Every Thursday, I dig out an old diary and share an entry sans editing (in hopes we’ll all see my grammar and apostrophe use improve) with a short commentary. If you like laughing with/at Young Ashley, feel free to use the handy search bar to the right and simply type “Throwback Thursday” and you’ll find the whole archive. Thanks for reading!

Friday December 24, 1999

Dear Genna, 

Been a while, ya think? I’m still Ashley, but now I go to Maplewood. I still like Andy, but I’ve added a crush or two to my list. 

  1. Joey
  2. Andy
  3. Tyler
  4. Sam
  5. Todd

Joey is in seventh grade. Locker number 2632, Bus number 862, Bus route 66. 

<3, Ashley

Saturday December 25, 1999

Dear Diary, 

Sorry, but when I named you “Genna” I was a total freak! So now, you’re just plain ol’ diary, k, k!

For Christmas, (so far.) I got two pairs of Levi flare jeans, a tech vest, two shirts, the 98° Christmas CD, and a camera!

Either more later, or tomorrow, Ashley

Friday January 14, 2000

Dear Diary, 

I just got home from (it’s 11:35pm!) my first boy-girl party. And it was really fun. At first it was really boring because most of the kids were just sitting around. But then when people started leaving, it got better. (Oh yeah, this was my friend Ali’s 13th birthday.) When just me, Ali, Emily, Anna, Isiah, and Corey were left. (Not my older bro. A really cute and quiet kid.) I danced to some really funky, up beat song with Isiah, just a twilling thing, (Mom!) nothing serious. Ok, sorry Mom, but I was trying to get Corey to dance with me but he didn’t Corey said the only way he would dance is if we got his hat off, which he had, pracitcally glued to his head the whole night. I got it off twice! He barely danced! The first time I got his hat, I ran into the Girls bathroom, where I thought I’d be safe. But He ran in way in the back and said, nonchalauntly, “Can I have my hat back?” Emily and I were just shreiking. But I had a great time. I hope I’ll have parties that cool.

Ur’s always, Ashley

Good God. Young Ashley. You’re still a “total freak” even after renaming your Pooh book. I hope all 11-year olds are this psychotic.

I’m starting to hesitate with these posts, you guys. I often joke around that I’m a dork, but I’m offering you prime evidence here. Soon we’re going to be getting into my high school days. That’s going to be mortifying. Then college? Hot damn. You just might see me get truly vulnerable. I’ve been pretty nonchalant (or nonchalaunt, if you’re eleven and into phonetics) about sharing these prior diary entries, because in an abstract sense, I don’t think you should be embarrassed about anything that happens before you’re 18. Everyone was once an awkward kid trying to figure out their place in the world – navigating a new terrain of crushes, interactions with the opposite sex, name brand clothes and the relative popularity status. However, in a more concrete sense, I’m afraid my diaries will illustrate all the ways I haven’t matured.

These days, I don’t tempt boys into dancing by stealing their hats and running into bathrooms while shrieking, but I sometimes still feel that sense of unwarranted embarrassment when talking to a guy I find attractive. I’m picturing the shrieking now. I’m writing this on Wednesday night and in about an hour, I’ll be meeting the academic (yes, from the comedy club) for wine and live jazz. What would that be like? He’d put his arm around me and in two seconds I’d turn bright red, squealing when his fingers brush my shoulder blade. When the bill came I would try to pay my portion with exact change using crumpled bills and 37 pennies, completely unaware of the tipping concept. Thank god we pretend to be normal humans. Restaurants would be the most chaotic places on earth if we all acted like eleven year old kids. 

I’ve found that dating in my twenties is more refined than my obsessive crushes that seemed appropriate as a child. I memorized facts about my crushes the same way I did with celebrities. If it had been possible, I probably would have had posters of not just James Van der Beek and Leonardo Dicaprio, but also Joey, Andy, and Tyler –  obviously not Sam or Todd though. I’m not sure what my goal was by memorizing his locker number and bus route. Maybe I thought my diligence to remember digits pertaining to him would translate to devotion he would find endearing.

Reading this entry took some time. For those interested in the legibility of their writing, I would not recommend metallic Jelly Rolls.

Reading this entry took some time. For those interested in the legibility of their writing, I would not recommend metallic Jelly Rolls.

Clearly, this was when I used metallic gel pens and before I developed a sense of empathy. I don’t think I realized these boys were complete people. They were flat characters – ones easily learned by keeping in mind simple facts. Not that I would have been able to articulate it, but I knew that I was an emotional being, capable of containing contradictions and parts of myself I was unwilling to share or acknowledge. Everyone around me was just another character in my life. I had no desire to truly learn about another person. And anyway, how could I have kept them all straight? I had five crushes at one point – a girl can barely memorize five locker numbers, much less learn about five different boys.

I miss the innocence of the days when 11:35 was extraordinarily late and I was excited by the presence of boys at a party. I didn’t have the capability for discerning between boys I liked and didn’t like – they were all  just boys! Boys I could flirt with! Boys whose very presence gave me butterflies. I think the inability to discern emotions is so characteristic of adolescence. Everything I felt was so strong. Every joke a boy told me made me laugh. Every note passed to me made me feel adored. Every exchanged smile meant the potential for my first kiss.

Because it was all new, everything was a gut feeling until I was able to place them in a hierarchy. Even after I did this, I would ignore the distinctions because a boy was giving me attention. I still squealed (in my head) whenever a guy made the slightest effort to show me he was interested. It wasn’t till about 22 that I realized I didn’t have to spend time with complicated assholes if I didn’t want to.

Ahhh, growing up. You offer such good lessons. For my younger readers – WHY ARE YOU READING THIS, DID YOUR MOM GIVE YOU PERMISSION?! DOES SHE KNOW THAT I OCCASIONALLY SWEAR?! – I’d like to tell you to keep your psychotic behavior to a minimum and keep your standards high. If you’re wondering, yes you are a dork, but so is everyone else, so don’t be too hard on yourself. Also, read good books.



  1. Wait, do we stop being awkward and start knowing our place after we turn 18 (from your post: “I don’t think you should be embarrassed about anything that happens before you’re 18. Everyone was once an awkward kid trying to figure out their place in the world”)? If that’s true, I’m very, very worried about myself.

    I’m 32 (and married) and I’m still excited by the presence of boys at parties . . . 🙂

    • Haha, no we’re still awkward after 18. The only difference is that you are justified by being embarrassed by yourself after 18. Prior to that, you should just accept your life is bound to be mortifying and there is no use being embarrassed by that whole period.

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