“From the trash can to the bookshelf”


I snuck in the back door as quietly as I dared.

Setting my purse down carefully on the kitchen floor, I
reached into the big black trash bag near the back wall. Forcing my hand
through the leftovers–bits of gristle, pieces of wilted lettuce, used coffee
grinds–I felt around for the crumpled pieces and fragments of paper I knew
were in amongst the garbage.

When I found them, I pulled them out like a treasure,
flattened them as best as I could, clutched them carefully to myself, picked my
purse up from the floor, and crept slowly back towards the door.

This was an ongoing ritual for me nearly every night from
elementary school until I finally ran
away from home as a teenager. I was an avid journal keeper, a fact that my
extremely conservative and fundamentalist Christian family couldn’t stand. They
regularly went through my journals and ripped out the "inappropriate parts." It
could be a section on my doubts of God’s existence, or my bemoaning a recent
movie I wasn’t allowed to see. Sometimes it was my fantasizing about my future
as an independent thinker, or the longing with which I looked at the make-up
section at my local drugstore. Whatever they deemed not worthy of a "good
Christian girl," they destroyed.

  As I grew older, and wiser, I started keeping two journals.
One, the version that they read and ripped. (I admit to sometimes writing
things just for the reaction.) Another, the one that was on me at all times, a
journal they didn’t even know existed.

It’s no surprise, then, that to this day I value journals.
From lined and unlined to leather-bound and fabric covered, I love blank books
(and the idea of blank books). I collect them as some women collect shoes.
Their very potential thrills me—all this space waiting to be filled with words
that won’t be discovered and destroyed.

  When a friend introduced me to Moleskine, about a year ago,
I realized I’d discovered the journal I’d always been looking for. I think I
caught my breath as I carefully took off the band and reverently turned the
pages. It was a real journal. The one I’d always wished I could find.

  Moleskine honors my story and my life. They craft the pages
with care, and they treat my words as if they matter. When I sit in a coffee
shop or on a bench at the beach, people often ask me what I’m writing. "That’s a beautiful journal," they say. I
smile, and nod, and inside, something is very proud.

"Take that!" I say inside myself to the family of origin I haven’t
seen or spoken with in over a decade.

  I buy Moleskines every few months, whether I need them or
not. I buy the Van Gogh green ones, the small ones, the blank ones, the lined
ones—I have a shelf full of them, as if they are a treasure. And they are
a treasure.

Recently I published my first book. I’m happy to say that
there was nothing left or ripped out of it… It is my words, and my story, in
all of its honest, sacred truth. I wrote much of it in my first moleskine. The
words poured out of me, and found a safe place among the pages. I’m happy to
say they’re all still there.

Renee Altson

author of  Stumbling Toward Faith  (Zondervan, Harper Collins 2004)
avid Moleskine user,  lover of all things cheese.
Visit her site.

[Reposted from 1.20.06]

Print it in Moleskine MSK format
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One Response to “From the trash can to the bookshelf”

  1. Ali S. says:

    A fascinating journal entry! I can relate in some aspects as well.

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