There's something about the idea of a diary that makes people want to peek. You know the scenario: you’re at a friend’s house and she’s gone to the bathroom or kitchen and you’re all alone in the room… expect for that diary.

The temptation is strong; whether you crumble to the temptation is a question of how strong your will power is.

I’ve been keeping a diary religiously for the last few years. My first diary was had Tweety (from Looney Tunes) on the cover, with pretty pink paper inside and a lock to keep prying eyes away. I had bartered with my sister, the first owner of the diary, to gain possession of it in elementary school.

It had been stowed away in her drawer of junk and subsequently, she had lost the keys for the lock. This wasn’t too much of a problem for me; it had probably lost some value, making it easier for the merchant in me to gain the item for less.

My diary, which I keep to this day to amuse myself on a rainy day (which happens quite often in Raincouver), starts off with the usual ramblings of a pubescent girl. Complaints about parents and school, topped off with the topics of boys and friends.

Now, imagine my horror and mortification when my mother enquires about a certain person I had written about in my diary. Something no one had known.

My own mom had peeked at my diary! Not just that, but she had the audacity to ask me questions about things I had written. However, to avoid embarrassment and further questioning, I never brought up the topic.

That scared me enough to never, ever write in a diary up until recently.

It was not as though I had left my diary open, preying on the temptation of others. I had been careful.

I had several hiding places, including under my bed’s mattress, the cabinet in the washroom, and inside my pillow covers (methods I’ve long gone stopped using). Perhaps I had not been as careful, forgetting the factor that, as a kid, it wasn’t expected of me to do the laundry, resulting in the discovery of the diary.

When I regained the courage to keep a diary, I set up a few personal rules.

First, never, even if the opportunity and temptation do arise, peak at another person’s personal writing. This prevented me from angering a friend in high school. A friend of mine, Elizabeth, had been sick and had not attended school for a week.

We had access to her locker and two of my other friends, while searching for an item, found her journal. They couldn’t resist the urge to peek. When Liz found out, she was livid (although I suppose more had to do with her nature of teasing and bugging people more than the thought that her journal had been read). She wouldn’t talk to them for weeks, with me playing the “middle-man.”

This has also resulted in an alliance with my sister. She will not touch anything that includes my intimate thoughts, ranging from diaries to Word files. In return, I respect her privacy.

The second rule was to never write anything personnel. This, of course, defeats the purpose of a diary. What’s the point of keeping one if you aren’t going to write your thoughts?

With all this hanging over me, for years, I would only write recollections of what had transpired during that day. I wouldn’t venture to thoughts, feelings, analysis of others, in fear that they would be discovered and I would be exposed. I had a feeling of mistrust, perhaps even with myself.

This changed recently, when I began to keep a carry my diary with me everywhere I went. It’s a ratty old thing.

It shows the mark of usage, with its rabbit ears and tears. The best part of it is the cover: “Let’s keep a note on what pisses us off,” it proudly proclaims.

I'm not taking any chances. I keep it beside me wherever I go.

(Photo at top is "Diary of Joseph Cinquez" by www.schoohousevideo.org )

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