Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Dear Readers

Please enjoy the diary entries and old photos on this blog about a latchkey kid growing up in the seventies. With parents divorced, Jennifer grew up in California, Colorado, Alaska, and Minnesota. Jennifer made a new set of friends every time she moved, but the pets in her life were constant (at least until they died.)

Today Jennifer is a children's book author. She writes fantasy fiction and her characters range from princesses, to pets, to flying horses. She is married and living with her husband, three children, two horses, three dogs, and three cats in Northern California. She is living her dream exactly as she predicted she would in her diaries when she was a child. 

The revelation of the "Jennifer Diaries" is not complete, but it is on hiatus while Jennifer writes her GUARDIAN HERD middle-grade book series for HarperCollins. 

Thank you for visiting and I hope you enjoy this time capsule into the past. 


P.S. I get asked a lot why I write about myself in third person in this blog. It's because dissecting the diaries is happy, sad, painful, and just plain easier when I disassociate myself from it. But I am Jennifer. I am the Diaries.

Please visit my other blogs:

A few photos from this blog:

Thursday, July 7, 2011

The Drano Incident

I'm back! I have good news and bad news. I haven't been writing too much because the photos I have of Jennifer stopped around age 12 or 13 and picked up again around age 21. I could not continue writing until I found the missing photos.

I ransacked the closet where I discovered the diaries--not there. Well, the photos were retrieved from some barn rafters in June and given to me! The photos span from about 1984 to 1990 (ages 14-20). They also include photographs from Jennifer's trip to Germany as an exchange student. I feel like I struck gold!

The bad news is that I can't post any of the new photos today. My main computer has crashed. My scanner is not attached to the laptop so I will have to wait to scan photos. I'm going to post an entry today, sans photos, just to get started again.

Jennifer is writing multiple times a day at this point. There is a lot of material to sift through. I'm doing my best to maintain a storyline of events. Jennifer is heading toward a pivotal moment in her life...I will try to capture the tension as it builds in her life.

September 27, 1985--"I get disappointed pretty easily. Whenever I get disappointed, I start thinking, 'Is life worth it?'. Anyway, just now I asked my parents if I could ride my bike around Fox Forest for about 10 minutes. It's only 10:00pm but they said no because it's too late. I was really counting on going, I had my train of thought set on it. I was sure that I could go but they said 'no' and it's like I have to readjust and it's disappointing. 

I let myself hope for things, really hope, like hoping I would get a horse or get a puppy for my birthday, and I fully believe it will happen. I realize it might not but then I get very disappointed when it really doesn't happen. I guess I like to let myself hope. I like to set my heart upon something. Emotions can be very powerful, even disappointment. 

I almost love to cry deep and hard and I love to feel incredible anger sometimes (not frustrated anger though). I like to feel the power of hate, the power of depression, the power of suicide and the existence afterward. Whenever I feel strong emotions, I realize the power in me. I always feel more important and that nothing can stop me. 

I used to think of suicide all the time--a way to easily solve problems. When Muffin died, I almost tried to kill myself. I tried mixing liquid Drano and ammonia and drinking it. I couldn't get the lid off the Drano, never did either. After five minutes of trying, I decided not to kill myself. 

When things were going wrong, I would think about suicide. Almost every morning, I would wake up and I'd want to stay in bed and not put my feet on the cold floor. Sometimes I didn't get up and I stayed home from school and, a lot of times, I wanted to die just so I could stay in bed. 

Nowadays I wouldn't kill myself for a few reasons. 

1) It's a selfish thing to do. All the money and trouble Mom, Dad and my family went through for me would be wasted. Plus, it might ruin my mom. 

2) Cocoa would be all alone in the world. She is one of my first concerns. If I were to die, she would not have a good friend anymore, she'd be left hanging. I couldn't do that to my baby.

3) All I've done so far in my life would be wasted. All those mornings I did get out of bed would be wasted. I'd probably have to start all over again in a new life. Plus, I wouldn't be a survivor if I killed myself. You don't see animals killing themselves. To be successful in this world, you have to survive by your people's code. Suicide is not in that code. Feelings can be suppressed and you must survive. I think that if you don't survive, you have to live life again and I wouldn't wish that on myself. 

4) Once, a long time ago, Mom or someone else told me that people who killed themselves were sent to hell and were despised by God. Well, when I heard that I did believe in God so it made an impact on me. But even now that I don't believe in any God, I still have a fear that only bad will come of suicide.

So from now on, I might think of suicide, but I will never do it because that would be losing and I like to win. Even if my whole life went down the drain, I have decided that I will not kill myself. I have made this decision after years of torment and no matter what, I will stick by it, by the Oath of Ophelia, by my word and honor, I will survive. I will live."

Four months after this entry--Jennifer will eat these words.

Heads up parents--I believe that making a pact NOT to kill yourself IS just as bad as making a pact TO kill yourself. It's a warning sign!!

The following information was taken from the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline website.

What Are The Warning Signs For Suicide?

Seek help as soon as possible by contacting a mental health professional or by calling the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK if you or someone you know exhibits any of the following signs: 
  • Threatening to hurt or kill oneself or talking about wanting to hurt or kill oneself
  • Looking for ways to kill oneself by seeking access to firearms, available pills, or other means
  • Talking or writing about death, dying, or suicide when these actions are out of the ordinary for the person
  • Feeling hopeless
  • Feeling rage or uncontrolled anger or seeking revenge
  • Acting reckless or engaging in risky activities - seemingly without thinking
  • Feeling trapped - like there's no way out
  • Increasing alcohol or drug use
  • Withdrawing from friends, family, and society
  • Feeling anxious, agitated, or unable to sleep or sleeping all the time
  • Experiencing dramatic mood changes
  • Seeing no reason for living or having no sense of purpose in life
I have compassion for Jen--but I get the biggest kick out of her too. Her suicide attempt was thwarted by a childproof cap!  (Muffin died right after she moved to Alaska--Jen was 12 at the time of the Drano incident.) 

Talk about frustrating--Jennifer was upset enough to want to kill herself but she spent so much energy trying to get the top off the bottle that the mood passed. Drano could advertise this fact--"Our childproof packaging is so complicated that suicidal teens often decide they would rather live than drink our product!"

I'd say that cap served it's purpose, Drano--1, Jennifer--0.

Click here to read the entry from 1983 where Jennifer writes about Muffin's death.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Power Trip

27 September, 1985  "I like power. I read somewhere that wanting power is a reflection of your own insecurities, so I guess I'm insecure. I don't want power like Hitler had or the power of the president. I'd like to have ESP and telepathy etc. I'd like to feel the power inside of me. I'd like to control the wind and fire and people's minds. In a way, I'd like the power that pain has. Some kid got his nose shattered and he just laid on the ground quivering uncontrollably with pain. When I heard that, I thought, "Wow, what power pain has, to do that." Sometimes when I'm in pain, I almost revel in the power it has. 

I don't want to rule the world or anything but I just find the power of some things incredible. I'd like to have the wind under my control, I'd like to point my finger and have the wind go where I point. I guess I like to control powerful things. That might be one reason why I ride horses, because of the power I have over those large animals. I also love doberman's, probably because I'd be interesting to control them.You see?

I don't really like the fact that I'm like this. I've been trying to avoid the issue with myself but I have to be honest about it sometime. I like to control things more powerful than I. I had a very insecure childhood. I didn't stop using my security blanket till I was thirteen and I wet the bed until I was seven."

It doesn't take Freud to see what's going on here! Jennifer feels powerless and she wants control. She describes her childhood as one in which the rug was constantly pulled from under her feet. Without warning, she would move to another state. Without warning, pets were sold or given away. Sometimes she only had a few weeks notice that she was about to lose everything--AGAIN.

In every new home, she tried to settle down. She joined sports teams, made friends, unpacked into a new bedroom and bought new pets. She always thought she was moving to her forever home. She never saw the next move coming.

But it came anyway.

On top of this, her body changed without her permission. Her hormones raged. She had adult feelings but she was immature. She didn't believe in any higher power. All of it led to her sense of powerlessness. I think this is common in teens in general.

I don't think it's an accident that this boy is the most popular teenager on Earth.

Harry Potter
Does he need an introduction??

The skill of the author propelled his skyrocket to fame, but his story fueled the journey. The opening image of a humble, orphaned boy living in a cupboard under the stairs is compelling enough. I remember how drawn I was to this helpless creature from the opening pages. I related to him. Out of place, unwanted, unheard, powerless--a lot of us can relate, a lot of teens can relate.

Harry is us, only better! He soon learns that he has magical powers. He's special. He goes to a magical high school to learn how to control his powers. Of course the real lessons he learns aren't about potions and spells--they are about family, friendship and the power of love.

This story is ancient and new. Book after book, movie after movie, portray "average", powerless people coming into superpowers (Spiderman), or discovering they are royalty (the Princess Diaries), or that they are demi-gods (The Lightening Thief) or they get turned into immortals (Twilight). The more average or insecure the character, the more exciting the makeover!

Alas, most of us don't get bitten by radioactive spiders, or handsome vampires! Their stories captivate--but we leave the theater as non-magical as we were when we entered it. The desire lived in Jennifer to control her world, to be God. Considering her immaturity, (and curiosity about pain) it's probably good she did not discover magical powers in herself! In fact, I barely trust teens to drive, let alone to control superpowers!

Anyway, Jennifer remained wholly human. She daydreamed about controlling people's minds but struggled to control her own. Oddly enough, she was eventually rescued by a supernatural being. Truth is stranger than fiction! The only thing that alleviated her insecurity and made sense out of her world, was God. 

At age 17, Jennifer came to believe. She turned her life over to the care of her higher power, whom she calls God. She discovered her own royal lineage as His child. Since then, she has felt the power of the Holy Spirit. She has witnessed miracles. She has been guarded by angels.

She still looks like the same boring gal--but she doesn't feel powerless anymore. She still struggles with her human "issues" but she has eternal hope (and help). She knows that her body will fail, but her spirit is immortal. She doesn't control the wind, but her Father does. She has become a demi-god, an immortal, a royal princess!

(Trust me, I know how this sounds to non-believers--having been one myself! Jennifer has lived her life with God and without--the difference is quantifiable to her. Faith will never be reached through the intellect. It's a "leap". Some things have to be believed to be seen...)

I have said before that I believe everyone is a seeker. A seeker is someone who seeks higher truth, spiritual meaning, a higher order. I've said before, most of us believe SOMETHING about the world and the meaning of life. Jennifer was a seeker. She found God. The difference between her and Harry Potter is that EVERYONE can access God but not EVERYONE will get a letter from an owl...

Harry was a seeker too :')

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Physical Education

My son is currently sewing a scarf in P.E. Does that seem random or what? Well, his teacher actually won the Teacher of the Year Award for our district. I have to remember, and I have to remind my son, that P.E. in 7th grade is an academic class. It is letter graded. There is homework and papers and research and quizzes. The sports and activities are the "lab work". This is where they apply what they are learning but it's not all about the sports!

His class is doing an entire unit on the soccer World Cup. His teacher broke all the classes into teams representing different countries. Nick is on team Italy. Each player is sewing a scarf to represent their "country". I think this is pretty cool. Nick is enjoying it too and he didn't think he would.

However, he's not happy with his team. The teacher chose the teams. I was glad to hear that. It's awkward when the kids choose--we all know how that story ends. I don't know if she avoided the hurt feelings though. As she called out the teams, my son and other kids grumbled out loud about her choices. Nick accused her of stacking the teams because he ended up with non-athletes and another team ended up with almost all athletes. While Nick's teammates are probably grateful to have him, a competitive soccer player, on their World Cup team, he's not too thrilled to have them. I hope his teammates weren't hurt by his obvious and vocal disappointment!

P.E. may be more academic than it once was....but the kids haven't changed...

27, September 1985  "Yesterday in P.E., Mr. L split me up from my team and put me on another one. One of the guys said, "You're not on our team." I said, "I am now." And he goes, "oh," like he was mad and I was some kind of burden. I felt so bad. Plus, a lot of "in" people were on the team and I didn't feel like I fit in. 

This one guy, Stenzel, is the team leader and "everyone" thinks he's so cool which made me instantly hate him. He's a dumb ex-football player and he always has his tongue sticking out and a glint of stupidity in his eye. 

Anyway right at the beginning of the game, I got hit so hard with the soccer ball in my face that I couldn't even feel my nose. So I went to the locker room with the sympathy of my friends on the other team. My nose was swollen a little. I thought that it might be broken (it's not). But I started crying, not because of the pain but because of the team's rejection toward me. I imagined them laughing at my injury and thinking that I was a wimp. 

A few minutes later, I went back into the gym. A few years ago, I would have done anything except go back. I rejoined my team. I smiled widely to my friends so that they, and everyone else, could see that I was okay and not embarrassed. No one on my team said anything except one guy asked if I was okay. I said, "Yeah." I felt like I had something to prove now. I felt that I better play good so they'll have no more reason to think I'm a burden and to sneer at me. 

When the game started, I was surprised at how well I played. I felt sure that I would totally goof up and make a fool of myself. Instead, I made a goal! I did some great passes and kicks and I even stole the ball away from the "big guys" on the other team. Anyway, I'm glad my old soccer skills came through for me. 

Today I'm not playing because I'm sick of P.E. It's Friday and I thought I looked good this morning and I didn't want to mess it up. I hope my team has more respect for me now. I don't care if they're friends or not, I just want them to know that I'm a benefit, not a burden."

 Jennifer playing rec soccer in Foster City, Ca!

Poor Jen! Do you see what I see? She made an excuse not to go back to P.E. As a mother, I wish she had gone back and kept playing hard. Nobody at her high school even knew her yet. She could have made some friends on that team.

Jennifer did everything right on the 27th. She took a blow, retreated and then came back and scored a goal! Usually that's the END of the movie!! She should have ridden that wave into the sunset...into happily ever after!

Instead, she quit. This is Jennifer's perfectionism. She didn't think she could repeat her athletic  performance. Often when she succeeded, she became overwhelmed with the pressure to succeed again. It's the classic, Fear of Failure.

Going back to P.E. in general, the school gym is often either your best friend or your worst enemy. It was her worst enemy. The classroom is the same way. For some kids, the classroom is torture. For some kids, P.E. is the only class where they get to shine.

Jennifer had become a straight A student. The sight of rows of desks, class expectations written neatly on the board, blank notebooks waiting to be filled and shiny new textbooks thrilled her. She walked into every classroom with a sense of excitement and confidence. She was in complete control. She had no compassion for the moaners sitting in the back of the class. She was irritated when the teacher called on kids and they didn't know the answers. She had no compassion for anyone who thought that writing a ten page essay was "hard".

She didn't know that, for the moaners, this was their gym class. The classroom was the place where they lacked confidence. They weren't thrilled to see that quizzes and tests would count for 40% of their grade, they weren't already deciding what they would write their final essay on, they weren't smelling the textbooks, they weren't admiring all the blank college-ruled paper in their notebooks! They dreaded being called on by the teacher as much as Jennifer dreaded being called on by the P.E. teacher. They were probably plenty smart enough to do well in school, they just got a bad break somewhere in life.

At the school gym, Jennifer became the moaner in the back. She was the one who hated the smell, the uniform, the squeaking of tennis shoes, the echo of the basketball. She was the one cutting class and putting out half an effort. Jennifer was athletic enough, just not confident enough. She could do her own thing in the classroom, but in the gym, she had to work with others.  She also had to perform in front of her peers and that stressed her out. She hated making visible mistakes. I'm sure the kids who didn't know the answers in class, felt just as stupid and miserable and embarrassed as she did in the gym.

Jennifer did not look at the bright side. At least she shined somewhere in school!

Where did you shine?

Friday, October 22, 2010

Knock Talk

I've discovered a gap in Jennifer's diaries. The entry on October 23, 1985 was the last official entry addressed to Ophelia.
Jennifer drew this picture of Ophelia when she was around 11 years old

After four years of writing to Ophelia, Jennifer grew out of her. She adopted the adult form of diary keeping which we call, journaling. She began to write in spiral notebooks. Jennifer will swing back and forth over the years between writing in journals to writing in diaries. However, she will never again write to Ophelia.

I will cover Jennifer's journal entries for awhile now. They describe her increasing confusion, loneliness, anxiety, stress and hope!

24, September 1985--"Today in English I accidentally wrote on my white pants with blue ink while I was listening to my teacher. I do that a lot when I'm concentrating, I doodle on my papers and stuff. Well, just now, I told my mom about it thinking we could have a laugh about it and she didn't believe me! God, she didn't believe me! At first, I couldn't even believe that she didn't believe me. She thinks I deliberately wrote on them or something. Well that just hurts me that she thinks I'm trying to cover up for writing on my pants and she thinks I would actually do that purposefully. Why would I write on my own pants? I didn't even realize it 'till later. I'm crying."

24, September 1985--"I want to create a world. I want it to exist. I'm working on the language now. The land will be called Masel. I wish it could exist but first, I have to get over my fear of writing. It's like I'm afraid to write cause I'm afraid of doing a bad job and disappointing myself and other people who have told me I'm a good writer. I've started a book about a band of wild horses living on an uninhabited island. But because of my fear of writing, I'm afraid I may not finish. I also have a fear of writing poems. God, I hate it. I wish I loved doing it. I always love it once I finish. For myself, I've go to finish this book. Then I want to write one about the land of Masel, an island built on poems, shorts stories and humpback whale songs. I love the idea but I hope I can write it." (Jennifer did not finish these books--but she has completed three novels since!).

25 September 1985--"For some people it's easy to be outgoing and friendly, but for me, it's like I have to work at it. When I first meet people, I'm almost always shy and I don't know what to say and I get nervous. I guess I'm not very good at interacting with people. But once I know a lot of people, like in Alaska and California, it's like I'm much more confident and much more outgoing plus, I laugh a lot. I hope I start meeting people here soon but Jen and Amy don't seem to have a lot of other friends like Cheri and Katie did. Once I become a candy-striper and go to German camp, then maybe I'll make more friends. If John really does like me then maybe I'll meet more people through him. I've decided I like him but I'm not sure that he still likes me. Maybe I was just a new face. I hope he does. I've been told that I have a nice smile but I don't think people are drawn to me." (It's true, people aren't generally drawn to introverts.)

26 September 1985--"I was reading in my textbook about Buddhism and I realized that the Eightfold Way is a lot like the contract I made with myself and the way I'm trying to live. 1) right views 2) right intentions 3) right speech 4) right action 5) right livelihood 6)right effort 7) right mindfulness 8) right concentration--the Eightfold Way. I've never studied Buddhism before but my contract seems a lot like Buddhism. I was trying to set up guidelines for myself so that I won't stray off my road to destiny. I think of life as a tunnel which is very black. Whenever I set a goal, a little light goes on somewhere in the tunnel which I can see. I follow all the paths that lead to the light until I've reached it, simultaneously reaching the goal. Without these goals, I'd be blundering around in the darkness never reaching the end of the tunnel, or shall I call it a maze." (Jennifer believes that most humans are "seekers". That we are designed to seek something greater than ourselves. We might call it by different names but it's a huge part of our life to identify it. She called it many things herself and then finally settled on calling it God.)

26, September 1985--"I always get so annoyed when people knock on my bedroom door. It's the way they knock that I hate. I hate when people knock really loud (Joel), when they knock timidly or with a question in the knock, when they knock in a pattern, when they knock only once or when they knock more than three times. The only kind of knock I like is 2-3 short raps with no expression attached to them. 'Bad' knocks put me in a bad mood."

Sounds like a Dr. Seuss book:

Knock Talk

"When I go into my room
I do not like a knock too soon.
In fact, I do not like a knock at all
Not from anyone, big or small.

I do not like knocks that sound like drumming
or knocks that hint of questions coming.
I do not like all kinds of knocks
when I'm sitting in my socks.

I do not like a hard, loud knock.
I do not like a short, soft knock.
I do not like to even talk
about the knocks that tick me off.

When I go into my room
and I know a knock is coming soon
I want two short raps, maybe three
from those who need to speak to me."

We clear?

Friday, October 8, 2010

Bird's eye view...

I thought I would include some of Jennifer's journal entries. They are totally different from her diaries. In Journal, she recorded thoughts and fantasies and life questions. In Ophelia, she recorded information about her day.

21, September (1985)  "I wish I didn't worry so much about life, myself and my future. I wish I could enjoy life by the minute without worrying about the next."

22, September (1985)  "I hate when people get confused over simple things and are slow to respond."  (Jennifer now feels this way about computers!)

22, September (1985)  "Sometimes I think that all the animals in the world are playing a joke on the humans and they really can talk and think. They laugh at us behind our own back. Many a time, I have tried to catch Cocoa speaking or showing signs of high intelligence but I have yet to be rewarded for my observations." (except for this one time!)

23, September (1985)  "I wonder if a super loud alarm wakes you up more than a quieter one? Is the loud one just a quick start? Or are you generally more awake than you would be if a quiet alarm woke you? I wonder if a loud alarm would put you into a negative mood and chase the memory of your dreams out of your head? (Greater minds than Jennifer's have wrestled with this question, I'm sure!)

23, September (1985)  "So far this year I've been coming home every day and starting my homework right away. I also study every night and I study German every night no matter what. I feel like I'm learning a lot and it seems easier to learn now. I feel like suddenly, I'm ready for school. It comes easier to me. A teacher told me once that some people can't learn grammar then, one day, maybe in high school, the kid suddenly snaps and learns grammar easily and everything seems to fit into place. Well, that's kind of how I feel. It's like I have a bird's eye view of my work and it's easier to understand."

23, September (1985)  "I think I have a psychological need for candy. I read somewhere that you can get that. I love sweets. They put me in a good mood. When I'm eating candy, I feel so happy and content. I just want to eat candy for the rest of my life." (Amen!)

23 September (1985)  "I wonder if keeping lists might encourage me to put things off a little. Cause they're written down and I know I won't forget them?"

24, September (1985)  "Why is warmth more pleasurable to the average person than cold? Both can be very uncomfortable. Maybe it all depends on how you grow up. But why do most people prefer warmth? I guess humans are built for warm weather, not having fur and all. Plus, to the conscious mind, warmer places are publicized and advertised as great places."

24, September (1985)  "There's a kid sitting next to me in German who is kinda weird and different. He can't talk or hear well. He looks kinda different, almost like an albino. Anyway, I'm sure he doesn't have many friends and he talks to me sometimes in class. I talk to him but I can't be his friend. I know that if I thought he was attractive, I would talk to him, or if he was just 'normal' and appealed to me. He's a nice guy. 

I guess he's just different and I'm not comfortable with him and I just couldn't have him for a friend. I feel sorry for him that I can't be his friend. I guess I just don't want to 'cross the line'. If I were him, I would want friends but I guess all I can say is, 'I'm not him and it's not my problem.' If I had a child that was 'different' or slow, I don't know if I could handle it."

Remember, Jennifer is completely honest in her journal. She's not proud of the above entry. She's also changed since then. She's secure enough now to be anybody's friend. She avoids people who aren't good for her--but not people who are "different".

School bulling and cyber bulling have become open topics since Columbine. Jennifer was wrong to think that this boy's lack of friends was "not her problem". We are all wrong to assume that any child is "not our problem". Some of these children decide to make their problems everybody's problem, i.e. the Columbine killings.

All children are our future. They are our future world leaders, our future doctors, our future pastors, our future criminals and our future murderers. When we write a child off--he does not disappear! All children need support and love before they get older and terrorize their peers, kill themselves, use drugs, have their own kids or fly off to Harvard!

Jennifer did not bully this boy. She ignored him. Jennifer had no real friends herself, but she could not "cross the line" to befriend this boy. It was "social suicide" to do so, and she knew it. Jennifer's own survival skills encouraged her to save herself.

Kids are being trained now at school to recognize bulling and to put an end to bulling. Shows like Glee are trying to put the Cool into Uncool. Maybe it's getting better, I don't know. I do know that Jennifer was a participant in someone's ostracism and she wasn't a mean kid. She was terrified of becoming like him really. She didn't believe she could save him but she did believe that he could ruin her.

Have you ever turned your back on someone, been bullied or bullied anyone?

Monday, October 4, 2010

Lonely days...

Dear Readers,

I'm sorry that I have not been posting weekly. Having the kids home all summer made writing difficult--then school started and that has actually been a big distraction (along with the beautiful fall weather!).

I am going to try and get back into a rhythm. A tension is building in Jennifer's diaries. Driven by perfectionism and fueled by loneliness--she is heading down a dark path. I want to follow her there with my little flashlight of perspective, to try and understand how a teen decides to end her life. If a walk down this path with Jennifer will save just one teen from a similar fate--it will all be worth it!!

October 9, 1985  Wednesday

Dear Ophelia,
"I'm so sorry that I've been neglecting you. It's like I don't have a lot of time. I bring journal to school and to every class so I'm afraid he gets more attention than you. 

Lately I'm feeling so worthless and alone. I don't have any real friends here. Jennifer is like a friend but I'm not really comfortable with her yet. I need some good friends like Cheri, Katie and Lara. I really do miss Lara. She is a very special friend. I know I've put her down before but that was because no one at school liked her. I've decided that I can't give a damn what people think. Lara is a good friend and a person too and I really like her though she does get on my nerves sometimes.

I semi-hate Wayzata. I'm so down and I guess people pick-up on my unsocial attitude. I hate feeling like this. I want to go back to California. I know I won't do it though. That would be running away from my problems here. I can't talk to my mom because she annoys me too much. I've become obsessed with the way she annoys me. I hate myself for it but I can't help it. Mom seems different now. I just can't stand the things she does. I wish I didn't get annoyed so easily. 

Jeff's obsessed with parent-child relationships. He'll do nice things for us but when we ask for a favor, Jeff thinks that we're winning some kind and battle and refuses to do it for us. I don't think he realizes how much he complains about us.

I want friends so bad and I hate this dumb condo. I can't wait 'till Christmas vacation to go to California and see my old friends. 

I'm so ugly and my hair is still short and looks bad and my body is really dumb. I'm doomed to grow up like my parents. I want some friends, some security. I don't have any incentive to get up in the morning. I'm so alone. Love, Jennifer. 

Jennifer met the other Jennifer on her bus route to high school. Even though she liked Jennifer a lot, the friendship didn't fill her void right away. Jennifer was tired of meeting new people. She was fifteen and everyone she met had only known her a month. No one "remembered" her from previous grades, had met her siblings, had run track with her. She was tired of starting from scratch. She was a girl with no history and no identity in a high school with 1700 students.

I think that it is common to find your parents annoying around the age of 15 (if not sooner). I think it's part of the process of detaching from them. It may be worse with perfectionists though because critical thoughts go hand in hand with perfectionism. Parents, don't fret too much if your kid can't stand you, as soon as they move out--they will probably like you again :)

October 23, 1985 Wednesday

Dear Ophelia,
"Last weekend I stayed with Angela in Winona. I went there on the train and came back on the bus. I had no school Thursday and Friday, yea! Friday we went shopping and saw Agnes of God, a pretty good movie. Saturday we went bluff climbing, which was funner than I expected. I also went with her to a Catholic mass. It was very interesting but the priest didn't teach anything, everyone just recited. 

I did learn more about Angela though. She is a fun loving person and though she is very pretty, she has a lot of ugly friends. She is more genuine than I thought too. I like her more now cause I understand her better. She's pretty carefree and she's a nice person. She walks really straight and tall and always looks real confident. It used to intimidate me but now I know it doesn't come from her thinking she's better than other people.

Well, I have a lot of homework everyday. I'll try very hard to write in her more often. I'd put you in plain sight to help me remember but I'm afraid that someone will read you. Love forever, Jennifer."

Angela is Jennifer's step-sister. She's about six years older than Jennifer. She must have been around 21 at the time of Jennifer's visit. Angela attended Winona State University. She was pretty, confident, social and professional. Everything Jennifer was not!

Winona State University

For Minnesota, these are big hills!

Winona, Minnesota on the Mississippi river. Winona is named after a real Indian Princess.

Jennifer's trip to Winona was 150 miles each way. She went by herself which didn't bother her at all. She was used to flying alone, going to school alone and just being alone in general.

I think the loneliness played a huge role in Jennifer's deepening depression.