Friday, November 03, 2006

Mortify Me

Edited below.

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:



metro mama said...

This is fun. I've been thinking about getting out my old diary and posting a bit of my attempted romance writing. It's a riot.

Her Bad Mother said...

I cannot even *bear* to repeat what was recorded in my diaries. PAINFUL to revisit. (That *ouch, ouch, so tempting to delete* feeling would overwhelm me.)

My friends and I had a dance troupe in the fourth grade. We called ourselves 'The Angora Debs' and did a mean disco/punk routine to Blondie's 'Heart of Glass,' which also had a variation that we performed on roller skates in our cul-de-sac on weekends. That's all you need to know.

Kristen said...

I can't bear to look at or post my old diary entries, either. Maybe in a few years I'll be able to bring myself to do it. Right now, just thinking about it makes me shudder.

I am loving that squash from the front, especially the picture with no flash!

Momish said...

I am now officially glad I did not have a diary as a teenager. I had a "notebook" with limited entries that really amount to nothing. I already know that anything I would have written back then would be FAR worse than what you have so bravely shared.

Had I known about the Judy Blume diary thing, I would have been green with envy as well!

OK, tell your husband the squash is even more incredible from the front!

Anonymous said...

Tee hee! How fun is that. This rivals one of my former favourite entries where you used the word "winettes."
Still can't remember my password--L.

nomotherearth said...

Omigod! I totally had that diary! I was such a Judy Blume fan that I HAD to have it. I filled in all the info, and read all the quotes. I started writing entries which, if I remember correctly, are incredibly embarrassing in nature - mostly "wah wah! so-so doesn't like me!" or "I can't stop thinking about so and so" (for a girl with no boyfriends, I was very boy-focused. Not boy-crazy, just boy-focused.) I stopped about a third of the way through, though, because I've always been a lousy diarist. Is 'diarist' a word? I digress. It takes the public nature of a blog to make me commit to writing on a consistent basis. Isn't that strange?

Kyla said...

Ha! I should do a version of this with junior high love letters between Josh and I. *lol* I'm sure there are some jems in there.

penelopeto said...

this entire post is freakin hysterical. very brave of you to crack open the proof of how ridiculous we are in our youth. (btw - i had 'letters to judy' in which she PERSONALLY RESPONDS to all of the angst/hormone/ignorance- riddled correspondance sixth grade girls could throw at her. my bible until i discovered my parents' copy of eyewtkas*)

tell the huz that the admiration of the squash-o-lantern continues, and that he is very thoughtful to have given it extra holes for ventilation. one can only imagine how much squashes tend to sweat.

bubandpie said...

Kyla - I SO WANT to read those letters btw. you and Josh!

HBM - Did I mention the dance routine the BFF and I created to the tune of Olivia Newton John's "Magic"? (Or was it that one? Something off the Xanada soundtrack, anyway - that's all you need to know.)

Penelopeto - Okay, I'll bite: what's eyewtkas?

Mother Bumper said...

My dairies do not exist anymore (I had a bonfire in my early twenties) for this exact reason: I could not handle the painful and excruciating angst of my selfish preteen and teen years. I kind of regret destroying them now. You are a brave soul.

Beck said...

I'm cringing so much right now. I burned my pre-teen and teenaged diaries, too, because they were so unbearable.

My chart listing my chest measurements basically was unchanged until I was 23. This caused me great angst, as you may imagine.

I'm still a fan of the dash - too lazy to use proper punctuation, that's me.

Becky said...

I kept a journal on and off through jr high & high school... only when I was forced to by teachers. ;o) Although, I was a creative writing major at our local Arts high school, I never (& still don't) thought that my life was terribly interesting and who would ever care what I have to say.

But your journal entries are very amusing... it's like a raw Louise Rennison novel. LOL! I sometimes look back at a few of my own saved journals and have a good laugh. Life as a teenager is so dramatic... and I wasn't even a "Drama Queen"!

Tell your hubby, I love his jack-o-squash!! ;o)

PS... Halloween pics of my kids are up on my blog!

Terri B. said...

The squash-o-latern definitely gets a 2 thumbs-up rating. I particularly like the lopsided grin (unless it is just a trick of the camera?). Anyway, the grin gives it quite the character!

Terri B. said...

Yeah, I can spell squash-o-lantern!

Mary-LUE said...

I'm impressed that you faithfully kept a diary at that age.

I'm impressed that you still have that diary.

I'm really impressed that you were brave enough to share selections from it with us.

I am still horrible at journaling. I have a horde of journals with a few entries and then nothing. I love to buy them, I'm just not good at using them!

Oh, The Joys said...

I planned to be famous by becoming the side-kick of the TV Batman and Robin and my costume was going to be a very fuzy bunny suit. Smart, eh?

Oh, and dear Mr. B & P - what to go with the butternut squash!

DaniGirl said...

You're very brave to share that stuff! It's painful, but oh so familiar. How I wish I had some of my old diaries. All of my old papers, including diaries and school newspapers I had written and actual assignments and notebooks got left in my ex's garage when we split. When I remembered them a few months later, he denied knowledge of their existence.


Mel said...

Ever (was that a part of the title?)

*but were afraid to ask

I have to say here that it would take lots of money, booze, and the threat of nekked pics of me on teh internet before I'd post a diary entry.
And yes, they were THAT BAD.

Em said...

Before I left overseas for 9 years (when I was 26) I had a ritualistic burning of all my teenage diaries. I couldn't bear to look at them anymore. I now think its a pity... I wouldn't mind delving into some of the older ones!

Rock the Cradle said...

whoo boy. Those diaries are buried somewhere in storage. I think I'll leave them there for now.

The squash-o-lantern, man. I'm inspired. Maybe I'll make one for Thanksgiving.


cinnamon gurl said...

Too funny!

I'm with nomo. I never really had a diary, but people kept giving me blanks for Christmas gifts, so I'd write one or two entry about the latest boy I had a painful unrequited crush on, fold in an unsent letter to said boy and then never touch it again. Hmmm... I wonder where they are? Yikes! They're probably still at my parents' place...

Continued praise for the squash-o-lantern...

TrudyJ said...

I both love and abhor revisiting my old diaries ... cute and embarrassing all at once. I would never burn them though ... wayyy too obsessive about preserving myself for posterity.

A friend was foolish enough to show me her junior high diary when she was in her late teens and I was in my early 20s. Little did she know that a few years later I would be her bridesmaid and get to make a speech at her wedding ... in which I shared with everyone her Grade Eight strategy for attracting the Man of her Dreams:

1) Smile a lot.
2) Wear tighter pants.

penelopeto said...

Obviously I'm not the only one that stole her parents' copy!
Mel - I'm really not sure about the 'Every' - time to go rummaging again, I guess.

mamalang said...

I was in the "liked to buy them but was bad about writing in them" category, so I've finally stopped buying them. I'm sort of glad now. I did find a bunch of letters from junior and senior high awhile back, and they were not to be shared! Personally, I'm a fan of the dots...moreso than the hyphen :)

I love the squash-o-lantern. It's simply smashing!

Lady M said...

Three words about my middle school literary magazine: Epic tragic limerick.

I think it got published because my BF and I were the co-editors. I hope I can't find a copy anywhere.

sunshine scribe said...

You once told me we were the same person in highschool. This only confirms it. My god I could have written this post. Scary. See you tonight.

Girl con Queso said...

First of all, I had no idea there was such a thing as a Judy Blume diary. I feel I was robbed.

Secondly, "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"...made me laugh out loud. Brilliant. What more activities could you really want and/or expect in a club. I'd like to be an honorary ginger snap. Please.

kittenpie said...

This is hilarious! This is exactly why I don't have the few attempts at diaries I tried over the years. They never lasted long, though.

And I must say, I don't think I would have thought of using a squash in the even that Misterpie hadn't gone out weeks in advance and bought four pumpkins... (yes, he's nuts)

ewe are here said...

I recall receiving diaries when I was young, but after a few entries I always seemed to lose interest in writing in them.

The only journal I ever wrote in daily was the one I kept as I backpacked through Europe a few years back -- probably because, other than pins, it was the only real memento I could lug around in my pack for three months! And now I blog ... which is a kind of like journaling, right? ;-)

edj said...

I re-read my jr hi diary when I was in my early 20s. I thought it would be funny, as when I was in high school I would constantly re-read it and add snide comments in the margins. But the comments weren't as plentiful as I thought, and the diary itself was sooo melodramatic and angst-ridden and completely over-the-top that it turned my stomach. I was depressed for days at what a shallow person I was. Finally I burned it. Maybe I shouldn't have, but can't bear thought of kids eventually reading it!! Yikes.

allrileyedup said...

Truly wonderful post. I cringe at the thought of the words from my fourth grade diary. It was one of those soft, foamy covers, and it had Hello Kitty on the cover.

T. said...

I kept all my childhood diaries, but I confess to being too much of a chicken shit to dig them out and revel in my childhood angst.

However, after reading your post maybe I will.

Or perhaps I'll just pass them along to my ten year old daughter and let her discover for herself what a real geek her mother is.

Suzanne said...

I had one of those Judy Blume diaries! In seventh/eighth grade, I think. I loved it; I think it was the only time I kept a diary for an entire year.

I've been thinking about doing a post similar to this, if I ever have the nerve to poke around my old diaries.