Throwback Thursday: This one time at bible camp…

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 left and simply type “Throwback Thursday” and you’ll find the whole archive. Thanks for reading!

Saturday August 4, 2001

I’m on a retreat @Spencer lake!

             I’m diverted from God.

Matthew 5:29-30

“If your right eye causes you to sin, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better to lose one part of your body than  you whole body to be thrown in hell. And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for you whole body to go to hell.”

Mark 7:20-23

“He went on:’What comes out of a man is what makes him unclean for from within, out of men’s hearts, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed, malice, deciet, lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance, and folly. All evils come from inside and make a man unclean.”

Romans 8:12-14

“Therefore brothers, we have an obligation – but it is not to the sinful nature, to live according to it. For if you live according to it, you will die; but if by the spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live, because those who are lead by the spirit of God are sons of God.”

In a way I need this, but in a way I want to go home. Last night, when the other girls thought I was asleep, I heard them talking about doing BJs, making out, swearing, and all that. @ a church retreat!

Then @ the session this morning, a guy was wearing a shirt that said:

Abercrombie & Fitch
Juggs Beach
Skinny dippers
Welcome
If your (idk) aren’t jiggly, 
keep walking, dont be
emBAREASSed
 

I couldn’t believe it! Why you even by a shirt that said that?!

G2G, ♥ Ashley

This isn’t the first time Young Ashley has mentioned her church activities and I’m pretty sure it won’t be the last. If I’m remembering correctly, this was my first of two church retreats – with any luck I still have the diary containing the second one. I think that shortly before this retreat, I had joined a bible study that met on Wednesday nights, so I was excited to spend time with my new friends.

Bible verses with just a dash of self-loathing

Bible verses with just a dash of self-loathing

The bus ride to the camp was bumpy and made me nauseated as I was forced to listen to the  kids around me flirt. I had thought a church retreat would be a literal retreat, but I quickly learned I was wrong. At school, I was constantly aware of how my thighs looked fat when I sat down, how I never had fewer than 15 pimples on my face, and that my clothes were always from Kohl’s and never Abercrombie. I thought I wouldn’t have to worry about these things around my church friends because they’d be focusing on strengthening their relationship with God, not trying to couple off.  I held my church peers to a higher standard, and until this weekend they hadn’t let me down. It was knocked into my head to always surround myself with positive and godly people, because they would encourage me to be the best disciple for God.

Even then I had a problem with this idea. If I was always with godly people, when was I supposed to encourage other people? When was I supposed to be a shining beacon for Jesus? Who would see my little light shine? Wasn’t it pointless to just be good around good people if our mission was to be a disciple for Jesus? I didn’t ask anyone these questions because they seemed so foolish. I guess that people outside of my godly group would see our warmth and come to us and ask what was up with our awesomeness. And THAT would be where we’d tell them all about how much Jesus loves them. God would be proud and be all, “Yo, PETER! That girl totes gets a seat at my table. “

...or remind people of Jesus, I guess.

…or remind people of Jesus, I guess.

I had never seen my bible study friends outside of church or the apartment where we met each Wednesday. Without such close supervision, they were free to be the same bratty middle schoolers they were every other day. It depressed me because I knew I was just like them – or at least I wanted to be just like them. I wanted to be able to talk about making out with a boy and maybe even about how would never “do a BJ,” but I had nothing to add to these conversations other than disapproval – just like I experienced at school. I interpreted my subsequent isolation as guilt about my unclean mind. I expected this was normal and part of the church retreat experience. How else was I supposed to grow spiritually? Wasn’t God sending me a message? I expected to feel some royal communion with him, but I was just ashamed of myself and the people around me. But the fact that I didn’t feel this sudden and striking connection with God was irrelevant – he was just testing my faith.

Taking into consideration my limited self-awareness and life experience, there were two things I could done after this retreat: conclude that the hypocrisy of my peers was evidence of larger hypocrisy in organized religion and stop attending church-related functions or accept God’s challenge and attend more church-related functions in attempt to strengthen my faith in hopes of being an example to my peers.

If I kept a decent record, we’ll see that I went with the latter: going to Sunday services, joining the church orchestra, attending bible study nearly every week, attending services weeknight services at my friends’ churches, and trying to keep my mind pure by acknowledging and advertising my disgust with the Thong Song. It was so lewd and sexually immoral. Man’s mind is so unclean. It should be gouged out.

Throwback Thursday: Dear Genna

Over the last few months, I’ve been thinking of trying to find some way to make posts a little bit more regular. My style here has always just been “Hey! That’s clever idea! I bet I can write a few paragraphs about it. Let’s spend three hours writing a 1,000 word blog post!” I enjoy that because I’m not held accountable if a week goes by without posting anything because I’m not inspired. Nobody can tell me they were expecting anything from me. All they can do now is be delighted when they get a notification that I’ve written a new post.

I’ve had conversations with a few bloggers about this. Some say it’s best to stay to make a schedule to keep yourself in check. Readers appreciate consistency. Other bloggers say that it’s best to write only when it strikes. I just use this as an excuse not to write. If I get an idea, I think, “Yeah, I could do that…but, but…Pinterest!” I tell myself I’m not writing because my readers will know that I didn’t want to write it. But you know what? There’s some truth there. I think you guys would stop reading if I started writing solely about Zooey Deschanel bangs (just make sure the edges are rounded) and outfits to wear when you see your ex-boyfriend (in the summer: a white sundress. With spanx, you ho. In the winter: skinny jeans, heeled boots, and something comfortable. Wear a scarf. Don’t be a ho.) Just because I’ve written about those things (and those are the two highest search terms that lead new visitors here) before, it’s not what I write about.

At the most basic, I share my life. Some of my posts leave me feeling extremely vulnerable after they’re published. Others make me laugh and I’m excited to see how people react. What I seek most is to be honest with you. I want you to feel like we could be friends. Because we could be. And probably should be, so friend me on Facebook. Who doesn’t want more friends? Like everyone else, my life can be exciting, tedious, hilarious, heartbreaking, and melancholy. I just try to share those experiences with you.

So, I’m starting something new here on Everything is Blooming: Throwback Thursdays. I’ve been journaling since I was ten years old. I’d like to show you my beginnings. I’m doing this for a few reasons. First: it gives me an excuse to go through this box that I’ve been lugging from apartment to apartment. Second: I think it will be hilarious. When you’re going through childhood, adolescent, and teenage angst, you are certain that whatever you’re involved in has enough cosmic weight to deserve the universe’s undivided attention. Fifteen years later and this stuff is gold. Third: I think my memory is fading. I can’t remember details from high school more than I can remember those from fifth grade. Fourth: It will give me more writing material. Serious writing material.

table

I’ve spent the last decade trying to develop my writing voice. Blogging sort of interrupted that. Suddenly I was writing for an audience. It’s a bit of a performance, so some things don’t get to be in the show. I don’t allow you to know everything I laugh about (If you’re interested, my twitter gives you a pretty good idea). I don’t let you know about every friend, every date, every hangover (I didn’t mean anything by putting those two together. I promise), every creation, or every anything for that matter. Some parts of my life deserve to be kept sacred and others deserve to preserved in something that takes me more than three hours to write. These are the things I’m hoping to uncover while I searching through my journals.

If you haven’t figured it out already, I’m going to share a journal entry or two – sans editing, so you can hopefully see my grammar and apostrophe use improve – with a short commentary. This will be posted every Thursday morning, today’s inception being the only exception.

So, without further ado – Throwback Thursday:

August 13, 98

Dear Diary,

I think instead of calling you “Diary’ I’m going to of a name for you.

There’s only 1 thing I hate about my mom. When your in the middle of one thing she told you to, she tells you to…There she goes again.

August 19, 98

Dear…,

I haven’t thought of a name for you yet. Wait! Genna. I’m going to name  you Genna cause she just moved all the way to south Caralina. And I won’t see her that often. I have to go to bed now. Bye, Genna.

September 3, 98

Dear Genna,

Now schools seems even longer! I have to sit by Andy B and Josh D! I hate both of them. Like this afternoon they kept on singing “Saxamaphone.” Then I’m like, “Will you shut the heck up?!!” They stoped for about 2.5 sec., and started up again. The only good part is that Ashley M is in my group.

Tomorrow I start carpooling with Katy B. I have a violin lesson at 8:00. 8:00! The 8:00! But…Malee is in my class. I’m kinda tired. See ya!

It’s also worth nothing that I signed every entry. Like it was a letter or something. The signature usually varied, but I hope that when I write a book someday, I’m able to sign all of the first editions with this beauty:

Sign

I probably should have taught a calligraphy class for ten year olds. I could be rich right now.

The year before, I had borrowed The Diary of Anne Frank from the school’s library. I remember feeling superior as I walked to the left side of the library towards the chapter books while the other kids stayed to the right, which held most of the  picture books. At some point – I’m not sure when exactly – I began scoffing at books with illustrations. This remained until I took two semesters of comparative literature and read Persepolis and Watchmen.

When I checked out, I remember the librarian asking me if I was sure I wanted to read The Diary of Anne Frank. “Do you know what this is about?” I told her yes, though I had no idea. I just had no idea diaries could be published (Blogs would have BLOWN Young Ashley’s mind), so when I saw the word “diary,” I grabbed it. After checking out, I began reading immediately and decided I was going to publish a diary. And since Anne had a name for her diary, I needed one for mine. I thought that people would be interested in knowing that it was the name of my cousin. Wasn’t I clever?

Ever since reading Anne’s diary, I’ve deluded myself in thinking that other people would be interested in my thoughts. I like to think  that it’s an evolved flavor of egotism. I try not to just blurt out days’ agendas, though sometimes that’s all I feel I’m capable of: “I woke up and had like FOUR cups of coffee, you guys. And then, omg, the cute guy at work wore those pants and he like totally smiled at me and then I only worked a half day because I had an appointment in the afternoon. It was so weird and like, seriously – have you heard the Nicki Minaj album? It’s literally the worst thing I’ve ever heard.” (I was serious about that last part though. Have you heard it?It’s terrible.) I try to go a little further and touch on the emotions and illustrate the connections.

If I haven’t learned at least a little about myself at the end of it, I’m not really proud of the post. And to answer your question, there are only a few posts I’m truly proud of. I’m going to be brainstorming other regular post topics, and if you  have any suggestions, I’d love to hear them. Until then, I’ll keep flipping through my pages and laughing at myself, per usual.