Dear Diary: I Am Obsessed With John F. Kennedy, and I’m 10 Years Old

When I come across my children’s diaries, I am going to read them.  I will apologize for intruding and violating boundaries later, but when the time comes, I am so going to read.

And, if either of them write the type of things in their notebooks that I wrote in mine back in 1983, then we are marching, not to a family therapy session, but to family in-patient treatment.

Vintage Hello, Kitty diary.  Are you there, God? It's me, Psycho Pants

Vintage Hello, Kitty diary. Are you there, God? It’s me, Psycho Pants

I like to think that I was an eccentric little lady, prone to dramatic emotions and morbid obsessions– all consistent with my artistic temperament.  Cute obsessions, like unicorns and add-a-bead necklaces, not weird shit like black birds of prey or the taste of my own blood.

But, when I started reading the pages of my old diary, I couldn’t help but wonder if I needed something I wasn’t getting.  Like very strong medication. Or electro-shock therapy.

Here’s my favorite entry :

My journal depicts my mournful journey to let go of John F. Kennedy, a man who died 10 years before I was born.  (I got a B in handwriting that year, and now you can see why.)

My journal depicts my mournful journey to grieve John F. Kennedy, a man who died 10 years before I was born. (I got a B in handwriting that year, and now you can see why.)

Real journalistic pieces were my bread and butter back when I was 10. This entry really captures the nation’s mood on the 20th anniversary of John F. Kennedy’s death.  I had read an article in the Dallas Morning News, which lit a fire in me that raged for the next 12 months.  I became an expert on the details of the assassination.  I bored fascinated my 4th grade colleagues with facts about the grassy knoll and Lee Harvey Oswald’s last meal with his Russian-born wife (Marina Prusakova Oswald).

Surely my parents never read this, right? Wouldn’t you wonder about the mental health of your daughter if she was brooding for hours over John F. Kennedy, while listening to Juice Newton albums?

Personally, I think my use of quotation marks around the word “hating”is the creepiest part. Why did I do that?  Was I playing fast and loose with punctuation, or was I making some vague reference to culturally constructed notions of nationalistic rage?

Shouldn’t I have been curled up on the shag carpet reading Judy Bloom and wondering about my breasts like every other girl my age?

The good news is that after the obsession with Kennedy waned, I went full-bore into an Anne Frank phase that I am still traumatized from.  I am not sure that 10.5 year olds are supposed to do archival research on Holocaust victims without adult supervision.

But, you gotta admit, this explains some things, doesn’t it?


30 thoughts on “Dear Diary: I Am Obsessed With John F. Kennedy, and I’m 10 Years Old

  1. Oh my goodness, how cute is that cursive handwriting?! What a treasure. As an angry teen I threw years’ worth of diaries into the garbage because I was so furious that my parents had read one. Meanwhile, I’d love to have a little girl who’s fascinated by JFK and Anne Frank; thanks for letting us in on the wee Outlaw Mama!

  2. I had a Hello Kitty diary, too. The pages looked exactly like yours – with the blue lines and the kitties in the corners. I don’t have it anymore. I think I threw it out last time I read it because I found it quite disturbing, not in a JFK – Anne Frank kind of way, but in a Oh My God I was an attention seeker kind of way.
    Anyways, seeing your diary and your cursive brought back memories – maybe because I was ten years old in 1983, too.

  3. That is the cutest diary entry ever. It shows that even at the tender age of 10 you were concerned about world events. My diary entry (had I ever thought to keep one) would have gone something like: “Kevin is so cute. Why won’t he let me catch him as we run on the playground?”

    As a side note, have you read 11/22/63 by Stephen King? I wasn’t that much of a history buff for JFK events until I read it. Probably King’s best book, IMHO.

  4. I think my favorite part of your entry is “I’m sure he had some type of problem.” I am in love with this post, because I found 6 of my old journals (ranging from 6th grade to college) when I was home for Thanksgiving. I brought them back to NY with me, but haven’t delved into them yet. I’m equal parts curious and terrified of what I am going to find.

  5. Hey, Mama,
    You really have to go back to age 10 to flog yourself? Kids are ignorant and emotional. One is taken care of by bad schooling and life experience, and the other endures while we try to figure out what those feelings mean.
    Your 10 year old was worried! If the president could be killed, what does that say about her safety?
    She was curious and precocious. And look who she turned into!

  6. Is it bad that this post mostly just made me laugh? I promise I only laughed because your writing was funny.

    I have discovered some evidence that I was destined to live a life if anxiety after looking back on my own childhood. First there was the obsessive fear that I would be kidnapped and carried away in a white van, which naturally led to my fear of white vans. Then there was my obsession with my house, school etc. catching on fire. Obviously this led to a fear of floods. But I think my favorite was my fear that I would be abducted by aliens, OR that I already had been abducted by aliens and repressed the memory. So, I guess what I’m trying to say is I’m crazy too. Have been for awhile apparently.

  7. Well, I for one think it’s very touching that you felt that way. I had a lot of dramatic empathy moments around that age and I could just kick myself that I didn’t keep a journal.

    (I’m guessing you put quotes around “hating” because you were told that good girls don’t hate things. Or that hate is ugly. Or something like that. You seem to be not letting yourself hate because you think you shouldn’t go that far.)

    I hope my boys keep diaries. Because reading yourself decades later is so very lovely..

  8. This is the BEST. If I had grown up in the U.S. (as I would have if my dad hadn’t been a pacifist – probably Texas, in fact) I WOULD HAVE WRITTEN THIS. I used to get super-emotional about things, and my Anne Frank phase was so intense that I glued her picture to the front of seven of my pre-teen journals. (I was prolific back then.) I had just the same devastated tone, so open and full of innocence-shedding – at the same time as being glaringly innocent.

    And when I read “hating” just now, the punctuation struck me as something you would use for someone you had never met and could never know, but whose role you hated.

    I’ve blogged about stuff “from the pages of mini-Di” before, but never actually taken a photo of my handwriting. Yours is absolutely priceless. Love it!!

  9. What a treasure! I don’t have diaries from that young but I think I have a couple from the scary teen years, if I can find them in whatever box they’re in. I love that entry – everything about it! Re the “hating,” I thought it was because you felt you shouldn’t hate and by putting it in quotes, you were qualifying it. But, I like Divlovely’s explanation better!

    My 8yo is learning cursive in 3rd grade this year, just like I did. I’m pretty surprised but happy!

  10. I am incensed that you only got a B in penmanship that year. An outrage! Your diary is such a treasure (and will surely be a priceless artifact of the future museum exhibit on your life). I also went through an intensely bleak Anne Frank stage and can only assume we were somehow separated at birth. Great post!

  11. What I truly can’t get over is the juxtaposition of the Hello kitty on the same page as such a traumatic passage!

    I had an Anne Frank stage, as well. I didn’t do much reserach, other than her dairy, but I did re-enact scenes from it in our attic.

  12. HAhahaha this post made me laugh so much only because I had the same obsession. Im not even American. I am now 35 and still in love with this man. My mom read my diary and showed it to my dad when I was 14 and said this is not a normal girl. She should be writing about boys not dead Presidents lol. In any case you know you have it bad when the library you used to check out books from gives you a JFK book as a gift cause you check it out so much.

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