Over the last couple days I’ve been writing down some thoughts on being a teenage fangirl (relating to Duran Duran) because I thought I might make a little zine out of it. Because I’m old now and my memories can be fuzzy, I thought I would take a deep breath and look at my high school diaries to see what I wrote about Duran Duran (and when I started obsessing, exactly.)
I haven’t read these diaries since I wrote them. Since Friday night I’ve read through my freshman and sophomore years and now I’m into my junior year. I’m kind of amazed at what is and is not in these entries. Freshman year was very minimal and matter-of-fact. Not much emotional content. This is what I did today, what I watched on TV, what homework I had from school, what grades I got on whatever homework I got back, maybe some nugget of social interaction that seemed important at the time. I also notice that I wrote certain things the exact same way every day. In retrospect I think it was anxiety manifesting itself in a kind of superstitious OCD. I remember being caught up in that thought process, it almost reminds me of ball players who get into really obsessive rituals when they’re having a “good streak”. They have to do the same things in the same way in the same order so they don’t “break the spell”. I remember doing things like that all the way into college. I would fixate on some detail of the day and assign it a weird power, and so I had to do it the next day, and the next day, or disaster would be inevitable.
I also sound like a complete HILLBILLY. I don’t remember having such terrible grammar, I hope I didn’t write that way in school. I don’t think I did or wouldn’t have had such good grades in English. There are countless “didn’t say nothing”‘s and “ain’t got no”‘s in my diary. And lots! of! exclamation! points! It made me cringe. I was cringing pretty hard at everything I wrote until I got to my birthday in 1982 and I read, “Today I am officially 15 years old,” and tears came to my eyes. I was just a kid. Somehow that one sentence made it feel very real to me.
In a way, I regret that I didn’t write about certain things that were very painful to me then. Maybe I was afraid of someone finding my diary and reading it, so that’s why I was so superficial in what I wrote about. Maybe I just didn’t know HOW to write about it without being consumed by it. I don’t know. I was still a firm believer in God then, too. (I was in Catholic school, I got hammered with it every day at school AND at home, so of course it must be true.) Sometimes I wrote about things I had prayed for, and why didn’t they happen? This was mostly related to being fat and not having a boyfriend. Ugh. And I wasn’t even FAT then. If I could fit into my high school clothes right now I would do a DANCE OF JOY. And yet I’m happier now than I was then.
I think I made a point in my diary to note every single time a boy said something even halfway nice to me. Any little scrap of attention was like a precious gift, apparently. The pure, naked neediness of that breaks my heart. That’s what I believed was important. What a waste of energy.
I also was weirdly nerdy about writing down things I can’t believe I had any interest in. LIke who won the Super Bowl, or Miss America, what the score of the All-Star game was, or if some famous person died that day. I also usually made note of the weather, and I was really obsessive about “anniversaries” of things. Not even just historical things, but things from my own life. My 8th grade year had been really dramatic, personally. (Or I had chosen to invest a lot in it emotionally anyway.) Then during my freshman year I was constantly noting the “one year anniversary” of all the big things that had happened during 8th grade. These things seem incredibly trivial now, but meant a great deal to me then. One bit of data I wrote down every week that DID make sense (considering my interests at the time) was the Number 1 song of the week. I was obsessive about the Top 40 Singles chart.
As I got farther into sophomore year, I started writing more about what was going on inside me, along with the weather/food/TV/books/schoolwork data-cataloging. What was upsetting me, or what was I excited about finally started getting some coverage. I was worrying even more about boys — especially pining for a particular boy who I’d known since 4th grade. His family moved away after we graduated from 8th grade, (to the Chicago suburbs), but we kept in touch via letters and occasional phone calls. I was friends with both him and his sister. Reading back through all those entries, wondering if he could ever like me as more than a friend, I keep yelling at the pages, “He’s gay, you idiot! It’s not going to happen!” He was the first gay guy I fell in love with. But he was not the last.
I also started swearing in my sophomore year. Or at least that’s when I got brave enough to write the words on paper.
But I could still be maddeningly opaque about some things. One entry says, “I had a huge fight with mom & dad today.” About what? I have no idea. That was the beginning and the end of my commentary on it. I’m sure it was either about wanting to go somewhere or buy something that they were opposed to. And I’m sure I was overly dramatic about it, whatever it was.
The end of sophomore year and into my junior year was when I really began to think of myself as “an artist.” I’d had a fantastic art teacher in junior high, and she definitely lit the spark, but I didn’t get to take any art classes in high school until I was a junior. I had some private painting lessons in between with another really good teacher, but I can see my confidence building over time, with the good response I got from my work at school. I wish I had more entries about that than about no one asking me to the Homecoming Dance.
And FYI — Duran Duran makes their first appearance in my diary on September 19th, 1983 with this sentence: “Found about 6 magazines with Duran Duran in them! God they’re such babes! I luv them!”
So some things change, and some things don’t.