On Writing

I grew up writing—and I mean with pen and paper—in journals. I have bought, collected, and lost so many journals. Journals filled with pages of unfiltered emotion, youthful confusion, and crazy “drama”—oh, and a lot of “I hate school” and “I hate my family” and “I hate everyone and everything.” But growing up with computers, I also tried dabbling in digital journaling, whether it be through Xanga or a Microsoft Word document that developed into a dozens and dozens of pages of embarrassing, stream-of-consciousness-like writing (hey, I shared some in my 365th post).

My point is, what happened? On a recent, late-Friday afternoon, I found myself actually writing with a pencil in a Moleskine notebook—and not even in the privacy of my own apartment room but in the corner of Flour Bakery in Cambridge. It was after spending about 8 long but productive hours at the Boston Marriott Cambridge, covering the #TiEStartupCon for Greenhorn Connect. Not wanting to return home just yet, I took advantage of being on the other side of the Charles and of course found myself at a bakery café.

Without a laptop or outlets for my dying phone, I took out my notebook and started writing. I had wanted to type up what I had written to post here, but what ended up happening next changed my mind. At the time. Here’s an edited excerpt:

So I’m trying something new here. And by new, I mean old. … Does anyone actually write in journals anymore? Serious question to consider. I mean, how many people do you see at cafés nowadays just journaling away in their notebooks, diaries, etc.? I can’t imagine how this scene of me right now looks to an outsider—the two men in their mid-to-late 20s glued to their devices across from me. Or the lovely old couple directly behind them. Or how about the also-Asian youth sitting next to me on this bench in the back of the café, reading and eating alone but have since also moved to writing. Whoa. So maybe the world isn’t so nightmarishly digital/connected as we think. At one of the many panels today at #TiEStartupCon, a man in his 70s or even 80s sat in front of me. I couldn’t help but notice that he’d printed out his own copy of the agenda and took notes by hand on a white, lined notepad. First—the printout. Seriously, what is with the older generations printing out everything? The environmentally friendly millennial part of me always got so angry—

And this is when it happened. That “Asian youth” sitting next to me turned to me.

“Hello,” he said.

I turn to look at him. I think I may have just said, “Yes?” with an almost-bitchy/expectant face, waiting for him to continue.

“What are you writing?”

I’ll spare you the rest of the details of this conversation. Instead, I’ll reverse-transcribe (does that make sense…) what I wrote immediately after he got up and left, telling me to add him on Facebook. Yeah, it gets interesting.

PAUSE. Remember that Asian kid I mentioned earlier? So, turns out he’s a 4th-year MIT PhD candidate. He literally turned to me and said, “Hello.” But FUCK that means I can’t blog about this because he had inquired about my writing and naturally I had to mention my blog. Damn it to hell. I guess this may have to remain strictly written? I asked him to share one of the stories about society that he’s apparently been reading. He went on to tell me about a convicted murderer who also helped bring to light police corruption. I just sat and listened. By the end of it, I gave him my biz card b/c he wanted to read my blog. And he told me to add each other on FB. LOL.

Anyway, clearly, I have changed my mind again and am publishing this because this is just too interesting. If you happen to be the MIT PhD candidate who sees this, let me know.

Because readers, he added me on Facebook.

(I wonder if he would’ve spoken to me if I had not been writing in a journal.)