Mar. 17: More from my Wonder Years

Oh yes, it’s time once again for me to share choice, censored bits and pieces of my Wonder Years. You can watch TV if you get bored.

Remember, when we left off in 1985:

  • I was using the word “sexy” way too much for a 17-year-old.
  • 1986 Margaret was evil.
  • Mike D was dating his half-sister (er… somethin’ unholy).
  • I was in my senior year at a fine Adventist high school and, by all appearances, still the churchiest girl there ever was. In fact, I journaled often about being worried I’d have to transfer to public school—my dad cared NOT ONE BIT for Adventist education, and I had to work my butt off to pay my tuition each month—though I know it wasn’t public school I feared, but leaving my friends.
  • I was singing almost every week at church or school assemblies or prayer meetings. (Side note: sometime between high school and college my ability to carry a tune disappeared, though I didn’t discover that until I had performed (terribly) at several embarrassing college functions. Nowadays I rock it in the car—who doesn’t?—but nowhere else. Sad.)
  • I went to church when I wasn’t performing too. It would seem like sitting in church every Sabbath would translate to being a good, worship-ful teen, but in truth I went just to see boys boys boys.
  • Not found in my journaling was anything about one of the stupidest things I ever did: I brought wine coolers in my travel mug and sipped from it at my locker between classes. I brought alcohol to school because it was risky and exciting, not because I had a drinking problem—I wasn’t in denial; truly, I couldn’t stand the taste. (My easy access to booze was courtesy of my over-21 brother-in-law.) I was sure I wouldn’t get caught because no teacher would’ve suspected such behavior from a good girl like me. If any of my friends had told on me—and OF COURSE, all of them knew about it because I thought I was that safe from suspicion—I would’ve been immediately kicked out of school. I don’t remember how long I did this, but I’m guessing the guilt and fear kept it going for a very short time.

    I wanted to be a bad girl. It just wasn’t in me. I mean, I sewed my own prairie dresses, for goodness’ sake.

My first journal entry for 1986 contained very important information:

Jan. 7: My newest cassettes are by Eddie Murphy, Jack Wagner, Amy Grant, Depeche Mode, Charlie Sexton, Mr. Mister, Van Halen, Sting, Phil Collins, Whitney Houston.

I was still as boy-crazy as ever:

Jan. 12: Last night we watched Footloose and it made me sort of depressed—it is so romantic in some parts. It made me think of AH, I think because it brings back so many memories from last year at [my other school].

Laura, Tracey, and I went to tea.

moonlighting Tea? I do not remember this tea. We were such wanna-bes, though, that I’m not surprised we thought it would be fancy and fun, thereby making US fancy and fun. Laura? Tracey? Do you remember?

Jan. 24: I found the stereo I want. It’s got a dual cassette and everything else.

Wow. That is some high tech right there.

Jan. 26: The Bears won the Super Bowl. I ♥ the Refrigerator!

I cannot believe for a second that I really cared.

Jan. 27: I got my stereo! It is so totally cool.

Rissa and I have been writing really naughty stories.

Feb. 11: I was supposed to study for Cit Ed but Moonlighting was on tonight.

TV was always more important than studying. Thank goodness I was applying to a college that didn’t care about grades. (Can you write a check? Congrats, you’re in!)

Since I started keeping a journal in 1985, every time I mentioned my niece, Erin (4-5 years old), I wrote how cute she was, how sweet, adorable, all that. And then this:

Feb. 17: Friday night I babysat for Erin and she was a brat.

Not to worry, Erin; that’s the only time I said anything bad about you. On paper. ;)

Feb. 18: Today started out shitty but it got better. We had a health check at school and I was measured at 5’8”. I can’t believe I’m that tall. I was in there when Mike D got measured, and he was embarrassed that he was an inch shorter than me.

April’s nasty story is the best one yet.

Is Mike being shorter than me really all I needed to know to make my shitty day better? I was so easy to please! Also, I can’t believe I used the word “shitty” back then. I was such a rebel.

Feb. 19: I hope it snows tonight because I really need to get my hair cut. Life is so horrible.

The drama!

Mar. 3: GD is scared to death of me. He asked Debi why I always stare at him and she said because I want him really bad. He wouldn’t believe her, but now he probably won’t talk to me.

Mar. 5: I had a really boring day, but after I got off the bus that all changed. I heard someone running behind me, and when I turned around, this guy was walking right next to me. I said “hi” and then he started talking to me. He asked me where I went to school and where I lived and how long I’ve lived there. Then I said, “Well, maybe I’ll see you again sometime.” and then I had to turn off onto [my street]. He was cute! I don’t know his name or where he lives. I think he probably goes to [nearby public high school]. I hope I see him tomorrow or I won’t see him ‘til Monday probably. It would be exciting if I saw him again.

Wow. Just… wow. I wasn’t just boy-crazy; I was a dolt. Telling a stranger all that stuff? Did I learn nothing from all those ABC Afterschool Specials???

Mar. 12: GD is so cute and sweet to me, but sometimes he acts so immature.

Pot v. Kettle, 1986.

Mar. 13: Laura and I wrote notes all day.

Today’s kids will never know the daring fun of writing and passing notes, will they? I mean, it was THE thing back in the day. Sixteen Candles would have been a much shorter movie if not for the passing of the notes. Really, though, texts and emails are less likely to fall in the wrong sexy hands; it’s just so strange that this HUUUUGE thing of my growing up years is a lost art. “Art”? Maybe “medium” is more the correct term. Although the stories we wrote in our notes were definitely artistic, considering they were borne solely from our vivid imaginations. Yikes.

Mar. 31: GD and I wrote notes back and forth all during Sabbath School.

Yesterday I went over to Deani’s and she cut my hair. My senior pictures are next week.

I let my friend cut my hair right before pictures? No offense, Deanna, but that was possibly not my best decision ever. Although I’m not wearing a hat in my senior pictures, so maybe you didn’t do too bad a job.

Apr. 11: Some kids were rehearsing a play in the chapel today and when GD saw me watching he turned all red. He kept smiling at me. He is so cute and flirty. I’ll miss him so much next year.

…which is funny, because after I left for college there isn’t a single mention of him in my journal. Out of direct line of teenage sight, out of teenage mind.

Apr. 22: GD sat with me at lunch. He and CW made fun of me and it made me sort of mad. I told GD I hate when he acts like a sophomore.

In all fairness, he was a sophomore.

May 1: I was in a really bad mood today. Deani kept trying to cheer me up and that made it worse.

How horrible of my friend to do that. Just awful.

May 14: Today we got our caps and gowns. They’re red, and the cords are white and silver, the tassel is all three colors. It made me depressed.

This shows the melancholy mood so typical of my teenage years. It was exciting to get our caps and gowns, but I couldn’t just be excited because I knew it meant graduation and the end of high school. While a lot of people hated high school and couldn’t wait for it to end, I loved so much about it that I wished it could last forever.

May 15: GD hasn’t looked at me, except once, and I think it was an accident.

May 16: Tonight Dad and I went over to [April’s house] for dinner. We had a good time.

April is laughing at this memory right now, I just know it. The “we” that had a good time was me and April, not me and my dad. It’s a long story, and not interesting to anyone else, but my dad would want me to say this: it was one of the most awkward evenings ever, and April and I were all ♫ LA ♫ LA ♪♬ LA ♩♪♫♬ THISISSOFUN!! because we had no clue.

May 22: Tuesday we had a special Girls’ Club meeting—it was like a goodbye for the senior girls. Laura gave me a rose and said the most special things about me. I cried so much.

Wait! I have a picture!


May 26: [MG had a graduation party with DANCING (gasp!)] Last night was so much fun!!!

I was trying to get SS to dance with me but he kept saying that he didn’t know how. Finally, after a whole bunch of people told him to get out there, we went out. We danced to “Faithfully” and it was really romantic even though it was only SS.

Later “Hold Me Now” came on and BW said he loved that song so we got up and danced to it. He was singing to me. [I’m pretty sure he was drunk.] He is so tall!!

MB asked me to dance, but I didn’t want to dance a fast dance with him. Finally we danced to “Hold Me” by Whitney Houston and Teddy Pendergrass. That was by far the best dance. He held me so close and Deanna said he was smiling and had his eyes closed!! So did I. Rissa said we were picture-perfect, just the right height for each other.

Mike D brought his kinky cousin/girlfriend.

I looooove how creeped out I was by Mike’s girlfriend.

May 29: Today GD gave me a great big hug and said he’d miss me after I graduate. I told him I promised to write every day.

Later I was in the library and MB came in and was sort of flirting.

...which meant he was talking to me.

Jun. 1: Today I graduated from high school.

Jun. 2: I packed up all my stuff and moved to my mom’s house in Walla Walla. Tomorrow is my first day of work in the VP’s office.

Jun. 7: After Sabbath School I was in the foyer of the College Church and saw MB!!! I couldn’t believe it. He said he’s here for his sister’s graduation. I wasn’t going to go to the ceremony tomorrow but now I am for sure.

Mom invited people over after church and there was this guy [MH] that is WONDERFUL. He looks like BL but cuter. We went out for pizza and he held doors for me and pulled out my chair. Later we watched TV in my room and talked until really late. He is really really nice and so good looking.

Jun. 11: I was in a bad mood all day because I was so tired and my hair looked gross.

Jun. 22: MH was here again yesterday. I think I really like him. He’ll be back in August.

Jun. 28: This weekend was really fun. I stayed in the dorm. I met a girl, Sher, from [the same school as MH]. I asked her about him and she said he’s dumb.

Not that Sherilee’s opinion meant anything (ha!) but I never saw or mentioned MH again.

July 6: I moved into the dorm last Monday. I LOVE IT!! On Friday Sher, Sherri, and I went to Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.

To this day, going to that movie is still one of my favorite and most vivid college memories.

July 7: Laurie and I went to [the guys’ dorm] tonight and the guy at the desk let us go to SG’s room. When he answered the door he wasn’t wearing anything! We were so embarrassed!

There’s a story there that picks up about six years later, but if you ask me for details I’m pleading the fifth.

Aug. 2: I found out this guy DB likes me. He is kinda cute but not really my type.

The other night a big group of us made a few prank calls over to the guys’ dorm. Most of them were pretty boring but one really gross guy really got into it! It was disgusting.

This might be the first recorded evidence of our epic prank phone call sessions. I wrote about my life-changing one here.

—please take a Brief interlude—

Between August and December there are an embarrassing number of pages about different guys I went out with (mostly the two that I didn’t like all that much and another that I really liked but kept me at arm’s length until I started dating other guys and then he wouldn’t leave me alone), high school friends that had finally arrived for college, moving into the other dorm and getting a roommate, the zit that nearly killed me, Mike D and me becoming actual friends, and surprisingly little about classes I was taking.

Why is it that I’m more embarrassed by my immaturity in college than in high school, just months earlier? Whatever… I’m Facebook friends with too many of the people involved to go into any level of detail.

—end interlude—

Dec. 7: Tonight is Open House and all the guys are coming through the dorm. We have mistletoe! Shevaun’s and my room is so cool! We have posters of The Breakfast Club, Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure, Thief of Hearts, and Levi’s. We also decorated for Christmas—lights, spray snow, wrapping paper on our door, and tiny paper trees hanging from our ceiling.

Wait! I have a picture!


This next part really freaked me out. This journal is written on both sides of notebook paper, and as I was transcribing for this blog post, I missed a side of one sheet, which made an entry look like this:

Mike D and I went to the caf tonight and had a long talk about [the guys I liked]. He thinks I should come up with an excuse to call B again. [***] We came back to the dorm and he kissed me!

***Mike D has never kissed me, let’s just make that clear right now. He only kisses girls related to him. But between our talk in the caf and a page worth of journaling, B, the guy I HOPED would kiss me, did. That was the part I missed.

Whew. And now that we have that straight…

We’re done. The journal closes with a bunch of boo-hooing about how much I missed B over Christmas break… the recurrence of the killer zit… more whining about B’s absence… fights with my roommate… and the end of 1986, one of the most remarkable years in The History of Jen (now with more drama!).

Shall I continue on to share bits from 1987? I’m thinking NO. Unless Meanie Margaret shows up again. That could be entertaining.


Mar. 15: I read it: Notes to Boys

notestoboys I haven’t been very good about reviewing books here at Stuff Jen Says, other than a sentence here and there in one of my month-end summaries. I tell people about books I read. I even recommend them to friends. Somehow I don’t get around to actually writing out my thoughts after I finish reading a book. But-cept sometimes I do.

This is one of those times. You remember Pamela Ribon, my BFF, right? She is toooootes my BFF. Here’s my review of her latest book, which I posted to Goodreads.

What I love about Pamela Ribon’s books is how they are simultaneously hysterical and heartbreaking. They’re like two, two, two books in one! Except they aren’t, because she manages to move between the two extremes—giving more time to the hilarious, thank goodness—in a way that feels completely normal.

In “Notes to Boys,” Ribon adult-narrates her teen dorkiness. Her notes to boys are exactly that: uncensored bits from her journals and first drafts of notes—some 200+ pages!—detailing her ascent into madness. And isn’t that how must of us entered our teens, mostly sane until the hormones hit? What she shares will make most readers cringe and nod and laugh along with her... and dig around in their parents’ attic for their old journals.

(That’s what I did anyway, and was disappointed to find that my teenage journals were far less interesting than Little Pam’s, though they were equally embarrassing.)

“Notes to Boys” is another Pamela Ribon hit. She has woven these excerpts from her journals into a story that, like her earlier books, is both realistic, relatable, and an absolute joy to read.

Inspired by Little Pam, I quoted bits from my 1985 journal a few days ago. Unfortunately, they’re amusing only to the people involved—“amusing” might be generous—and when I write up 1986’s blurbs it’ll probably be more of the same. Clearly, Little Pam was vastly superior to Little Jen—LP was writing for large audiences from the very beginning!

While I can’t eagerly recommend my walks down memory lane as entertaining reading for all, I can recommend Notes to Boys. Read it. So says I.


Mar. 14: Funny pitchers

Time to empty my “silly” folder. It’s almost like a blog post, but not really.


















Happy Friday!


Mar. 8: ‘Twas a sexy 1985

rpj I just finished reading a book that inspired me to dig up my journals from high school, and hoo-boy, I’ve hardly stopped shaking my head since. I’ll write up my review of the book soon, but for now, there’s this: selections from how I poured my heart out on paper all those years ago. I have to limit my sharing to a choice few bits, because back then I wrote pages and pages every day. You’re welcome.

Here are the main things you need to know about me in 1985:

  • I was 16 and in my junior year at an Adventist high school, which I loved. I was a church-y girl.
  • I frequently went on “seminars,” which were basically a bunch of us kids putting on a church service somewhere in Oregon—sometimes they required overnight trips, sometimes they were just on Sabbath mornings in the Portland area. I sang. I rarely missed these semi-monthly events, not because I yearned to be a missionary but because they were really fun and sometimes involved bases.
  • My junior year a bunch of us created a club and called ourselves “The Ravaged Five.” Yep, we were the five boy-craziest virgins you ever knew. Our senior year April was welcomed into the group and we changed our name to “The Sexy Six.” Our logo—because OF COURSE we had a logo—was the number six inside an upside-down heart. Why? Well, the shape of the butt on our primary object of affection was an upside-down heart. Duh. We spent many hours talking about that butt. It was a good butt. Twenty-some years later, when I realized that butt and the guy who owned it had a kid at my kids’ school, I drew upon my best evasive techniques to avoid him every day at 3pm.
  • Parties! Planning parties, attending parties, crying about not being invited to parties… parties were a huge deal.
  • I lived with my dad. Those were not our best father-daughter years. The parties might have had something to do with that.

Jan. 3, 1985. Yesterday AH called me and we talked for two hours. Why does he have to live so far away? He said his friend DK thinks I’m cute. They might drive over here for church next week. I hope NS is there so he’ll maybe be jealous. I think we’ll invite them to the party when Dad’s gone on the 28th.

Jan. 29, 1985. Last night with NS was weird. He was flirting more than he used to, like when I wanted him to. He kept trying to hold my hand. I loved it but it mad me sad too. I wish he went to [my school] and I could see him every day.

I can’t quote this because there are just little bits here and there, but it seems that my dad made me give him one of my contacts as a punishment. Since I was blind as a bat, I can’t imagine how this was a good idea. Given that my dad’s buttheadedness knew no bounds, it’s hard to know if what prompted this action was even a big deal.


Feb. 3, 1985. I’m fat and I look pregnant. I think I’ll tell everyone I’m pregnant so I’ll have an excuse for being fat.

Well, that’s just a super idea, Jen.

Feb. 5, 1985. Yesterday in history class, TW told the whole room I was pregnant. I was so embarrassed, but I just went along with it. This is what I decided to say if anyone asks: I can’t say who the father is, and if he goes to [our school] or not. I’m two months pregnant, due in September.

Feb. 6, 1985. Today I told KW I’m pregnant. It took a while to convince her, but she believes me. I’m singing [Amy Grant songs] for seminar this weekend.

Seriously, WTF???

Feb. 11, 1985: Mike D actually smiled at me today. I think he was laughing at my hair.

Feb 23, 1985: In chemistry yesterday I was talking with Tracey and [the object of our affection—we referred to him as “Mr. Cute Ass” or “MRCA” for super-secrecy] and I said that I would be home alone so Tracey said, “Well, I’ll come over and keep you company.” And I said, “You’re not exactly the person I had in mind.” Then [MRCA] started asking me who I wanted to come over. I kept stuttering and finally I just said, “Well, if you get really curious why don’t you just come by and see?” And he said, “OK,” like he really would. But he didn’t.

Of course he didn’t. Because I was ridiculous.

Feb. 24, 1985. Today was pretty fun. Mike D was nice to me. I think I flunked my history test. [MRCA] thinks I’m pregnant. I think it’s funny, but it wouldn’t be if he tells everyone. I had to work in the cafeteria today and broke three of my fingernails.

Soooo... which part of that day was fun?lovesucks

Feb. 25, 1985. [I was dieting…] All I ate today was a donut and mashed potatoes. I wrote an essay on neon clothes. DK told AH to tell me he thinks I’m “sexy.” I wish he lived here.

Mar. 2, 1985. Tracey, Deani, Kari, Rissa, Yvonne, and Kim are coming over tonight. We’re going to read erotica books. I hope it’s fun.

Mar. 3, 1985. I am so in lust with Huey Lewis and Ray Parker, Jr. They’re both so sexy! And then there’s NS, DK, [MRCA] and Mike D.

Mike, I bet it makes you feel reeeeal good that I put you on the same sexy pedestal as Huey Lewis and Ray Parker, Jr., huh?

Mar. 5, 1985. I am in love! Todd was at the party. He is GORGEOUS!!!!! He’s 6’4” and blond. The one problem is he’s a year and two months younger than me.

I do not know this “Todd,” nor do I remember anything about the party to which I refer. I love what’s considered an obstacle in my 16-year-old brain: that he’s a much, much younger man.

Mar. 7, 1985. Today we wrote [MRCA] a note that said: “Dear [MRCA], we love your sexy body. We’ll be your private dancers and do what you want us to do ANY time you want!!!!!! We lust after your gorgeous physique!!” We put the note on his windshield. Nobody saw us do it.

Terrible, terrible paraphrasing of Tina Turner there. I’m so ashamed.

Mar. 17, 1985. I went to seminar at [local church] today. Mike B was there. I kissed him three times. My songs went pretty well.

WHAT was I doing kissing a guy at church? I remember kissing Mike B, but it certainly wasn’t at church. (I shared those details here, along with the sad direction Mike’s life took in recent years). I also love that I go from reporting this kissing thing right into a review of my singing performance, like it was just like every other seminar.

Mar. 24, 1985. I’m sobbing and I’m not sure why. I thought it was because of [a boy] but now I think it was my hair.

Mar. 26, 1985. Today in Bible class Margaret volunteered me to read. I was so mad at her, but I read anyway. I’ll get her back for sure.

Mar. 29, 1985. Tomorrow night The Ravaged Five is going to the Van Halen laser light show at OMSI. I can’t wait!!!!

May 19, 1985. I wrote a really perverted story last week and Tracey and Kari said they’d buy me a milkshake if I gave it to Mike D to read. I did, and he thought it was “pretty wild.” The thing so embarrassing was that the initials I used were “J” and “M.” I know he thought it was about him.

I feel like maybe it totally was.

May 22, 1985. Today was the last day of school. I can’t believe I’m almost officially a senior!

[At graduation the juniors walk down the aisle to be introduced as next year’s seniors.] I’m marching with GW. He’s cute so I’m glad. [GW didn’t show. I WONDER WHY???]

Jun. 10, 1985. Today when I got home there was a VCR on top of the TV!!!!! I’m going to have lots of movie parties this summer!

Aug. 27, 1985. We found out that the girl Mike D was with at Camp Meeting is his cousin AND his girlfriend. Kinky.

Sep. 3, 1985. Today Margaret kept telling me to turn around and shut up.

Nov. 15, 1985. We wrote CS a note. I said I loved his hair and wanted to run my sprained fingers through it.

Guess what? This stuff just goes on and on and on—I kept a journal for 15 years. Aren’t you already looking forward to the next installment of this pathetic blathering?



Mar. 5: Oops.

emilylitella The biopsy I last wrote about ended up NOT being on the spot in my throat; it was on the spots in my pelvis. We found out this week that there were no cancer cells in the tissue they sampled. None. This is very good news, because, in case you were not aware, no cancer = yay!

I’m trying to concentrate on that “yay,” because I’m incredibly frustrated that they told us my cancer had come back when they didn’t actually know my cancer had come back. Given my history, it was a safe assumption on their parts, but OMG, what a roller coaster they’ve had us on. I won’t be trusting scans over biopsies EVER again. Grrr.

The radiologists are uncertain I’m as cancer-free as my oncologist is, but all of them agree that another PET scan in six months is a good idea, so that’s the plan for now. The past five weeks have been all-cancer-all-the-time, and I gladly give that up for the everyday-ness I had grown to love.

All this radiation means my super powers should be kicking in any day now, right? They better be somethin’ good.



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