Subscribe to
Posts
Comments
Excerpts from the diary of a teenage girl from the year 1979. All names have been changed. More background at the original post.

Dear Lee Chin #9

Sunday, June 8, 1980
Dear Lee Chin,
Sorry I haven’t written in a while.  But I’m writing now, so there.  Tomorrow Linda, Billy, James and I are going to see Genesis at the Ampitheater.  I can’t wait.  That’s gonna be so fun!  I haven’t seen Jeff [the “foxy” gymnastics coach from Dear Lee Chin #5] in a while.  We have so many coaches now, I guess they don’t need him so much any more.  We have this one new coach from Othertown, and I guess he’s pretty nice I mean I like him but he’s so gay looking.  He’s got an ass like a woman and he always wears his pants really tight and he’s got volcanic acne.  His name is Jeff.  Speaking of volcanoes, last night the sunset was so pretty.  It was like these purple clouds set against a dark pink sky and it was so pretty.  The sky was so pink that when I looked out my window the street looked pink.  Then I went out to look at it.  I wish I was an artist or a poet or something so I could have captured it (I know that sounds corny).  I at least wish I had a camera or something.  It was so beautiful!  Springfield was really a blast.  I danced a slow dance with Chris.  He’s a doll.  I don’t know why, but George Harrison reminds me of him.  Any road up I’ll write again later.
Till then, Mary

Oh, if only young Mary knew that she is a poet.  The poet who gave us the term “any road” (and the new variation “any road up”).  A poet still being read today.  And at the bottom of the page, we see that she is an artist, too, as she’s drawn some smoke rising and lava pouring from the top of one of the mountains in the diary page’s decorative borders and labeled it “Mt. St. Hellen”.  (Speaking of volcanoes.)

Just below that entry the diary continues:

Dear Lee Chin,
I decided to write again though why I don’t know why, I really don’t have anything to write.  Martha and I have a debate due on Friday and we’ve got shit now, I know we’ll never get it done.  We shoulda worked on it today but I forgot.  I’m so pissed!  Any road, seein’ as how I have nothing to say, I reckon I’ll by mosyin’ on.  Catch y’all later!  (That reminds me of in Springfield Cynthia was always saying “y’all”.  I guess she’s always said it but I never noticed, any way it bugs the shit out of me!)
Mary!!!!!!!!!!!!

Keep writing, Mary.  Your nothing is better than a lot of people’s somethings.

Dear Lee Chin #8

2-29-80

Dear Lee Chin,

I can’t believe I got through this day. I had a book report due and I didn’t even have the first draft written last night. I also had an outline for a thesis due, which I didn’t turn in, and I had a detention! I’m glad I lived through it all. Mrs. Warren bitched at me this morning so I bitched right back at her. Boy, did I feel good. However I kinda feel guilty, maybe I should apologize to her. Nah! You see we were grading these quizzes & she had said a million times what each question was worth but I didn’t hear so I asked her and she said “They’re worth 5, you’d know that if you’d been listening, Ms Clark!” so I said “Well I’m sorry, Ms Warren!” and she said “That’s Mrs. Warren!” That’s the thing I like about Mrs. Warren, she let’s you sass back at her. I mean if she’s rude to me I can be rude right back. Any other teacher would have had me flogged for that! […]

Dear Lee Chin #7

Thursday 2-26-80
Dear Lee Chin,
Sorry I haven’t written in a while, but I’m writing now so what do you want!?!? I cleaned my room this weekend. I’m so proud of myself! I’m going to try out for the play this year. Tryouts are Thursday. You have to sing something and read something. I don’t know what I’m going to read. I’m going to sing either “Let It Be” or “Bookends”. I went to the dentist today and I have no cavities! Wow!!!! So, any road, “I’m-a-leavin” [musical notes scribbled around “I’m-a-leavin”]. I might write later, then again I might not – Mary

Ooh. After not writing for a month, Mary’s getting a little saucy with Lee Chin, who keeps developing into a real entity that Mary feels chastising her. So she gets all defensive at the beginning and threatens not to write again at the end. So teenage. But aren’t we all?

Dear Lee Chin #6

Friday, January 25, 1980
Dear Lee Chin
[writing changes from red pen to pink marker]
My pen ran out! We have no school today! At the Springfield late show tonight is “Help” and “Let It Be.” I asked Billy if he would take us, he said “Maybe.” I pray to God we can go. I want to see those so bad! The other day, Martha and I wrote a song. It’s called “One Time” and it consists of eleven words: “One time I cried ’cause mama said it was the end.” But that’s more than “Wild Honey Pie.”

Note the diary’s first mention of God, as someone who might help Mary get to see some Beatles movies. Also note those awesome lyrics. Perhaps one of our talented readers can put those lyrics to music?…

Dear Lee Chin #5

Saturday 1-19-80
Dear Lee Chin,
Sorry I haven’t written in a while but I just had to tell you about our new coaches Rick and John. They are both such foxes! Trudy likes Rick better, I personally like John better. He’s got such a nice body!! I’d really love to ball him! (I didn’t say that.) The only thing Rick has going over John is age (Rick’s 16, John’s 17.) There’s a Beatles thingie on the radio tomorrow, I think it’s on WABC. I’m in the process of curling my hair right now. I hope it turns out. I’m not gonna wear curly in public, but I just want to see what it looks like. Any road, getting back to Jeff. He’s such a fox! I’m beginning to look forward to practice now! I love him so much! I wonder if he likes me. Wouldn’t that be great!?! We were gonna have a meet tomorrow but it got cancelled (aw darn!) so any way, I’ll talk to you later. – Mary

“Any road”? Did you catch that? Any road? No explanation, and then she casually switches back to “any way”.

You did say you’d like to ball him, Mary. And Lee Chin heard you.

Dear Lee Chin #4

Sunday, January 6, 1980
Dear Lee Chin,
Sorry I haven’t written in a while.  I just didn’t get around to it.  I started to read Anne Frank for a book report.  She writes her diary like an expository English paper, I swear!  That seemed to be too long and involved so instead I decided to read “Lisa Bright and Dark” which seems pretty mindless.  I’ve given up sugar, that’s my latest health kick.  I was doing pretty well except I had a brownie after dinner.  But I’m not going to let one brownie stop me.  I going to keep at this, not like my vegetarian era which lasted about one day.

Dear Lee Chin #3

December 28, 1979
Friday
Dear Lee Chin,
The Movie was great.

Surprise! Continuing…

I’d want to see it again but I doubt if any one would take me. Tomorrow Martha and I are going to work on our project for social studies. During the movies I was studying Paul because he’s the only one I can’t draw. I think I finally have a fair characterization.

P1310023

Fast-forward two days…

Sunday, December 30, 1979
I stayed over at Martha’s house last night. She told me she smokes pot. From what she was saying it seems like Cynthia does too. Cynthia, I’m not surprised, but I’ve always thought of Martha as a goody-goody type. Well not really “goody-goody” in a bad sense, but I don’t know. It seems weird. I was kind of embarrassed that I don’t smoke it, not that I want to or anything. Any way, it really doesn’t matter either way. It’s not as if she’s a burnout or anything. Any way, it’s late and I’m kind of tired, so I won’t worry about this tonight. Well really it isn’t anything to worry about I mean she’s the same person I knew before. What difference does it make. I shouldn’t even have brought this up. It’s not that important. Any way, good night.

Such a fine specimen of peer pressure. It’s so unimportant that she spends about a page writing about how unimportant it is. Okay, sure. Do I sense a rift beginning between the two girls?

Dear Lee Chin #2

The first entry actually addressed “Dear Lee Chin” gives us a little taste of X-Mas 1979 to satisfy our consumerist nostalgia:

December 25, 1979
Dear Lee Chin,
Merry Christmas! I got “All Things Must Pass.” It’s really good. I also got a new leotard. It’s blue lycra with long sleeves and it’s gathered in the front. It’s really pretty. And I got some gloves and a turtleneck that doesn’t fit. Tommy got this really neat electronic scrabble game. It’s like Master Mind. Billy got electronic football. Any way, I’ll talk to you later.

And then:

December 26, 1979
Dear Lee Chin,
I’m so excited! Friday Martha and I are going to see a Movie about the History of the Beatles…I can’t wait till Friday!

Continuing on…

December 27, 1979
Dear Lee Chin,
The Beatles thing is tomorrow. I’m so excited, I can’t wait! If it’s sold out I’ll shit a brick. And then I’ll kill Linda. No, she’s being nice enough for taking me, I shouldn’t complain. [writing changes from pencil to blue pen] Hello again! I just got back from practice…the evening wasn’t so hot. I just wasn’t in a gymnastic mood. I can’t wait until tomorrow! That’s going to be great! Anyway, I’ll write you tomorrow and tell you how it was. Goodnight.

Sometimes you’re just not in a gymnastic mood. Another important theme just introduced (besides an ambivalent attitude towards gymnastics) is Mary’s love for the Beatles. All Thing Must Pass, in case you didn’t know, was George Harrison’s 1970 solo album. Notice also the quaint phrase “shit a brick.” You can almost sense how proud of herself she was for deploying that one. Stay tuned to see if the Beatles movie turns out to be “really great”…

Dear Lee Chin #1

So we’re cleaning out a bunch of renovation debris that’s been piled into a big barn-looking three-car garage. Our client just bought this charming old farmhouse and she’s gutting it. When we finish the bottom, she tells us to go ahead and empty the top level of the garage too. The only thing up there besides a bunch of pieces of wood and raccoon shit are two old boxes stuffed into a corner. Of course, I open them quickly before picking them up.

Inside are a bunch of old books, the kind a seasoned collector can tell you are worthless – old Readers Digest collections, popular paperbacks, etc. But there among them is one that stands out with its shiny silk-woven Chinese-landscape-style cover…

P1050001

I tuck it into my pocket and forget about it until I get home that day and start to take my pants off. Turns out it’s not really a book at all, but a diary. The diary of a young girl making the awkward transition from Middle to High School in the year 1979. It even has a title on the first page, written in careful cursive script: “The Diary of a Young Girl – Mary Clark [we’ll call her], Volume III, December 1979.” I couldn’t make this shit up. Just as if she expected a stranger to find it twenty five years later:

P1050004.1

The weight of this discovery is beginning to set in. Each right-hand page is bordered with orange or pink-colored foliage from some bonsai-looking tree in a mountain setting, each left hand page with some sunflower-looking things pointing up to a sun shining down from the top:

P1050013

Flip to the back and you see that it actually is made in Shanghai, with a little graphic of a student sitting at a desk and a stamp reading “Bowman Trading, New York.”

Okay, so this is already a decent find. But then comes the kicker. You have to read the first entry for yourself:

December 24, 1979
Isn’t this a pretty little diary? Lorrie got it for me for Christmas. I just got back from the Jones’s house. Every year I go there and every year I just end up feeling really uncomfortable and leaving after about five minutes. I was hoping I would meet someone new there but I didn’t so I really don’t have anything to write about. Whenever I go to a party or some kind of social gathering I hope I’ll meet a guy there but I never do. It’s so depressing. Oh well, that’s life. Mike also doesn’t even like me anymore. For a while there he liked Nicole and then he seemed to like me again, but now I don’t know, he doesn’t talk to me much any more. I suppose it may be because we hadn’t had fifth or sixth hours for a while because of all our assemblies we had. Martha says we make a cute couple and she doesn’t even know that I like him. Even when we had fifth hour last week he didn’t talk much to me. I’m so bummed. It seems like I’ll never get a boyfriend. Oh well, I shouldn’t be depressed on Christmas Eve. It is nice, however, to write all this stuff down, you know, to get it off my chest. Before, when Mike liked Nicole, I would tell Trudy about it because she doesn’t go to North Oak so I don’t feel so embarassed telling her all these things. Any way, I really like this diary. I’m going to have to keep it up. Maybe I’ll name it and write like letters, you know, “Dear Diary.” That would make it interesting. (Yeah, man, how thrilling can you get.) I’ll name it Lee Chin because it’s Chinese. Isn’t that clever of me. So any ways, “Good night Lee Chin babes, I’ll catch you later.”

That’s right. “Dear Lee Chin.” Stay tuned for excerpts from the diary, as we follow Mary through many hallmarks of adolescence including first love, school, gossip, and gymnastics class, all illustrated with quotes from popular songs of 1979-1981 and peppered with the kinds of catch phrases teenagers of that period apparently used.