I am going to post all 33 of my 8th grade journals on this blog. I wrote them in the school year of 1983-1984. I was only 11 years old when I went into the 8th grade. The journals are pretty hilarious. They're ignorant and yet, extremely pretentious at the same time. I hate to characterize myself stereotypically as a "JAP," but I guess I was. I was spoiled, and loved possessions and the finer cultural offerings of New York. I had few friends, but the few I did have were pretty creative, so there is some reference to pranks I pulled. Some highlights of the journals are "Breeding My Gerbils," "My Favorite Spectator Sport," "Dear President Reagan," and a few other gems.
As someone who has taught 8th grade English, I find myself wishing my own students possessed some of the descriptive skill and vocabulary I'd commanded in 8th grade. Overall, though, I can't help notice how infantile are the emotions displayed in my journals, compared to those of 8th graders today. I am not sure if it's because it was a different era (the early 80s), or because I was so much more immature than my classmates. I seem to have no motivation to do anything but fulfill simple childish fantasies, like getting a puppy. Only my descriptions of my New York haunts and a trip to Paradise Island hint at somewhat of a cosmopolitan existence.
In general, I was quite depressed through 8th grade. I didn't like to bathe. I was chubby. I was shy. I had no boyfriends. (Bryan notes that I was only 11 years old...true, I was younger than everyone else in 8th grade, but had the same pressures on me to grow up as my classmates did...I just couldn't deal with them.) 8th grade was a horrible year for me! I really wrote way too little about my personal issues, and way too much about teddy bears and animals. The journals display minimal self-reflection. Yet, that could also have been because the audience was old Ms. Ramsay, my English teacher. These journals were written merely to fulfill an English class assignment at Eastern Junior High School in Greenwich, CT. I chose neutral topics, and got the one-page journal assignments out of the way as easily as possible. By the way, in the second half of the year, I started getting D's in algebra, and otherwise disappointing my parents greatly. If someone had simply explained that I needed to pass algebra in order to become a veterinarian, I probably would have done my homework once in a while, judging from these journals!