Opening up

Posted by Write In My Journal on March 10th, 2011 filed in This site
1 Comment »

*YAWN!* (Scratch, scratch, scratch) What year is it?

I’ve been…busy?

Ever since I had kids and moved five minutes away from work, I’ve become quite the hermit. Thankfully, there are other people out there with social lives. Who…you know…do things.

I still love the idea of Write In My Journal. I want it to live on, but it isn’t realistic for me at this point. That’s why I’m going to do an experiment and turn it over to you.

Email me and I’ll set up a username and password for you. Collect stories, post them and I’ll review and publish them.

Laura took me up on it. Her first post which will be published Monday.

UPDATE: Got a ton of spam from this. On hold for now.



Posted by Write In My Journal on November 8th, 2009 filed in Man, Refugee, Unemployed


Ayayi’s story is a unique one. He’s a political refugee from a small African nation and was unable to write his own story because he’s legally blind. I bought him lunch, he talked and I wrote.

As we talked, I learned that he was a political refugee from Togo, an African country west of Ghana. He was an influential figure in fighting for democracy in his country.

Because he spoke broken English, I was only able to take notes but I think you’ll get the gist. This is his story of his fight for democracy:

Aiyia Entry 01

I lived under a dictator. If you say something against him in the daytime they will kidnap you at night and you’ll disappear.They’ll kill you and throw you in the bush for the lions.

Ayayi went with six other students to the president of the country (who had been in power for decades) and said they wanted a fair election or the students would protest.

We were at university and called ourselves M05 – Movement October 5th – which was the day the students were going to walk out and protest if they didn’t have a fair election.

When they protested, they tore down statues of the president. His friend climbed up on one of the statues and was shot by the military.

Later, the president offered the students and their lawyer 6 million francs to stop causing trouble and made their lawyer President of Civil Rights in Togo. The lawyer went on TV, showed everyone the bribe. After seeing that on TV, everyone started protesting – women and children, too.

Stories about throwing rocks and being hit with tear gas.

It escalated into a riot. Buildings were on fire, smoke everywhere in the city.

For the first two weeks, the military was only authorized to use tear gas. On week three the president said 100 civilians would die if one of his soldiers did – gave soldiers permission to use deadly force.

People from Ghana and Nigeria were finding bodies of people from Togo in the ocean.

“Yesterday I found 300 people in the ocean.”

Was caught by the police/military Nov. 19, 1989. Put in a torture camp called Kazaboua Agombio – Red Blood Camp. They were forced to look at the sun which is how he became blind.

Of the seven people (including himself) who originally went to the president to try to get a democratic election:
- Four of them were found dead
- One man was never seen again
- Only Ayayi and his friend survived

There’s more to the story, but I couldn’t get it all down/remember it. Ayayi is now in Salt Lake trying to find work, but can’t do much because his English is still fairly broken and is legally blind.

As an aside, this was a real wake-up call for me. You hear of these things happening on CNN in two minute segments and it doesn’t seem real. And there I was sitting across from a man who had lived it.

It’s amazing and humbling to think that there are only two men on earth who know that story and I was able to meet one of them. And now the story has been preserved and shared with everyone who reads this. At the risk of sounding dramatic, suddenly the purpose behind the site feels much deeper now.

What are your thoughts? Your reactions to his story? Please let me know in the comments.



Posted by Write In My Journal on November 2nd, 2009 filed in This site

Good grief. I’m so sorry. I haven’t forgotten about the site, despite the lack of…well…anything for the past several (four) months. My daughter was born about five months ago and attention and priorities had to be shifted to accommodate the new member of our family.

I’m going to get back on track. I have a story ready to turn into a post and hope to have it up within the week.

Again, I apologize and appreciate your patience.

In the meantime, has anyone collected any stories they’d like to submit?

UPDATE: I’ll be posting tomorrow (Sunday).



Posted by Write In My Journal on June 11th, 2009 filed in Woman


Ruth-Ann works in a local bakery/coffee house/cafe. You know the type – cool atmosphere, expensive, but tasty food. The kind of place you are happy to have in your city and want to tell everyone about, but you don’t want everyone to know it’s there.

Ruth-Ann is the kind of person that makes this type of local establishment work. She was friendly with everyone who came through the door and seemed to be a genuinely happy person.

Her curly blond hair was pulled back in a loose pony tail and her eyes were disconcertingly bright blue. Ruth-Ann’s story is beautifully cryptic. Where do you think the dream begins and ends? Let me know in the comments. Enjoy.




It would be dreams. It started about a year ago. I was laying in bed w/ my 1/3 Indian boyfriend at the time in a building that had been used as a venue for bands w/ no place to play. I thought I woke up to a group of boys down stairs and I walked out to see what they were talking about – all the doors were open and the wind rushed through and the morning was bright blue and nobody was outside.

I woke up again in my bed w/ my 1/3 Indian boyfriend. No wind. No blue.

During the Broken Social Scene Jig at the free Summer Concert Series, I whispered in his ear, “I can’t be w/ you” and I walked through the mass of people and watched the rest of the concert w/ a tree. I don’t know why I did it.

Its about dreams tho, really, dreams that aren’t dreams.

It goes like this:

I wake up multiple times and have multiple conversations.

I met a boy at a bike shop. He had red hair longer than mine and everyone elses. We rode down the canyon and I took my hands off the bars in the dark and cracked my head open on a rock. 25 stitches. University Hospital. Watched bats together at 3 am because we were locked out of my apartment. Layed on the parking lot. He touched my hand. Gauze around my skull. Pineapple cake mornings after drunk roommate finally got home at dawn.

Fast forward redhead bomb to blast the **** out of my life. My existence since that crash is loving him and trying to remember who I am and what is a dream.

We talk about coffee, why I don’t have the flavor he wants, and the I wake, it wasn’t a real conversation. Dream. I get confused. Wake up for real. He punches a hole in my wall.

Not a dream. Wind.

My head is loud loud loud in the morning. Vivid as high definition TV. And more real than (real) life.

Ruth-Ann Twitchell

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Sara Anna

Posted by Write In My Journal on June 8th, 2009 filed in Personal

Well, she didn’t write in my journal but she did make her grand appearance into the world last week.

I’m a dad again!

We now have a little girl which brings our family to four (my son is two). Mom and baby are doing well – the delivery couldn’t have gone any better. I’m very blessed.

I hope you don’t mind the personal note. I’m just a bit excited. :)

I do have someone who really wrote in my journal. I’m putting together the entry and it should be posted later this week.

Also, if you’re interested in contributing to Write In My Journal (you know…get a journal of your own and go out and get people to write in it then scan it and send it in) email me at david @ writeinmyjournal . com.

Or, if you’re not interested and just want to say hi, I’d love to hear from you.

The proud dad,




Posted by Write In My Journal on April 13th, 2009 filed in Artist, Man, Student


I passed Mitch on the lower floor of the library. He was slouched down in his chair, camera hanging around his neck as he stared off at…well…I’m not sure what he was staring off at. I walked past him, paused and turned around to talk to him.

Turns out Mitch is in a photography class and was apparently lacking inspiration (when I asked if I could take his picture he said yes, but only if he could take mine. Anyone wanting to use me as a muse has to be desperate). He said he’d write in my journal, but that he only had a short time. He wasn’t kidding. This is by far the shortest entry to date. Despite being so short I have to admit that I think it’s one of the most intriguing because it leaves so many questions unanswered.


My name is Mitch.

I was born in Wisconsin and adopted into a family in Utah, I like it here.

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Ethan Unklesbay

Posted by Write In My Journal on February 23rd, 2009 filed in Man, Student


I met Ethan while strolling along BYU’s campus. I was hoping to find someone there because it seems like a campus would be a great place to meet diverse people with different backgrounds. Sure enough, Ethan fits the bill. As we passed each other in the quad, he wearing a kilt and aviator glasses, Ethan offered me a sincere “Hello”.

Now, BYU’s campus is probably one of the friendlier places on earth (neigh unto Disneyland) and it isn’t uncommon for people to say hi to strangers in passing. But something about Ethan struck me so I pulled a u-turn and caught up with him. He agreed to write in my journal and here’s what he had to say:


My nam is Ethan Unklesby and I’m a freshman at Brigham Young University. I’m from Ohio and feel out of place in Utah. I’ve always wanted to be a famous singer, but my dad doesn’t think I can make it. I really want to, just so I can show him wrong.

I love to make people smileand I hope to be able to do that through music. I’m single but I might have a thing for this incredible girl in my Latin class. I’ve never been 100% confortable and confident in myself, but I mask it pretty well. If I could tell everyone just one thing, it would be to look to Christ always. Sin happens, but he takes it away. When you are most overcome, let Him carry you.

Ethan Unklesby

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Stephanie Petty

Posted by Write In My Journal on January 26th, 2009 filed in Woman


I saw Stephanie eating alone at Zupas while my family and I were out to dinner. Her back was turned to me and I noticed she was eating alone. Now, while dining in groups tends to be the cultural norm, I must say I enjoy going out to eat by myself or going solo to a movie every once in a while. As odd as it may seem, it’s a bit liberating.

Because Stephanie’s back was turned, I didn’t have much of an initial impression about her looks, behaviors, mannerisms, or any other things I tend to notice about people I ask to write in my journal. This one was all “hunch” and once again I managed to come across someone who is involved in something quite remarkable.


It’s always amazed me how everything is taken for granted until we notice due to emergencies or situations. I work as a lab technician for the American Red Cross almost everyday getting the blood donated read for hospitals or for research companies to find cures. I don’t get paid a lot, but I save hundreds of lives everyday. I come across blood with STDs and diseases and hope not to get them, hope not to mess up, hope the equipment won’t break or burn me! Life is taken for granted. Live to every minute! Live with no regrets! Take a chance! It’s worth it!

- Stephanie Petty

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Posted by Write In My Journal on December 22nd, 2008 filed in Artist, Hippie, Student, Woman


My wife, son, sister and I went home to Oregon for Thanksgiving. I absolutely love being in the house I grew up in, visiting old haunts and enjoying the general green splendor of my home state.

There are certain traditions that must be followed whenever we go home to Oregon (usually about twice a year). On is going to the Marrakesh for dinner.

The Marrakesh is a Moroccan restaurant downtown Portland. Patrons sit on the floor, eat all five courses with their hands (everyone gets a bath towel for a napkin), and get a rosewater hand rinse afterward to cover up the scent of the food. It’s a great experience, although we were worried about taking my 18 month-old son because…well…he’s 18 months old. He ended up doing quite well and thought it was a lot of fun to peek out between the curtains behind our table and look at the passersby on the street, his little head barely poking above the seat.

Sure enough, people walking past started noticing him and smiling. One person even stopped to take a picture. I stood up and ran outside. The photographer, “Pie” (she asked that I not use her real name), thought I was going to get mad at her for taking pictures of my son. Instead, I asked her to write in my journal.

Pie was young and kind of short – she only came up to my shoulders -  with big, expressive eyes. She was easy to talk to and I came to find he was taking photography classes and was using an old-school film camera that night. She was there with her family to celebrate her 18th birthday. After she sat down at her table I gave her my journal.

Pie didn’t want her picture taken, or, rather, it made her family nervous. Clearly I, having a wife and kid and being at dinner with my parents, seemed very threatening. :) She said she’d mail me copies of the pictures she took of my son, and I was waiting to post this until they arrived, but she must have forgotten.

“My name is Pie and it’s my eighteenth birthday and for the first time I am eating Moroccan food. It’s crazy and extremely exciting, I hope the belly dancer shows up at my table and shows me how to shake my thing. Even though I am 18 now, it doesn’t mean I am quite an adult. I am a kid forever because then I will never die. Live forever! I hope that taking these pictures, how I met this random man, allow me to go far. I really enjoy artistic stuff and truly want to make a difference in people’s lives. Also, someday marijuana should be legal because then everyone will be happy.”

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Amy Lynn

Posted by Write In My Journal on December 3rd, 2008 filed in Student, Traveler, Woman

If I wasn’t a klutz, Amy Lynn and I wouldn’t have met.

We sat facing opposite directions on those rows of chairs so common in airport boarding areas. I set my wife’s water bottle on the seat next to me, but it fell between the seats. The lid popped open and the bottle rolled toward her duffel bag, water pouring out of it. I stood up and sprinted around the row of seats, kicked her bag out of the way and grabbed her boarding pass which was sitting nearby.

I’m sure she probably thought I was nuts – some guy with a social disorder, running around airports kicking people’s carry-on luggage.

I explained what had happened and apologized. She was very kind about it and wasn’t upset in the slightest. After returning to my seat I asked her if she’d like to write in my journal. Her teammate/friend piped up: “She’d be perfect for that!”

Sure enough, Amy is an avid journaler and pulled out her own journal to show off. She ended up getting on the plane before me (with my journal). When she was done, she sent my journal back to me via a flight attendant. I didn’t get a picture of her until we landed in Oregon and I tracked her down at the baggage claim.

“Nice” sounds so cliche, but Amy (in addition to being a woman of many talents), is the epitome of the word. I could tell very shortly after meeting her that she is a good person.

P.S. Amy Lynn, if you happen to see this, would you be willing to send in some pictures of your paintings?

My name is Amy Lynn.

I am 6 feet two inches tall. Yeah, that’s pretty tall! But I promise I am not scary.

I love to compete – I play volleyball at a collegiate level and I am in my junior year. There isn’t much better than the adrenaline rush that comes with a hard driven spike to the floor and hearing the crowd roar. I love my team – they are truly my sisters.

I have an enormous family!

I am the middle of seven children and have loved every second of having lots of siblings.

Besides volleyball, I love to express myself through music and art. I took piano lesson for thirteen years of my life and I play with two of my best friends in a band. It’s crazy how so much emotion can be sent through my fingers. And when I do find time aside from school, work, and practice…

I paint.

I love spending so much time on a piece – just making it perfect. Yes, I am a perfectionist! I hold myself to a very high standard in everything I do, but I find happiness in success!

I am only twenty years old and I still have so much of life to experience, but if I could give anyone reading this just one piece of advice: don’t hold back. Do your best in everything you do, and don’t be afraid to let your true self shine! I have much to work on in this exact same aspect, but hopefully one day I find who I really am, and become who I want to be…oh and find a guy like my dad along the way!

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A WIMJ update – on a personal note

Posted by Write In My Journal on November 18th, 2008 filed in This site

Sorry it’s been a while since I’ve posted a new story. Please know that I haven’t forgotten about the project!

The good news is that the reason I haven’t been out and about as much is that my wife and I are expecting our second child! We’re very excited for the new addition (due in late May).

However, having a pregnant wife along with a very active toddler who is running around, drawing on my iPod, throwing my computer mouse against the wall and generally acting like a normal 18 month-old means fewer outings. I’ve also been driving to work more often (instead of taking the train) due to hectic mornings wrangling my son and helping my morning-sick-feeling wife. In addition to all that, the entire family is just getting over nasty head colds.

It’s been an eventful few weeks.

Things are falling back into a routine now, and I hope to have some new posts up shortly. I’ve also realized there are so many stories out there waiting to be told, and I obviously can’t collect them all, so I’ve decided to open up Write In My Journal to contributors! I think it would be wonderful to have dozens (hundreds?) of people out there collecting stories that can be shared on this site.

Interested in participating? Check out the new Contributors page for all the details, or feel free to email me with any questions.

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Posted by Write In My Journal on October 30th, 2008 filed in Hippie, Student, Woman

It was just after 7:00 am and Crystal was standing behind my sister and me in line at a university bookstore. They were having a sale on Apple products (educational discount plus no sales tax!) and we were both picking up new laptops. She asked me about the preinstalled software on the machines she was buying. Being a bit of a geek, I’m always happy to talk tech, and so our conversation began.

Crystal is getting her undergrad in exercise and sports science and will pursue her master’s in the same. She teaches yoga and is an avid outdoorswoman. When I mentioned that I’d never skied in Utah (something nearly blasphemous when living in this state) she asked, slightly baffled, “What do you do if you don’t spend time outdoors?”

I never would have guessed that Crystal had the difficult background she wrote about based on interacting with her. She has been proactive overcoming her trials and is now trying to help others do the same.

If I had to come up with a single word to describe Crystal it would probably be genuine. She’s one of those people who makes whoever she’s around feel important. Crystal would be a good friend: fun, sincere, and outgoing. It was a pleasure to have met her.

Person in line @ Apple sale:

My father died in a hang gliding accident the day before I was born. Before age 10 I attended a retreat in which I burned a decorated branch that symbolized my fear of my mother’s death. In my teens I exposed myself to as much sensory stimulation in search of something that would draw me into the present moment – this extended into my early 20s in the form of substances. I spent 2 months in an isolated population which allowed me to begin a longer process of feeling OK w/ being alone.

I’ve continued to take particular actions that lead towards assisting others with fear of loneliness but sometimes I forget and feel lost. What’s beautiful is that there are always reminders bringing me back to self and what I feel comfortable dedicating my life to. When ego or the external edges of life sneak in my confidence is blurred. Being humble in my lack of understanding of information and life keeps me young – curious – playful and loving. It is through suffering that I have arrived and continue to arrive repeatedly. I am not religious specifically but I learn most when my connection with spirit is strong.

I often feel people should have an autobiography to hand others upon initial meeting so that there is less time spent on potentially superficial interactions – then realize the process of love and compassion comes in all forms. I don’t enjoy talking about myself but I end up there anyways.

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An update from Vicky

Posted by Write In My Journal on October 20th, 2008 filed in Student, Woman

I got an e-mail from Vicky the other day. I received enough comments and e-mails of concern about her that I thought it would be appropriate to pass along the happy news:

Good afternoon David,

It’s Vicky Johnson. I haven’t written you in quite some time. I’ve been really busy trying to get my life together.

So basically, what’s been going on these past few months is:

-I started school at East High about 3 weeks ago. A little late, but I did it. The reason I didn’t start on time was because my dad didn’t want to register me. He assumed that because I didn’t do so well in school the years before, the same would happen this year. So I talked to the VOA drop-in center for homeless youth, and they taught me that because I am homeless, I could register myself for school and due to a law they have (i don’t at this moment remember the name of this law), they cannot refuse me. So I registered myself for school, without anyones help. And I’m doing pretty well. I just get really anxious because this is my first time back in school in a year and a half.

-I moved into a VOA transition/group home for girls. And I will be there for the next 18 months. I can leave anyday I wish, but I think that I ought to stay for as long as I can. Get me off the streets and help me straighten out my life. And it’s getting cold outside and winters coming fast. Sleeping in parks is no fun in the snow. -I’ve done it before.

I just wanted to let you know that I am doing well. I struggle sometimes, but I’m keeping it together. And I’ve got alot of people supporting me in what I am doing.
Also, I don’t drink or smoke weed anymore. Actually, I am getting drug tested for it. But even without the drugs tests, I think I am finally done with all that nonsence. My party days are over. And to be honest,I think it’s kind of lame to get “****** up” everyday of your life and do nothing else.

Thanks for your time.

Peace, Love, and Happiness <3
Vicky Johnson.

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Posted by Write In My Journal on October 13th, 2008 filed in Student, Woman

I watched S.D. (she asked that I not use her real name) hoist her 10-speed onto the train. I’ve always been a bit envious of people who have the discipline to ride their bikes as part of their commute so I decided to ask her about it. After chatting for a bit I asked her if she’d write in my journal. She hesitated, then said yes.

As we continued to talk after she finished writing, I noticed S.D. had a thoughtful, reflective countenance. A student at the University of Utah, she is studying both chemistry and English and wants to become a doctor of some kind. She asked me a lot about my journal and the project and we discussed some of the previous entries. Her story proved insightful and meaningful, especially for a spur-of-the-moment request. And I couldn’t agree more with her sentiment, “I think it is very necessary for people to write.” :)

“I guess I would be riding my bike mostly for the environment and partly for me. I think that it is very necessary for people to write. Sometimes through writing you begin to understand what you believe. You can’t decide what you believe, if you had to decide what you believe in you truly do not believe it. The greatest advice I have ever gotten was from my best friend, Jenet, she said that what you hate most in other people is always something that you contain in yourself as well. S.D.”

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Emilio Alonso

Posted by Write In My Journal on October 1st, 2008 filed in Man, Traveler

I met Emilio at the library. He seemed friendly but perhaps a bit reserved at first, rarely looking at me as we spoke. Instead, he looked far off to my right, only occasionally glancing to make eye contact. Some other interesting behavioral tidbits:

• He always referred to me as “Mr. David.”
• He spoke very quietly. I don’t know if it was the fact that we were in a library, but I got the impression  he normally talked like that.
• When we shook hands he reached over with his left hand and put it on my right forearm (he did this each time we shook hands). It was an interesting behavior, one I found myself reciprocating by the end of our time together.
• His actions were very deliberate.
• He was very respectful and sincere.

He probably took about a half hour, which is understandable when you look at his elaborate and decorative writing style (clicking on the pages will load bigger, clearer versions – it’s worth taking a look).

As we parted, he encouraged me to be honest, saying there was a lack of honesty in the world (I agree). So, in the spirit of honesty I’ll say that  I’m not entirely sure what  Emilio was writing about much of the time. There are a few things I find particularly interesting when read independent of the rest of his entry (my favorite is, “I have been to Seattle (on absurd terms.)”) but reading it as one continuous thought…yeah… I’m a bit lost. Would anyone care to interpret? Please do so in the comments.

“Dear World,

(I haven’t much 2 say but)

I am writing 2 you. Talking in specifically about the importance of yesterday gone; but the journey taken forever memoired in life. Grasped by god. Anyways, ha ha, I have been personally informed that the whole world is psychotic…or not? I have been to Seattle (on absurd terms). Quite in depth, I dug into my mental surroundings, ah, yes, the land of the pig.

Nevertheless, the point of the story… to succumb mental one’s, or perhaps someone’s, mental thought and/or perception. As an aid or help/guidance/observer/teacher all the while keeping life in order.

I’ve been to Texas, what a clean place, San Antonio 2 be exact. Where I realized the whole world was littering my wording, billboards made sense, movies, clothing, yet, I wasn’t given this persona [something] in life. Huh?

Can U relate?

Did I love life, do you love life? We can all perish with our hands choice fully. Perhaps struggle a day or 2 leaving works behind to adore. Discoveries 4 a better future. Or just 4 tomorrow. Me, I was scared more than anything. This leads 2 happiness! A fact!

Brothers, sisters, lovers, mothers, fathers. Behold humanity. Sense or senseless. The people, the attitude was where slower paced. Filthy, disgusting slums, visually depressingly clean cities. Point of this story. Work hard, don’t lie, don’t spy (ya, I know), be exceptionally rational. Give into what’s right even if, and probably will be harder.

San Francisco.

A step back…

Various, a fighter’s saloon of a city in every aspect. All the while Salt Lake seems closest to home.

Regardless my friends, admire and love everything. This will bring happiness.


Watch Wall-E

Go 2 a church

Be loving hearted/minded

Watch Wall-E again

Look 4 signs

But seriously, best of mind and heart 2 you. The world’s yours. 2day or 2morrow. I looove you…really. Thank God.

P.S. Voices in your head suck.

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Posted by Write In My Journal on September 27th, 2008 filed in Artist, Man, Student

When I saw Clarence get on the train (why is it I always meet people on the train? I need to get out more) I immediately thought “artist”. He was carrying what I assumed was white foam core, wrapped carefully in plastic Target shopping bags to prevent the rain outside from spotting his canvas.

When I approached him about writing in my journal, he seemed hesitant and skeptical. After a little persuading he began to write. When he finished he apologized for not having time to “get deeper”. I think he was finally getting into it when his stop came. He declined to have his picture taken.

“I’m Clarence. I was born & raised in the Rocky Mountains of Western Montana. Some things I like are music, art, fly fishing & camping. I moved down here to Salt Lake earlier this summer to attend the University of Utah in working towards a degree in graphic design. I love art, it’s my life and I couldn’t imagine doing anything but it. Although I wish graphic design to be my career, music is my passion! I don’t know what the world would be without good music. So…here are the things you’ve learned about Clarence (and don’t you ever forget them!). He likes art and music a lot.”

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Lauren Delon

Posted by Write In My Journal on September 8th, 2008 filed in Woman

I met Lauren on the train. She had a few gadgets out which caught my attention because 1. I’m a gadget guy myself and 2. the sun kept reflecting off her various screens and shining in my eyes. :)

As I looked closer, I noticed she was using a Zune. She was only the second person I’d ever seen using a Zune (as opposed to the millions of iPods out there) so I decided to ask her about it. Very friendly and outgoing, Lauren told me all about how she used to have an iPod and it kept breaking and losing her music and was a royal pain. Eventually, after going nuts from lack of music to listen to, she picked up her Zune and has loved it. She showed me the back on which she had “iPod sucks” engraved.

When I asked her to write in my journal I expected to read about the music she likes or more details about her distaste for the iPod. I should have learned by now that assumptions about people are rarely accurate. :)

“Last night we walked down to the river and sat in the dark with only the glow from our cigarettes. I told him I was lost and I didn’t know what to do. He explained to me what I felt I already knew, looked deep in my mind barely out of reach. He held out his hand and I held on. He helped me recover the part of me I let go. He reminded me that I needed to face my pain, to allow myself to kick and scream and cry and yell. He told me to allow my pain to be a part of me and be proud of it. Carry it like a radio high above my head, to allow my pain to be real so finally I can be FREE!”

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Rene T.

Posted by Write In My Journal on August 20th, 2008 filed in Man, Traveler

The other day I was walking from the train to my car when I heard someone behind me calling, “Excuse me! Excuse me, sir?”

Now, I’m not nearly old enough to be called sir so I didn’t turn around at first. But the calling persisted and I turned to find a Hispanic kid, maybe in his late teens, walking toward me. In broken English, he asked for a ride maybe a quarter mile up the road. I’m normally not prone to giving rides to strangers, especially if my family is with me, but I was alone and he looked clean-cut and like a good kid. Not to mention it was a very hot day. So he hopped in and we started up the road.

He picked the wrong guy to ask though, because the AC in my car is broken. Eh. At least it was faster than walking, if not any cooler.

We tried to converse a bit on the short trip. I learned that Rene (I’m sure there’s supposed to be some kind of accent on the name, but I don’t know how to implement it on WordPress) was up from Mexico staying with a friend for the summer, working at Del Taco. I got the impression he’d done it before.

His stop came quickly, and before he got out I asked him if he’d write in my journal. I tried to explain that I’d love to hear about Mexico, his story, his family, etc. but I think some of that was lost in translation. (Unfortunately, I forgot to get his picture.) Here’s what he wrote:

“Muchas gracias por el raite, manana me voy a Mexico. Me hiciste un gran favor.

Ojala cuando vayas a Mexico, yo o al guien pueda hacer on favor parti, como to me lo niciste a mi.


Rene T.”

Thanks to a friend who knows Spanish, along with Google Translate, here’s the English version of what he said. (If you have a better translation, please e-mail me):

“Thank you for the ride. Tomorrow I am going to Mexico. You did me a big favor.

Hopefully when you go to Mexico, I or someone can do a favor for you as you have done for me.

Thank you

Rene T.”

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Santa Claus

Posted by Write In My Journal on August 7th, 2008 filed in Man, Seniors, Traveler

I was walking to work from the train late last month when who before my wondering eyes should appear? But Santa…in a carriage…in July…in downtown Salt Lake. Naturally I approached him and asked what the jolly old elf was doing so far south this time of year.

Santa was in town for a Christmas in July event at a nearby homeless shelter and was waiting for Mrs. Claus to show up (she was running quite late). If I remember correctly, he had been bringing cheer to those in the shelter for two years (this was his third). The event was sponsored by the Salt Lake Board of Realtors.

I asked Santa if he’d write in my journal and he was more than happy to. I was impressed with his composure – despite being in his full wardrobe, Santa dealt with the hot July heat very well. Not something I’d expect from someone who lives in the Arctic 364 days a year.

It’s nice to know that Santa is still out and about doing good and trying to bring comfort to people who are in need of comfort and cheer – regardless of the time of year. There’s a lesson to be learned from his example.

Here’s what he had to say:

“Santa in July

I love it any time of year. Today is for the homeless shelter which is great for me. I have been doing this for 15 years. It’s been great with (?) many fun experiences. You’ve got to love people, especially the kids. They are so fun to be around. I love it.


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Vicky Johnson – UPDATED

Posted by Write In My Journal on July 18th, 2008 filed in Unemployed, Woman

UPDATE: Vicky wrote me a follow-up e-mail. I was having some technical trouble when I published it as a separate post, so I stuck it at the end of this one. Take a look at the bottom.

It was the socks.

I saw Vicky at my train stop, took one look at those socks and knew she’d be a good candidate for my journal. She was waiting for a ride so she agreed to write in it and based on my snap-judgment of her appearance I was guessing I was going to read a somewhat light-hearted, perhaps funny entry. It turned out to be quite the opposite.

After I got the picture of Vicky she asked if she could use my phone to call her ride. I handed her my phone and, noticing that she forgot to put the bookmark back in place, opened the journal to mark her entry. Now, normally I don’t read people’s entries until I’m home, but the first word of her entry caught my eye: alcohol.

When she was done with the phone I asked how long her ride was going to be and if she’d be OK. She said she’d be fine so I walked to my car. My curiosity/concern got the better of me and I read her entry while sitting in the parking lot.

It broke my heart.

I drove my car around the parking lot a bit so I could keep an eye on her. I just wanted to make sure her ride really showed up. Not that I know what I would have done if it hadn’t, but I wanted to try to do something for this girl who was obviously struggling. I lost sight of her occasionally and finally after about 10 minutes I made a loop around the parking lot and didn’t see her. I suppose her ride showed up after all.

(In case you were wondering, the black mark you see on her chest was a big “x” drawn with what looked like a marker.)


I’ve been down this road many a time. And I’ve always loved it and known my way around it before. But now on this road again. And I am lost. Confused. And finally…hopeless.

My name is Vicky and I’m an alcoholic. For the past year and a half of my life I’ve been in and out of institutions. Lost many friends. And ended up on the streets – HOMELESS. No place to go. All due to this disease. What next? I don’t know.

Do I continue down this road, or choose a different path?

Alcoholism is deadly.

Vicky Johnson”

The day after I had Vicky write in my journal I got the following e-mail from her. I wrote her back but haven’t heard a response yet.

hello there. this is vicky from trax the other day [thursday]. you asked me if i would mind writing in your journal for your website. i was just wondering, if it is okay that is, if i might be able to post something else. i have a lot to say. and i wanted to share my life experience, well for the past year and a half that is. so here is my entry, and if you wouldn’t mind, i’d like it if you’d put it up on your website.

July 6, 2008

“My name is Vicky, and I am an alcoholic/addict”
“Welcome Vicky” (hands clap)

January 11, 2007 I got an unexpected visit from my father and step mother while at school. I went down to the principals office to find them sitting there with concerned looks on their faces. I sat in that office for probably a good five minutes before anything was said. Finally the principal looked at me and said, “Vicky, your parents here are concerned about you and your habits, they only want what’s best for you.” I don’t remember much of what she said after that. But the next thing I knew I was sitting in the car heading up to the University Neuropsyciatric Institute [UNI]. I was there from January 11, 2007 until February 22, 2007, when they decided I needed more help than they could give me, and sent me to “rehab” also known as Wasatch Canyons.

I was admitted into Wasatch Canyons on February 22, 2007 for drug and alcohol abuse, suicidal thoughts, cutting, and early signs of an eating disorder. I did well. Stayed sober the whole time. And only broke a few rules. I got out on July 11, 2007. The next day was my birthday. And the day after that, I relapsed. On alcohol.

About a week after I turned sixteen, I was kicked out of my fathers house. I couched surfed for about a week before moving to Tooele with my sister and my boyfriend Peter. In Tooele, things got worse. I started drinking alot more and smoking marijuana basically everyday.

In September, we got an eviction notice, saying we had to be out in a week. So my boyfriend Peter and I moved in with his family in Sandy at the end of September. There we drank everyday. I had become really suicidal, but I swore to myself that I would never attempt suicide, because I never wanted to hurt Peter in such a way.

On October 4, 2007, I suppose my thoughts got the best of me. I overdosed on celexia and seraquil. Peter called the ambulance, and I ran. It wasn’t long before they caught me and took me to the hospital.

On October 5, 2007 at 3:26 am, I was admitted into Wasatch Canyons impatient. After spending a week there I was put back into residential at Wasatch Canyons once more. I did pretty well for the first month. Stayed sober and stayed out of trouble.

November 11, 2007 my boyfriend Peter took his life. He hung himself from a tree in his back yard. Hardest thing I’ve ever had to go through.

Shortly after that, I lost it. I stopped caring. I went on day treatment in February, living at my friend Austins house until a bed opened up at the VOA transition home. Immediately I started braking the rules, smoking cigarettes, and relapsing on a weekly basis.

In March, I had basically decided there was no more Wasatch Canyons could do for me. I left. The Monday after, I relasped again. That same day, I moved into the VOA. I was there for five days before leaving. Friday I came home drunk, so drunk I couldn’t walk right. They told me I wasn’t allowed to leave for the weekend and if I did, I was not allowed back. But that interferred with my drinking habits. Saturday morning came, and I left. I left the VOA for alcohol.

A week later, I dropped out of highschool, for alcohol. I didn’t plan on getting a job, because it’d make it so I couldn’t drink as often, if at all.

I’ve been 100% homeless since March. Living on the streets. Sleeping in parks, and under bridges, and behind old abandoned buildings. Going days at a time with no food, and when I did eat, it was usually out of the dumpster behind Pizza Hut. I spent alot of my time spanging [*asking people for spare change*] for food so I could get something to eat, but all that money ever went to was alcohol.

Alcohol used to be my best friend, I used to love the stuff, I used to have fun with the stuff. But I think that’s the keyword here, is “used to”. Because basically, I don’t. I don’t love the stuff anymore. And I don’t have fun with it anymore. It seems I only drink now just to feel the slightest bit “normal”. Because now, all I seem to do is drink, and drink, and drink. And I drink to the point that I can’t stand up right. I drink to the point that if I’m not leaning on someone, I fall right down to the ground. And it’s gotten the where when I am already at that point that I cannot even hold myself up right, I still want more, and I keep wanting more. And it never stops.

Why? Because I am an alcoholic. Because I am powerless to alcohol. Isn’t that sad, when you think about it? That me, a 16 year old girl cannot control her alcohol, that her alcohol controls her. Because it’s true. I don’t tell myself when to stop drinking, the alcohol tells me. And the alcohol only tells me that I’ve had enough when all the liquor is gone and I’m passed out on the floor.

I’m tired of this. I really, really am. And it’s about time that I get sober.”My name is Vicky, and I am an alcoholic/addict”

“Welcome Vicky” (hands clap)

This is my story.

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Jordan Lee

Posted by Write In My Journal on July 14th, 2008 filed in Intellectual, Man

Jordan immediately struck me as the intellectual type. He was reading an abnormally thick book (I wish I’d thought to look closely at the title) and wore a long sleeved shirt buttoned clear to the top tucked into a pair of slacks. I boarded the train next to him and could hear him sort of half humming/half singing to himself.

When I introduced myself to Jordan and told him about my project I told him he looked like the kind of guy with a lot rolling around in his head and wondered if he’d be willing to write some of it down. He was kind enough to do so. It was only a single page because my stop was coming up, but it turned out my hunch was right: Jordan had a lot on his mind.

“Jordan Lee 7/1/08

Today I think upon the nature of the mind and how little of mine I know. It wasn’t too long ago that I was of the assumption that the mind was something I used, a tool that I was given and relied on.

Only after each day of watching myself in action have I found I am, instead, just an occurance of my mind, this deeper thing that is my fate embodied.”

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Alan Sanders

Posted by Write In My Journal on July 7th, 2008 filed in Armed, Man

Alan could quite possibly be the nicest guy I’ve ever run into – especially for a cop. Not to say that I have a lot of run-ins with the law, but my observations have been that they generally try to put on a tough facade. Alan couldn’t be more opposite.

When Alan got on the train and called for everyone to show him their tickets, he cheerfully made his way down the isle, kindly thanking people as he went along. He was only half way through when the train approached the next stop. “If you don’t have a ticket, now’s your chance to get off!” he called down to the rest of the train. That got a few chuckles. Then he turned to a person he was standing next to and said, “I’ve had some people take me up on that.”

When I asked him to write in my journal he was more than willing and from what I can tell, Alan is a selfless guy who’s just doing what he can to help others.

“I ended up becoming a police officer in 1992 because I was out of work and money. I had a young family and a car payment. With military experience behind me I applied to SLCPD [Salt Lake City Police Department] and Sandy PD. Sandy made me the first offer and I took it. I ended up working there for 13 years. I enjoyed the community service and helping those in need. In 2005 I was recruited by a government contractor to fly unmanned aircraft for the military in the desert. This was because of my love of aviation and 20 years of flying radio controlled  airplanes.

I left police work temporarily to serve my country. I was gone for about 2 1/2 years back and forth from the US to the Middle East. I had many wonderful and not so wonderful experiences. I came home in Nov. 07 and decided to stay here. Sandy PD had an opening, so I hired on with UTA [Utah Transit Authority] Police and now I ride the rails helping out and keeping some people honest. I enjoy talking to as many people as I can, usually 800-1,000 people a day.”

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Jim Light

Posted by Write In My Journal on June 29th, 2008 filed in Forest ranger, Hiking, Man, Retired, Seniors

This weekend my wife, son and I went on a hike around Silver Lake in Big Cottonwood Canyon. Just as we started on the trail heading around the lake we met Jim, a forest ranger.

Jim is an older gentleman and was wearing a forest ranger uniform, sunglasses, a straw hat and a neatly trimmed goatee. He was quick to say hello and ask how we were doing. We chatted for a bit and then continued walking. After we made the loop we caught up with Jim when I explained my project and asked if he’d write in my journal. He agreed.

Jim is the kind of guy who’s been around a while and seems to know everybody. After six years of working as a naturalist he seems quite at home at the ranger station and has a big leather office chair tucked in near a window where I watched him sit back to eat his brown bag lunch and write. Jim’s a popular guy – he could barely get a line down without someone coming up to talk to him.

“Jim is my friend,” a man from Hong Kong explained in a thick Chinese accent. This friend of Jim’s had a question about a particular kind of tree he’d seen while hiking (aspen) and Jim was quick to get to his feet to find a book to explain the finer points of the trees.

I think a half dozen or so people approached Jim to chat while I was waiting for him to finish his entry. He was friendly and patient with all of them – a testament to his good nature. Here’s what he wrote:

“Jim Light, Silver Lake

In the summer I work at Silver Lake in Big Cottonwood Canyon as a naturalist. This has been the best job that I ever had!!

My wife and I owned the Silver Fork Lodge for 35 years. During that time we raised our two sons – when they were old enough to go out on their own we sold the lodge and bought a house in the Silver Fork Community which we still live in.

Our sons are grown now. Luther lives in New Mexico, Ruidoso. His wife is a veterinarian and he takes care of the house and their 7 month-old son. He is also building a garage and workshop and plans on building a new house in the future out of earth blocks which he makes himself.

Our other son lives in Portland, Oregon. His wife is expecting their first child in the near future.”

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Posted by Write In My Journal on June 23rd, 2008 filed in Artist, Hippie, Man, Traveler, Unemployed

My wife and I went to an Ani DiFranco concert here in Salt Lake on Saturday. We’d never heard of her, but the promise of free tickets to an outdoor concert on a summer night sounded too good to pass up.

While waiting in a very long line to get wristbands (we already had tickets, I’m not sure why we needed wristbands too) we met Christian. “I’m selling handmade jewelry to get money to, well, eat. That and to fix up my ’72 VW van.”

Christian wanted to make it back to Monterey, California and from there, who knew?

We admired his handiwork but didn’t have any cash. I told him about this project and he was more than willing to write in my journal. Once we found our seats (next to a girl who was already throwing up in the bushes – nice) he began.

“The nights just startin! She’s already piss drunk and I can’t remember her name, too bad I’m movin on. It ain’t all bad, I’ve been here for years, and worked so long ya think I could have at least moved 10 ft, but its all good the weather’s nice, the foods good and I’m well enough to live till tomorrow. Yet still I swear I’m goin sometime to somewhere fine. Freedom is fine, and free, but why does it take so much from me? Life can’t be defined by how much money you make, how new you are or how fast you made it. If even I die poor, I still lived!

Since the wheel first turned we’ve been turned in time to meet its end.”

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