Reporting Back [Totally OT]

Let’s nip my bad habits straight in the bud. Well, not even straight, but early-ish. I am back from Germany for a couple of days, and before I launch back into the regular schedule – part 3 of The Impressionists to be discussed tomorrow – I thought I’d slowly transition back in with a quick report back. – I had an interesting time back home in Germany. As I mentioned in my last post, my mother is in the process of selling her house and buying a new flat for herself. I was present last week when she signed the contract for the new flat at the notary public, so the process is well on its way now. As soon as she has paid up, she will receive the keys to her flat and can start working on the required upgrades such as new carpets, enlarging the shower enclosure, connecting a toilet and sink in the guest WC, and painting the whole flat. She has chosen a beautiful – and surprisingly large – apartment for herself, including a guest room for family to stay over, and I can totally see why she wanted it.

The view from her – huge – balcony. And this is actually slap-bang in the centre of the small town she is living in…

I am – thankfully – a mostly unsentimental person. Just like I can never remember my wedding anniversary and never felt regret over foregoing a wedding party, I also do not feel bound in nostalgia to the house I grew up in. If I am totally honest, I can understand my mother. The house is awkward when you get older as it is arranged over four “semi-storeys and all those stairs are simply not practical when you are getting on in years. The house is too big for my mum, as is the garden, since the house is at the end of the terrace and the garden surrounds it on three sides. Most of all, though, the house is nowadays characterised by the absence of my dad. My mum feels alone in the big house. And with my children now grown up, there is no need anymore for three separate guest rooms. – What I will miss most, though, are the terrace and the garden. My fondest memories after Ieaving home, are of mild, sunny summer days spent sitting on my mum’s terrace. Reading, working, smoking. Luckily my mum’s new balcony is big enough to bring her existing garden furniture. That says it all…

So yeah, I fully approve of my mum moving. And while I was home, we already made a start going through the house and decluttering, downsizing and sorting. Apart from various, meticulously preserved correspondences with assorted girlfriends, my first boyfriend, his best friend and my later husband (three separate individuals!), I also found my sticker collection from 1980-86, albums of my teenage youth group holidays in Hungary 1986, East Germany 1987 and Ireland 1988, the school exchange with Somerset, PA from 1986, and assorted school trips 1985 to 1989 *eeek*. Well, they all went into the bin, tbh. And mainly so because of my bad habit of hardly ever taking pictures of people… To this day I avoid people in my pictures – which makes the albums rather pointless to keep when you could buy much better imagery in a pretty coffeetable book… There were childhood books to sort through, and drawers with toys (passed from me to my children but now not needed anymore). And much to my dismay we came across a huge cardboard box – approx. the size of small fridge – that was full to the brim with my dairies. *eeeeeek* O-M-G I had forgotten about those. Or rather, I had hoped I would never have to lay eyes on all that embarrassing crap again. I suspect that the early ones from age 12-14 are quite fun. But then it probably gets majorly embarrassing – boy trouble, awakening sexuality, heart ache and all. 😱 I am already cringing without even having re-read them. (Help me out here, readers – what would you do? Should I hold on to them – or just destroy all this incriminating drivel?) Going through my father’s estate was more fun, I have to say. Not least because there was no cringe-worthy teenage garbage to deal with. Instead I found this:

‘S there something you never told me about, dad???

 

Anyway, this is getting far longer than I intended. I’ll only say this: I came away with lots of material for my junk journaliing endeavours (old envelopes, stamps, papers, plastic covers, file folders, old books, postcards etc.), as well as many items of nostalgia. And while in Germany, I made use of the season that’s in it.

New record: 7 days in Germany, 3 asparagus dinners. Yum!

Oh, and I visited the ginkgo tree in my dad’s village. It is now doing really well.

And the next time I am home – probably July and August, to help with the move – I don’t want to miss my posting anniversary. Apparently I reached a major milestone:

How did that happen?

Jeepers, I have come along way. Here’s to the next 1,000.

PS: Last chance to re-watch part 3 of The Impressionists for a discussion tomorrow!

38 thoughts on “Reporting Back [Totally OT]

  1. Throw away the diaries..My mother threw mine away..Come to think of it,she got rid of alot my stuff!!! I’m still pissed about the bicycle!!!

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    • Yeah, my mum tends to be quite ruthless with throwing out stuff, too. Over time I have told her to keep her paws off my things, though, because I want to make the decision myself…

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  2. re: the diaries — if you are honestly not interested in them, the main question is whether you would be willing for your children to read them after you are gone. The other question is whether they would be worth archiving, but you would have to find the right kind of archive. It’s the kind of item that’s primarily valuable to an archive a century after people would think about archiving it. I’ve found my own journals useful — but I consult them primarily as reference works rather than rereading them with relish.

    Asparagus looks fantastic!

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    • That is probably exactly the point, Serv. Would I want my children to read my private thoughts? Depends – and in order to determine that, I’d have to re-read them. Yet, in fact *I* am already cringing just thinking about them. So maybe I’ll just chuck ’em. (Which really goes against my beliefs as a historian – I like to record and document and archive. Not only the good things, but the mistakes as well. Which is why I don’t delete and edit my blog posts…)
      The asparagus was just heavenly. I brought back 3 kilos and we had a big meal of it upon my return to Ireland.

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  3. I am not sure about the diaries. Did you look at them and read anything you wrote back then? I never wrote in a journal or anything like that only in my head. With that said my husband and I still have all our letters to each other and I don’t want my sons reading them. I sat down and reread them about 12 years ago and really was shocked of everything I wrote. I just you have to think if you want your children to see them which is what could happen if you keep them.

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    • Nope, I haven’t re-read them (yet). I just simply *know* (and remember) that there is cringeworthy stuff in there – the typical diary stuff: first sexual experiences, general thoughts about life, bitching about family members… I think I am definitely going to have to censor some of it.
      I also came across my husband’s letters to me. I think they are actually less embarrassing than my diaries…

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      • I am sure that rereading your diaries would bring back memories for you that you might want to share with your children. I was thinking tonight that I wish I would have wrote in a journal or something like that about going to college at my age and the hard work I put into it plus fighting to pass classes. I have all my school work and we did have write many self-reflections, I might pull those out and keep them. I thought we had more that would graduate with honors and found out that there was only three of us out of eight. I happy that all of us that started the 2nd year did make it though to graduate.

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  4. Underlining what Katie said: I ran across some stuff that I would 100 percent bet that my mom would have destroyed if she’d had an opportunity to. I could not stop myself from reading it, either, once Pandora’s Box was opened. In the end it didn’t change how I felt about her, just gave me some additional information that I am sure she’d have kept private had she been able to.

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    • Very valid point – what do I want my kids to read… I am glad I never read anything embarrassing written by my parents, so maybe I should strive for a similarly clean experience for my own kids 😉

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    • I am not sure I would want my sons to read the letters or that they would want to. i can also see that if they started they would want to read them all. There is that point you know things your parents did but really don’t want to think about it. My parents didn’t have any letters to each other so nothing for me to read. My husband did read letters about his moms first fiance wanting the ring back after she broke up with him. I really don’t think she had anything more that that no sex based on what she was like with us. I wish we had letters from family members from the past. I have kept all the letters from my husband, oldest son and myself while on military training.

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  5. I have never kept a diary, but I would not want to read about my awkward teenage years. They were hard enough to live through, and I am much happier not looking back at them too closely. I am not very sentimental either, Guylty, I have a huge collection of letters my dad wrote to my grandmother(she kept everything) during WWII, but nothing I ever received from my many admirers a million years ago.

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    • Yeah, it was definitely time to ditch those ex-boyfriend letters. (I am not even sure why I kept them for so long.) As Servetus pointed out somewhere else – those letters and diaries really only become interesting and valuable 100 years after they were written. Your dad’s letters must be very precious – in every way! I would definitely hold on to those.

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  6. i’m not sentimental about property-my parents left the house 5 months ago that i lived in from age 11. Regarding the diaries, i kept them on an off and destroyed them all bar from one. I feel a bit sad as there’s some things I would like to read again, but it all depends on whether you would want to read them (or have others read them!) if not-then get rid of them. Or you could cut snippets out that you like and put them in one of your junk journals!
    The view from the balcony is awesome and congrats on your 1000th post!

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    • That is such a nice idea, Rachel – I could easily re-cycle those diaries, keeping the bits that I am comfortable with, and pasting over/cutting out passages that make me cringe. I think I have my free time sorted when I am in Germany over the summer!

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  7. The new flat sounds and looks wonderful!

    I have my teenage diaries but haven’t reread them… I might do one day. There are whole sections written in runes (I was seriously into Tolkien!) – those are the bits I really didn’t want anyone else to read! So to read them I’d have to remember how to decode them 🤣🤣🤣

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    • That is so cool – written in runes. And actually really clever, Helen. At least that way you were able to leave the diary lying around without being afraid it might be read.
      And btw – a huge hug and massive thank you to you. I have had happy mail!!!! xxxx

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  8. I think the idea of whether or not you would want your children to read something of your’s is a good approach. I don’t have much childhood stuff at all, just a few bits and pieces my mother’s given me. No diaries, but I still have the letters my husband wrote to me when we were dating. It’s more things connected to my son, things he’s made, samples of school work etc that I’ve kept, so I’ll pass the problem of what to do with them on to him!
    I am the family archivist and history keeper on my father’s side, so a few boxes of personal items have found their way to me after the passing of elderly relatives, and I have found some gems, including some letters written by my late father to his brother just after he and my mother were married and a great-aunt’s diary of her trip through the Suez Canal on a hospital ship during WW1.

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    • Those letters and family heirlooms are so precious, I fully agree with you – I could never give that up. (My mum nearly threw out a whole folder of family stuff – because it was her *husband’s* family, not her own – and when I insisted on going through it, I found old passports from pre WW1 and family photos of my great-grandparents…).
      I threw out all my school stuff (from kindergarten to 13th class) but could not ditch the whole file folder of drawings by my children that my dad had collected and filed… Passing on the sentimentality to the next generation 😉

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      • Did you keep the contents of that folder? Or leave them with your mum? I still haven’t worked out who will be the next generation recipient of our family history and memorabilia, and I’d hate to see the many hours’ worth I’ve spent over the years building up our family tree at Ancestry come to nought, but then what happens after I’m gone will no longer be a concern!

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        • Nope, I took the folder. (Not trusting my mum while she is downsizing and decluttering… she’s ruthless. And somewhat disinterested.) I am lucky that both my children are very keen on family history. I also rescued my grandfather’s handwritten memoirs – he was born in 1903, lived through two world wars and with his young family became a refugee after WW2.
          I think it is so important to know where our families are from and I am so glad that genealogy has seen a renaissance thanks to ancestry.com etc.

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          • Oh wow, your grandfather’s memoirs? Now those are a real treasure! I’m hoping that as he gets older, my son will develop a greater interest in the family history so that I can pass everything on to him.

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  9. Whoa, I never had a diary. Too busy in school to ever write personal stuff down, thank goodness. I wasn’t a straight ‘A’ student like others in my family or my hubs, but I’m sure I was just as opinionated and obnoxious as I am now. Yeesh!

    I never kept anything romantic either. However, I did write letters to my hubs when we got all mushy about each other. He kept those and when I heard he had them, he won’t let me throw them out. If I think about it too much, I feel desperate to find and burn them. I’m not a nosy person, I’ve not searched his study for them. I can’t bring myself to invade his privacy, not that he seems to have a problem with me in there, but I never do go in there. Now I have to stop thinking about it before I find myself begging him to let me burn those letters.

    I have no insight for what to do with your diaries Guylty. 😕

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  10. Welcome back! That apartment looks wonderful, especially the green surrounding it and the balcony. Speaks to my inner Hobbit. 😉
    Not sure about the diaries. All I have are some aborted attempts. Don’t know where they are or what I would do if I found them.
    And congratulations on 1000 posts!!! 🎉 Amazing milestone.

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  11. Lovely to hear from you again Guylty and happy anniversary! 1000 posts, that’s amazing! Your mum’s new place looks lovely and leafy green. It is hard sorting through family stuff. I have a similar dilemma with my family home where I veer from ruthlessly wanting to get rid of nearly everything and then clinging on to mementos, which I keep adding to. Yep, maybe re-reading the diaries will help you decide whether they are worth keeping or not.

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  12. I still have my diaries and have now and again tried to re-read bits and pieces. Yeah, cringey, but also a part of me and I can’t make myself throw mine away yet (although the thought that anyone else could read them really makes my skin crawl). I always hope that I’ll come to a point in my life where it won’t matter to me anymore whether someone finds them or not…
    You have unearthed some cool treasures there, sounds kinda fun going down memory lane like that.
    Good for your mom for moving on and good luck sorting through all the stuff!

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