Sorry for the radio silence last week—I was on a retreat in Bearsville, NY, an itty-bitty town in the Catskills, with six of my very favorite YA and MG writers! There was wine-drinking and excessive cheese-eating and hot-tubbing and game-playing… oh, and writing, we also did that. And there was a hammock. And there was a fire pit. And one night we almost got eaten by coyotes. (They SOUNDED like they wanted to eat us, anyway.) I never wanted to come home. Try not to get too jealous, but this is what it looked like:
And here’s our pond:
And this is the view from the hammock:
And here’s us, being all writerly and adorable:
Left to right: Me, Caroline Carlson, Lindsay Ribar, Brandy Colbert, Kristen Kittscher, Corey Haydu, and Liz Whelan
One of most hilarious parts of the retreat was the evening some of us did dramatic readings from our high school diaries. There was quite the range—we had confusing first crushes, psychoanalysis of our friends (“she’s an above stress level child,”) detailed lists of what we bought at the mall (mini backpacks were IN in 1995, you guys,) metaphors about Jane Eyre, and forays into drinking (“I had six or seven shots of vodka, and I THINK I was drunk…”) As such, I thought I’d share some choice excerpts with you from my journal the year I was fourteen. Names have been changed to protect the innocent. Enjoy.
On biology dissections:
“We’ve done a bunch more dissections since I last wrote. The starfish and the grasshoppers weren’t bad. Actually, they were both pretty cool. But the worms—BLLLECCCHHH! They were so absolutely repulsively disgusting I could hardly look at them. It’s because they were fresh. Mr. O’Shea bought them the night before and boiled them and then gave them to us, so they weren’t in a preserver and their blood hadn’t broken down. As soon as you cut them they started to bleed, and there were little pools of blood all over all the organs. I almost got sick, but we poured water on it to wash away all the gross stuff. I was so glad when it was over. Today was cool, though. I stuck my grasshopper’s head on a dissection needle and paraded it around like in the French revolution.”
On denying your crushes:
“Sometimes I think Josh can read my mind. In history and English discussions, I’ll sometimes be thinking something and he’ll say the exact same thing I’m thinking, even in the same words! Then I start laughing and I get scared at the same time. We must be “kindred spirits” or something. I have his phone number now from the directory. Why did I just say that? I think I may have a crush on him but I’m in denial about it or something. I don’t know what I think! We’re just friends. Life is confusing.”
On how AOL strikes fear in my heart:
“Christina knows this guy named Eugene who I got bored and IMed the other day… he really wants to date Christina, but she doesn’t like him and thinks he is really scary. And last night when Christina slept over, she went on my account and talked to him pretending to be me and told him all these little romantic things to do to make her happy. He really thought it was me. I feel kind of bad because we lied to him and now he is going to send her flowers and stuff when she’s not even interested. It is really scary. I don’t know what to think. The internet was really beginning to scare me… I think I am on way too much. I mean, every single night after 10 I am on! I don’t want this to take over my life and live in a virtual world all the time, so I am taking a break from online chatting for a little while to do something productive. I will feel really bad if I waste my whole summer on the computer. My online friends might be pissed at me, but they can wait a little while.”
On my friends and me being VERY DEEP and making extended metaphors:
“Last night when I said to Jessica that I wasn’t learning anything about myself this summer and that it was bad, she told me that the way I learned so much last summer was by asking questions. She said that the starting point was always to ask the right questions and then search for the answers. And now that I’ve started asking the questions, look how much I’ve learned already. It’s amazing. Now I know how to do it, and how to discover things about myself. This isn’t just a summer thing, it’s a forever thing. So I don’t really have to worry about wasting my summer because I’m on the right road… even if I don’t know where I’m going, I know it leads somewhere. Once you’re on a road, follow it, because even if it twists and turns and you can’t see the end and you may be confused, the journey will be exciting, you will learn so much, and at the end… well, maybe you’ll be surprised and find something, maybe it will just lead you to another road. But never stop traveling, because eventually, you will get somewhere. All roads lead somewhere if you are given enough time to travel them.”
Don’t you wish you’d been friends with me freshman year?
And now, one more picture, cause I can’t help myself:
Paula Jones says
OMG, those excerpts were awesome! The last one especially, was so sweet and it was pretty deep. Thank you for sharing, you were a very cool teenager!
(And reading this makes me wish I hadn't trashed most of my diaries…now I'm going to try and hunt down the one that I think I might have left! )
Wow! You were such a philosophical fourteen-year-old! My favorite part is the grasshopper's head on the needle "like in the French revolution." My fourteen-year-old journal entries cower in shame next to yours.
Alison Cherry says
HA! We were reading A TALE OF TWO CITIES in English class at the time. I think I was really horrified/fascinated by the whole heads-on-pikes thing…
Brandy Colbert says
My favorite part is also Caroline's favorite part. The best.