15 July, 1920
Is that how you start a diar- a journal? This is dumb. This is the worst birthday gift. I am seven years old I should have gotten a baseball mitt like Joe did. Pops got me this journal instead. I think this is a sissy thing. But Pops says that if I get real good at using this, I can be a writer and then I won’t hafta go to war like he did. But how am I ‘sposed to write in this thing every day? What do I say? And what if I want to be a soldier? Joe’s Pop is a soldier and he was in Guatemala a few months ago. Now he’s on an island in Siberia. Joe says he’s protecting radios.
Being a soldier sounds better than being a writer.
I think that’s enough writing for today. My hand hurts. And Pops says we can go to the soda parlor today and then listen to Babe Ruth play baseball on the radio tonight. He said if I write enough then next time we can go to the soda parlor in a car!
5 December, 1950
F — Korea.
This is F — ing hell. Was Germany not enough, God? You have to kill our boys in this God forsaken Chosin Reservoir, too?
This is worse than France. Worse than Germany, even. I had no words then. I have none now.
I don’t know how this notebook made it into my pack, I haven’t seen it in decades. Janine must have found it in Ma and Pop’s stuff when she sorted through their things, then stuck it in my bag before I left.
That d — wife. I miss her. And my baby boy. He just had his first birthday. If I make it back alive, maybe it’s not too late to try for a girl.
It’s a good thing I didn’t have this notebook in Germany. If I did, it would have just been pages and pages of “f —” in all capital letters over and over again through the whole book.
But this is worse. In f — ing Germany I cursed my commanders up and down as they sent us off to get shot and my sergeants shut me up and we marched. Now, I’m that sergeant. Sending kids into fire. And, thanks to Germany, I know exactly what I’m ordering them to go do. Because I used to be them. Does that make me strong? Brave?
Or something else entirely?
I hear things are just f — ing dandy back home. People buying s — . Driving cars out in the suburbs, not a care in the world. Camping in National Parks for fun? I’ve been camping for months in this frozen hell and it ain’t fun. They’re all still drunk from V-J day. They don’t even know that we’re here, getting killed by the Chinese. I heard one of my boys mutter earlier, “They told us we’d be home by Christmas…they never said which year.”
That kid who got this notebook should’ve stuck to it and been a f — ing writer after all. He could’ve out-sold Steinbeck and Orwell.
God, get me and these boys through this war. Then no more. No f — ing more of this nightmare.
20 July, 1969
My God, they did it. We did it.
We just walked on the moon. I saw it with my own eyes on the television. One giant leap for mankind.
I didn’t think I’d live to see it, now they’re talking about sending whole colonies up there — in my lifetime! Heh, maybe Janine and I will get to retire on Mars. Doubt the kids would make the trip to visit us, though.
Wouldn’t that be something, her and I in space? Fly us to the moon, like that old rat pack singer says, we’ll play among the stars as we grow old, we will, and finally get away from it all.
I just can’t believe it. There really is no limit to what we can do. Even Sarah is home watching it with us instead of out with her friends — that’s an even tougher feat than going to the moon in the first place! God help me, the girl’s barely a teenager and already out listening to music and riding in Chevys. She’ll be a wild one. Janine just spoils her, too. Makes it worse. I guess that’s what we get for having another kid so late in the game.
Let me see what spring is like on
A-Jupiter and Mars
13 April, 1971
My boy’s gone.
How much more of this can the world take? My boy came home from Vietnam, in a d — box.
Janine is hysterical, her bright baby boy. Sarah’s big brother. My son, doing his duty no matter what the protesters say.
He did his duty, just like his grandpa, like all the boys. But now what? How many wars does it take? No parent should outlive their children. Our son was a good kid. A d — good kid.
And he was ripped from us.
God bless Sarah, consoling her mother. Being strong for the both of us. Despite what she’s been up to. I know she sneaks out at night to protest, to cause trouble. Comes home at the crack of dawn with John Lennon in her head. And still she stays strong for her mom.
Does the pain ever end? Germany? Korea? Now this? What’s next?
He was such a d — good kid.
15 July, 2000
I almost forgot about this book.
Sarah wrapped it up and gave it to me as a birthday gift. God knows where she found it. That girl never ceases to amaze.
She brought the grandkids over to make me cake for my birthday. They’re teenagers now even worse than Sarah was. Payback.
Those squirts are growing up. Stephanie is the spitting image of Janine when she that age. The moment I saw her, I just started crying like a baby. I couldn’t help it. Poor girl was so confused thinking she did something wrong. And John. He looks so much like…that must be hard for Sarah.
My hand hurts. Sarah says to use a computer, she wasn’t expecting me to actually use this notebook. She brought it for the “sentimental value.” I say if it’s followed me around for this long, it’s meant to be written in. This notebook has been around as long as me. Hell, it’ll probably outlast me at this point. 80 years and this thing still somehow turns up as if no time has passed. I’d like to see a computer do that.
I’ve hardly used these pages. Five times since 1920? How my Pops ever thought I’d be a writer is beyond me.
1920. F— .
It feels like so long ago, those words I’ve written in here. I was arrogant. Angry. Things I don’t even remember and things I remember too much. If I had known how long words and paper could last, I’d have written so much more.
After the cake, I asked the kids what they were up to. John is reading Orwell in school. I told him, “Do you know how old this book is. It’s so old, I read it back in Korea! Good thing he was wrong about 1984.”
Stephanie had a book called The Chamber of Secrets and was explaining how everyone is hooked on it to the point that stores are selling out and the library is backed up for months.
Did I read that much when I was their age? I know Sarah didn’t. Maybe they aren’t so bad after all.
Then Stephanie got a call on her cell phone. I asked her what music was playing when it rang and she said they were called “Smashmouth.”
That’s when I knew I was too old for this world.
Smashmouth, you’re no Sinatra.
Dec 31, ’19 (NYE!!!)
Whoa. This thing is old. It feels wrong just to be writing in it, but grandma say’s it’s ok. She said it was her dad’s. I guess that’s my great grandpa. The pages are all yellowish.
This is really weird. But cool, too. There’s some crazy old stuff in here. Geez, grandma’s dad swore alot. I def took a snap so whenever mom gets mad at my language, I’mma show it to her and say it runs in the fam. And his thing about the moon? SO CUTE. I love it. He sounds so adorable. I died.
Uhh, so I obviously had no idea what kind of stuff happened back then. Grandma’s dad listened to Babe Ruth on the radio and went to soda shops? Before cars were a thing, even. Wild. This thing should be in a museum or something. But, grandma wants me to write it in so, ok, I guess. Her dad didn’t seem to use it much.
Haha, grandma snuck out at night to go to protests as a teenager. omg, and I’M THE TROUBLEMAKER SOMEHOW OK MOM YOU KNOW GRANDMA LITERALLY PROTESTED THE GOVERNMENT and I get grounded for vaping in my room? Haha and grandma’s dad even said that you were probably worse than her AND YOU LISTENED TO SMASHMOUTH OMFG. Insta gold.
Okay, I should probly write more serious stuff in here compared to all the other stuff about war and the moon. There’s nothing crazy exciting to write about nowadays though. What am I supposed to say, “can you believe the Russians said dumb stuff on fb — wait a sec, can you believe people still use fb???”
Okaaaayy, time to wrap this up and get ready for tonite. NYE party with Ryan ❤ ❤ ❤!
1920 seemed fun in a cute way, except for the women not voting thing and the racism and stuff that Grandma’s dad CONVENIENTLY left out. Still, 1920 seemed chill, so 2020 better not suck…who knows what kind of stuff I’ll be saying in this thing fifty years from now…
(Photo by Roman Kraft on Unsplash)
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