Tuesday, April 11, 2006

To celebrate your birthday, let me embarrass myself

My friend kvr celebrated her birthday in a fabulous way: by asking friends to embarrass themselves in public. The invitation read:

"Celebrate the anniversary of my birth with dinner, drinks, and a little public humiliation! Bring an old angsty diary, old poetry, funny old letters, etc. to share with the crowd. It's like karaoke but with more embarrassment and less singing."

What an excellent idea! Unfortunately, I spaced that the event was coming up and by the time I realized it was happening it was too late to get someone to watch Ada while I went. (Too bad Chris was at a work event that night. He doesn't keep a journal and would never want to get up in front of people to read out of it if he did.)

Re-reading old journals in an attempt to find something to read for kvr, I realized something. My teen writings are pathetic. Not a shock, but I had hoped they'd be funny pathetic, not just dumb. Unfortunately they are either self-flagellating, mopey or oddly random. I like self-revelation, but am not sure I'm ready to share the worst of my youthful journals. Knowing that I wrote much worse than this, I hope you'll be kind as you read a couple of my mopey entries (the first from the end of middle school, the other from my last year of high school).

June 18, 1986
Graduation was today. I'm happy and sad. Katie came, and she gave me this really nice silver bracelet. I don't even know why I ever liked Kenny. Yesterday I was walking and I came toward Lanie and Kenny at two different angles. Kenny told Lanie that he'd miss her. I said that she wasn't the only person he'd miss (implying that he'd miss Rachel). He said "Oh, Rachel. Well, I won't miss you."

Today he acted like I wasn't alive when he saw me at graduation. He hugged some other girls goodbye but acted as if I didn't exist.

NB: in middle school (7th-9th grades in LA) I set my love-interest sights low. I didn't pick the cutest or most popular boy to crush on. No, I picked a tall, red haired, gangly geek. At 13 I knew that I'd be rejected if I tried for a popular kid. Apparently I was also too weird for the nerds, too.

After spending my awkward middle school years telling my journal that I wanted a boyfriend, I got one. Well, first I traded in my glasses for contact lenses, then I started high school and had a string of boyfriends who liked me more than I liked them. I spent high school getting together with boys who expressed interest in me, because they'd expressed interest. My appearance had changed since middle school, but my sense of self as the ugly girl was still with me. I didn't understand what was motivating my behavior at the time, and I repeatedly wrote in my high school journal about resenting my boyfriends for one thing or another. My senior year, I started dating a guy I'd been friends with for several years. At first I'd resisted, but eventually got together with him in part because it was the path of least resistance.
May 1989
I'm sick of having to report to someone every time I want to do something. I am sick of planning my time according to how much time I need to spend with my boyfriend - and THEN how much I can do other things with. I am tired of feeling responsible to another person, and for another person. I hate feeling tied down, and caught. I hate not being able to say anything, something as simple as "Hey, I'm excited because I got my housing forms" or "Guess what? I got a job as a life guard!" because it will depress him. I hate smelling something undescribeable, and both missing him and hating him at the same time.

If you have gotten this far, either you are a glutton for punishment, enjoy reading about other people's embarrassing teen years, or are secretly gloating that your teen writings were at least better than these. Whichever is the case, I would love to see some of your old journal entries. You don't have to share anything too horrible. (Believe me, I held back on some of the worst stuff.) If you are too shy to disclose your writings, share an old letter. I'm still looking for the note I saved from my first boyfriend. He wrote it when I was breaking up with him, and it soulfully declared "I don't want to loose you!" (italics added to emphasize the annoying spelling error, which added fuel to the fire of my desire to dump him).

Please won't you share? You know you've got something good hidden away. I promise not to laugh.


  1. i burned all my old letters and journals in college - and I'm totally unwilling to admit to my college idiocies - to be lame at 13 is one thing, but to be lame in one's twenties, ai yo. Sorry!

  2. A few of us shared old poetry - I shared an old song...

    It was pretty fucking hilarious, actually. Sadly, my diaries were all written to THE LORD because I was a crazy religious freak.

    I literally prayed for a 1250 on my SATs.. Alas, the Lord did not listen. Needless to say, I don't go to church anymore.

  3. My high school journal was full of sex. It was all lies because I thought my mother read it.

  4. I didn't keep a journal. The may '89 entry reminded me of being a married parent.

  5. I am getting on this one...