Dear Diary

April 18, 2012

Non-humiliating teen diaries.


Last week, I was cutting my friend Tania’s hair and, per the code of playing hairdresser, we decided to talk about LIFE. A shit-ton of LIFE was going on around me and I really didn’t know what to do about it. Coincidentally, identical life-stuff was happening to Tania, so we figured some things out together.

Tania and I are both from Seattle and both in that weird limbo between childhood and adulthood that’s called your late teens. The place where you suddenly have to choose between the comfort of your family and the excitement of making your way in the world on your own. Tania’s parents had recently come to visit her for the weekend, and after they left she bawled on the BART train, because saying goodbye to parents is sad (and crying on public transportation is when you know you’re really sad). “In San Francisco, I have everything I need for me to be happy,” she told me, “but when my parents come, it’s like the whole picture is complete. I have everything in one place.” I responded with one million amens. I wish I could have it all too: to stay a kid in my family and fly the coop to chase after my life dreams. But I have to make a decision.

This decision is particularly urgent right now, because, like I mentioned last week, I was planning to stay in California for the summer, working and making art, then my mom told me that she wants/needs me to spend the summer with her instead. In our haircutting focus zone, Tania and I talked about our guilt over growing up. It’s like, right now we’re deciding whether to look at our lives through the lens of being a family member or the lens of an individual. And we risk hurting some feelings. Do our families expect us to return to our hometown after we graduate? A lot of people I grew up with are in that situation. After college they’ll likely return to the town they grew up in, pick up their lives there, and keep on going that way. I could do that pretty easily, but since this is ME we’re talking about, there’s a lot I want to do outside of those boundaries. I have a lot of dreams about tearing shit up all around the world that will never happen if I stay within my known version of life that includes my mom and the Seattle scene I’m used to. I know growing out of the daughter role may come easily to some people…but those people might not be friends with their moms like I am.

I’ll start my junior year of college this fall. I’ve already had two totally dismal summers at home waiting for school to start, when I was not productive or happy or very much fun. After two summers of fruitless creative employment and internship searches in my hometown that resulted in freelance jobs that weren’t very meaningful, I’m over it. I worked my ass off to find jobs in my areas of interest that never wanted me in Seattle, but here in Oakland, mostly because I have a network provided by my school, there is plenty of opportunity. That’s just the facts, for the specific kinds of things that I, specifically, am trying to accomplish. Seattle is settling. California is everything. That is the truth of my life, as it is, April 18, 2012.

My mom called me again, later on last week. I hadn’t talked to her since she unloaded all of the heaviness with regard to my summer decision. She seemed a lot calmer this time; she assured me that, with a little shifting around, she’d be OK without my presence at home this summer. She’d have to rent our house to make up the difference financially, but she can find somewhere temporary and comfortable to live until she makes her next move. There’s also the possibility that I could take my dog Sammy down here for the summer, which would unload about half of the guilt about not being with my family this summer. And also, AHHH MY DOG WOULD BE HERE!!!

I was so tormented over my decision all week. Then I put it in perspective: my mother just got a new job that she’s happy with, she’s in a committed relationship, she’s fine. She’s totally fine. We’re both fine! Things have been exponentially worse before! In fact, in many ways, for both of us, this is the best it has ever been. My family is, for better and worse, pretty experienced at getting through spots of financial insecurity. Houses change (and have done so eight times), priorities get modified, responsibilities shift. I’ll take on even more of them. But we can deal with it, one more time.

I know I can’t have everything, and that life isn’t meant to be complete when you’re 19. Everybody is sacrificing something here; and to create my autonomous life, I have to redefine my role as a daughter. You know how most of my diaries so far have been about how kickass my life is? And how HAPPY I am doing what I LOVE? Well, I was repressing some of the realities entailed by growing into that happiness, things I knew in the back of my mind but was scared to acknowledge, to you or myself. Living the dream still = LIVING, and living = LIFE, and LIFE = UNFAIR and HARD, sometimes. But these problems are side effects of dream-chasin’ and maturity-gainin’, and I don’t want to complain. Just to explain. It’s not easy. It can get very sad sometimes. I can’t fully live this life while maintaining my former one. Adapt and keep trying is all I can do. ♦


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  • Naomi Morris April 18th, 2012 7:19 PM

    katherine, just… exactly what i have felt. A LOT.

  • thebrighterside April 18th, 2012 7:20 PM

    Ruby, I’m in my first year of high school now and it’s not all drugs, guns, and gangs. Yes, there are those people risking their lives (not to mention other people’s lives) with all three of those things, but there are positives too! You will meet amazing people that you will be friends with and be able to trust. You will have those awesome teachers that you will see even when their not teaching you. Lastly, you will learn more about yourself which is really important for life. Oh, and just to let you know, college can be a fresh start too, so there is still more to look forward to! I hope this helps :)

    • Asha April 18th, 2012 7:53 PM

      agreed! make sure you have fun and learn as much as you can. High school can be a freaky place sometimes, but nonetheless it’s ‘the’ place to learn more about yourself. You’ll meet lots of people from different backgrounds and teachers that are simply inspiring. I do wish you all the best time in high school :)

  • MissKnowItAll April 18th, 2012 7:20 PM

    Naomi- Come to New York. It’s really fun and the people are moderately nice:)
    And Ruby- I go to a public high school and the truth is, many public schools are very good. My school is in a rough neighborhood but we were ranked in the top 100 schools in America. Some of the greatest teachers I’ve ever met are in the public school system. There are tons of dedicated teachers who teach in public schools. Again, I go to a public school and we have a zero tolerance policy for bullying. We are all like a family and we band together to help one another. I don’t know if it’s because I’ve always gone to a public school but I hate it when there are so many assumptions about public schools. My brother attends an elite private school and for absolutely no tuition, I’m learning exactly what he is. See me point?

  • Lucy23 April 18th, 2012 8:00 PM

    I know exactly how you feel Ruby- and don’t stress about high school! I started public high school this year and I had previously been at private schools my whole life. Truth is, public school does have drugs and mean people and bad teachers, but there are also really nice people and great teachers. It’s pretty much like any other high school! And, from what i’ve learned in my (brief) time in High school, anything that doesn’t kill you makes you stronger: things may go badly, but you can use them to develop as a person! This is what happened to me when I decided halfway through a year at boarding school that I didn’t fit in; being surrounded by what you are not helps you to define what you are. Hope this helps!

    P.S. I really have to try that Dark Side Of The Rainbow thing, that’s literally one of the coolest things I’ve heard Hahaha

  • Marguerite April 18th, 2012 8:06 PM

    why wont naomi’s diary work?

  • tallulahpond April 18th, 2012 8:10 PM

    You are NOT a desperate loser. You are an obviously intelligent, charming young woman. Also, it sounds like that girl is inconsiderate and rude to everyone, not just to you. Don’t take it to heart, people who act like that really aren’t worth hanging around with if they’re going to treat you that way. Please keep your chin up, I’m rooting for you ♥ ♥ ♥
    TP xx

  • grrrlinacoma April 18th, 2012 8:21 PM

    katherine, i feel the absolute same way. basically, i’m always attacked by the same thoughts and i’m happiest when i’m not. i’m my true self when these thoughts are not roaming my brain.

    i think this is just another growing pain that i will learn to cope with. i currently cope with this by being oblivious, but that’s not always healthy. ah, life……


  • KinuKinu April 18th, 2012 8:24 PM

    So awesome.I love them all. Ruby- I’ll be starting high school in a little while, too. I’ve been homeschooled for my whole middle school…….? Midddle school….time. Whatever. I have my own preconception of high school too. But I’m sure it’ll be fun. An experience. Don’t worry :D

  • maddy417 April 18th, 2012 8:27 PM

    dylan, i feel ya girl! i’m a junior in high school and starting to think about colleges, and it’s really weird and confusing to try and reconcile my feelings of wanting to go somewhere really new and exciting and be independent versus the scariness of how i’ll be starting a whole new chapter in my life and not living with my family!

    and ruby, don’t worry! you’ll find your niche. you’re way cooler than i was at 14 and somehow i have friends? haha. :)

  • I.ila April 18th, 2012 8:47 PM

    Okay, how is that biscuit still there. why isn’t it covered in mold. IT SHOULD BE ROTTING!

  • MaryFairy April 18th, 2012 8:47 PM

    Katherine- in times like that, I take a firm standpoint. I AM LOVELY AND EVERYBODY ELSE IS A STINKY OLD DOG FOR NOT NOTICING.

    its clear that you are being way too hard on yourself. I notice it because I put myself under the same unnecessary pressure all the time. And its EXHAUSTING.

    But you are graduating soon, yes? So you have another chance to break the cycle. The lonely-on-your-owney cycle. (which is a term used by psychologists the world over. I’m sure?) And my guess is that you definitely-probably will. :)

  • starcollector April 18th, 2012 9:00 PM

    Katherine I’m pretty much 99.999% sure you and I are brain-mates. It’s almost unavoidable, you must have plagiarized from my diary or something (except trade horses for cats… horses are beautiful but they’re also dangerous so they frighten me a bit). ANYWAYS.

  • Kristen April 18th, 2012 9:43 PM

    Katherine, you sound totally amazing… not annoying at all!

    One, glorious, word for you: COLLEGE!

  • Quesadilla April 18th, 2012 10:05 PM


    What school do you go to? I was accepted into Mills College in Oakland and I’m trying to decide if I should go there or not.

    Indecisive Texan

    • Dylan April 21st, 2012 12:36 AM

      I don’t go to Mills and don’t know much about it, except that it’s a really good school! Take a visit to Oakland if possible (and any other schools you are deciding about) because that helps SO much. Gotta feel the vibes of each town and campus and the decision gets so much easier!

  • cherrycola27 April 18th, 2012 10:26 PM

    I DON’T LIKE DOGS EITHER!! Everyone has a dog, possibly multiple of them, and when you go over their house you’re expected to play with them and think they’re so cute and everything. Not me. I can’t stand them. They jump on you and smell and are obnoxious. I feel like a jerk just saying that, but it’s true.

  • carlycarly April 18th, 2012 11:04 PM


    I made the choice to attend post-secondary in another province (I’m Canadian, y’all). And I’m just finishing up my second year of university.

    I initially wanted to leave home because I knew I wouldn’t do it for any other reason, and therefore be ‘stuck’ in my hometown. So I thought I’d leave for school, because I knew home would be there waiting for me in four years.

    So, the first two years have been rough. Lots and lots of tears, and me wishing that I could teleport my mom and sister here with me, or that I could just be living at home. Your situation is different than mine, but the point I’m trying to get at is don’t sweat it… Home will always be there for you. And it’s a nice thing to miss and be close with your mom! Nothing is permanent, so take the plunge now, even if it means leaving something you love behind…Because though it is behind, you can always- always, back track.

  • VictoryBelle April 18th, 2012 11:29 PM

    I really know how you feel Dylan. Im in art college away from my family and for the last 2 summers Ive been focussing on getting internships and being productive and making stuff for me and hanging out with cool new friends and it just never happened. My mum and my sister both had mental health problems and there was a bunch of other stuff going on with other family members and it really felt like my family needed me to be around for moral support. It ended up being super draining and not healthy for me in particular and super unproductive – i ended up mostly sleeping and listening to harry potter audiobooks! and made me kinda hate/resent going home after that. Thankfully the resentment has waned, but theres still lots of problems that i feel like they need me around for. I even considered moving back there this term and trying to work from theirs, but that just wouldnt be practical. I’m 23 and am still finding this whole balance super hard and end up feeling guilty about not working or not looking after them. There are always going to be awesome internships out there for us and we are only young etc. but i dunno, i really feel like i’ve missed out on things too. I guess we’re just going to have to go with our gut instincts whilst trying to look out for as many people as possible! (somehow?!?)

    hoping we both manage to muddle through!

  • bellagirl April 19th, 2012 12:40 AM

    Every word Naomi and Katherine said I can relate too… I love these diary entries because they make me feel so happy that other people feel the same way!

  • Adrienne April 19th, 2012 1:11 AM

    Ruby, I was kind of scared of high school too when I was a freshman. Everyone seemed so old- there were guys with facial hair! I feel like it’s a pretty big transition. In middle school, not all of the kids have matured or gone through puberty yet but in high school your thrown with people who can legally drive and stuff! But don’t worry. High school is definitely better than middle school to me because there’s less cliquey girls and stupid drama. :)

  • Helenus April 19th, 2012 2:53 AM

    Ruby, high school isn’t your last first chance. There will be college, and then…surprise! Real adult life. You will be fine. It seems like high school is put on a pedestal by younger people, but the truth is it really isn’t a big deal. It’s kind of lame, actually. So no worries!

  • ai-ai April 19th, 2012 8:29 AM

    All dogs don’t smell bad! Some have this pheromone-thing on their forehead that emits a scent when they are happy or relaxed. For example my dog, who sometimes smells like some kind of flower, and her daughter, who smells like jasmine tea.

  • Maddy April 19th, 2012 12:19 PM

    ah so no Bard’s Early College then? High school is great sometimes. But it really sucks when you don’t have anyone to sit with at lunch. Depending on how it works at your school… I used to go to the piano room and be all artsy and really enjoy playing during lunch, and sometimes I go to the library. But yeah, high school is scary at first, but kind of full of exhilarating moments.

  • Starboardd April 19th, 2012 12:25 PM

    Dylan, I feel like we have opposite lives. I’m from central California and moving to Seattle next year for University because for me, California is settling, and Seattle is everything.

    • Dylan April 22nd, 2012 3:48 AM

      It’s all relative, isn’t it!

  • Sterling87 April 19th, 2012 1:57 PM

    Oh gawd Naomi, you got me started on a long journey through youtube watching interviews with Morrissey. So perfect, soooo peeeerrrfeeeect.

  • Emmi April 19th, 2012 3:17 PM

    Ruby, I’m in the same place as you. I’m going from being home schooled for nearly fifteen years, to being a high school sophomore. I don’t know anyone who goes to my school, I am not academic in the least, I’m horrible with meeting new people, I’m WAY too shy, and I’m freaked the fuck out. It really is nice to know that someone else is going through stuff like this, and that it isn’t the end of the world that I’m questioning this stuff. Thank you so much <3

  • sasha jade April 19th, 2012 5:19 PM

    Ruby that reminds me of when I moved from a public school to a private school…all my friends told me i would turn into a lesbian snob *actual quote* and i wouldn’t fit in cause i didn’t have a horse. fair to say, in basically every situation, these people are wrong.

  • pinnedtothepage April 19th, 2012 6:46 PM

    “crying on public transportation is when you know you’re really sad” haha

  • meghang April 19th, 2012 7:50 PM

    “I know growing out of the daughter role may come easily to some people…but those people might not be friends with their moms like I am. ”
    @Dylan: exactly how I feel. except I’m a junior in high school. my mom is my best friend and number one support system and the only scary thing about college is leaving her and not being a “full-time” daughter.

  • rhymeswithorange April 19th, 2012 9:00 PM

    Overall people are a lot more mature in high school than middle school! I find it’s so much easier to talk to everyone and float rather than be in distinct groups. So yay meeting new people :)
    Also, an invaluable resource:

  • marimba_girl April 23rd, 2012 7:56 PM

    Hey Ruby! I just want to let you know that public school is not too terribly awful. My BFF (who wasn’t really my BFF at the time because I just met her) switched from her Catholic school to public school at the start of seventh grade and she did not want anything to do with it. She did not go to any of the school dances or plays or join any of the clubs or after school activities because she was still hung up on her old school and didn’t want anything to do with public school. This made her experience very sucky. Now that we are juniors she is part of the stage crew for our theater and has gone to school events and has gotten over distancing herself from public school. I just wanted to put it out there that public school isn’t too bad if you make the effort to try and like it. Rant over.

    (P.S. Yes, sometimes the academics suck and some teachers suck, but I imagine that this happens in private schools too.)