A letter from my younger self

I’m a terrible journal-keeper, and by “terrible” I mean horribly inconsistent. It might seem strange that a writer would be so bad at putting her thoughts down, but to me, it seems like the most natural thing in the world. When I write something, I want it to be clearly thought out and rendered. What I’m saying is, I don’t want to go back and read what I’ve written and think, GOOD GOD, who is this idiot? And let’s face it, that’s what journals amount to, especially for those of us who put off writing something down until we are so desperately emotional about it, we can’t think of anything else to do.

That’s why Mortified is so funny. It’s a show in which people get up in front of a crowd and read their adolescent journals. It is hysterically funny. I went to one in New York and laughed so hard I cried throughout pretty much the entire evening. If there’s a show near you, you should absolutely go. And sign up to read, if you’re brave. I am not.

Fortunately for me, I don’t have journals from middle school. (See how smart this strategy is?) I do, however have journals, lots of them.


Most of them are only a quarter or halfway full, except for that one you see on top. It stayed with me constantly through some of my most exciting and painful times. I’m not quite ready to go there yet. That’s why when I decided to read some of my old journals last night, I went to this one:

This journal was made by the lovely and talented Molly. It was a gift on my 25th birthday, just before Molly and I moved to Chicago. It was a big time for us, and a big move. We’d both traveled some, but this was our first move away from home. We sold our cars, packed our things and just moved. No jobs, no substantial savings. I think I had $1200 in my bank account, enough to pay two month’s rent.

Me and Molly's dog Twiggy, sleeping in the Chicago apartment.

Anyway, you get the point. It was a big deal. And when I opened this journal, I expected to find pages and pages of whining and worrying about money and loneliness and my new job. I waited tables at a French restaurant owned by a tyrannical French man, the kind of boss who had no qualms about throwing a tantrum at you in front of customers. Or even better, throwing a tantrum AT customers. Always good for tips.

There is SOME of that in this journal, but hilariously, it is mostly filled with a game that Molly and I played. A game I have totally forgotten. I don’t know where we got it even, but in the journal, we titled it the “If” game, and it’s basically a list of questions (sometimes, inexplicably, they aren’t “if” questions at all) along with both our answers, as well as our notes about our reactions to these answers, like “Molly rolls her eyes” written after one or my answers, or “Juli thinks this is SO funny.”

Molly – are you out there panicking right now? Don’t worry. I’m not going to post any of your answers on the Internet. I wouldn’t do that to you. But here’s a couple of mine, just for fun. These aren’t even close to the best ones. If any of you want to read the best ones, you’ll have to come to my house. And bring a bottle of wine.

Q: Do you ever fell there is or was a moment in your life that you did or would have to “quiet your voice” and compromise your beliefs?

My answer: I feel that I am always having to remind myself to quiet my voice in order to understand their points of view or learn from their experience. (Yep. Ten years later, still doing that.)

Q: If you were to add a 13th month to the year, where would you insert it?

My answer: Between September and October. There is never enough fall.


3 thoughts on “A letter from my younger self

  1. I like this game! Why have we never played it? Of course, I am not willing to write down my answers, because I never want anyone to read my thoughts later when I am not around to explain myself.

  2. Oh yes, I remember the “if” game. I believe we had a book of “if” questions that inspired us. I would love to pore over this journal with you one evening. You will always be the best roommate I have ever had. This post made my night. Thank you. Love you!

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