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If you’re like me, perhaps you’ve kept diaries or journals over the years. There are the daily entry kind and the blank books you might write-in sporadically, or maybe your calendars have doubled as your diary. Mine did. Ten years ago I started keeping digital calendars, and my blogs became my diaries although since then, I’ve become more careful about what I write because they’re online for all to see. To the woman at my church who doesn’t believe “ninety-five percent of what comes out of my mouth,” why don’t I send you home with my diaries? 

As an advance warning: You may wind up sleeping with the lights on.

Diaries are personal time machines that can transport us back to places and events we’ve often forgotten. It’s fun to go back and read what we did on our thirtieth birthday.

Then there are the things that might as well be tattooed on our brain: the embarrassing, terrifying and life-altering incidents. 

In writing my memoir, I’ve referred to my handwritten and typed journal entries as well as the paper calendars I’ve kept since my twenties. 

I’ve also kept a few travel journals where I chronicled my trip, the people I met, fabulous restaurants and great wines (like this label from a Tuscan cabernet I pasted into Seabiscuit, the book I was reading at the time), new recipes I picked up along the way, and details about the art and architecture. Over the years my journals have ranged from small ringed notebooks that fit in my purse, to blank bound journals with silk ribbon place holders and magnet closures. There’s also the Big Chief tablet with the red cover I bought in Belize. I’ve quoted from it verbatim in the memoir I’ve written. The part before I was taken at gunpoint in Guatemala.

This week I found a journal (Wonder Woman’s on the cover) I kept when a girlfriend and I went to San Miguel de Allende. We’d gone for the Day of the Dead, Diá de los Muertos, celebration, and to categorize our trip as bizarre would be an understatement. For starters, it took us twenty-six hours to fly from San Antonio to San Miguel—don’t ask—where we saw three men place a dead woman with short purple hair in the trunk of a car. If you’re regular readers then you know placing dead women in the trunk of a car has been a recurring theme when I travel to foreign countries.

For the rest of this blog post I’ll be quoting from my San Miguel journal. You can’t make this stuff up!

We’re in the luscious overgrown courtyard of a hyperactive, but gracious, American woman named Ava. I have no clue how old she is, but she’s an assault on the senses. A tiny wisp of a woman who’s like a windup toy that never runs out of energy, and she knows no boundaries, even with total strangers like us.

“Oh, you must stay for lunch! Ericka! Bring me the good napkins,” she shouts to someone inside her sprawling hacienda. 

Without pausing to take a breath, Ava gets out of her ornate iron chair and stands erect, then immediately doubles over with her head almost touching the ground. She teeters precariously on the cobblestones under her feet like an accident waiting to happen. A marionette who’s lost her puppet master. 

“Let me show you how limber I am. See? I can touch my toes and raise my leg out to the side like a ballerina. My arms still look good. Don’t you think they look good?”

This small, bent over woman raises her head and peers at me over the top of her glasses. “What do you think I should do with my hair? Do you know anyone in Miami who can put it in a French braid? I don’t. They don’t know how to do French braids in Miami. Erica! Bring me the belts on my bed. Don’t ever let anyone inject the nerves in your spine.”

I’m guessing she’s referring to why she can’t stand up straight for more than a few seconds.

So far we’ve seen no signs of Erica, and even if my friend and I wanted to answer one of Ava’s back-to-back questions, she gives us no opportunity. Her conversation is a stream of consciousness where subjects flow uncensored from one to the other. She’s shocking, mesmerizing and sad. I wonder if she’s always been this way or maybe her medication for the problem with her spine has erased her ability to make new paragraphs and edit her thought process.

“I had a facelift nine years ago and an acid peel,” she continues. “I was only under for four hours, and I had no pain. Melanie and Antonio stayed here a month. He didn’t make my heart flutter. Not even once. Erica! Bring me the picture in the small green frame. What color do you think I should paint the beds? Blue? Red? Don’t you think mother looks good for ninety-two?

“I don’t date anymore. Mother saw right through the last one. I told him I didn’t sport fuck, although I slept with him a few times. Then I introduced him to my girlfriend. He said he could only get a partial erection with her. I wanted to tell him he always had a partial erection, but we were at a cocktail party. Do you think I did the right thing? Should I have said anything?”

Ava looks at me and my friend. “So tell me, what do you do? Give me a paragraph about yourself. Ericka! Ericka, we’d like some hibiscus tea. Antonio’s back. He’s filming another movie here. He sleeps on the other side of that door,” she says, pointing to an old, ornate Spanish door on the other side of the courtyard. “You want to know the real reason I broke up with that guy? He told me I didn’t have enough pubic hair. He likes women with thicker and darker hair than I have.”

So dear friends, you see why I keep diaries and travel journals? Do you keep a diary or a journal? In case you’re in the market for a new one, here are a few of my favorites you might like.

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Hi Girlfriends,

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Here you will get a glimpse into the lives of other women, learn how they handled things life put in their path like divorce, the death of a spouse, serious health issues, low self-esteem, addiction and how to reinvent yourself after a major life change. You will find like-minded women and relevant conversations about finances, fashion, sex, books, music, films and food. We feature interviews with inspiring women along with straight-talk and bold conversations to reawaken your passions and make life count.

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  1. Great day Brenda!
    I’ve been on some of these adventures, too, though! Robbed by gypsies in Milan….one eyed woman who took our passports in .Cairo!
    I e never been able to keep a journal! I think I may be turning into the lady in your story…who reminds me so much of my Aunt Pete!Thanks for a good read!!

    • Those would all make great stories, Shari. Not funny in the moment, but time has a way of softening some of the edges. Thanks for reading!! xoxox, Brenda

  2. Brenda, you have certainly encountered more characters than any five people in their lifetime! I can’t wait to read your memoir!

  3. Brenda you made my day with this one! You may be the most interesting person I know (would like to know) and I’d give anything to read your diaries! The owner of a local antique store lived in San Miguel for several years. I get the impression it’s one of those places that attracts unusual expats.

    • Interesting you say that, Coco, because the people we met in San Miguel said the same thing. I think some people are fleeing the IRS and ex-spouses. Others have “invested in interesting” businesses with the locals. Everyone has a story to tell. Thank you sweet lady! I appreciate you! xoxox, Brenda

  4. Love it, Brenda! I want to know if Erika exists, and if you finally got to meet here? Looking forward to reading your book!
    And maybe seeing you for lunch at Pearl sometime soon.

    • Donna, Yes, we met Ericka, a local Mexican woman who was at Ava’s beck and call. Don’t know what she was being paid, but I imagine she swore under her breath at least 50 times a day. Lunch? The Pearl? Let’s make it SOON. Before Covid takes over again, or maybe I meet you in New Braunfels if you don’t want to drive all the way. Text me some possible dates! xoxox, Brenda

  5. If I kept a travel diary it would be very dull. Went to museum, ate at hotel…You need to come on our next vacation so you can write about it although our trips are pretty boring compared to yours. How do you meet these people?

    • It’s easy to meet people, Karen. If you see someone interesting, just say “Hi, how’s your day going,” and you’re off to the races! I think most people are hungry for human connection. I’ve met three women while I was walking down the street in NYC. I’m still friends with two, and GREAT friends with one of them. We went to Italy together and text frequently! xoxox, Brenda

  6. You are my favorite blogger by far! I love your style of writing! I’m always disappointed when I’m done reading since I don’t want to stop! When does your book come out? Can’t wait to get a copy!

    • Oh, my stars, Susan! Thank you! You made my week!!! I’m looking for a literary agent. So far I’ve queried two, and am hoping to hear something back from them. Even if they say no, I might learn something that would benefit my manuscript. Thanks for asking! It’s is a long tedious process. xoxox, Brenda

  7. I am shocked by the comment a lady at your church made!! Traveling opens the doors to wild & crazy experiences – especially when we are adventure travelers. I believe every word you say!

    • Glad to hear you found her comment shocking as well, Judy, because I haven’t been able to forget it. You’re right about the unusual doors that open when we travel. I also think it’s difficult for her to believe someone has lived such a very different life. xoxox, Brenda

  8. You needed a bodyguard? Did you get one? I’m with Susan… I love your writing and can’t wait to read your book. Regardless of what you write about I want to read it. You’re very entertaining. Sending my best to you.

    • Thank you for your sweet comment, Ella. I appreciate that you read my blog and take the time to write me. Actually I’ve had a bodyguard at two different times in my life. I write about both occasions in my memoir, and I’m here to tell you: I felt anything but safe with them. My best to you!! xoxox, Brenda

  9. This is too much! How did you keep from laughing or did you? No… you’re much too polite for that. Did she really ask Ericka to bring her a whip? Xo, Barb

    • Hi Barb!! How’ve you been? Love seeing you here! No, my friend and I didn’t laugh. Ava obviously had more than just a physical problem. As I remember, we tried hard to keep our jaws from hanging open the whole time. It was interesting, I’ll say that! xoxoxo, Brenda

  10. You are hilarious! And to think you are just a stone’s throw from me, yet so far. If you see a tallish man with blondish/whitish hair wandering up to your house, please don’t shoot; I come in peace. Code word… ‘chocolate milk’

    • Mark, Now you’re hilarious! Question: How did you learn of my blog? There are a lot of men who read, but I think I know most of them. And a stone’s throw… Do you mean the same state, same city or you’re just down the street?

  11. You have the gift of seeing the entertainment potential in all your encounters, which brings it to life…and such good writing. Brava.

  12. My eyes light up every time I see a new post! I check my watch to see if I have time to read and savor it!
    It looks like you were always a writer, and I too am anxiously awaiting the BOOK!!
    Truly love following all your encounters and adventures and zest for life!!!

    • Thank you Susan! I love knowing you’re reading my posts, and I always hope I don’t disappoint. Even though I’ve only written (queried) two literary agents and haven’t heard back from them, I can tell this will be another adventure I’ll share someday. What a trip! Thanks again. Your support means the world to me. xoxox, Brenda

  13. Hello! I’ve been reading blogs for years and have commented only one other time (when I realized the writer’s relative had built our mountain cabin). Don’t remember how I stumbled onto yours a while ago but I was hooked on your interesting writing! You wrote about your undying love for Keith Richards so I thought to myself “Well, here’s a fellow rock and roll senior citizen!” (I am 71.) My girlfriend and I spent many, many years as Leon Russell groupies and after he passed in 2016–we’re still not over it–I had to turn my affections somewhere else. (Thankfully, my husband just sort of ignores/tolerates all this.) I’d always liked the Stones –especially Mick–so I started listening to them more/seeing them in concert. Then I read your blog about Keith Richards and had to find out more about him! So, the point of all this rambling here is to say “You’re right! He is such an interesting, intelligent, well-rounded person!” As a child of the 60’s who went to concerts all the time, I did something I’d never done before–went to the Stones concert last October (2021) by myself and it was so fun!! I had seen them twice before over the years and they were better than ever. How is that even possible?! Cheers to you and keep up the great writing!
    Kathy Howell

  14. Hi Kathy, What a great comment! Thank you! I’m honored you’ve left me a message. You’re a fellow rocker chick! I also loved Leon Russell and saw him in concert in the 90s. I love both Keith and Mick and was saddened when Charlie died last year. If you enter Rolling Stones in the little search icon in the upper right of this site, you’ll find a number of blogs I’ve written about the Stones. (Also some of the other concerts I’ve been to. Thirteen in 2019. I first saw them when I went by myself to their second US performance in 1964. I was a kid and didn’t know what to make of them! I’ve seen them more times than I can count. First row, center seat concert tickets are one of my splurges in life. I’ve seen them in multiple US cities and in Italy. I’ll keep going as long as they keep performing. You might also enter Almost Famous into the search icon. One of my favorite films. If you’re a rocker fan then I imagine you’ll like it as well. Have you seen it? Please stop by again, Kathy! I’d love to hear from you! xoxox, Brenda

  15. You’re back! Every day, I check your blog for new posts but this morning what a beautiful surprise. I love to read about your adventurous life and can’t wait for your book. All the best and thank you for sharing!

    • Thank you, Yvonne! I love to write, and it’s gratifying you enjoy reading it. Thanks for letting me know. See you again soon! xoxox, Brenda

    • I hear you Elizabeth! Since I began blogging, my blog is my diary as well. Thank you! xoxox, Brenda

  16. Hi Brenda, I found you on Instagram and thought you were so lovely and real. So many of the women on Instagram are just interested in pushing a product or showing off but you’re not like that. After reading the comments from other readers I know I’m right. Looking forward to your next blog!

    • Diane, Thank you! I’m glad you found me, and I hope to see you here again. Have a wonderful holiday. Brenda

    • Hi Hilda! I’m happy to see you here. Thank you for stopping by and leaving me a comment. I don’t believe that my life has been more interesting than yours. Not at all. Just different. xoxox, Brenda

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