Throwback Thursday: Dear God, I met a boy…

Every Thursday, I dig I 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!

Sunday August 29, 1999

My mom and I had a looong talk. She said that when God takes us up to heaven, even our thoughts are judged or whatever. Lately I’ve been trying really hard not to think bad thoughts and keeping  myself spiritually clear. I’m going to get involved with the church. Today we went to the church picnic and I had a great time! I’m going to try out for the church orchestra, join youth group, and read my bible every night. I’ll try to each day I write in here to find a good bible verse for that day. End. I have a prayer, Dear Lord, please have my mind be clear of all evil thoughts, please have you be my first true love and not to get caught up with materialistic things of today. Amen. End. (again)

“Because you are specially and deeply loved, you are priceless.” Psalm 139:13-16; John 3:1

August 30,1999

I know I don’t have many pages left and lots of the thoughts that I wrote in here were evil. But I thought I’d put “Dear Jesus” on top of my entries. So that when I’d write it would be like talking to God. I’d tell him all my troubles just weeping because of my sin in his arms. 

Speaking of men/boys Corey made friends with a really HOT boy named Austin. He is thirteen, has dark brown hair, dyed blond on the top sort of, brown eyes, so cute. 

Real love is decorating his name whenever you write it.

Real love is decorating his name whenever you write it.

Sunday September 5, 1999

Dear God, 

I can’t get over Austin! He’s so adorable with his dreamy blue eyes, curly brown hair. He is so cute! And he treats me very, very good. I really think he’s musclur.  He’s so nice. He even likes all the same Christian groups I like. Like DC Talk, Jars of Clay, Newsboys, he is so cool. Most of the other boys I like haven’t even heard of DC Talk, so I think it would be cool to get together with Austin more often. Austin, if you’re reading this, I hope you like me, cause I sure like you! I’m not saying “love” cause I know I’ll (I might) get over him and see someone else I’ll really like so oh well. When I’m around Austin, thoughts spin in my head such as “Is my face oily?” “Is that pimple really read on my nose?” “Is my hair messy?” “Why is he staring at me?” 

I really hope Austin is a little bit interested in me. When we were at the high school hanging out, (It was just me, Dustin, Tiffany, and Corey) I was hoping that Austin would come outside. then all of the sudden, I was talking to Tiffany and I turned around and saw a bow riding a white bike – Austin! I’m like, “Tiff! There’s Austin!” (whispering)

“Omigosh!” she squeals. So then we were hanging out. Tiffany thinks I’m obsessed with him. But I can’t help it! He’s so nice, I could probably spend a whole day with him. End. 

Since I’m extremely tired and I think I’m starting to get a cold, I’ll keep my commentary pretty short today.

  1. My daily bible verse lasted precisely one day. Way to go, Ashley. 
  2. About 70% of my thoughts are probably evil by Young Ashley’s standards. It’s a good thing I’m neither catholic nor jewish. That guilt would be unbearable.
  3. I’m sure gushing about my crush isn’t exactly “evil”, but I don’t think calling a guy HOT with radiating steam rays is praiseworthy or godly.
  4. It’s probably okay though, because he liked DC Talk. We cool, God? We cool.
  5. This is the beginning of my religious period. I ended up playing in the church orchestra and joining a bible study where I met several friends who I was close with until high school came around. I’m not sure what exactly happened, but at some point, the friendships fell apart. I think I held those friends to a higher spiritual level, so I was disappointed to see they could be just as mean and two-faced as the kids I went to school with. Eventually we’ll probably also see my faith retreating.
  6. All crushes prior to Austin meant nothing. He had everything I was looking for: HOTNESS and an “i” in his name that I could dot with a heart.
  7. At eleven, treating me “very, very good” apparently meant letting me stand on the pegs of his Gary Fisher BMX bike while he peddled around the neighborhood. SWOON.
  8. Austin is probably the reason that, to this day, I have a soft spot for guys with dark curly hair. Either him or messy haired Patrick Dempsey. Anybody’s guess, really.
  9. I’ve never been good with eye color. I’ve had two separate relationships that each lasted two years and I can’t recall the color of either man’s eyes. I’ve probably suppressed the memory of one, but there isn’t really an excuse for the other. I think his eyes changed colors depending on the light and what he was wearing. That’s my final answer.
  10. Stay tuned for more on Austin. He’s a recurring character as I grow up.

Alright, I apologize for the brevity, but seriously – Momma needs some soup and quality time with her Kindle.

Throwback Thursday: The one where I learn about sex.

Every Thursday, I dig I 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!
 
I apologize for not posting in between Throwback Thursday posts. For the first time while addressing an blog absence, I can say that I’ve no actually been busy with productive things. Vince and I went to see Second City on Friday night. On Saturday, I had a surprisingly productive meeting with my writer’s group that inspired me to revisit and draft old essays. I’ve been working on a new design for the blog (if you didn’t notice, I finally bought the domain). I had a photo shoot with my brother to replace the selfie that serves as my face to the internet (“Make me look less fat” was an actual quote from that night). I’ve been working on an application for a scholarship to take some writing classes this summer, and I finally got my ass back to the gym. If everything goes as planned, you can look for the new design this weekend and I’ll be down to my goal weight in three weeks. 
 
I bet one of those things won’t happen. 
 
Without further delay – here’s this week’s latest Throwback Thursday!
 
 
Friday June 11, 1999
 
Today Katie has a camping party till Sunday morning. Two nights away from Corey and Ryan = H – E – A – V – E – N, heaven! It will be heaven without them, hopefully it doesn’t storm though or otherwise we’ll be stuck in the camper all weekend. Lucky that “Huckleberry” campground has an arcade. (Please have an indoor pool, PLEASE!)
 
C rapy weather – 
A lways for the Ottos
M aybe not this time
P lease have good weather
I wish
N ow I
G uess it’s END. 
 
This should be the sole example of why acrostic poems should be banned from all elementary school curriculum.

This should be the sole example of why acrostic poems should be banned from all elementary school curriculum.

 
still Friday June 11, 1999
 
It was supposed to storm alot today, but it didn’t. (And I’m glad!) When we were coming, we listened to “Kiss FM” the new song from Backstreet boys was on. “That way” We (me Katie, Danna, and Emily) were singing along with it, it was fun! Then when we got here, we threw the ball in the water for Dude, Katie’s dog. Then we went to the game room. The Game room has a jukebox type thing. I played “Livin La Vita Loka” by Rickie Martin and “Drive myself crazy” by N’sync. It was fun. Then we went swimming, for about 20 minutes. I’ll write more later. They’re playing poker, they’re betting tons of stuff. It looks interesting! See ya!
 
Saturday June 12, 1999
 
I could NOT get to sleep last night. Danna and I kept on talking, there was this really sick story that Emily told us, which I will NOT write (Sorry Corey!) So we got up ate a breakfast of pancakes, bacon, and eggs with milk. A VERY good meal especially for camping. Then we went swimming for like 45 minutes. It was preety cool and fun. Then we went to the arcade. I played a game of air hockey with Danna, she won, and one with Katie, she won. I stink at air hockey. We went for a walk and at lunch we went to the bar for lunch. We were so freaked out. While we were ordering I saw this sign that said “BEER – helping ugly people have sex since 1862.” Isn’t that sick? Then there were these games where if you got so many points then the lady on the computer took of her pieces of clothing one – by – one. = S – I – C – K!
 
Okay, enough of the past, now the present. I’m sitting by the campfire listening to our RUDE camping nehbiors practically yell to talk to each other. 
 
I experienced one of those blinding moments of a resurfacing memory while rereading these entries. The story Emily told – about seeing two girls playing with each other in the showers at the public pool – was one of those stories that was seared into my mind. Probably because it was the first tale of lesbianism I had ever heard. My christian upbringing had instilled such a healthy sense of homophobia that the story made me sick to my stomach. I could picture it and every fiber in my body told me it was wrong. The strange thing was that I was sure it was wrong not because it was two girls, but because it was a sexually charged moment. I think I would have been just disturbed if it had been a boy and girl playing with each other in the shower. 
 
This weekend was apparently my first experience with sexuality. I had such an idealistic view of love and relationships – one that didn’t ever veer into the sexual realm. I was terrified of all things sexual. I was disgusted by most of my body (I think the only thing I didn’t completely hate was my hair), and the idea of anyone touching or coming near my “private parts” was grotesque. Sexual thoughts were bad. Sexual feelings were sins. Sexual acts of any kind were completely forbidden. It’s not at all surprising that I thought talking about sex was essentially damning myself to hell.
 
I was fairly certain the devil was preparing my quarters (I imagined a corner red, black, fiery, with rusty chains, where I’d be doomed to watch him eat spaghetti for all of eternity. Not sure where I got the spaghetti detail from, but that was what I imagined) when I sat through the first sex ed class in fifth grade. This wasn’t even the one where intercourse was discussed – it just addressed the fact that boys had penises and girls had vaginae and breasts. But yeah, I heard the word “penis”  and I heard the word “vagina” and I seriously considered writing a letter to my principal, telling him that I was a child of god and had no business hearing words like that. Hearing terms for my body parts? UNACCEPTABLE, Mr. Demilio. 
 
Now, I’m not saying that my parents raised me wrong or that they made me terrified of my own sexuality. I scared myself all on my own. On several occasions, I remember my mother telling me, “Sex isn’t bad – sex is really beautiful when it’s shared by a husband and wife who really love each other.” My mother handled it well. My father never addressed it, not that I expected him to, really. I give props to every parent who has the guts to talk to their kids about sex. I’m debating if I ever even want kids, just so I don’t have to deal with that whole deal. Children are so inherently weird about these things. It’s a shame that our bodies mature so much earlier than our brains. Our bodies long to be touched while our brains still laugh at the idea of a boner. The concept of making love is completely absurd; we don’t realize our bodies are emotional objects. We don’t learn that almost any physical sensation affects our pysche until much later – usually after we’ve made a few mistakes first. 
 
I knew sex was supposed to be something beautiful and significant, and that’s why the images in the bar disturbed me so much. At the time, I didn’t have the capacity to realize I was wasn’t disgusted by them – I was saddened by them. The image of two people having sex only when enough beer had been consumed was heartbreaking. Maybe because I always feared I’d be one of them. Or maybe I feared I’d be like that blonde girl on the pixelated screen, getting male attention only by slinking down a catwalk while peeling off my clothing.
 
I didn’t want to think that lust had anything to do with relationships and love. These first encounters with lust were scary. Lust made you animalistic and hungry only for the violation of another person. Lust had the ability to turn love into a selfish compulsion. This deeply depressed me. 
 
I’d like to say that I’ve completely lost these feelings and that all of my experiences have proved Young Ashley wrong. the truth is that intimacy isn’t always intimate. Looking back on some of my relationships, I can name, without hesitation, several occasions when the selfishness of lust stole the show. These were moments where I was so dumbfounded by what had just been taken from me, I wasn’t able to react. At the time, I pretended like everything was okay, but some of these moments disturbed me so much that I’ve written drafts and drafts of essays and stories trying to figure out what exactly happened – to no avail, for the most part. Maybe we can credit some of my cynicism here: people can be the most awful to each other in moments of pure vulnerability. 
 
I guess you could say that Young Ashley was a prude. Ashley of Today thinks that intimacy isn’t valued highly enough. I’m not saying that I think pre-marital sex is wrong. I’m no longer religious, and if you’ve got half an ounce of intelligence, you’ve probably picked up on the glaring hypocrisy if I made such a statement. What I’m saying is that my mom was right – sex can be really beautiful when two people love and respect each other. 
 
If I had to tell Young Ashley anything, it would be the following: Sex is not terrible. You will not go to hell for wondering about penises. Your vagina is not the source of all evil. Treasure yourself. And stop journaling at campfires with your friends. You look like a weirdo.  
 

This is a post about Valentine’s Day.

I know, I know. This is supposed to be Throwback Thursday. Due to excuses I’m fabricating in my head, it’s not happening this week. I’m just not in the mood to look through my sixth grade journal and reminisce.

It’s been a while since I’ve gotten serious here, and I’m not really sure why. My head hasn’t been here for a while, I suppose. Work has been busy. I’ve had an actual social life for the last few weeks (don’t worry, couch: I’m about due for a week-long introverted self-huddle). I’ve been reading great books on my new Kindle (The Best American Non-Required Reading, Margaret Atwood’s Positron, and e.e. cumming’s six nonlectures). I’ve been working out (my 5k on Monday night was almost four minutes shorter than last week’s). I’ve been baking. I’ve been cleaning. I’ve been playing my violin (I sort of want to apologize to all of my neighbors because my Bach sounds terrible). I haven’t been getting enough sleep. I’ve gotten into a weird pattern of waking very deliberately each morning around 1 or 2am, walking to my kitchen, pouring a mug of milk, and eating two cookies. I only have two left, so I guess tonight is my last night, so I wonder if it will stop on Friday. I do this in an attempt to get myself back to sleep, but really it’s just an excuse to eat an extra 400 calories. In the morning, I just pretend not to know why there are crumbs in my sheets or why my milk is gone.

Anyway, Valentine’s Day. Before you all freak out, I’ll let you know that I don’t have plans. I mean, I do. Thursday is cross-training, so I’ll be doing 45 minutes of rowing and weights. But romantically-speaking, there are no plans. This is by choice more than circumstance. I was seeing someone for the last few weeks who said he had made plans for us, but it didn’t feel right committing to them. He’s a nice guy, but spending Valentine’s Day together makes things serious, doesn’t it? If a relationship goes from casual to committed, it should happen naturally, not because the calendar dictates.

I had intended to write some meaningful diatribe about Valentine’s Day and how it’s not as big of a deal and people make it out to be, but by even mentioning it I’m participating it the same hoopla I’d be attempting to condemn. When it comes down to it, the pre-packaged and pleasantly arranged tokens of love we’re presented with from December 26 – February 14 make us fall into one of the following categories:

True Love

ee cummings

Neither is superior. At some point, each of us will experience love. At another, we’ll feel bitter and jaded. The beauty lies in the fact that we’re capable of experiencing both of these states. With the right attitude, bitterness can  be turned around to be the promise of something better. What that “something” is is for you to decide: a more honest relationship, a more contented sense of self, or a stronger connection to your reality. And love? Whether you’ve been in love or you have yet to experience it, you know that e.e. cummings perfectly captures that sense of blissful isolation that only love produces.

So instead of being focused on whether you’re in love, out of love, done with love, or having fun with love, why not just be content that you’re capable of it?

Throwback Thursday: A Vending Machine Sticker & Daddy Issues

September 5, 1998

Dear Genna, 

Today It rained. When John and Devon went out for patrol they came back socking wet, I was laughing inside cause if he saw me he would have killed me. Like yesterday he spelled dog wrong – Dog! He chased me into the girls’ bathroom. During recsess Ashley A, Malee, Katy, and me played scrabble. for my frist turn I put down Leo. On my fifth I meant to have oars but I put down Leoa! I was so embarrassed. 

When Dad, Corey, Ryan and I went to Piggly Wiggle I think dad was mad Because he looked at Ryan like, “You stop or I’ll spank you!” Well when we were waiting for Dad in the checkout, Me and Corey went to look at the stickers. This teenager came (he was cute) to get a sticker his money was jammed and he said, “If I don’t get a sticker I’m gonna bust this thing!” So he got another It was a stupid one so he gave it to me!

Guess what? I’m getting a lovin’ Leo book! I think he is hot. I have tons of posters of him. Then in an article in Teen machine It was: DiCapro vs. Damon. I wonder who’d win? Maybe..um Dicapro. Duh! 

This is the sticker –>Sticker

I know it looks like a fat lady but hey a cute guy gave it to me. Me!

Without reading this entry, I remember this event – getting the sticker from the strange teenage boy. I don’t remember my dad being upset at Ryan or what he was upset about, but I do remember those stern looks he would give us when we were misbehaving while grocery shopping. This was back when my mom worked as a cashier at Piggly Wiggly in the evenings. Sometimes my dad would take us to the store to visit her.

I’ve always been a pragmatic person. Though I’ve always been a daydreamer, I’ml aware of reality’s constraints. While walking through the grocery store, I used to imagine that some boy would find himself so enchanted by me that he would be compelled to tell me I was the most beautiful girl he had ever seen. I knew this would never happen – I knew that I was too young for anyone to look at me like that, and even if a boy did notice me, the presence of my father would thwart any move he might think to make. So when this older cooler boy engaged me – I was excited but wary. Eventually my dad would walking through the automatic doors, pushing a cart full of groceries and it would be revealed that I was just a child, dependent upon her dad for transportation.

But while my dad was still at the checkout, I was able to indulge my daydream. I’d tell myself that certain things were signs. If he doesn’t get this next sticker, it means he likes me. If he looks at me, it means my shirt is cool. If he gives the sticker to me, it means he’s going to look for me again. While I knew it didn’t really mean anything when he gave me this sticker (it was a stupid one after all), I made it seem like it was.  I went home and wrote in my diary, because I thought that just maybe this was the start of something significant.

In the books I read – historical fiction, mostly – boys were always timidly approaching girls and making them feel special by little trinkets. Reality was a constant disappointment for me. I know that my diary makes me sound like I had no concept of reality, but it’s really the opposite. I just always wanted my life to sound better and more impressive than what it really was. My life was boring. I was ordinary. I wanted to be extraordinary. I wanted to stand out for something other than being the girl who wore handmade dresses and played pretend at recess after most of her peers stopped.

This entry is indicative of my early interactions with men – feeling like it was acceptable to receive their leftovers throw-aways. I was so desperate for any bit of attention from a boy that I was willing to accept anything they gave me. After writing mostly about Scott and my father in a personal narrative class, my professor asked if I thought there was a reason I dated a whole slew of  assholes despite such a heroic father. I was quick to point out that I didn’t date a slew of assholes, just one for a significant amount of time.

I never truly answered her question, so the question still remains: Assuming a girl’s father is her strongest male figure – the one who illustrates how she should be treated – why did I accept so little from my early boyfriends? From all my boyfriends, for that matter. Even after my most significant relationship ended a little less than a year ago, I still felt like I was just a little bit used – like I had served my purpose for a chunk of time and the time had come for him to move on.

My father has always been there for me – if I’m stranded on the side of the road, if I’m crying about money or about a guy he hugs me, if I need a meal he feeds me, if I’m shivering he’ll give me his coat. It’s not that boyfriends didn’t or wouldn’t do these things for me. Maybe it’s just that I’ve never really given them the chance. Maybe I’ve never allowed room for them to actually impress me since my father is such a significant part of my life. Maybe I’ll always be disappointed by men who are not my father. Damnit, dad. Why are you such a good dad?

Good luck trying to date me, future beaus.

I had no intention of making this post so inquisitive. I thought I’d point out 10-year old Ashley’s excellent grasp of punctuation in dialogue but her apparent disregard for commas elsewhere. I was clearly horrified by my peers’ shortcomings while being oblivious to my own (but come on – I still have trouble spelling recess sometimes) Also, I was obsessed with Leonardo Dicaprio, but I couldn’t be bothered to learn how to actually spell his name.