Cease Your Over-Manifestations

 

(Cringe-worthy – Part 1)

I just finished childhood journal #1 and it wasn’t quite as bad as I expected. Spanning two years, from age 13 to 15½, it wasn’t really like a diary. It contained a lot of doodles, jokes, lists, pictures I drew, a few Bionic Man stickers from my boxes of Lucky Charms, my favorite family sayings (“Cease your over-manifestations of anti-social tendencies!” and “But the theoretical implications are alone staggering!”) and one rant about my mom making me do chores (“So unfair!”), immediately followed by this written on the opposite page:

journal1

On a more humbling note, my 54 year old’s memory of her 13 year old self turned out to be fairly true. It seems I never met a boy I couldn’t get a crush on. And I never had a crush that lasted for more than a few weeks (mostly because some new boy came along). The only saving grace is that – just like with my mom rant – I seemed capable of some self-reflection even at that time. A few weeks before my 14th birthday, I catalogued “The Guys in My Life* – *As of Valentine’s Day, 1976”.  It’s a list of names (a lot of them unfamiliar to me now), each one followed by a short commentary:  sort of, eh, mistake, chased but never caught, the first real one, the second real one, I give up!, the third real one, could be never was, and  experience. This was followed by:

journal2

It’s kind of a miracle that I’ve stayed married for 27 years.

I did a lot of shifting around on the girlfriend and “best friend” fronts too. The journal starts with a euphoric declaration that K.S. was now my best friend. (“Best day of my life!!”). Four pages and two months later, we mutually decided that we were not best friends after all. (“But we’re still good friends.”)  K.S. then moved away and quickly disappeared completely from my life.

Later, I mention the “cool crowd” and the “cheerleader crowd” in my High School, neither of which I belonged to. I hatched a plan to find every girl these two cliques had cut and invited them all over to my house for a party. According to my journal, “we were really rowdy and had a blast”. Of course, I made a list of all their names. And just like with the list of boys above, I can’t remember now who half of these girls were. But the other half? They stayed my friends throughout high school and, even now, over thirty-five years and several thousand miles later, there’s still a connection.

The only truly disconcerting thing about Journal #1 was some of the words I used. It stunned me to read them and discover they were ever a part of my vocabulary. I can’t even bring myself to type them now. The least offensive one was “quier” (sic), which I am pretty sure just meant “strange” at the time and was not yet used to insult gay people (geez, I hope not!) Where did that budding capacity for self-reflection go when it came to my word choices? Were these words I tossed around outside the confines of my journal? Was I so oblivious to their meanings? Or was I just trying them out or, even worse, trying to sound cool? If it was the last one, I can say definitively to my 13 year old self that it was the uncoolest thing about you.

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10 thoughts on “Cease Your Over-Manifestations

  1. We also used queer to mean odd or uncool. I’m not sure I even understood what a homosexual was back then. Your journal is an interesting look at your youth much of which we never remember. I think I can remember most of the boys I was interested in (but never successful with) but I can’t tell you who the first crush was.

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  2. I love your favorite family sayings… my parents would never have said any such things. Their favs were more like “Back in my day…” (and went on to tell us how rough they had it and comparatively, how good we had it) or “Do you girls think we own the electric/water/gas company?” My first boyfriend was a fellow second-grader who kissed me under a table in the Catholic school’s BINGO hall. Throughout grade and high school, I was arguably the squarest person on earth. (My sisters would have been 2nd, 3rd, and 4th runners-up.) I didn’t keep a journal, but if I had, I couldn’t guess whether reading it would make me cringe or laugh hysterically. 🙂

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    1. 1) My family sayings came mostly from an older brother who was too smart for school teachers and therefore ended up in detention a lot.
      2) The fact that you kannudeled in the Second Grade in a Bingo Hall is truly shocking to me.
      3) Reading your 13 year old journal would make you BOTH cringe and laugh hysterically.

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  3. I am really surprised to see that your handwriting hasn’t changed. Everything else is just as (I guess) any other teens writings would be. Another surprise on the occasion of meeting your teenage persona: I’d never have guessed the crushes. You? Na! And I agree with Just Joan, the family sayings are priceless.

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  4. You’re way too hard on your 13-year-old self. I remember trying out a few choice words as a teenager that I’d never use today, mostly because my mom lowered the boom when she overheard me saying them. Adolescence in hindsight is just bound to be cringe-worthy. So I give you credit for reading those journals — faced with the same choice, I would have burned them and scattered the ashes on the lawn of my Junior High School.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for the laugh.
      As for mothers lowering the boom, I thought the same thing. It makes me fairly sure that this language was confined to my journals and not used for public consumption. At least I am really hoping so!

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