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April 17, 2023

My Big Book of Grievances

Have you heard about how great it is to practice gratitude? JK – you’ve probably heard this so many times that the word gratitude makes you cringe. At my last job, my department head actually suggested we keep a gratitude journal: “Be grateful even though it sucks to work here so I won’t have to deal with your complaints!”

Woman with arms outstretched with a sunset behind her
Do a Google image search for gratitude, and this is what you’ll find. Repeatedly.

Thanks to Zuckerburg being inside my head 24/7, Facebook served up an ad to me for the Grievance Journal, created by the fun folks at Boredwalk. On their website, they describe the journal:

“Whether it’s terrible drivers, annoying co-workers, heinous in-laws, or humanity at large causing you grief, don’t stuff it down — express your rage on the pages within and move on with your interminably long life here in the hellscape we’ve all come to know and loathe!”

Cover of the Grievance Journal
I have gratitude to Facebook for bringing the Grievance Journal into my life.

I don’t know the owners of Boredwalk, but I sense they are my soulmates.

The Grievance Journal is much more than a cynical gag – even though I’d be fine with that. In the journal’s foreword, they write, “For every study touting the benefits of positive thinking you’ll find another one that touts the benefits of venting.” The journal is meant as a healthy place to express the negative: “It’s a platform for airing frustrations and even reflecting on them.”

a page spread in the journal
The Grievance Journal’s beautiful blank pages are just waiting for you to clear out your angst.

The journal contains a few dozen prompts. I wanted to challenge myself, so I dove in with the question, “What are some of the worst decisions you’ve ever made?” I thought I’d made peace with myself years ago over these decisions, but when I put them on paper, I realized I still feel a raw sense of shame over them. Writing them down truly made me feel better, because although no one is going to read my journal, I still felt like I’m no longer keeping them a secret. It was a good reminder, too, that the egregiously bad decisions I made were in my 20s and 30s – at 48, I’ve apparently gotten better at life.

But the Grievance Journal is fun, too. Let me tell you about the public figures I think are the absolute worst:

  • James Franco. Don’t ask me why, but I’ve always found him incredibly smug.
  • Elon Musk. “I’m an idiot who grew up steeped in privilege and wealth, yet somehow I believe I’ve earned what I have and that I’m the smartest guy ever.”
  • Victoria Beckham. I actually have no real problem with this woman, it just annoys me that she always has this fake brooding expression in pictures because she hates how she looks when she smiles.
  • Ted Cruz. Self-explanatory.
  • Tom Hanks. So overrated, it hurts my head.
Tom Hanks in a still from Forrest Gump
Won an Oscar. Twice. Still sucks.

I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the quotes sprinkled throughout the Grievance Journal. They are gold. If I tore out and framed all the pages with the quotes I love, I could decorate my entire home. Some of my favorites:

Page spread in the journal
The journal is also well designed. The flourishes are a nice touch.
  • “If things feel dark and utterly hopeless it’s because they are.”
  • “Strangers are just people who haven’t disappointed me yet.”
  • “The abyss gazed back and was like ‘WTF?! Unsee! Unsee!’”
A still of Mr. Heckles from Friends
Who can forget Mr. Heckles’ excessive noise complaint about Chandler: “Italian guy’s gay roommate comes home with drag queen.”

You might not need the Grievance Journal. Mr. Heckles started his own version decades ago.

Madge: big gums

From “My Big Book of Grievances,” Mr. Heckles

Sound off in any old notebook if you like, and share how it went in the comments. Misery does love company.

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