Wednesday, January 1st, 1997
8:10 AM - I secretly bought this journal at the local bookstore for $6.95. It is a secret because I want this to be mine and just mine. Grandma gave me some Christmas money and I was so glad that way I could buy a journal. I bought it so I can record my first teenage year. Yes, today is my 13th birthday and the start of a new year. My goal is to write every day so I can someday look back on what I did during my first year as a teenager. Not that I actually do anything now so I don’t know how interesting it will be. Anytime I say that I am bored my mom quotes Colossians 3:2 – “Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth.” She is also always telling me “For the wisdom of this world is foolishness in God’s sight.” (1 Corinthians 3:19) Sometimes we can talk about things and ask questions, but most of the time she is correcting what I say with Scripture. I think she is mad at Dad again. She is always mad at Dad, but I don’t know why. Maybe it is because we are still living in a crappy apartment. Maybe it is because she’s pregnant again, even though she always says, “God plans our family.” This will be baby number six. Yep, I am the oldest of five right now. We live in a rundown, 3-bedroom apartment. I don’t why I am explaining this. Maybe it is because I have no one else to talk to. I mean, I have some friends, but I only see them once a week at church. My mom says we don’t need a lot of friends because we have each other and that is “socialization enough”. She gets really mad when I tell her I want to hang out with my friends. Her face turns red and she almost screams, “Are we not good enough for you?” I’ve learned lately to just be quiet. It causes less trouble. She doesn’t smack me for it, she just gets really mad and starts acting like I’m being a terrible, rebellious kid. I am a great kid though. I obey, I help out with the kids, I do my schoolwork. I live a boring life. That’s why I read anything I can get my hands on. Sometimes, when everyone is asleep at night, I sneak into the closet and put a towel under the door so I can read in peace and quiet. I hope no one finds out. If Laura finds out and tells Mom I’m going to be so mad. All these thoughts are making me not want to write in here. If Mom finds this and reads it she probably will give me a two-hour sermon. I want to enjoy the day though since it is my birthday. I actually convinced Mom to let me have my friends over for a party. Dad is picking up my cake because Mom can’t drive right now. She gets bad morning sickness every time she gets pregnant. She pretty much stays in bed for three months and she throws up like twelve times a day. Anyway, that is my life right now. I hope this year is better and has something exciting to write about. I’ll write more later.
Thursday, January 2, 1997
My Grandma called to tell me happy birthday yesterday. I love my Grandma and wished she lived closer to us. My birthday was pretty good. Dad picked up a cake from the bakery. It was my first bakery cake in a LONG time -since I was like three. Usually Mom makes our cakes, but since she is so sick Dad got me the cake and they put sparkle dust and pink roses on it! Six of my friends came over and they all gave me presents! I was so excited to see them I wasn’t even thinking about presents, but I was thankful for the things they got me. I got a few books, bath salts and soaps, some Starbursts, a calendar, and some craft supplies. None of the girls could stay for pizza at dinner. Their moms said it was a school night, so they had to get home. I don’t know why that matters since we are all homeschooled, but whatever. My friends Meagan said her brother Zach took my “Tatyana” story and kept it in his pocket. Mom thinks it is weird that I write stories about our neighbors. I don’t have anything else to write about so I write what I know and then imagine the rest. She rolls her eyes at me and says I’m being absolutely ridiculous. Oh well. I wonder if Zach likes me and that’s why he took my story. Mom says it is ridiculous for children and teenagers to date so I won’t be dating anybody until I am 18 years old. That seems forever away, but it is still nice to think that some boy might like me. He’s funny, but I don’t really like him. There is a guy at church that I like, but I’m not writing his name down in here because if my sister finds it then she will tell Mom. I love my sister, but she is always getting into my stuff. I just really need to keep this journal for me. I share EVERYTHING else. Seriously, everything. Have you ever tried sharing a bathroom with four siblings? It is not fun. All four of us girls sleep in one room and I really sometimes wish I was a boy just so I could have my own room like my brother. Anyway, my birthday was nice. I can’t believe I’m 13.
Friday, January 3, 1997
When I first started writing, I started in pencil that way I could erase any mistakes. Then when I finished writing for the day I could go back in pen over the pencil. It is fading too long though, so I decided to go ahead and write with a pen. I guess I’ll just have some mistakes. I didn’t do a lot today. We did some school and then Mom yelled at us from the bed and said we needed to clean the house. I’ve been cooking everything for breakfast, lunch and dinner and taking care of Cori my two-year-old baby sister. When I have a minute to myself I read or listen to the Christian radio. Mom thinks me and Laura are obsessed with the radio. She thinks we listen to it too much and our world shouldn’t revolve around the radio. She hasn’t taken it away yet so I still listen, but don’t turn it up too loud. One of my friends, Lindy and I decided to start writing back and forth to each other. We decided it would be fun to be like pen pals. So there’s a little excitement and something to look forward to. We are going to make up names. I like the name Cordelia like Anne Shirley wanted in “Anne of Green Gables”. My Grandma’s brother’s last name was Reynolds so I’m using Reynolds as my made-up last name. I didn’t tell anyone we decided to write to each other. I can give the letter to Dad and have him mail it at the post office when he picks up our mail. We don’t get mail at the apartment anymore because Mom thinks people are breaking into our mailbox and stealing it. I kind of wish I could still walk outside and go down to check the mail with Dad. We can’t go check the mail alone because Mom thinks we’ll get kidnapped. But we can’t do that anymore because they decided to pay for a box at the post office. Dad checks it after work, so we don’t go anywhere. Except we still go to church on Sundays. I hope Mom gets better soon so we can go play with friends. We can play with other friends, but Mom always wants to be there at the house we are going to.
Saturday, January 4, 1997
Our friends, the Wells, brought us a meal. I guess someone told them I was cooking every meal. I don’t know or maybe they just know what it is like because they have 10 kids. Anyway, it was really nice of them to bring us food and bread. I’ve been making lots of baked chicken, beans and rice because that’s pretty much all we have. Oh and biscuits because we have Bisquick. I heard Mom getting mad at Dad the other day because he went to go play golf with our cousin and she was mad he was spending money on that but then we only had beans, rice, milk and Bisquick. He said he doesn’t get to do anything else and after working hard all week he needs some kind of fun. She slammed the bathroom door and stayed in there for a long time. Dad left to play golf. I took care of the kids like normal. By the time I help them with their school work and then cook and clean, I feel like I am not doing enough school for myself. I feel stupid. I hate feeling stupid. I read all the time. I’m not happy that Mom is sick, but I have been able to read other things that she thinks I shouldn’t read yet. She has a few shelves of books for “when we are older”, but now that I’m 13 I figured I am older. But I’m not telling her. I started reading a history book that Aunt Jo gave us. It isn’t a Christian history book, but I don’t think Mom looked at it so I’m going to read it before she gets better and finds out. I’m going to read that at night in the closet when everyone is asleep. I’ve only read history books from the 1700s and 1800s, but this one is the 1900s. I’m really tired and Cori is screaming again so I guess I have to go help her.
Sunday, January 5th, 1997
We went to church to the Family Class instead of the regular service. Family Class is where all the dads of each family takes turns teaching. The families all sit together. Mom and Dad both think it is terrible for the kids from the youth group to sit together because they are too disruptive for the service. Dad thinks that families should sit together because they are a family. I wish I could sit with my friends, but I don’t want to cause them to be angry with me and at least Dad is taking us to church. I barely got to say hi to my friends though because Dad thinks church is for worship and not socializing. Sometimes, I get up with Cori and just walk with her in the halls outside that way she doesn’t make too much noise. If Becky takes Grace out and does the same then we get to talk. Sometimes I feel a bit guilty for that in case Dad is right, but I think God understands that I just need to talk to my friends sometimes. I got upset last week because I feel like I’m always being silenced. And again I am not a bad person! I am just known to everyone as “the eldest” or “the firstborn” instead of me. I’m not very happy right now. Somedays I don’t like myself. Meagan told me she finally got Zach to give her back my “Tatyana” story and that she liked it. Mrs. Ashford heard us talking and said, “Oh you two write stories? That’s good. We need good stories.” Maybe someday I’ll have something worth writing about. The “Tatyana” story was one that I wrote about our neighbor and then made the rest up. She is from Russia. I don’t know a lot about Russia, but I think it is super cool that she came all the way over her. I want to travel someday. We haven’t been anywhere except Grandma’s house. She lives about 4 hours away so that isn’t exactly traveling.
Monday, January 6, 1997
It snowed about 2 ½ inches! We played in it for a bit when Dad got home at 3:30 PM. It was so nice to get outside! Mom is still sick every day. She doesn’t want us going outside by ourselves, although I doubt anyone would want to kidnap all five of us. That’s a lot of work and somebody is always screaming. Anyway, it was nice to see bright snow. I asked Dad if he could please take me to the bookstore store soon because I got my birthday card and money from Grandma. He said okay and he actually took me today before they closed! I was so excited! I love the bookstore. I feel at home in the middle of all the books on the shelves. I wish I could live above the bookstore in a tiny apartment all by self and then work the day and read all the time! I told Mom and Dad that I couldn’t wait to turn sixteen so that I could get a job and maybe work at the bookstore. Mom said, “Do we not take care of all your needs?” I just got quiet again. She is so grumpy. I mean, I guess I would be grumpy too if I was throwing up all day for a few months. At the bookstore, I found a few novels on the half price shelves and a book about a missionary to India. When we got home, Mom asked what I bought. She doesn’t like fiction and says that it causes “unrealistic, romantic expectations”. Whatever that means! I love reading novels. I get lost in the world. Dad didn’t pay attention to what I bought – I guess since it was from the Christian bookstore he didn’t think anything of it. I told Mom I found a book about the missionary. I left out the part about the novels and managed to sneak those into my room and hide them behind my clothes in the closet. I’m going to read some tonight! One of them is about a gal that becomes a writer and travels the world. The other one is about a woman that gets stuck in a cabin with a mountain man during a blizzard. I have a feeling that Mom would hate both of those, but I am going to have so much fun reading them. Especially since we rarely even get to watch TV. I haven’t been to the movie theatre since Disney’s “Jungle Book” came out when I was six years old. So novels are my movies.
Tuesday, January 7th, 1997
I almost finished the novel about the writer last night! It was so good. Even though it is cold outside, I was sweating a bit in the closet because there are no air vents in there. And I block the air coming in through the closet door because I don’t want the light to wake up the kids. I always put my pillows sideways and cover them with a sheet to make it look like I’m still sleeping in bed. I know Mom is going to scream so loud when she finds out, but I’ll take my chances until then. Anyway, I am going to have to buy more books by this author when I get my Easter money from Grandma. Grandma is the only one who ever gives us money. I sometimes get really upset, even though I don’t say anything, but some of my friends get an allowance just for unloading the dishwasher or cleaning their rooms. I’m cooking three meals a day, doing the dishes and laundry and never get any money from it. We’re too poor to get an allowance. So I wait and look forward to the money Grandma sends and quickly spend it so Mom and Dad won’t borrow it for groceries. They always say they will pay me back, but then the car breaks downs or something bad happens they need the money. Enough about the sad stuff. Anyway, the book was wonderful and I can’t wait to finish it. I’ve also been reading the history book and it is definitely not a Christian homeschool book, but I really like it. If I would have been born in the 1920s, I would have been a suffragette. I am going to have to ask Grandma if her mom or sisters were ever suffragettes. I think Grandma was born in the mid 20s so I know she would have missed some of that. I don’t know of anyone in our family that lived an exciting life. I keep hoping to discover someone else who kept a journal or some exciting, rich relative, but I don’t know anyone yet. My aunt and uncle travel. They have been to Italy and Paris. I love Paris! Someday I will go to Paris and eat food and wear a little black dress. With no sleeves! Mom thinks it is immodest to wear sleeveless things or to not wear tights or pantyhose. When I am older, I’m going to wear short skirts and sleeveless tops. And be the “rebellious” person that I am. Like a suffragette! Well, this makes one week of official secret entries in my journal and the first week of the first of my teenage years. I hope things get more exciting, but right now I will keep writing about the normal life I have and hope it gets better as time goes on.