Sunday, January 4, 2009

Just how far we haven't come

When I was in 6th grade, my friend gave me one of those sickening inspirational workbook deals. It is titled "SARK'S Journal and PLAY! Book" and is thus inscribed: Dear Lina, Happy Birthday! I will always remember you! From Lauren Schwab! Each page has a colorful little sentiment, or an 'invitation' to scribble out one's dreams. I had taken the book very seriously and responded to the prompts earnestly, in newly acquired cursive. I wrote only in crayon, because Sark encouraged writing in crayon.

I found this today while scanning my old bookshelf for novels to teach at New River. All activity was halted as I sank onto the floor to absorb it. It's really too much. Take, for example, page 116: "Eat Mangoes Naked!" reads the pastel script at the top. "What unusual or Private things do you enjoy doing?"

Que horrifico! Who wants to answer such a question! Worse, who wants to answer it and then have to read it and realize what a terrifically lame person you really are! In my personal time I like to look at websites that make my computer crash, spend hours refreshing my ex-boyfriend's facebook page, and I consider half a day studying my skin in the mirror time well spent. And of course, there's the eating.

Those are just a few examples and I'm not saying that I do them. (The fact is that 98% of my personal time is spent re-watching friends episodes, so that I can memorize all ten seasons of Jennifer Aniston's ditzy but sharp dialog and use it as my own.) But really, we all do things that we would never admit to, nor should we ever be made to admit to. Especially on the pages on some insight to inner-self play! books.

my thought in general toward's Sark and her many inspirational creative workbooks:

But these are my current thoughts. My 11 year old self ate this book up. I was the type of pre-teen girl who got a thrill out of drinking orangina, and thought that drinking orangina WHILE drawing fairies in colored pencils was the ultimate in good living. Throw in some Jewel for background music? Heaven! For 6th grade only, I lived in a suburb outside of Boston. My daily walk to middle school included passing through a large playground, and because of this I used to choose my outfits based on how fast the material would allow me to descend the bumpy slide. Thus, knitted jersey pants (with stirrups) won out over jeans every single day. Sadly, I'm not making this up.

And so, the 'unusual and private activities' that I enjoyed doing were recorded as such:

"Dance!"
"Dream!"

And it's the truth. I have distinct memories of shutting the door to my bedroom and dancing to Phantom of the Opera with a small number of trusted girlfriends. And the material for my daydreams, to which I devoted hours every afternoon, usually had to do with owning a lot of pets.

As I'm reading this I'm growing more and more disappointed in my younger self. Did I not have a shred of irony, of self deprecating humor? Doesn't appear so.

But then I found this. And I feel deeply gratified. Page 237 encourages you to look deep inside and dredge out a few glowing pearls of pride and personal achievement, for the purposes of fostering self awareness and increasing self love. It read: "How have you AMAZED yourself? In small or enormous ways, we all do AMAZING things!!"

And here what I could come up with, 12 years ago:

I got asked to the Dance by Adam. He is Very Popular!
Joe Perry also likes me. He's not very popular but he still likes me.

Now there's a voice I can relate to! Atta' girl!

What were you like as a 'tween'?

2 comments:

Ali said...

Excerpts from the diary of a young girl in grosse pointe:
"Why does linnie get all the good toys. Mom and Dad won't get me Jem dolls and I really really really want to be truly truly outrageous. And I totally love Ben W. but I know he doesn't love me back cause I'm totally not popular enough. Stupid Mike likes me but he talks funny and has a face like a monkey. I think he joined library club so he could ask me to go out with him. Ewwwwwww. How did caity get a boyfriend and i can't? it's not FAIR. I'm WAY cooler than she is.
XOXO"

Ali said...

Excerpt from the diary of a young Brooklyn 20-something:
"Why do my friends get all the good apartments. I want mom and dad to buy me a nice studio in brooklyn so i can be totally totally like an adult, but they won't. I love X but he totally doesn't love me because I'm not cool enough. Y likes me and wants to go out with me but he's gross and has a face like a monkey. Why does A have a boyfriend and I don't? I'm WAY cooler than she is.
XOXO"
Evolution? No.