Dear Diary: Will Obama Read This?

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Something I read in the paper this week has me wondering about those old diaries I have sitting in a jumbled mess at the bottom of my drawer. I came across them recently when I was supposed to be paying bills and filing stacks of stuff that had been piling up since god knows when. Those diaries were an excellent opportunity for procrastination, so I dawdled away a few hours combing through them.

Most of what I wrote was pretty boring, mundane travelogues and the like. But some brought me back to moments and emotions long forgotten. And some are, well, how shall I say this? — personal. It made me wonder if I should get rid of my ancient musings. What if my daughter finds them? Does she really need to know that much about me? I don't think so.

And yet, they are my past writ large. If I threw them away would I forget these things had ever happened? Maybe not, but certainly my memories would not be nearly so vivid as those thoughts captured when the feelings were still so new.

So I didn't trash them. Just put them back in the desk drawer till the next time I need an excuse to dawdle.

Then I see this article about applying for a job in the coming Obama administration. Applicants for high-level positions have to answer a seven-page questionnaire about everything and anything in their pasts or their families' pasts that could come back to haunt them. Traffic fines of less than $50 are not a problem. But pretty much everything else is: e-mails, blogs, Facebook pages, all need to be accounted for.

One question even asks about diaries. If the applicant or a family member has kept a diary that could suggest a conflict of interest or be a possible source of embarrassment, they are asked to describe it. This is not a White House that is leaving anything to chance. They don't want any "nannygates" or worse messing up their transition. Perfectly understandable. Still, I imagined the 16-year-old daughter of some Very Important Person scrambling to hide her secret scribblings in the back of the closet. Of course, since this generation puts all their secrets out on Facebook, hiding may not be an option.

But it did make me wonder once again about those diaries of mine. Do they rise to the level of full disclosure? Maybe I should get rid of them before it's too late? Heck no, I'm keeping them. I'm not applying for a job in the Obama administration. Besides, I may need them if I ever get around to writing that book one day.

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