Compass Journal



This entry was composed during my last year of teaching, while I was seated with a class of Honors 10 students who — like me — were immersed in a five-minute free-write.

5-1-17     Crafting our entry together.

One thing I won’t miss about teaching is the weight of the students’ eyes while I am at the front of the room. During first hour I had to introduce prepositional phrases, using FD’s narrative as a springboard. My students hadn’t been moving or talking, and I became hyper-aware of my vulnerability. This led to the approach of panic, a kind of claustrophobia of the gaze; I felt alarmed, trapped, embarrassed, incompetent. All because I could not control my anxiety. It was very disconcerting. My students began raising their hands, volunteering information, but I started choking up. I began to consider reasons why I might be able to leave the room. The wave passed, strangely, w/o my awareness. And then I was okay. Even stronger. Bizarre.

First Journal, “The Stake & The Rope”


[page] 92
Week 16

The Stake & The Rope

I wish I had a stake.
Not just a stake…but the stake of life.
A #### gigantic stake forged from raw courage, pride, and determination in a searing hearth deep in my heart.
A stake so massive and strong that it could endure endless years and a lifetime of struggle.
A state so heavy and rough that it could not be lifted or moved until the time when I must leave this blessed planet.
The stake would be red and black and gray and unchanging.
The stake would have a diamond tip so sharp that it could pierce the very depths of my conscience.
The stake would be driven into the very center of my mind where it would hold to the soil of my #### soul like a redwood grasps its earth.
Around this stake would be a magical rope.
A rope made of trillions of emotions and feeling[s] wound together by the minutes of time.
The rope would be magical and white and blue and flexible and warm and vibrating.
It would grow in length as each day passes.
I would hold onto this rope with all my strength as I explored every foot of life #### knowing that I could always pull that rope tight and feel its tautness, knowing that the stake was anchored securely in its place.
And knowing that I could pull myself back to the stake for safety.
I could tie the rope around my middle and feel secure and safe as I ventured into new places.

First Journal, “Life sucks (period)”


[page] 47
Week 12

Life sucks (period)

Life sucks (period). It absolutely sucks shit. I have had #### an absolutely horrible year. Yes, completely, horrible. Life sucks so bad, I almost think that it would be easier if I were dead. It’s a terrible thing to say — but who in the hell gives a care. I sure as hell don’t. No, that isn’t true. I care. I wake up everyday [sic] slightly optimistic; I go to school; I go to therapy. Something, I don’t know what, is keeping me going. I feel like shit. No one understands. My life is shitty. I hate my life, school, Mr. Z., everyone + everything. I’m in an incredibly shitty mood. I have no real friends. I’m 17 fuckin’ years old, and I have no real friends. That really sucks. I don’t go to movies, plays, sporting events, people’s houses, parties, or out to dinner. Mr. Z is right. I am a “loner.” Yes, I am.

First Journal, “Z/Brian dialogue”

As a high-school junior, I began keeping my first journal because it was an assignment for my English class. Although I was initially resistant to the idea, I eventually found my journal — which was composed of loose-leaf sheets held in a 3-ring binder — to be a place where I could candidly express what was on my mind.

My teacher had explained the none of our entries would be read; they would only be counted. And thus I could write freely about whatever topics I chose. In this entry, I generated the transcript of a theoretical conversation between my first therapist at me. To the best of my recollection, I had been in counseling for several months. I was 16 years old.


[page] 26
Week 7

Z / Brian dialogue

Z — How are you doing?
B — OK…things have been happening so fast lately.
Z — Yeah…well tell me about it and how you feel!
B — OK…well, I like using metaphors a lot.
Z — That’s OK.
B — Good. I wasn’t #### sure if you liked me using them or not. I guess it is because I have a rough time expressing how I really feel inside, and using metaphors helps me.
Z — Go ahead…write on.
B — Well, if life were a taperecorder, and everyone was a cassette, then most everyone I know, including my friends have been and are still in PLAY mode. Well, for the last couple of years, I have been in STOP mode. Now I feel that I’m in fast forward, kind of.
Z — Interesting.