I’ve blogged before about my Judy Blume diary, an item so coveted by eleven-year-olds that my first entry in it is devoted to the envy and consternation likely to ensue among my friends as a result of its acquisition. I pulled it out of storage the other day in response to Wordgirl’s post about Mortified, a "live-comedy reality-theater event" involving people transforming their pre-teen diaries into seven-minute stand-up comedy routines. The show is designed to help participants achieve "personal redemption through public humiliation."
The idea has a certain gruesome appeal.
I was relieved to discover from Wordgirl’s post that I was not the only fourth-grader obsessed primarily with becoming famous. Did anyone else read the novel Fourth-Grade Celebrity? I studied it carefully, and developed a plan to achieve celebrity status, primarily by (1) chewing gum in class (and getting caught by the teacher), (2) placing a stuffed animal strategically on my desk (because everyone knows that excessive attachment to stuffed animals is the key to popularity), and (3) putting a comb in my back pocket at the rollerskating arena. Needless to say, it quickly became apparent that my desire for celebrity would have to be fulfilled through fame rather than through elementary-school popularity.
Competition was my very life-blood in those days: on the opening page of my Judy Blume diary, under likes and dislikes, I listed the following:
I like: Macaroni and Cheese, Chocolate, Writing Compositions, Winning
I hate: Jason Smith’s show-offiness, spinach, having BFF beat me
(Note the double standard: my entire life, as far as this diary is concerned, is devoted to showing off, but the same luxury is decidedly not extended to the hapless Jason Smith.)
Let us take a look into the leaves of this old record of my childhood hopes and dreams, shall we? On April 21, the Judy Blume quote of the day was taken from It’s Not the End of the World: "I do pretty good in school. [pretty GOOD??] I am supposed to be mature, well adjusted and eager to learn. I saw this written on my permanent record card one day in the fall. Sometimes I don’t feel mature, well adjusted and eager to learn." My attitude towards learning, by contrast, is as follows: "Tomorrow I have to do my Oral Presentation on San Francisco and all I have is one crummy soap compared to filmstrips, clothing, money, records, pottery, eggs, food. Mom and Dad say I have enough and don’t worry because Andrea didn’t have anything but she got 26/40 and if I’m going to get Academic plaque I can’t afford to have that on my record. Our kitten has its eyes open and I want to call it Kippy."
Observation #1: The other kids had brought in "eggs" for their Interesting City presentations. How was I supposed to compete with that?
Observation #2: Does anyone know of a good dentist who can remove Academic plaque?
A few more tidbits:
April 25: I am going to start a club Laura Carolyn, Crystal and I will be in it not Andrea because she thinks talking about you-know-whats and having your period is stupid. She would want to play barbies or something. Laura has such a strong will she probably will refuse to be in our club unless she can be president.
April 28: Last night the dance elective put on the show. I was in the disco Hot Chocolate. I hope the boys in our class liked it! [oh, ouch ouch ouch – so tempting to delete!] I don’t know who to like, Paul (humor), Dan (talent) or Alan (get away from Kelly).
I did start the club I had planned out on April 25: we called ourselves the Ginger Snaps and my code name was Foreste. Activities included speaking in a code language and playing the boy game: you pick a boy to like and then you score a point every time that boy talks to you (the highest number of points achieved in one day turned out to be 4). And I did win the academic achievement award that year (the point of which, naturally, was to receive the plaque, not the honour or recognition). I will spare you the five-page entry celebrating that particular achievement and leave you instead with one last entry. Should it be the chart listing my bust measurements over a 15-month period? Should it be the conspiracy-theory entry in which I explained how on the first day of school "the boys in our class decide – unofficially of coarse – who – of the girls – is the most popular"? (I was a real aficionada of the dash in those days.) Should it be the July entry planning my fashion strategy for the fall? (It depended heavily on the "Cheryl Tiegs fashions for girls" line of clothing.) Or how about this one:
August 1: I want to get to know myself so I can really choose the boy I want. Characteristics: smart, lazy, quick tempered, emotional, a little self centered.
Hmmm…I wonder which of the twelve boys in my grade six class would have been best suited for an eleven-year-old with those characteristics?
Edited to add: After posting the above, I began to remember the angst I felt, as a teenage diarist, about the judgements my adult self might pass on those hasty outpourings of unrequited love and thwarted ambition. And though I cringe and poke fun at myself now in exactly the way my former self most feared, what I realize now that I didn't know then is how very much myself I still am. That competitive, boy-crazy, self-obsessed girl is still me, alas - I'm better able to hide those traits, from myself at least, but that naked greed for validation in any form - awards, boys, popularity - it's just a little less naked now. That's all.
Back by Popular Demand: The Squash-o-Lantern!
Hubby has thoroughly enjoyed the overwhelming response to his butternut squash-o-lantern. I think he’s finally discovered the addictive appeal of blogging: he’s been checking my comments obsessively over the last few days, reveling in your acknowledgement of his ingenuity and artistry.
So in the interests of providing proper acknowledgement and attribution, I want to make it clear that (a) hubby is entirely responsible for the purchase and carving of said butternut squash, and (b) the photo in my last post is of the back of the squash-o-lantern, where he cut some extra holes for ventilation. The front elevation is provided for you below, both with and without flash:
Friday, November 03, 2006