Thursday, April 8, 2010

The Search for Me

Jennifer's diaries are written in lined journals. The previous two had a gold embossed horse on the cover and they were covered in velvet. On August 9, 1985, Jennifer begins a new journal--Volume Three. She titles it "The Search for Me."

She is in Minnesota and it's her mom's birthday.

August 9, 1985
Dear Ophelia,
"I got up around 12:30 today and took a shower. Didn't go outside much, it was raining off and on. At 2:00 I watched Santa Barbara (soap). Joel wanted to watch TV with me, and that's okay, but one reason I bought my TV was so that I could watch it alone in my room. I usually hate when people watch TV with me, cause it annoys me. 

Last night, Joel and I made mom a cake. Jeff made spaghetti for dinner. The grandparents came over. Joel, Christian and I got mom a MOM cup and a little book to write things in. I made her a card with a little poem in it. Mom liked her presents and stuff. She's 44 now. Jeff was getting on my nerves. It's hard to talk to him cause he has to have the last word. Sometimes I do too. Anyway, I'm watching Johnny Carson now then I'll watch David Letterman. More later. Bye. Your friend, Jennifer."

Jennifer moved to Plymouth, Minnesota over the summer. It is 1994 miles from Foster City, California. That is 29 hours and 22 minutes away by car!

August 11, 1985 Sunday

Dear Ophelia,
"Today we drove up to Elk River, it was too cold to swim. Joel, Christian and I washed the Jeep today. I'm getting really sick of things. Jeff always makes a big deal out of helping out, asking to help and doing things if you think they need to be done. Well, whenever Mom lifts a finger to help us in the slightest way, Jeff says, 'The kids can do that.' Mom usually says, 'I know, it doesn't bother me.' It's like he won't allow Mom to help us at all. He constantly complains to us about stuff the minute he gets home. You slip for one second and you're dead. He's so serious about everything. Nothing is fun with him complaining and carrying on. Then, when he gets mad, he starts saying, "You kids are really great, just great. You don't lift a finger to help anyone else. You always have your hand out. etc.'

Well, I've been trying hard since I got here. Helping when I usually wouldn't, keeping my room spotless (most of the time), not getting into trouble, following rules and I've really tried to get along with Jeff. 

There's supposed to be a lot of pressure right now. Jeff is taking his ex-wife to court to try and lower the support money. He's still paying for Joel (who lives with us). We still haven't sold the condo in Alaska so we have to pay for that. Mom's not working right now cause she wants to spend the summer with us. Plus, she'd have to pay the money to Jeff's ex-wife, who she doesn't even know. 

Well, as for Jeff. I don't have to like him but I do have to tolerate him. So I'll just do my best to do nothing wrong. That's what I've been doing but it doesn't seem to be good enough. I almost can't wait until Christian leaves, cause then the twins will stop fighting and the stress will be lowered. I've done nothing wrong this summer and I've been a lot better than the boys but I am treated the same as them. Maybe when school starts things will change. Christian will be gone, Mom and will get a job and hopefully the court thing will be over.

Oh well, I'll do my best. Love, Jennifer."

Blending families, dealing with child-support and the economic recession in Alaska--it's a lot on a family! When Jeff married her mother, Jennifer lived with her dad. Jeff probably never counted on raising Jennifer. Joel was a pretty easy kid and Jennifer was not.

She did try her best. She did do things wrong. Jennifer was also under constant stress. Moving, struggling to make friends, feeling alone, hormone surges, worrying about Jeff's problems with his ex-wife, worrying about paying for two households, missing her brother, getting ready to start her third high school--she and her step-dad were destined to butt heads!!! Her mom and Joel were always in the middle.

I think, in the end, everyone did their best.

Elk River, Minnesota
A pretty town about 30 minutes from Plymouth

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