Saturday, April 9, 2011

The Dining Room Depression

Takes place in 2075

Henry Johnson was usually a polite, young boy. There is only one time I can remember where he lost his behavior, when his family had its "Dining room Depression."

It all started back in the years 1974 and 75, which was about 100 years ago. It was the time when they had moving vehicles called "cars". They were run by gas, which is a form of oil in which we ran out of about 50 years ago. Well anyway, one day Henry's father came home and was very angry because he had just lost his job, he screamed out to Henry's mother that she better cut down on the use of food so they don't run out.

But alas, Henry's mother had cooked up a $50.00 meal and thought that since she had $20.00 left that she would ask her husband if he could give her some more.

She asked Henry's father if he was given any money when he was fired but in those days the factory that he was working at couldn't afford to do that so they had $20.00 to survive on until he got a new job.

In those times it was almost impossible to get a job so Mr. Johnson tried and tried to find a job. His family was now living on $5.00.

At the end of the 4th month, the family was nearly starving. A dinner or meal may consist of 1 piece of bread. Henry's mother has gotten Henry to go to friend's houses after school and steal food.

Near the end of the 5th month, Henry was crashing parties and shoplifting with his mother. Henry's father had recently died of starvation because they didn't go to any public health building because they were ashamed.

In the middle of the 5th month, Henry and his mother walked to the country. There they were lavishing apples and raw corn to live.

In the middle of June, the 7th month of the Dining room Depression, Henry's mother died of malnutrition.

Henry, soon after the 10th month, turned himself into the public health office. And that ended the dining room depression.

The end


This must have been written earlier. This story is in cursive writing, and the story being placed in the 1974-75, makes me believe that I wrote this at that time. I was twelve years old, during that school year. Must have been between 7th and 8th grade.

This story is filled with the oil crisis of the 1970s. The metro bus companies cut service. People talked a lot about oil conservation. There was a lot of shouting done by me from atop the rock in the front yard. "Get a horse!" - as opposed to driving a car - shouted to passing cars. My parents nagged us to turn off the lights when we left rooms. That still makes sense!

In elementary school, I never wondered about other people's families. I was too busy bragging about my own. This story shows some understanding about blue class workers. In 1976, South St. Paul boasted that it was the largest stockyards in the world, it closed in 2008. When the wind was blowing up the bluffs, my walk to school was filled with dread, and what I imagined was going on down there next to the river. Yuck!

My best friend in junior high school lived just up the bluff overlooking the river. I liked to bike down to her house. Her brother was super cute - and her house was larger than mine - larger - because it had three stories plus a basement! The bathroom in her house was massive - it was larger than my own bedroom. It had ceramic tile floor - the little white hexagons that were popular in the early 1900s. My own house in Minneapolis had the same floor, it reminded me of BF Colleen.

The bathroom had a claw foot bathtub. I had only seen such a thing in books. I was amazed. Any way, back to why I was talking about Colleen in the first place. Her dad worked at the stockyards. She said her dad killed the cattle all day long. Shudder. I could not imagine such a life. It was so foreign to my existence. She was so wonderful. I loved her. I did something to lose her as a friend in the following years. She wouldn't look me in the eye. I still wonder what I did.

My family attended church in Minneapolis at St. Stephen's during this period. I remember having my first sip of coffee after service, sneaking in line for communion, and the family of naked hippie children that played in the yard across the street. It was shocking.

These must be the things that play into the ideas behind the tragic Dining Room Depression story above. Very sad. Poor Henry Johnson, if only his mother hadn't made such a lavish meal the day her husband lost his job...

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Don't make me waste my life. You know I believe in something.

August 1976 

Sometimes, I wish I had a gun. I would kill myself if I did.
Sometimes, I am really happy and I am glad that I didn't have a gun.
Sometimes, I wish I was being held by a man.
Sometimes, I am glad I am alone.


I am alone.
No one is ever with me, though people are near me, I am still alone.
I am alone because no one knows how I feel.
No one will ever know how I feel.
No one is like me.
No one can be almost like me either.


 August 23, 1976

Betsy is always going into my room and it makes me sick. She is always invading my privacy. She listens on the phone when I talk to my friends. It makes me sick. She doesn't live her own life. She always has to know about everything I do, or say.

I was talking on the phone with some boys and one of them said a bird threw up when it saw me.

Am I really that ugly? I don't think so.


 August 24, 1976

I got my overalls today! They are so cute. They are just like Bob's. I think. I don't know if I want to ask Doug to the fair. I want to. Maybe I will ask him to help work at my mom and dad's booth with me. He is nice and I want to get to know him. I'm not going to rush into anything this year. I think I will wear my overalls and a pink blouse the first day of school.


August 1976

I need you more
I need you now
I love you, baby.

Give me that smile
The one you first gave me
Give me that look
the one that I miss
Give me that vow, the one that you said you'd give me.
Let us be friends
For the rest of our lives.

I know now you menat nothing that you did.
It was all a fantasy, one that came from me.
I'll never be the same again until you say it's so.
That you'll never say another word again to me for that will be.

To Elton John-
I will never leave my thoughts alone until I see you there walking out the stage towards me. I don't care if you're old. Just give me the chance, the one I've always wanted. Give me the smile the one that I need.


September 1976

Don't let me give up my life. You know I don't believe in nothing.
For if it is wrong, tell me before it's too late.
Don't let me give up my mind to something that'll hurt me for you know I believe in Love.
If you only will tell me why you want what it will do to me. I don't know how it's said, just take my hand and pull me back.
'cause, Darling, don't let me waste my life on stupid dreams, and live my life for senseless things.
Oh, Darling, don't make me give up my life for something wrong, that won't work out.
Tell me at once and I will go and seek my dreams.
Darling, don't make me waste my life. You know I believe in something.


Okay, I am not sure what it was that I was going on about. I think that the last two entries are songs - at least they seem to have repetition and "rhyming" (kind of...)

I had crushes on almost every boy that glanced at me - and that included Elton John. I had posters all over my room and would dream about him. I believed I would marry him one day. 

Over my own discomfort over how I tear into my sisters during this period of time, I decided to call them something else. I love my sisters. They are all totally unique individuals. I have wonderful relationships with each of them. I cannot imagine losing them. I thought very little of them growing up. The love I feel for each of them now is the polar opposite of how I express myself in my early teen years.

I understand that this journal is a slow starter - but this has some similar themes - similar to my earliest writings in my one-year-five-year diary. The boy crushes - expressing love and switching quickly from crush to crush. These journals add hormones and sexual awakenings and the will to act on my urges. 

Another theme that I see here is the self-reflection - knowing somehow that I am alone - and using the journals to process. I see depression, and suicidal ideation. I see confusion over the actions and reactions of others. I misinterpret many social interactions in junior high and high school. 

I was a very awkward person. I still am, but I care so much less now. What a relief to not care.

Friday, April 1, 2011

It is hard to grow up knowing that you are different, but not being able to understand just how

August 22, 1976

Sometimes I don't understand anything at all. I learned today that I hold in my angry feelings so that is why I hardly ever get mad.

When I get mad I usually will go to my room and think over what has just happened. If I hear about things people have said about me I don't get mad, but I get mad if they say something about my friends.

When I get mad I will come up to my room and tell you everything. I think it will help me. I don't feel guilty any more about Bob since I have told people about it. I have nothing I can think of to feel guilty about. I don't feel guilty about Roy anymore. It helped me to write those letters just to say how I feel. I wrote them to get it off my mind not for other people to read. I really do trust my sisters to not read this because I might be mad at them sometime and write what I think because I can't write anything nice if I am mad.

I was mad at my dad today. He has been getting on my nerves lately. I only like him as a person not a parent. I really think he is an unreasonable guy when it comes to parenthood. God-damn, I hope I won't be a single fucking bit like him.

I want to have a baby but I wouldn't know what to say to her. Bob was going to fuck me. He almost did and he would have if Dawn didn't interrupt. God, was I mad at her! I felt like saying to Bob, "If you really want to be a father you sure as hell can screw me, but you better call up my Bitch and tell her first." He would have. He would have said, "Hey Bitch Lowe, I'm a gonna screw your daughter better than hell, so long Bitch!"

No, but I really like my mom. Sometimes she is a real bitch, but mostly she's alright.

A note about the formatting: I am going to cross out the text that I have crossed out in my journal - I find it interesting what I chose to scribble out or exclude.


Jumping straight into the yellow legal pads that I used as a teenager. These are painful, awkward journals filled with boasting and profanity. Some of the entries are calculated entries to lay the foundation for my schizophrenic diagnosis. I started leaving journal cookie crumbs in 1976, writing letters from "partner". After a year or two, I developed the alter ego as a homeless young mother. 

These early journals include a lot of wishing to have a baby. I yearned to have a baby years before I was sexually active. My bravado in the entry above about "Bob" and our almost/not quite sexual encounter was just that - fantasy. I was not sexually active until the next summer - so this journal will have lots of discussion of sex and my naive ideas about what sex was. 

I begin using drugs during this year, so I will certainly act more and more "streetwise" - pretending to myself as I record the thoughts and observations of the days as they pass. 

Paging through this journal before writing this summary, I want to apologize in advance to my siblings. I love you all. I say mean and cruel things about you and our wonderful, loving parents. Please keep in mind that I was only 13at this time. I have just finished eight grade, about to become a Freshman - the upperclassmen in junior high school. I am learning about relationships. I have not yet figured out that just because a boy talks to you doesn't mean that they "like" you. Just because a boy wants to get you alone to kiss you and feel you up, doesn't mean that he likes you either. 

There is so much confusion. I am developing as an observer of my life. I am finding my voice. This is Susan, out of control teenager, trying so hard to grow up and be liked and accepted by my peers. 

It is awkward and painful to watch. Don't avert your eyes. These pages are filled with cringe moments. I hope you find forgiveness for the confused young woman I was becoming. It is hard to grow up. It is harder growing up knowing that you are different, but not being able to place just how. I want to notice how I discuss and analyze my feelings especially. Feelings are still confusing to me. Especially since I discovered two years ago that I never realized that I had such a limited emotional vocabulary.

Just like 14 year old Susan, I yearn for you to accept me for who I am in these pages. It took me a until I was 30 years old, and near death, to finally accepted this awkward teenager. I am still her - she is me. I am her.