Throwback Thursday: Thankfully, middle school doesn’t last forever

It’s been another week. I don’t even know what happened between last Thursday and this. Somehow seven days have passed. All I have to show for it is a bunch of overtime, bags under my eyes, a sore knee, a terrible blood blister on the tip of one of my toes, and a three-day weekend in sight! That’s right! I’m taking a day of vacation next friday. I’m going to read. And eat pancakes. And sit in sweatpants all day. I might go for a walk downtown. I might day drink. Who knows? The possibilities are endless!

Anyway, please accept my apology for the lack of post in between Thursday posts. I’ve got another idea for a weekly post – so keep your eyes open!

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!

Thursday May 25, 2000

Dear Libby, 

Do I sound happy in my diary entries? I wonder what people think when they see me. Do think think, “Oh, there’s a dork.” or “there goes that Brat again.” or “What did she do to her face?”

I’ve been depressed lately. The only good points of my days are when Travis is online the same time I am. I feel like the urge to fit in is driving me crazy. I want so badly to have a boyfriend, someone like Travis. Like he would write “I luv Ashley” like, 500 times in an e-mail to one of his friends. 

I want to feel loved. I know my family and God love me, but I want a boy to love me. I want someone to give me a rose because they missed me over the summer, or to call me, even to pass notes with a boy would be better than nothing! 

It’s like, how many girls my age don’t want to feel love from a boy? I sure don’t know many! How many girls would love to be popular and always surrounded by friends? TONS! And I’m one of them! 

I think I would feel an atomic ton better if I lost 15 pounds. I want to feel good about myself in my Navy Blue Tankini! Who the hell wouldn’t?!!

Igg

Luv ya, 

Ashley

Middle school was basically three years of me being perpetually disappointed with myself. I was too short. I was too fat. I had too many pimples. My boobs weren’t big enough. I didn’t make cheerleading. None of the boys liked me. Everyone else had cooler clothes than me. Everyone was cooler than me.

I’d like to think my classmates were all just as lost and miserable as I was, but I’m sure some of them weren’t. Maybe it’s the jealous twelve year old in me, but I bet some girls never had to wish for a boy to like them. You remember those girls – the ones who always had a boyfriend, even when having a boyfriend only meant that you sat next to each other at lunch and danced the slow dances.

I think this is a picture of my sixth grade homeroom class. I'm just the frumpy weirdo in the back with straight up Zooey bangs.

I think this is a picture of my sixth grade homeroom class. I’m just the frumpy weirdo wearing orange with the straight up Zooey bangs. We were a pretty glamorous bunch, huh?

It’s funny to see how much I changed from twelve to eighteen. I went from desperately wanting to be a preppy cheerleader to deciding to be an Hot Topic-shopping emo kid who scribbled all over her notebooks. The things I strove for ended up being the same things I loathed in high school. I hated the status quo because I didn’t feel like I could ever be the girl I wanted to be. I ended up changing who I wanted to be – I lowered the social standards for myself. 

In retrospect, this was probably for the best. Sometime in eighth grade, some of the girls I was jealous of  ended up getting in trouble with parents, principals, and counselors after rumors surfaced about sex acts and underage drinking. There’s no telling what state of self-loathing I might be in now if I had entertained my craving for male attention. It would have gone one of two ways: giving in and getting that cheap validation or panicking at the idea of a penis and refusing to ever look at a boy again. Judging from my previously mentioned encounters with boys, it probably would have been the latter.

Not sure why I thought the gigantic sweatshirt was a good look, but I rocked it anyway.

Not sure why I thought the gigantic sweatshirt was a good look, but I rocked it anyway.

Though I still occasionally wonder what people think of me, it’s a relief to not have that same cloud of self-consciousness hanging over me. Call it what you want – self-assuredness or a malfunctioning social awareness – I live my life as I want, without spending too much time taking the status quo into consideration. I suppose that doesn’t come as much of a surprise after knowing that I’m looking forward to spending a day of vacation reading, huh? Whatever. I’m going to get paid to read and eat pancakes in my sweatpants.

Never in her wildest dreams did Young Ashley think that’s what she’d get excited about at twenty-five.

Throwback Thursday: “I MUST HAVE LOVED YOU BECAUSE I KNOW YOUR SEVENTH GRADE LOCKER NUMBER.”

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.