Posted in Today's File, Writing

Junior-High Journal: an UN-Literary Analysis

"Dear Teddy..."

I’ve been taking a browse through some of the dozens of old journals lining our bedroom-shelves, and these ones from junior high are…  well, embarrassing is what they are! (What, you thought I was going to say cute?)  All I can say is that I’m glad the internet hadn’t yet been invented, or these might have been spewed into a public venue at a time when I took myself too seriously to have a sense of humor about them.  Now, though–well, I’m not averse to holding myself up for some ridicule, so here are a few of the items that made me chortle and snort…

I picked this one for fun, just because of the date–I can faithfully report that exactly twenty-five years ago today, in seventh grade, I…  wrote a script for a puppet show, turned in a paper titled “Why I don’t like T.V.,” got a goldfish drunk in science class (it died), and satisfied the requirements of dress-up-as-what-you-want-to-be day by bringing my doll and “being a mother.” Oh, and Ryan Sasser sat near me at lunch (giggle).

Later in the month at a church youth-retreat, I had nothing to report about what we  were studying, but recorded in detail where Ryan Sasser sat for every session.  At the end of the weekend: “Pastor Braun left early, and he had the keys to drive the van.  Mr. Sasser, who had driven kids up and stayed overnight like Daddy, hot-wired the van and it went just fine.” What interests me now is how UNremarkable I found that bit of information.  Why did Mr. Sasser know how to hot-wire a van??

When my friend Stephanie got a new baby sister, I revealed my imperfect knowledge of biology and medicine: “About seven years ago her mother was ‘fixed,’ but the doctor gave her the wrong stuff.”
7th grade yearbook photo... Now WHO would want to beat up the nerd with the braids wrapped around her head?

It’s funny how my twelve-year-old self danced back and forth across the line between kid-hood and preteen-ness.  In one entry I detailed the episode of getting beaten up in the girls’ bathroom by a ninth-grader (probably my first-ever use of the “F-word” in recording that dialogue), and reported after a dance that my mother “was embarrassed because we were dressed in mini-skirts, but I didn’t care.”  Barely a week later I flip-flopped back to KID with this entry: “When I got home I found on my bed six pairs of nylons!  I still like knee socks and tights, but how can I tell Mommy that?  I feel stuck.  It was considerate of her, after noticing that all my friends wear nylons, but…  Next thing, she’ll give me a razor!”  Oh dear me.  (This leaves me wondering, of course, how that mini-skirt looked with my knee-socks…)

There’s a page covered with stickers, followed by a page titled “Here is a rough sketch of my lifetime as I’ve planned it so far.”  Snort!  I actually mapped out as far as the distant and mystical year 2000, when I was scheduled to “run for president.”  I didn’t specify president of what, but I’m pretty sure “president of my Rehab Class” wasn’t what I had in mind.  (Maybe the drunken goldfish was an Omen…)

December 3, ’86: “Today was Daddy’s 40th birthday.  Mommy came in during the class he was teaching and gave him a bottle of medicine for old age [Geritol] and a boquet [sic] of balloons that said things like, ‘tease me about my age, and I’ll beat you with my cane.'” Man, he was OLD that day.  (Wait, was that my 37th birthday that just whizzed by?)

In early December I featured a numbered-and-ordered list of the boys I Liked, followed by this commentary: “I wonder now if I like Luke or Ryan more. Maybe I like them the same, and whoever likes me I’ll start liking more.”  (Okay, pragmatic so far.  But then I veered into the heady realm of fantasy with this:) “After all, what’s the use of running after one if the other is at your feet?”  Ahem, cough! Let me now say for the record that neither Luke nor Ryan ever ended up “at my feet,” unless you count later in that same month when I played Mary while Ryan played The Donkey in our church’s Christmas play…  On which day I may–or may not–have “heard Ryan say to the sheep that he likes me.”  After which I went home and played with my Legos.

I’ll close with this episode, which I find very revealing about my personality in general: I finally declared my crush on Luke by the clever means of passing him a note in which (are you ready for this?) I avowed my intention of kicking his butt at science grades.  Did I know how to win a boy’s heart or what? What followed was a pretty heated competition, culminating with the annual science fair. We’d each been keeping our topic under wraps as tight as National Security, until the Big Day when we EACH unveiled a project titled “The Effects of Acid Rain on Seed Germination.” No joke, same exact project. For which I won the blue ribbon, thereby forever ending my hopes of an amicable (let alone romantic) friendship. Oh, the drama!

That’s my seventh-grade year in a (cracked) nutshell–hope you had a laugh at me.  Related to nothing above (except maybe the “MEANGRL” centerpiece, thinking of my beat-up-in-the-bathroom episode), here’s this week’s “collection” of personalized plates:

"Soup" belongs to a family named Campbell. "Islands" belongs to a man who intends to buy one--probably in Nova Scotia. We never did get to see who's the "meangrl"...


I am... a writer, an explorer, a coffee-drinker, a recovering addict, a barefoot linguist, a book-dragon ("bookworm" doesn't cover it), a raconteur, a sailboat skipper, a research diver, a tattooed scholar, a pirate, a poet, a spiritual adventurer, a photographer, a few kinds-of-crazy, a joyful wife, a mom... a list-maker! :)

21 thoughts on “Junior-High Journal: an UN-Literary Analysis

  1. It takes a lot of guts to show the world what you looked like back in seventh grade! And I don’t say that to be mean to you, either. It’s just an awkward time in life for most people. Thanks for sharing.


    1. I think the 7th grade picture is darling! :) and btw, my diary was from elementary school. My junior high writing consists of letters to my now husband. :) And isn’t it funny how the year 2000 was always the marker of some major happening? I’m still wondering if man will still be alive “in the year 2525” lol.


  2. I loved all of these vignettes. Thank you for sharing. It makes me sort of glad all my journals are buried in my mom’s house a state away. :-) It would be rather scary to read what I wrote then, though I do remember a lot about a Tommy L. (who broke my heart), Frank T., and Glenn D. (I had such a crush on him).


    1. I’m only surprised I wasn’t wearing my Girl Scout uniform–must have been the wrong day of the week. ;) Given that my classmates were in the acid-washed-jeans-and-huge-hair phase, I can’t believe I only got beaten up ONCE…


    2. I was thinking something similar about that picture–along the lines of “I might’ve actually had FRIENDS in junior high if we’d gone to the same school” (and been the same age).


  3. Great post! Coincidentally, just a couple days ago I came across some journaling I did from my mid-twenties and I was so embarassed by my attitude and what I thought was important back then that I threw it all away. I probably shouldn’t have done that!


  4. You’re definitely braver than me. I don’t think I could show my grade seven photo on my blog, for fear of being laughed off the internet.

    Funny how our adult selves react to our teenage melodrama, isn’t it? I recently found a collection of poems I wrote when I was about 15: the extremes of emotion were there, indeed.


  5. 7th Grade: stumbling all over the place, social misery, a longing for and yet a deep distrust of boys, braces, glasses, youth group, and lots of journaling. In short, the dark ages. I commend your bravery!


    1. “Seventh Grade” would be my #1 reason for NOT wanting to believe in reincarnation… Please tell me I never have to live it again. ;)


  6. This reminds me of when I look through my old Precious Moments diary.. hah.. Embarrassing to say the least! I actually found a note in there from my mom that said “Katie shouldn’t leave her diary in the bathroom if she doesn’t wat people to read it!” And “silly” written next to one entry. Haha.. I was mortified at the time but later laughed so much over it. Now I’m tearing up thinking of it because it was SO Mom and she’s gone now.. :( I totally have a list that says “I like so-and-so, I like so-and-so..” I still remember Jesse S, Jesse B and Jay, but everyone swooned over Ashley even though it was a girl name and looking back, not one of the was all that cute and most had either rat tails or mullets. Baawwhahahaha! Oh wow.. it just dawned on me that my Aunt Jan got me that diary.. I remember she took me out of school early to go shopping (when they called me for early dismissal I was scared to death!) and I was torn between that journal and something else.. she wrote in the front of it for me one day when I stayed at her farm.. she commited suicide early this year. Wow.. way to go, Katie, make a funny entry depressing. Lol..

    This was a great read. I enjoy all your posts. You’re a bright spot in my day, keep it up!


  7. I loved and laughed along with you today as you wrote about being in the seventh grade. I was always afraid to keep a proper journal because of my older (and completely evil devil spawn) sister who would go through my things looking for ammunition to use in our unending fight for her parents (I was adopted) attention and devotion.

    Reading your exerts and reflections now some twenty five years later make me a little thankful for my stepsister. I can only imagine what I would have written. In those days I was just discovering how much I liked other boys. As I try my hardest I cannot remember a single boys name from that period of my youth, but I do remember how each crush felt like it was a predestined love of the ages that would rival any other love that any two people had ever known. -I was a bit dramatic.

    Still (even though i didn’t for good reasons) wish I did have a journal from that period in my life just so I could remember the name of one boy who was my whole world! Your Journal is delightfully whimsical and perfectly fit for a girl of that age. Thank you so much for sharing it and please keep writing, -as your words flow beautifully onto the screen and brighten my day!



  8. Oh so familiar. But later I went through a(n equally self-conscious) phase and thought it was unspiritual of me to have so much documentation of myself, so I got rid of all those journals. Didn’t take long until I was back into it, but my earliest ramblings are mostly no more. (Except for the school assignments. Somehow I felt hanging onto those was justifiable. ;-)


  9. I sometimes think uncomfortably about the stacks of journals that are buried in a closet at my parent’s house. Sometimes I think it might be fun to peruse them, other times I think it would be better to burn them unread.
    And girl, you were clearly way ahead of your time fashion-wise! Who wears “nylons” in this day and age?! But rocking knee socks and a mini skirt– you could sass up any jr. high dance in the new millennium!


    1. My timing was rather off… With my classmates in Bon Jovi 80s hairdos and zip-ankle acid-washed jeans, my pigtails and knee socks somehow didn’t set a “cool” vibe… ;)


  10. I love reading old things I wrote, especially when I have expectations for myself that end up nowhere near what I become.

    And why do all of our yearbook photos look like they were taken in the 1950s? Yearbooks know no time.


  11. I find anything I wrote last week immature and ridiculous, I can only imagine what reading my 12-year-old self would feel like. I get awkward by association just reading your post and imagining how much more drivel-icious mine would be!


  12. I have an old diary from my fourth grade year, the only year in which I can ever recall doing mean things to people. We lived in Taiwan then, and one of the things I did was tell our auma (apparently if you were American in Taiwan you hired an auma, it was just one those things that was done) that a bamboo snake was in the bath tub. Since bamboo snakes are highly poisonous, she was terrified. I can tell you that my father was not amused!

    Great post!



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