December 13, 1992

So, I was pretty excited about my new blank book. The first entry goes on for like five pages.

It starts out with me blathering for a bit about how all my friends want to get older so they can escape their childhoods and move on, and how I would rather just go back. I’m not “too keen” on the future, but, nevertheless, am looking forward to old age.

*sigh*  My arguments in favor of old age are naive and unconvincing.

But then I write this

I think that the whole childhood thing – E is coughing uncontrollably and it’s really funny – deal (written above) may have something to do with my infatuation with the past. I like the past, it’s so very direct, I know what happened and now it’s over so I don’t have to worry about it.

Apart from my apparent heartlessness toward my sick friend, this is pretty typical for me. I dislike uncertainty. I also don’t like games that make you guess. Like fucking Minesweeper! Remember Minesweeper? It came with Windows and there was always a part where the mine is behind one of two squares and you have to guess. If you can’t logic your way into a better future, I guess all you can do is jab randomly anywhere on the screen until it all blows up.

I then state what I consider my “inevitable future”

I will be a communist dictator philosopher superhero…

But probably not.

No shit, kid. That sounds TERRIBLE. First, communism is not as great as you think it is, as you’ll soon be learning in history class. Second, dictators are bad. Really bad! Philosophy is BORING. Be a different superhero.

This is the end of the first page of writing. On the second, I shift gears with

At the end of chapter 27 in Howards End

Note: The committed reader of this blog will benefit from a deep familiarity with the works of E.M. Forster. If you haven’t read them all yet, this post will still be here when you’re finished.

I actually haven’t read Howards End (or any of his books) in twenty years or so and can’t really remember what was so great about it, but it was clearly very important to me back in December of 1992. I’m afraid I might have to go back and reread some of these books in order to make sense out of some of my writing, but I really, really, really don’t want to right now. In any case, this is going to come up again. So, be prepared.

The reference to Howards End is really just a segue into an exploration of the meaning of life and death. What I imagine is happening here is that 15 year-old me got a new, fancy blank book to write in and is assuming that she needs to write something deep and is also under the impression that she is capable of writing something deep. I’m just going to summarize this part for you: You can either do lame shit like buy things or you can do amazing shit like travel and write in blank books. Ultimately, though, you’re going to be dead and so it doesn’t really matter, but in a good way because you can focus on doing amazing shit rather than planning for eternity. I casually mention God as though I believe in God, but clearly in a lazy sort of way. And then I quote my dad who told me that when he was a child, he would camp out on the lawn in his backyard at night and stare up at the stars and think about how long he was going to be dead.

I’m assuming we’re all in agreement that my dad should have been the one to write in blank books.

Then I, again, segue. This time into criticizing the American educational system. Another BIG THEME from my journals.

I had once, on walking home from school, come up with a system about thinking, learning, and teaching and their differences. But when I got home, I had forgotten the whole thing…

Oh no that’s awful I guess we’ll just never kno-

… but I think it boiled down to this. We must think in order to live physically. To breathe, react, etc. We must think more in order to live mentally, to be aware, to desire to learn, to really feel as apposed to being numb. We must learn in order to have something to think about. We must teach in order to be criticized about our ideas, and therefore we are forced to think more in order to back up our statements. That’s the problem with school. We don’t think, except in very rare situations. We don’t teach. We are taught. We have facts thrown at us…

And on and on. I included this mostly so you would realize that you weren’t missing too much when I summarized that life/death bit for you.

Pretty much the rest of this is talking about a few teachers that I actually do like. You know, the exceptions to the rule, right? So, first I needed to explain the difference between rules and laws and go on and on about it for a while.

Metaphorically, a rule has guidelines and a law has fences. Therefore, it is easier to go outside the lines of a rule without breaking it. With laws, you must climb over the fences, which takes a lot more time and trouble. Only the government can make a law. School can not, of course. Those who persevere, can break the fence, crawl under it or over it and be very happy. I’d like to be like that.

I do think it’s cool that I wanted to break laws.

So, this is getting long. But there’s still a page and half left about teachers.

Mr. M.
Mr. M taught me Western Culture maybe the year before I started writing in the journal. One of my brothers also had him and he was kind of legendary because his class was pretty hard. He wore suits and was very tidy. In the journal I mention that he “lectured and lectured and lectured”, which was true and kinda seems to contradict the problem I had with educators just throwing facts at us. For those who went to high school with me, you may be sad to hear that he’s now into wacky woo medicine.

Miss H.
She was a teacher from seventh grade that I have no memory of now.

I liked her because she let us write what we liked and when we wrote strange things, she loved them, and she liked me because I was weird.

I still like people who like me because I’m weird. Also, I think it’s worth noting that a year before I had this particular teacher, I was editor and sole writer of a fashion/political magazine created for a race of female-only space aliens called Foo Foos. It was an election year and I was totally obsessed with Michael Dukakis’s eyebrows.  There haven’t been any pictures in this post so far, so here you go.

Dukakis1988rally
Michael Dukakis and his eyebrows.

Mr. P
Mr. P taught Latin.

Now he’s a bit hokey. He’s very religious and he spends all his time helping people (pregnant teenagers, bad marriages, etc.). He’s very… helpful.

A savvier, older me is now worried that Mr. P might have been heavily in favor of terrible things like conversion therapy. But, I mean, I did well in his class…

I do well in his class. That may have something to do with the fact that it is really easy to cheat in his class. But I am learning. He doesn’t give us homework, so we can go home and “become”. So we’ll have time to learn to do nothing. The bad side is that he’s so religious, he tends to put his religion on you. But the good outweighs the bad, in my opinion.

Yeah. Maybe because you weren’t gay or pregnant. Later, I also mention that he is easily distracted from teaching class if you ask him about becoming.

Since Mr. P is so nice about teaching and no homework, I feel as though I have to learn. That’s the same drive that led me to do well in Mr. M’s class. His class was so different and wonderful, I want it to work. That’s why some teachers’ plans fail, because the students dislike it and don’t want it to work.

I hope all my educator friends out there are paying attention.

We’re almost done! In one last paragraph, I FINALLY get back to Howards End. Apparently, Helen – a character I vaguely remember as maybe the younger sister – says that she loves death because it makes her brave enough to stand up to all the soul-killing mediocrity that society wants her to embrace. Fifteen year-old me agreed heartily and would, I assume, be incredibly disappointed in me right now.

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