Thursday, October 29, 2009

Out of the Mouths of Babes...

February 15, 1984 Wednesday

Dear Ophelia,

"Sorry. I must tell you what has been going on. I didn't ask for a Doberman Pinscher because I know that they'll say no. D.B. died while I was in California. About 3 weeks after I heard about it, I got another bird, Pepsi. The new bird is bright blue with a white h
ead. He is really friendly. I can take him out of the cage, hold him on my finger, kiss him and a lot more. Right now I'm trying to teach him to say, 'I love you, Jennifer.' He is three months old and a parakeet.

A few days ago I was washing my contact and my left one tore. Darn. Dad is sending me another one. I am only wearing one contact to school. It's really weird. We have no school Thursday or Friday. Yeah. Fur Rondy started too. We haven't done anything yet. I like this boy. I don't know his name. At the Valentine dance he, in a way, asked me to dance with him. I think. I didn't though. He is kinda cute. And tall. I hope he asks me to go with him. I'll say yes.
Joel is sick today. I'm not. I have to go to school in about 40 minutes. I have to go. Your friend, Jennifer and Pepsi."

It seems Jennifer can't get on a plane without one of her animals dying...

"Fur Rondy" is the annual Fur Rendezvous Festival that happens in Anchorage every February for three days. It was founded in 1935 by Vern Johnson. In 1935, Anchorage had a population of about 3000 people. The cold, dark winters are taxing even on Alaskans. Vern and his friends developed the festival to coincide with the return of the miners and trappers coming to town with their winter "harvest".

The Fur Rondy hosts a variety of events over three days. People now come from all over the world to attend. There is the Official Fur Rondy Auction which has been part of the festival since day one. The fur trade was the third largest industry in Alaska at the time. In 1950, native Alaskans were flown in from the nether regions to perform their native dances and their Blanket Toss. The Blanket Toss happens every year now. The World Championship Sled Dog Race occurs at the Fur Rondy each year also. It is the cornerstone of the festival today.

Other highlights are the Carnival, the Grand Parade, the World Championship Dog Weight Pull (remember Buck's pull in The Call of the Wild), mens' snowshoe softball and our nation's oldest street race, the Grand Prix Auto Race! Alaskans are proud of Alaska and like to celebrate (especially in the winter!) There is a camaraderie that develops between people who live in harsh climates. Working well together, respecting the environment and protecting the wildlife is a simple matter of survival in Alaska.

Pelts for Sale!

Native Alaskans performing the Blanket Toss!

February 29, 1984 Leap Day

"Hi again. I'm going to try and write everyday. Ok? I have to go to school soon. I don't like the tall kid anymore. I like Pat and Jeff. I have lots of friends at school, about 41 that I counted. I want to know why a boy doesn't ask me. I can't figure out how I should act. I am trying to find my own personality. Right now I just laugh a lot and do funny things but Cheri thinks I act air-headed. I don't want that. I want to be mature and understanding. Help. Today I am going to try and act mature and confident.

Anyway Kim, my friend, was going with Howie then they broke up and she went with Brian. Then they broke up and she went with Mike. Now she's not going with anybody. She is really pretty. Erin's pretty too but she's not going with anyone. In typing, I have an A+, in math I'm not sure, in Social Studies I think an A, in English I have a B, in P.E. I think an A, in Health an A. I don't have Home Ec or science anymore.

Last weekend Jeff, Joel and I skied at Alyeska. It was so fun. I did pretty good. Lift tickets cost $15.00. Last night I went sledding with Shannyn and other people then we had hamburgers. I banged my head in the snow and it really hurt. I am joining the 4H. I'll say more about it tonight. I gotta get to school. Your friend, Jennifer."

Jennifer is still trying to figure out how to act. She has a distinct personality but she's blocked. She has no confidence. She doesn't let herself shine. Jennifer is holding back her true self and trying to adopt an appropriate mask to show the world. She's like an alien life form trying to imitate a human! Jennifer was an outgoing child before her parents divorce. She was a natural leader and she was popular with girls and boys (granted this was in first grade). With every move, she lost confidence until she finally lost herself.

Jennifer's mom and step-dad at Alyeska Resort in the summertime.
Lift tickets now cost $60.00 for one day!

Alyeska Resort is a unique mountian. With only 7 or so hours of daylight in the winter, it's a short ski day compared to the lower 48. However, plenty of lighted trails are available for night sking. Come spring, Alyeska has more daylight hours than any other ski resort in the U.S.! The mountain includes 2500 vertical feet of terrain and, of course, incredible views.

March 4, 1984 Sunday

Dear Ophelia,
"Sorry I didn't finish writing on February 29, 1984 'Leap day'. Friday I went to a party with Shannyn. It was really fun. A while ago I joined the Native Youth Olympics. It's a thing in Alaska where you go and compete in certain events. The preliminaries were yesterday. I was in the One-Arm Reach and placed 6th. And I was in the Seal Hop and I don't know exactly how well I did. Also yesterday Shirley, Todd, and Stevie came over for dinner. Erik was going to come but he had to work. I was so disappointed when I found out Erik wasn't coming. I kept day dreaming about him and I wanted to touch him all over and I wanted him to touch me and kiss me. I want a guy so bad, please help!

When my daughter is 13 I hope I'll understand her cause right now, all I think about is boys, boys, boys. I am also trying to mature and find my real personality. I want to be mature but I also want to laugh out loud and make other people laugh. But when I do that they think I'm air headed. I'm doing my best.

Right now I also need things to run smoothly at home. I need to remember that when my daughter is thirteen. She is going to want me to be understanding and she's going to have lots of problems at school at age thirteen and problems at home would make it worse. 13 is a sensitive age. I know. Well I gotta go, I'll write tomorrow. Bye. Your friend, Jennifer."

Wow! This is like time travel. Young Jennifer is advising adult Jennifer! Diaries are time capsules! Jennifer currently has an eight year old daughter and she is so happy to have a map of her own transformation from child to adult to help guide her with her own children--especially her girl-child!

Erik was Shirley and Todd's oldest son. He drove and worked and was in high school. He was older, a bit dark and aloof and a little bit troubled--basically he was the first boy she ever thought of as sexy. She didn't even know what that meant yet. She would soon find out. (Read ahead: Who is Watching Jennifer?)

Jennifer competing at the Native Youth Olympics in the One-Hand Reach!
This is a good event for people with very little body weight!

The Native Youth Olympics is open to 7th through 12 graders of any race. The games originated in 1971 to celebrate the hunting and survival skills of native Alaskans. The event has grown to include 69 schools across Alaska. The events include: the one-hand reach, the seal hop, the Eskimo stick pull, the wrist carry, the kneel jump and the Alaskan high kick.

The one-hand reach demonstrates a hunter's absolute control over their body. Jennifer had to balance herself on one hand and then reach up and hit a hanging ball with the other hand. She did well in this event. Hundreds of students compete at the Olympics and she placed 6th! She didn't train for it, she just practiced a few times. It's all about balance and strength. While Jennifer is not strong compared to most people, she is strong for her own body weight and she has good balance. Years of horse back riding developed her control over her own body, as well as her training in gymnastics.

The Seal Hop is based on hunters imitating the movement of the seal while hunting. The student gets in a push-up position and hops across the floor on their hands and toes. Whoever travels the farthest, wins. Jennifer remembers this event being dominated by the boys!

Were you a confident child?


  1. Jennifer....I just have to tell you how much I love reading your blog. How great is it that you kept these diaries?!?! These is going to help so many parents with tweenagers AND teenagers in understanding what mught be going on in their heads.

  2. Having 3 boys I have never dealt with the emotional ups and downs of teenage girls, but I have heard from friends who have girls that 13-year-olds are the worst, with all the hot and cold emotions. Your daughter will be there before you know it so you should be prepared.

    You seem like you were very self-confident as a girl and had lots of friends. It seems like you still are in fact.


Thank you for reading The Jennifer Diaries!