The auctioning off of Anna Nicole’s diary has got me thinking about the journaling process. Celebrities love to blog. The internet grants us unprecedented and immediate access into their hopped up, DUI-ed lives; but these glimpses seem promotional. Privacy feels contrived and fueled by publicists.
So when I read about Anna Nicole’s print diary, I actually got kind of excited–because here is a woman who wrote (I think) for herself. Something about her journals harkens back to the Lake District, to a Romantic time when poets strolled (yes, strolled) and recorded cloud movement in the margins of their notebooks. Some days I miss the 19th Century. The 19th century would have made Working Girl Melanie Griffith work a lot harder to publish a recovery blog.
Dorothy Wordsworth—the poet William Wordsworth’s sister—kept a journal for three years, starting in May 1800. She never expected any reader outside of Wordsworth. You can tell. The dust jacket of my copy advertises it as an account of “walks and weathers, country neighbors…the garden.” While I found parts to be of interest (did you know it was Dorothy Wordsworth who first spotted and immortalized the daffodils, and that William “borrowed” her words?), on the whole, I felt like I had hacked into the email of the editor for Better Homes and Gardens. I’ll flip to a random page:
Saturday Morning [6th]. I awoke with a bad head ache & partly on that account for ease I lay in bed till one o’clock. At one I pulled off my nightcap–1/2 past one sate down to breakfast–a very cold sunshiny frost.
Sounds like an Anna Nicole hangover to me.
What about June 1802?:
He had slept better than I could have expected but he was far from well all day; we were in the orchard a great part of the morning. After tea we walked upon our own path for a long time. We talked sweetly together about the disposal of our riches.
That could have been written about J Howard Marshall. Here is an excerpt from Anna Nicole’s diary concerning her octogenerian oil tycoon husband:
“Hes so very weak and fragile When I touch him Im afraid he might break. If Jesus desides to take him I dont no what I’ll do. I love him so much it hurts me to site and watch him when hes hurting I just want to hold him touch him let him no how much I care.” (1994)
Add a turnpike road, a sheep-fold, and a bit more attention to grammar, and you basically have The Grasmere Journals.
Anna writes about food and clothing. So does Dorothy. Substitute gizzards and mutton for weight loss shakes, and they could be sisters.
Of course I’m exaggerating. They could be cousins.
I never much cared for Anna Nicole Smith, but lately, I’ve had a soft spot in my heart for her. On the inside cover of her first diary, a green and purple Hallmark hardback, she had written: Do Not Read! In an age when any celebrity can blog and blather for attention, I feel something akin to respect for a woman who saw the importance in writing for herself.