I’m thinking about him and it feels good to know one back home will be thinking of me while I’m gone. We talked about how things were different the night I came to Oliver’s to hear them play a while back. All the sudden we took a look at each other.
I have no idea what awaits me for the next two weeks. I want to marry someone in Alabama and I want Matt fucking Warner. How do these things happen? After all this time, it’s safe to say I want him. I’ll write you in Cali.

Love, Meghan

Minor: Volume One The Journals of Meghan McDonnell
Novice: Volume Two The Journals of Meghan McDonnell
Limbo: Volume Three The Journals of Meghan McDonnell