Saturday, August 07, 2004


When it comes to paper, I am a pack rat. I saved every note my friends passed me in junior high, every photocopied flyer I made for my college radio show. My shelves and attic are full of boxes of old papers that have some small historical significance to me, from my 1995 calendar to the notes from my choreography class.

I began keeping a diary when I was in seventh grade, and kept up the habit until I graduated from college. These diaries have been carefully preserved, given a place of honor on my bookshelves. The oldest diaries, written on tiny spiral-bound notepads, have been typed into computer files so as not to be lost. In all this time, I have only stricken two sentences from my personal historical record, and those only because they were monumentally embarrassing.

I am loathe to rewrite my own history. I know that I was silly and naive at times in the past, but so was everybody. I think it's important to see who I was so I can see how much I've changed now, and realize that ten years from now I'll probably have changed some more.

But today, I have decided to destroy a poem that I wrote when I was sixteen or so. I wrote many songs and poems in the back of my high school diary. Some are good, some are awful enough to make me cringe ("Scared and shaken eyes of brown/Don't know where truth's to be found"), but this one makes me sad when I read it. It makes me sad because I know I once believed that this far-fetched scenario could be true, even commonplace. I believed it because it was easier than confronting a reality which challenged my worldview at the time.

The poem was catchy and had a repeating line that sometimes sticks in my head: "Nothing's ever going to be the same." When it starts rattling around my brain these days, I start wondering how many people think as I did back then. I wonder how much those beliefs are hurting those around them, and how soon science will prove them wrong. I think about how, after I die, I don't want anyone going through my diaries and finding this poem. Not because I don't want to admit that I once believed these things but because, unlike a diary entry, a poem can easily be stripped of its historical context. It can stand on its own and speak independently of its author.

I don't want anyone using this poem to justify prejudice. Into the shredder it goes.


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