posts tagged with 'diary'

Diary #5 - Senior Year

This is the last book in a series of high school journals I uncovered in the basement. I have to admit, I'm kind of sad to see the series end. I had so much fun rereading these journals. They were so much more, er, action packed than I remember my actual high school life being. I mean, in my memory I recall dating such-and-such boy for 6 months, another for a year, and generally speaking I loved some and fooled around with others. But I never held in my mind a detailed account of EVERY SINGLE sexual experience from my teenage years. Now I have just reread them all, along with several philosophical diatribes and too many daily menus to count. I feel like I just finished reading a mash-up of Sweet Valley High meets 50 Shades of Gray meets French Women Don't Get Fat. But with more angst. The following quote probably sums up the series best:

Oct 2, 1998
I have a marvelous crush on a freshman in my Drama class. Although now that I've made a big show out of flirting with him (and a mighty good show too), it's starting to dilute - you know, lose intensity. Which is kind of sad but good in a way too. Good for practical reasons, but bad because what do teenagers love more than their intensity?

In this last journal I am a senior, I can drive, and I act like a cougar towards unsuspecting underclassmen. But I still pine after one special boy. Here's me in one of my rare moral moments:

Oct 7, 1998
I want to marry Dan. I love Dan. I decided I want my life to be holy. That means real decisions like waiting for marriage to have sex. But only if I'm going to marry Dan. I don't want to save myself for anyone who isn't a virgin.

Oh if only they taught game theory in high school. But when the man you plan on marrying is a senior in college 6 hours away, moral conviction is short lived.

Oct 22, 1998
K finally kissed me today. It was so awkward, it brought me back to the days of 8th grade and not knowing what to do. I had assumed I was done with that. Well, K I guess still isn't over it. He kept brushing my hair out of my face, and then stopping there. Then finally in a lul in the conversation when I wasn't even looking at him, he grabbed the back of my neck and shoved his mouth into my face.

Poor little thing, turns out he had never kissed a girl before. The awkwardness doesn't last for too many pages, though. Apparently I was a really bad influence on him, or a really good influence depending on the way you look at it.

Oct 31, 1998
The first noteworthy thing of the evening is attributed to K. Taking probobly a tip from me, he started with his mouth on my stomach and moved all the way down... [3 paragraphs deleted because this is a family blog]... A great time was had by all.

Yet even as I was corrupting the younger generation my heart was elsewhere:

Nov 25, 1998
I'm leaving tomorrow morning to celebrate Thanksgiving. K was very sad to see me go, and we ate lunch together and then later he came over my house to see me off. Right before he came, I found out that Dan was home, so then I kind of felt guilty about spending the time with K. Then Dan came over after dinner, and I was sooooo happy to see him. At the same time, tonight hanging out with Dan I felt weird because I knew that if K got a picture of what we looked like together he would be upset. I was trying to avoid making actual lip contact with Dan, but as he said after we kissed, "I guess that was unavoidable."

The following year I went to college and Dan went into the working world. I don't have as much primary source material for the next half decade, but we know where that story ended up generally speaking.

wedding kiss

115 lbs, by the way

The book ends in the last year of the last millenium. As much as I've written so far, as much as I've talked and talked and talked about myself, I STILL don't feel like anybody knows me. I still don't feel either heard or understood.

Jan 12, 1999
School is stressfull, and so is my relationship with K. Sometimes I feel as if he doesn't really know me. I feel like I want to have a conversation with him: what was your most painfull memory? Have you ever felt really lonely? How do you want love to be? That sort of thing would fill me somehow. Gosh, I wish I knew more words so I could describe what's going on inside. Writing doesn't do it justice.

I'm sorry Leah. If your writing doesn't sufficiently describe what's going on in your head, then there is NO amount of writing that will do it justice. In the arena of melodramatica navel gazing, you just have TOO MUCH PROSE TO GIVE. You have two choices in life I guess: learn to be less crazy, or become a blogger.


high school problems with clothing: choosing it and taking it off

This continues an ongoing series in which I reread my high school diaries and share the funnies bits. To see the whole series click here.

Diary #4: The cover of this one is all blue, which must be somehow symbolic.

You know what I don't remember from my junior year in high school? Spending a lot of time at the mall. But apparently I spent a LOT of time at the mall. Every other entry is like: "The SATs sucked so I went to the mall." or "M. called me while I was at the mall." What did I DO at the mall all those hours???

Probably try on clothes. Because it was apparently really hard for me to find clothes I liked. I was so absolutely obsessed with criticizing my appearance that it even starts to take up a higher word count than my sexual exploits.

April 30, 1998
I hate myself. I wish I were georgous, and everyone just HAD to like me. I talked to ML today about a project we're doing together, and I'm afraid he doesn't like me. When I got back in my car, I looked in the mirror and remembered that I'm not very pretty.

There is A LOT in this book about wanting to be thinner, starving myself for a while, and then getting the flu. As an adult with a realistic relationship to food, I find these reminiscences a bit trying. Because first of all, if I had just eaten a LITTLE BIT more healthy food I could have still dropped weight while maintaining a quality of life higher than bedridden. And second of all, I just cannot work up that much sympathy for a younger more self-centered version of myself complaining about how fat she was at 119 lbs. I know you were in deep psychological agony Leah, but it's not like you were pregnant. Come off it you skinny little brat.

I am afraid of eating. I am wicked afraid of eating. I have a constant, underlying FEAR of being hungry and having to put food in my mouth and not having control.

This was unfortunate, because if I hadn't been so batshit crazy I might have actually ENJOYED my extensive pre-conversion sexual exploits. Now I can only enjoy READING about them.

In the shower he gets closer to me again. He kisses me. Gaurdedly at first, but then with the passion and intensity that he wants to. I don't protest.

This is from opening to a page AT RANDOM!

In 1998 I started seeing a guy who bears the distinction in my mind of the craziest dude I ever dated. He was incredibly attractive and a little bit psycho, in the calm and controlled way where I never really knew what he might do. He also brought up my level of sexual experience to something more appropriate for how much time I was devoting to writing about it.

M has kept calling me, and nothing is weird. But whenever I glance at the prom pictures all I can see is: penis.

There is more, oh God there is SO MUCH MORE about him in this book, but the descriptions are so chokingly explicit that they might need to be saved for a badly written pornographic novella.

Meanwhile, Dan is forever the gentleman. We had broken up for... reasons. Mostly my drive to be melodramatic and poor decision making induced by malnutrition. But he still kept me on the hook in his gentlemanly fashion.

We were kissing and touching outside of the clothes, but only outside of the clothes because this is Dan.

Even chaste booty is confusing sometimes, though, and it's good to take a break.

The Dan situation has been made easier by the fact that I had my wisdom teeth out last thursday so there would be no possibility of me kissing anyone. It simplifies things.

Thank God for dentistry.


one-liners from 1997

Here are some pull-quotes from my Diary #3. 16 years ago I apparently had an overdeveloped sense of melodrama, but a stunning ignorance of cooking and nutrition.

I'm not going to live the unenlightened life. It may be swell, but it's not for me. It's worse than getting fat of the body because it's getting fat of the soul. Because you get packed in by small talk and tennis and easy-bake ovens until this big bubble of marshmellow fluff closes in around you and crushes you.

Apparently I thought an easy bake oven was something adults used to cook with. My mother hated cooking, so I grew up thinking a birthday cake from a box required a great parental sacrifice of effort. I was also similarly oblivious to the constancy of marshmallow fluff. In real life, as far as I know, the substance has never bubbled.

JR has a pole up his butt. Dan and I decided it is a Venician barge pole.

What a sweetie Dan is, to bring a global perspective into my insular misery. Plus it still seems logical that Venetian should be spelled with a "c."

This weekend I've been thinking a lot about love and marriage. My grandparents got married when they were 17 and 18. My parents married right out of college. I would like to get married young. Except, I just can't think of Dan as someone I would ever marry. We'll see what happens.

What do you know, you dumb little bitch, you think marshmallows cook in a pink plastic box powered by a battery.

Almost all I ate today was a large coffee and I was freaking. I felt all jittery and I couldn't sit still. Note to self: Next time order medium coffee.

Because less food will make your brain function better, obviously.

Things I have to worry about:
Dan (and whether he wants me)
School + grades
... everything else

I'm glad I had my priorities straight back then. Always put those studies first. Let's see, I wonder what I worry about these days?

Things I have to worry about:
Zion waking up before I finish my 30 minutes on the exercise bike
Dan (and whether he wants to eat lentil soup for dinner)
Car / buying a new one before the baby is born
Homeschool curriculum (just kidding, I don't worry a lick about this)
... sleeping

I'm still in love with JR, and he just DOESN'T CARE. It's like, if my skin were a plastic container, I would be filled up to the top with pain.

Writer pro-tip: When you're coming up with a metaphor, try to discern whether the comparison object you're using typically does the thing you're imagining it does. Is it the essence of a plastic container to be filled to the top? Might a glass container, such as a drinking glass, be something humans more frequently overfill? Furthermore, if you are comparing your skin to a water container, pause and wonder whether you're skin is already pretty much a water container. Then maybe choose a different metaphor. Your body is a tupperware so full of pain that the lid can't close, perhaps? For further examples of metaphors not to use, see easy bake oven reference above.

Everything just goes back to sucking. Sucking the dry, powdered milk of discontentment from the bruised purple tit of life.

I see you've taken nothing from my metaphor clinic.


almost too embarrassing to proceed, and yet...

This continues a series in which I read and offer commentary on all my high school diaries. You can follow this link and scroll down to the bottom to start from the beginning.

Diary #3: toddlers kissing on the cover

This journal begins with me mourning the loss of my relationship with JR, the boy who conjured up all the harlequin sentiments in the previous book. According to my memory we were madly in love with each other, and then I left for an ill-timed 6-week summer trip to Israel. When I returned the boy was not so much in love with me anymore. Instead he was dating this older brunette who I think was on his lifeguard squad. She was much thinner than me, with hair that looked perfect just out of the water and a tiny pointed nose. Plus she could drive. She owned a RAV-4 that looked new and shiny — the perfect thing to drive off road over some poor ugly girl's emotions.

As in future times of crisis, I turned to insomniac crafting.

Aug 20, 1997
I'm still awake and it's 1:30. I haven't been able to sleep. It's raining like anything outside. I just love it when the weather reflects your mood. It's so poetic. I didn't know what to do with myself, so I knitted a little bag. Boy, am I insane.

I also journaled into the wee hours of the night, making my junior year of high school VERY well documented. So much the worse.

I'll give an overview of what happened next to put into context any overly dramatic passages I uncover over the next few days.

As I remember it, the breakup with JR was the catalyst that got me to start starving myself in earnest, and for the next several years my mental space was 90% calorie counts (with the remaining 10% reserved for planning sexual encounters and describing them in ridiculously flowery detail.) Yet even this gives too much credit to causality. What I'm learning from this project is that nothing I remember from my life is actually chronologically accurate. To say my eating disorder rolled in with the shiny RAV-4 would be to deny the days in Israel where I nearly passed out from refusing schnitzel. Even in the midst of budding young love the previous spring, my journal recounts a visit to the doctor for stomach problems which were restriction induced. So maybe I can't say why I do anything ever. I imagine I have motives, but in reality my actions occur in an opaque void of reason and morality.

In this moral voidness Dan and I started dating again. He was 20 and I was 16, so the fact that he was in college provided some logistical difficulties. Also the fact that I was a slut didn't help much. In the journal he comes across as an honorable young man: kind, loving, patient, and forgiving. I loved him madly and cheated on him compulsively. There was a jerky upperclassman who disgusted me in every way and I kept on making out with him in his car for... I don't know... reasons.

Aug 22 1997
I kissed two people today, in completely different ways. I fooled around with L in the hard sweaty way. But I just felt like I was killing time. I didn't even like to kiss him. I don't actually like him that much. I resented him for thinking I do. He's using my body but he's not getting at anything real. I thought I needed just a little bit of closeness, someone holding me tight, to get my mind off needing closeness. What I got was a lot of hard, tiring fooling around to repulse me enough that I could convince myself I didn't want it.

Clearly I was ether over-thinking things, or not thinking at all.

Then in the same entry there is a overwrought description of some kissing that I apparently enjoyed more. It seems that in High School I both hated and enjoyed things by charging them with massive amounts of emotion. (Aside to Dan: this one's about you, babe. Please say I can post it — it's sooooo embarrassingly terrible!)

Then it happened. We acted like children fumbling in the dark. We are fumbling towards each-other. We act like children and amuse ourselves with balls and minute-long games. Then when the lights turn off we grab for each-other and hold on tight. But is is just anouther minute-long game? Will we get bored of it when the moment has passed, and go play something else? Or will this be our last game, and will we lose ourselves forever?

I have to admit, this book is testing my limits for experiencing embarrassment. And there are so so many pages yet to go.


I tried to read another diary and I couldn't get past the first page without blogging

There are four more notebooks to go in the re-read my high school diaries series, and I'm sweating a little bit about this project I've taken on. For one thing, I'm afraid reading my past writing might be slowly making me a worser writer. The more I read paragraphs like the following, the more I think this might pass for acceptable syntax:

Aug 14, 1997
Pretty soon I'm going to find myself a full blown adult. But I guess there's nothing I can do about it. I'm MAKING it happen.

Pretty soon I'm going to find myself a full blown adult? Where? Under the bed? If I keep on reading these journals, I'll probably find one on the next page..

Oh! That was a sex joke I made there! See what I said about this project dumbing down my writing?

Because that's the other problem with reading these journals... so much sexiness! It's basically the only side of my life I felt was important enough to chronicle. Making out... making out... seriously, I could go the rest of my life without reading the words "second base" in print. And I don't know whether to feel repulsed or titillated. These days I'm closer to being a parent of a teenager than to being an actual teenager, so I guess the tales of young libido should make me nervous. But I also associate with the person in these journals. Indeed, it's as if all the characters aged with me, and I can picture my adult friends running around after reunion playing spin the bottle for seven minutes in the closet. Pot bellies and all. G-ross!

But even so, reading about sex cannot help but be (um, dare I be honest?) a turn on. Which feels weird at a time in my life when I would prefer not to engage with sexual thoughts. Seriously, if any stray desires crops up in me, I just can't ask Dan for help... having sex at this stage in my pregnancy is a difficulty akin to circus acrobatics.

And yet it's hard to stay away from the project. There are four journals I haven't read yet, and who knows what they may hold? Right now the children are sweetly jumping on their beds, and the next diary beckons to me. (They asked me to tie their legs in restraints because they're being mermaids. This is the reason I'm trying to throw these journals away, so the incriminating evidence is out of the house by the time the boys realize where their kinky streak came from.)

So I have to press on. What will I find in the rest of these journals? Will it be exciting or horrifying? I can only take a tip from my younger self and embrace the unknown:

I feel like I am a clear shelf. I don't know what I'll put on it yet, but it's gonna be important. I can imagine these shelves five years in the future. As I look at them, imaginary objects float in and out of their shadow and grace my life with their presence. Photographs drift in and linger, than drift away as well. I am not afraid.


Diary #3: the one where the cover says 'day dreams' for some reason

There is a gap in the journals where I apparently don't write my freshman year of High School. The next book picks up mid-way through my sophomore year in 1997. This is the first diary that seems to be written by an adult-sounding Leah whom I recognize to be myself, or at least a more emotional and clothing-shedding version of myself. I flew through the reading because I was so engaged in my own story. My own VERY RACY story.

June 13, 1997
In the darkness I was waiting for him to touch me, and he did. But very slowly and hesitantly. We lay on the bed for almost a half hour, testing how intimate we could become. It started off slowly and it took a really long time for our lips to touch. But when they did, it was amazing —I felt as if a dam were breaking inside and overflowing. We stopped for a moment and I whispered, "I missed you so much." He whispered back, "Me too."

This book tells the slobber-drenched beginning of a relationship that I know from memory ended rather unpleasantly. Mostly ALL I remember about this relationship is its bad ending, in fact. So it was a different thing entirely to read these Harlequin-Romance-inspired excerpts that seemed to come out of someone else's life, some else's joyously sensuous teenage life.

I wonder if that's what enticed me to read these journals in the first place. What entices anyone to sneak a peak at someone else's journal. Every entry is a story in progress. It's all so LIVE. Yeah, of course a novel is a story in progress or even an autobiography, but those have the benefit of authorship or hindsight. A journal writer is flying by the seat of her pants, trying desperately to capture the moment she's living in. She doesn't know that this relationship will be the single most damaging thing in her life, that she'll want more than anything to forget every moment of it, that she will be so thankful later to be saved from it. She only says, look here! this is what I'm living!

She says to her diary, to the high school boy she's making out with, to her unknown future reader, yes to her very own self she says: Look at me. Look at me and love me.

I think both my high-school journaling and my sexual exploits described therein were designed to meet this end. Look at me and love me. The assurance of love was all I ever wanted. It's hard to imagine from my vantage point now, now that I have a wonderful husband and two beautiful children who fight over who gets to sit next to me at any given moment. It's hard to imagine I ever needed MORE love and attention. But at one point I did, in 1997, and I don't want to mock it as immature or juvenile. The voice in this journal is my own (if uncensored) and in the absence of love I will do ANYTHING, I will WRITE ANYTHING to feel like I can fleetingly touch it.


my adolescent diary continued

Diary #2: a blue brocade cover with silver flowers.

This diary starts the summer before 8th grade and ends the following spring. Its contents are noticeably darker than that of the first diary, which still had youthful enthusiasm mixed in with childish outrage and atrocious spelling. This second diary, however, seems more bored and angst-ridden.

I think a lot about death and sex and getting old and how I shouldn't think about it.

Yes, Leah, that is what you are like: helplessly brooding and self-loathing about it. I would like to say this changes some day, but all I can say is that by the time you hit 30 you won't think about sex so much anymore.

The events I chose to write about in 1994 read like a more sad, more boring Jane Austin novel. I am meticulous about describing the weekly parties I attended: who was there, what we did, and what awful social predicament I got myself into. On one hand the events appear to be normal fun teenage hanging out: baking cookies, listening to music, playing truth or dare. The way I tell it, however, these actual events merely serve as the back-drop for a complicated emotional play. In the world of my diary, heaven and hell hang on the balance of who likes me and whether or not we will make out.

About the details of sexual exploration I am all at once blase, naive, and terrified. I want people to like me, I want to like physical experiences, but I don't quite know what to do when these explorations leave me feeling used or profoundly grossed out. I describe the boy who "kissed like a cwezenart" (good use of phonetic spelling, I might add) and the description might bring up laughter if it didn't also conjure the very real memory of panic. "It was like he was going to eat me alive," I write. Not only were 13-year-old boys bad kissers, but in my mind they were werewolves: sometimes human, sometimes frighteningly out of control.

Of course, for the diary I also tried to play it cool. After a detailed description of the guest list to my birthday party I write:

Hilights of year 13:
The Earth didn't crash into the sun.

And then a diatribe about who likes me at this moment and what I might have to fear from his sexual appetite. Written in the most boring prose possible.

What am I to say about this small artifact of my personal history? Was my adolescence inconsolably terrible? Was I merely "fronting" for the posterity of the written word? Was the diary (like the blog sometimes is) a sounding board to air out unpleasant emotions so I could be happier in my general life?

Who's to say? I don't know if I can really bring myself to care whether my adolescence was pleasant or not. When I think back on this time I can remember plenty of lovely moments. I remember watching Dan walk down the street towards my house and feeling my heart leap in my chest without quite knowing why. I remember an accidental touch of his hand sending electric current through my body all the way down to my shoes. I remember the hair in his face, oh God the hair always in his face, and how he tossed his head to the side to flip it out of the way — my stomach gets queasy even at the memory. But these are feelings that are difficult to describe, perhaps too sacred, and certainly not meant for the lexicon of a 13 year old girl where there is only "like" or "sucks" and "love" is a concept too scary.

And yet over time and tainted by my current perspective, these are the sweet things I remember while everything else fades away. The slights, the confusion, the cuisinart kissers, let these be forever forgotten. This is the reason I wanted to dispose of these diaries in the first place. I want the pleasant firsts to remain in my memory while the difficulty of growing up to be ever hurled on the trash heap of cognition.


mis-spelled missives from the past

Last week I moved every single item in my cold dirty laundry room in order to find a wise men playmobile set my mother-in-law bought the boys for Christmas last year. I had put it in the basement because the boys were fighting over the pieces, while also asking me every ten seconds to adjust or locate all the little tiny crowns / gold pieces. We had all forgotten about the toy until a few weeks ago when Grandma asked after it, found out I'd put it in the basement, and then informed me that children are denied an essential part of childhood if they can't throw tantrums over gold plastic coins 1/16 inch in diameter. So while I sorted through the baby clothes down there I also sorted through the toys to find the wise men. Sure enough, the boys immediately started fighting over the pieces and asking me to open and close the treasure chest over and over and over again.

At least I like being right. The next day the wise men went live at Grandma's house.

Meanwhile, I found something that I thought had been already land-filled, a set of diaries I wrote starting when I was 11 years old and ending my sophomore year in college. I remember wanting to throw these away, but worrying about them being discovered by some future archeological team mining a landfill. But after cleaning out my Grandmother's apartment this week I now have more fear of someone in my immediate family coming across such a journal. My childhood self could easily tarnish the adult reputation I've spent years building.

So throw them away immediately! But.... can I really throw them away without READING them? Oh, it's ever so tempting. Plus, if I start reading them, can I really read them without SHARING them? At least sharing some choices funny bits that I curate through the lens of my adult blogging self?

No, this needs to be some sort of blogging project.

So here it begins, a little new years treat for all of you: diary entries starting 20 year ago.

Book 1: the pink diary with hearts on the cover.

This book starts on 4/15/93, with the end of a middle-school relationship that is too embarrassing to excerpt. More embarrassing, however, is my terrible spelling! "Twice" spelled with an "s," "since" spelled with an initial "c." Along I find a very holistic spelling of a certain swear word:

I want to have anouther party. Every-body thinks it would be a good idea. Except 2 people; my parents. They are Ass-wholes.

Oh God, I am so sorry parents. If I knew how badly I was executing this cussing out I would have never committed it to print.

Also, Dan was happy to hear that I he was the best dancer at my 12th birthday party. But the entry on 5/6/93 reveals that while I was starting to "like" Dan, "he's not the kind of person you would go out with." Apparently that is why our marriage mostly involves sitting around the house. Also in this entry I eat "french tost."

And that's all that's worth sharing of the pink diary. THANK GOD it's going in the trash today. Only 5 books to go!