Friday, June 8, 2012

Writing at the Great Wall

Here I sit, writing in my journal as I sit on the Great Wall!

One of the best parts of any trip for me is keeping a journal of my experiences.  I'm not ordinarily a journal-writer, though I used to be when I was in my 20s.  I stopped because it felt as if I was mainly writing in my journal when I was sad or angry, and I didn't like the idea of amassing a storehouse of all these negative emotions (though I have to say that I was quite witty in my devastating portraits of bad boyfriends and failed relationships - but still.)  So now I keep a journal only when I am on a major trip.  It has to be a trip overseas to qualify.  I start the journal as the plane takes off; I end the journal on the flight home.  In between I write fairly obsessively, a record of all the sights I saw, but also a record of where I am right now in my life more generally and how my experiences as a traveler illuminate my current situation and help me distill wisdom for going forward.

Here's a snippet from this trip: 

Roberta, Lynne, Kenneth, and I decided to go out for a little after-dinner walk.  At 7:30 it was already quite dark - we must be on the eastern edge of the time zone.  The day became happier again as we wandered through narrow streets with food on offer and people sitting at very low tables - portable ones brought from home? - to eat skewers of grilled chicken that looked more tasty than our own bland dinner.  At a bakery, I bought a European-looking chocolate pastry that tasted like a Little Debbie snack cake.  It hit the spot.  I have been in sugar/chocolate withdrawal for days now.  I hadn't bought my purse, so Roberta loaned me money.  I told her I felt bad that I keep needing her to loan me money as I keep not having my purse with me.  She told me that her mother would have called me "Minnie the Mooch," which got me to laughing and got her to snorting.  Roberta has a singularly delightful snort.

So now, years from now, "when I am old and gray and full of sleep," I can nod by the fire and take down this journal, and read about that evening in Qingdao with my fellow American scholars, and I'll remember how I was Minnie the Mooch, and how Roberta gave that little snort, and it will all come back to me.  And I'll remember how I sat upon the Great Wall of China, writing, writing, writing.


  1. Although I pray that it is many, many, many, years in the waiting, I am looking forward to the posthumous publication of the journals from your 20s! We can handle a little darkness, as long as it is witty, and that sounds like a new and interesting side of the Claudia that we love so much.

  2. Thanks, Scott! I will hold on to my volumes of witty darkness with instructions for the executor of my literary estate. :)