Russ walked out of the bedroom one morning recently (yesterday) and said, “You say ‘shit’ way too much in your blogs.” I was sitting on the couch, typing away. This is how our mornings always start. I’ve always been a morning person, but now I’ve stretched that definition to include what everyone else considers “the middle of the night.” (In my defense, it is still technically morning when I get up to start my day). I looked up from my laptop and said, “Well, good morning to you too, Sunshine!”
This is Russ “B.C.” Before coffee. He usually starts his days by skipping over the greeting, and with something more concise, such as “We need to water the plants today.” I want to be clear that Russ was not trying to criticize me. He isn’t that kind of person. Unlike me, Russ, in general, is not judgy or critical of people. His natural style is more to just take it all in, with no commentary necessary. He allows me an especially loose rein in this regard, so I can keep on keeping on in my own Jenn-like kind of way. This comment was meant to be helpful and constructive, and as usual, Russ wasn’t wrong.
I know, I know, I do swear a lot. Working in a barn for so long, it was all perfectly acceptable. Now, I feel like I’m Lil’ Kim stuck at a Junior League meeting. Do you have any idea how hard it’s been to censor myself at the office?? Since arriving in Corporate America, I have felt like a giant imposter, faking my way through each day, hoping no one can see my rapping gangster ensemble underneath my dress.
In my defense, last year I came cross my diary at my parent’s house, of when I was between eight and eleven years old. Yep, one diary, only half used, that encompasses three years in my kid life. I guess you could say, I wasn’t a dedicated writer in my youth. But the entries are pretty funny nonetheless and a good indicator of what was important to me at that time, all through a child’s eyes and with a child’s vocabulary. I noticed, because I wasn’t expecting it, the diary contains its fair share of profanity. I don’t remember swearing when speaking as a kid, but the diary is proof enough that I knew all of the words. For pure entertainment, here are a few of those entries, recorded exactly as they appear on paper.
11/24/80 dear diary i kicked the boys in the nuts and shins they never got me back butsept telling like a baby i got in trouble by my teacher “mrs. kelly.” but still I kill them and most of the time I have reasons but sometimes I don’t.
**Note: This is my very first entry, so obviously, what went down on the playground meant everything and was worthy of recording for future reference. I was always thinking ahead like that (this is a lie).
**Translation: I made up a word.“Butsept” is a hybrid of “except, but.” Turns out, I do this a lot and still do…
**Apology: Better late than never, but sorry, boys.
11/30/80 dear diary in art a kid named richie ellyot called me an angel and said he made a mistake on it but it’s not true. he loves me. but I hate him!
**Confession: I had no idea I was so into boys as a kid. Almost forty years later, this is a revelation.
**Observation: There’s not much difference between kid love and what adults call love. One person hates, the other one loves. It’s a constant shift and negotiation, and still is.
12/11/80 dear diary when we were making decerashions in school a kid next to me had a green just like me and he had an orange and i had a red when i put my green down he put his down and when ever i speak to him he gets up close he also loves me i hate him also
**Explanation: I think I was referencing markers or crayons??
**Observation: A lot of important things happened in art class besides art.
12/22/80 dear diary we got to open our presents today. i got a loveable bear, mole, this great diary, a shirt with red hearts on it, a jogging sut, key ring, a cheerleader skirt, a yellow and green shirt, a black buety plastic horse I love them all and I will always remember this very lucky day (I was nervus-)
**Disclaimer: I cannot reconcile how I had a couple entries in the diary from a month previous, but just received it on this day. As a result, I take the dates entered as more suggestions than actual fact.
**Also, who gets mole and thinks it’s loveable? Even a stuffed one?
12/23/80 dear diary today we went to South Carlina my sister called my father a shit head. we went to burger king. my sister was being a shithead to everybody. we’re riding in the road right now. the lights are beautiful at night coming along with Chrismas.
**I think it’s fair to say, I’ve always seen the bright side of things, even when shitty things are happening.
12/24/80 dear diary, Chrismas night is close. we slept in a hotel called THE HOLIDAY INN. it was romantic. the color was blue and wite. i brought my stuffies in (my new stuffies) lots of cars are on the road. it’s foggy right now but the end comes soon
**Translation: “stuffies” is short for stuffed animals.
**Question: How did I come up with the word “romantic?!” What does that even mean when you’re eight?!
**Observation: I sound like an eight-year old prophet citing Judgment Day.
12/24/80 dear diary, we went to Carri’s house I saw Muffin, ( The cat) Rascel, (The rabbit) It’s Chrismas Eve now. Santa will be coming. Santa is a spirit I believe in him but the mothers get presents to help santa.
**Carri is my cousin, two-years older, and I idolized her as kid. Now when I see her, we swear non-stop all the way to yoga.
2/17/81 dear diary, it was ST. Valintines Day already. i got seven little choclate hearts, a little white mouse (stuffed animal) & a card from my parents. i got a card from my sister. i was crying because i only had a card with comics on it for my parents. and nothing for my sister or brother.
**Proof: I’ve always been a crier at the drop of a hat…
2/17/81 dear diary, we switch partners to sit next to us. (it has to be a boy) so this kid named Mathew Pottur picked me. he’s a Jerk. A plain Jerk.
**Implied: Obviously this Mathew kid should watch his nuts on the playground.
4/4/81 dear diary. i’m having a bad day.
**Post Script: Psht. That is all. #enoughsaid
February 24, 1981 dear diary, Grandma Carrigan died on Monday, February 23, 1981 in the morning. I am crying and came home from school Grandpa Carrigan is in shock. I love her so much. I’m so sad. Grandma+Jennifer
** Losing my maternal grandmother was my first big loss as a child. Just like a first love, you never forget the first person you loved and lost, and how sad it made you feel.
10/8/81 dear diary, i joined soccer this year, and a kid loves me. “Good shot”, Jen. and he told my friend he thinks I’m cute, He’s an asshole. He’s a stick in the mud. That all. He’s a frizzhead.
**Again, all about the boys. Who knew?? Must have been my milkshake in the yard….
September ’81 dear diary, when I whent to a picnic there was a cute little boy about 2 with curly hair named scott. me and my best friend Heather were lucky because we got to take care of him his other to brother are cute too. there mother is great. she listens to BILLY JOEL.-Her favorite.
**Obviously, if you listened to Billy Joel, and you were a mom (read: old), then you were, by default, super cool.
**Additional observation: Billy Joel was clearly on the same par as the Holiday Inn since they both needed to be recorded in all caps…
10/6/81 dear diary, my friend has a pet chameleon he’s really cute i want one. they eat millworms. hopefully my mom will let me. i’ve got 27 dollars and that should be a nuff. for everything including a tank for him.
**Spoiler: I never got a chameleon.
10/6/81 dear diary, yesterday my mother met our preppy art teacher. he’s really funny. I mean my class and i are laughing our heads off and he can keep it in. boy, should he be a televishion star. his name is Mr. Kupcheck.
**In addition to an outstanding professor of philosophy in college, “Mr. Kupcheck,” my 4th grade art teacher, was also the best teacher I’ve ever had. It didn’t hurt that he was preppy either. Or cute.
10/7/81 dear diary, today i went to my first 4-H dog meeting. i’ts real fun. we are going to sell treets. we are also going to sell snacks at a dog show
**Question: The start of my budding career as an entrepreneur??
10/15/81 dear diary, i hate Jeff. he’s a Bitch
**Proof: My swearing was not yet fully formed, as gender had not yet been appropriately ascribed to the word intended for the recipient of said word. #aworkinprogress
10/15/81 dear diary, nobody likes me not even my own sister likes me! whats my problem?!
**This question is right up there with “If a tree falls in the middle of the forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a noise?” Ask me later for the answer to that…maybe on my deathbed…
10/20/81 dear diary, i hate that kid Jeff. he’s a snob. i’m not saying that because Susie says i like him. he’s mean. teeth are yucky & his pants don’t go over his belly
**Proof: Exceeding your shirt size is never attractive, and your teeth do matter, even when you’re nine. That and my sister is always right.
12/11/81 Dear Diary: Today Richie talked to me. He said my Nickname is turn-up tits. He likes me I can tell.
P.S. I think I’ve got it made
**I blame the parents. #nowords
12/15/81 dear diary, the most terrifying thing happened. my Aunt M died. at only age 34. younger than my mother. God I love you very much, but I can’t go around having relitives die when I’m only a kid. i want to visit them when I grow up
**My mother lost her own mother, and her sister, less than a year apart. I remember hearing the adults lament that it was good that my grandmother went first, before my aunt, so that my grandmother didn’t have to experience the terrible pain of losing her own child. Imagine that, the lesser of two evils. This is a horrific burden we all face as human beings. As a child, it was indeed, terrifying.
3/16/82 dear diary, i broke one of my mothers dishes. i can’t tell her. i’m just feeling down. please forgive me God.
**Admission: That right there is how you learn to lie by omission. It starts early, and comes easily once you’ve crossed that line for the first time.
6/1/82 dear diary, i had a great birthday partie. i got lots of presents. even my first hamster. it’s a her and her name is Hami But I Nicknamed her Hamlet
**The originality of my pet naming skills never really improved after this (ie, Kitten #1, Kitten #2, and so on). Also, I think I was confused with the definitions of “name” and “nickname.” That still happens.
7/6/82 dear diary, we went to see the land of little horses. they could count and jump. there was one pure white Arabian he’s beautiful. and a gray and white one with one brown and one blue eye
**I didn’t make this up. The Land of Little Horses really did exist! I felt like Dorothy in “The Wizard of Oz,” but instead of being surrounded by Munchkins, I was surrounded by tiny horses!!
7/7/82 dear diary, my mom and dad are both jerks. they yell at me constantly. Jen your going to be scolded for 3 weeks if you don’t shut-up.
**Russ always says politely, “You’re using too many words,” as his eyes start to glaze over. This is his nice way of saying #shutup #bequiet #zipit
August ’82 dear diary, Hami got loose for the 3rd time in two months this time i didn’t tell my mom. the third day she was lost we heard a mouse. my mom said “sounds like Hami is loose.” then when I looked between a wall and bookcase there was Hami and mom said “I knew It was your dumb Hamster. thank God my father was on a business trip
**Several lessons learned here: 1. My Mom was the CIA, even back then; 2. This episode is proof that lying by omission sometimes allows a soft landing for the truth; 3. When the shit goes down, it’s always good that Dad is on a business trip.
August ’82 dear diary, this real nice lady is letting me ride her pony. sh’es real nice. i’m taking the pony in a 4-H fair.
**Her name was Ann and I blame/credit her for my horse craze, the “one big trip” that lasted thirty-three years. Ann doesn’t ride as much now (with her two bionic knees!), but she still has horses and drives them.
August ’82 dear diary, i was riding Domino the pony and he took off with me on him. he took a sharp turn in the road. i feel bruised on my hip, the skin of my nose bleed. skraped my chin and sprained my rist.
**After I picked myself up off of the asphalt, I am guilty of stomping over to where Domino was grazing happily with his bridle on, saddle swinging under his belly, and kicking him in the shin. A lot of angry (not sad) tears were shed that day.
**I would also like to be able say that I got right back on that pony after falling off, but that was already my second ride only that morning (about an hour apart, I was a bored kid). Hence, that was part of the problem. Domino made clear, in no uncertain terms, that the limit on “this ride” was only once per day.
August ’82 dear diary, my whole family is moving to Texas. my best friend Heather doesn’t even know. i don’t even want to go. one good thing is there is a barn of horses. and some people we know. (i was born in Houston)
**Ahhh, the migration south back to our motherland begins….
November ’82 dear diary, Domino is so furry and cute as before. he’s adorable with that sweet little face. but he’s to frisky. i can’t ride him or else he take off. but he’s a smart little pony and you just can’t trust that sweet little face.
**Calling all parents! Are you taking notes?? There is a definitive shift in my diary entries from boys …. to Domino. At age 10, my path took a sharp right, arguably for the better…
November ’82 dear diary, about a year ago i wrought about our snoopy fan club to the company. now they have a club and its in a magazine. i just can’t believe it. we made it up and now its in a mag. the only thing is that they take all the credit!
**A budding entrepreneur’s ingenious idea foiled by big business!
**Lesson learned: Hold your cards close to your chest.
Jan 2. ’83 dear diary, Christmas was fun. Granddad seemed cheerful. everybody was!
**I knew my maternal “Granddad” the best (and the longest), and as a result, he was my favorite. When he died, he had a cane in one hand and a hoe in the other, as he never gave up growing his vegetables. He started with gardening 40 or so acres, and ended with a rectangle about the size of a parking spot for a compact car. He never gave up doing what he loved for a single day.
April 83 DEAR DIARY: WE FINALLY GOT OUR SIGN UP FOR OUR HOUSE. IT MADE ME VERY SAD. HEATHER ALMOST CRYED THESE LAST TWO MONTHS. I’M GOING TO MAKE SPECIAL FOR HER AND ME. SHE’S ALWAYS GOING TO BE MY BEST FRIEND. SHE’S THE ONLY ONE WHO UNDERSTANDS ME. AND DOMINO IS ALWAYS SOMEONE YOU CAN TALK TO. RALPH, ANN’S DOBERMAN PINCHER, I ALWAYS PLAY WITH AND TAKE HIM FOR WALKS. THANK GOD BONNI AND TIGGER ARE COMING, I ALWAYS CUDDLE WITH THEM. HOW I’M GOING TO MISS HEATHER.WE’VE BEEN TOGETHER 10 YEARS. WE PRACTICALLY LIVE TOGETHER. I’M GOING TO MISS LANNA LOBELLE HORSE FARM WHERE THEY RAISE THOROUGHBRED RAISE HORSES. I’LL MISS RAHF GETTING INTO THE FEED ROOM. I’LL MISS GINNY IN THE 4-H FAIR AND KASY, TOO. I’LL MISS RIDING KASY, SOMETIMES, AND MOSTLY I’LL MISS DOMINO. I’LL MISS MISSY WHO NIPS. I’LL MISS SWEET SKYFORM. I’LL MISS LITTLE PHIL WHO ALWAYS LOOKED FOR CARROTS AND TO BE RIDDEN. I’LL MISS EVERYONES FRISKYNESS. I’LL MISS DOMINO RUNNING OFF ON ME, NEIGHING, GRAZING LIKE A WILD FLOWER, HIS FUZZY FACE. HOW HE WOULDN’T LET ME PUT THE BRIDLE OR SADDLE ON HIM. HE HATED TO BE LUNGED. HE GAVE ME A PLAYFUL NIP ONCE. I’LL ALWAYS REMEMBER HIM NUZZLING ME. I’LL MISS LITTLE EBONY, THE CAT. ALWAYS FOLLOWING ME AND NICKY WITH HER BELL COLLAR. AND TOM BOY WITH THE FAT CHEEKS. I’M GOING TO MISS MICKEY, MY LAST HAMSTER, WHO CRAWLED UP AND DOWN MY SHIRT, BITING ME, WASHING HER SELF IN MY LAP. BUT I LOVED DOMINO MOST. I’M GOING TO MISS OUR OWN TRAIL RIDES TOGETHER ME SINGING AND I FEEDING HIM WILD PEARS. THE SUN WOULD BE HOT AND WE’D TROT IN THE TALL GRASS. I’LL NEVER FORGET ANN TAKING ME DOWN INTO THE COLLEGE AND RIDING IN HUNDREDS OF ACRES AND GOING DOWN INTO THE CREEK. I’LL NEVER FORGET, NEVER FORGET, DOMINO’S FACE AND FLUFFY MANE. I KEEP THNKING OF HIM. WHEN I WAS WALKING OUT OF THE PASTURE WHEN DOMINO ROLLED WITH THE LEAD LINE STILL IN MY HAND AND HIS HALTER SLIPPED OFF. THEN HE ROLLED UNDER THE FENCE OUT OF THE PASTURE.I’LL NEVER FORGET FRECKLES TAKING OFF WITH SUSAN. I REMEMBER WHEN HEATHER AND I PUT DOMINO IN WITH FRECKLES. AT FIRST THEY JUST ATE HAY. THEN THEY CHASED EACH OTHER IN THE SNOW. THEY BUCKED, KICKED AND WHINNIED LIKE OLD FRIENDS. HOW I LOVE DOMINO.
How I love Domino. The last sentence, of my last entry, in my kid diary. The uppercase, block letters of this last entry indicate the severity of the situation. I was about to leave behind everything I knew and loved.
This post was originally about the origin of my swearing, but I would like to point out that the swearing occurred when speaking about boys, and once about family. Rather ironically, it stopped showing up in my diary once I started hanging out at Ann’s barn, or at the very least, once I started hanging out with Domino.
These days, I have finally been immersed in the corporate culture long enough that it only happens rarely, when I find a profanity sitting on the edge of my tongue, impatiently waiting to be unleashed as soon as my lips part. Sometimes it takes a bullwhip to keep that lion in the cage, but it’s getting easier. I might have to chalk its recent heyday back, on my blog, to the painkillers I’ve been taking…even though.. that’s.. slightly ..over.. now. #oldhabitsdiehard. I think we can all agree, me especially, that it is fortuitous that I was not born in the “digital native age.” I’d either have been the next social-media-influencer sensation with my kid jivetalk, or I’d be in juvie.
One thing is for sure–I had a great childhood in New Jersey with an incredible amount of freedom. We left New Jersey behind, and with it my childhood innocence, en route to Texas, where I was about to find out that everything I thought I knew, about living and being a kid, was completely different down south. But that’s another story for another day. In the meantime, my life goals are still to “whinny like old friends” when I cross paths with the many people I’ve met along the way in my travels. In the end, isn’t that what it’s all about?