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Senior Janelle Guldahl shows us her journal

Greta Rainbow, Managing Editor
Originally published May 3, 2015

Cassin Stacy

“It was the middle of the night and I was thinking about how nice the mornings could be, when you’re just awake with a cup of coffee or tea … It was 1 in the morning. I always put the date and usually I put the time … Avocados are really raw and natural, and mornings also feel very natural and fresh. I associate fresh fruit with morning, and I think of cutting avocados in half in the morning and eating them with a spoon in the backyard in summer.”

Senior Janelle Guldahl is on her second journal, black and textbook size. “I had the same one for about two years and it finally disintegrated more or less. The spine fell off, the pages are falling out. So at the new year this year I started this notebook.”

Some pages are covered in a wash of light color, some are almost blank aside from a stanza. All incorporate images and words taken from Guldahl’s interactions, experiences and feelings, the multitude of mediums allowing for an elaborate representation of the deeply internal.

“A lot of the times I start with one or the other [the visual or the writing]. With one [page] I made a list and then I made a picture of what I was really thinking about with watercolors and sharpies, all kinds of fun stuff,” Guldahl said. “Or sometimes I paint [to write] instead of using a pencil or pen, and it just turns into a painting.”

Guldahl was inspired to start a journal by Seattle writer Rachel Kessler, writer-in-residence for her ninth grade language arts class through a program now discontinued at Ballard.

“We both shared a love of typewriters and handwritten poetry,” Guldahl said. “She showed me that Seattle had a big community for writing and there’s a lot you could do with it. It doesn’t have to be a profession, it could just be a hobby, you don’t need to push yourself too hard but just have fun with it.”

Guldahl became part of that community, reading her writing at Capitol Hill arts venue Hugo House at least once a month.

“They’re mostly poems, sometimes I write short fiction, [but] not very often. Most of it’s free verse, I never really got into rhyming or sonnets or anything,” she said.

Guldahl also started a creative writing club at Ballard with junior Sydney Fiorenza. Although that group dissolved, Spoken Word Night is their current platform for sharing writing between students.

“[Journaling has] made me more observant,” Guldahl said. “I recognize a lot more things happening in my own world and other people’s lives.”

Two pages in Guldahl’s journal are dedicated to a group of poems, stanzas done in pencil bumping up against one another. “I wrote [the poems] on the bus coming home from Bellingham. I went to stay with my friend and I got up really early in the morning, and I took a really hot shower and their bathroom was really dirty and I cleaned it. So on the bus back I just wrote about that, and about the weird room, and how I walked in the hallway and it was super empty and dead Saturday morning.”

“I definitely over analyze things even more because then I can write about them later. But I think it’s made me a better person. Like I understand myself more and I can be a better friend as well as just take care of myself. I know what I’m thinking.”

Kessler writes that everyday occurrences inspire her work. Similarly, Guldahl’s journal is a composition of thoughts that strike her. “[I write] whenever I feel it, a couple times a week maybe … sometimes it’s like every 20 minutes, like ‘oh, I gotta write about this,’ ‘I’m so excited about this.’ I bring it everywhere.”


Cassin Stacy“[The page] has a quote by Iyanla Vanzant, she’s some kind of public speaker. I took the quote, and then I ripped holes in the pages because I wrote my own thing with it, kind of the opposite of it. Then I drew kind of a self-portrait li…

Cassin Stacy

“[The page] has a quote by Iyanla Vanzant, she’s some kind of public speaker. I took the quote, and then I ripped holes in the pages because I wrote my own thing with it, kind of the opposite of it. Then I drew kind of a self-portrait like I do in some of them … I was thinking about how comparing yourself to others is not the way to go about things, and the other side is like ‘yeah, do that, you should always hurt yourself.’”


Cassin Stacy“I don’t choose [what to journal about], it just kind of happens, I put whatever I’m feeling together… This is a short list of things I want to do and be, like ‘stop giving up,’ ‘exist,’ ‘feel significant,’ and it ends with just ‘breathe…

Cassin Stacy

“I don’t choose [what to journal about], it just kind of happens, I put whatever I’m feeling together… This is a short list of things I want to do and be, like ‘stop giving up,’ ‘exist,’ ‘feel significant,’ and it ends with just ‘breathe.’ There’s another half self-portrait thing with a thought bubble that says, ‘Don’t you love me anymore?’ and I think it’s more self love, my taking care of myself. I like making lists a lot.”

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Senior Janelle Guldahl shows us her journal