Re-Reading My Teenage Diaries | January 1990
[Extracts from my teenage diary. Some names have been changed.]
Monday, January 1st, 1990
Well, here we are, 1990 – a new decade, and hopefully a new beginning.
New year is a strange time of year for me, because I always feel like crying.
I quite like Hogmanay, though. Last night I stayed up until 2am: I had a glass of martini and a load of crisps. In the morning I didn’t wake up until midday: Grandad Brown had already arrived and I had to get dressed in a huge rush. New Year’s day is always a pain, because we have a meal at our house with Grandad B, and then another one later at Granny and Grandad McNaught’s. During dinner Mark 1 we had a phone-call to say that my mum’s uncle had died, so everyone was a bit upset. Anyway, we had the two dinners, then went to visit our friends who live across the road, Gloria, David and Laurie. (Laurie is my best friend, but I’ve told everyone at school he’s my cousin, so they don’t tease me for being friends with a boy.)
I had a couple of Baby Shams.
Anyway, it seems rather strange that the 80s are gone forever, never to return. All my life has been the 80s, and it seems as if my youth has flown with them. It’s really dumb, I know, but I feel that I’ve grown up now. I’m really looking forward to the 90s, though. As mum said, this is going to be MY decade. I have to live my life NOW, before it’s too late.
* * *
SOME THOUGHTS FROM CURRENT ME:
01. Wow, post #1, and I can already tell I’m going to spend a LOT of time fighting the impulse to point out repeatedly that I was very, very young, very, very stupid, and, OMG, please don’t judge Current Me on the writings of Teenage Me. Please.
02. Especially not the bit where I’m all, “New Year is always a bit of a pain, but even more so this year because someone had the audacity to, like, DIE during it, OMG. Anyway, back to ME!” Gotta love that teenage-level of self-absorption, huh?
03. Teenage Me has deliberately crafted this entry to make it sound like she was a hard-livin’ cool girl, what with all the martinis, Baby Shams and, er, loads of crisps. Needless to say, this transparent attempt at coolness was almost completely imaginary: the “martini” would’ve been a glass of lemonade that my dad added a drop of gin to, in a bid to stop me whining, and as for the “Baby Shams”, I was, of course, referring to Babycham – and I’m pretty sure I was either exaggerating or straight-up lying about drinking two of them. But please do go ahead and imagine me as the teen rebel I obviously wanted to be…
04. I hope you’re impressed by the fact that I stayed up until 2am, because I sure was.
05. “This is going to be MY decade.” LOLOLOL. Suuuurre, honey. SURE it is. You get out there and live your live NOW! Before it’s too late! Snort. [SPOILER ALERT: Did not do this. And now it really IS too late. #tinyviolins]
06. To this day, my high school best friend still believes that “Laurie” was my cousin: in fact, the last time I saw her (Which, OK, was over a decade ago now, but still…), she asked me how my “aunt and uncle” were, and it was super-awkward, because, having spent literally MY ENTIRE CHILDHOOD lying about this, I couldn’t find a way of finally coming clean about it without making myself look like even MORE of freak than I already did due to the fact that I was friends with an OMGBOY. (And, yes, I know it’s wild to think I’d have been teased over this ridiculously ordinary fact, but Laurie was not just ANY boy: he was a very “posh” boy, who was two years younger than me, and these two facts alone meant that he was the only person in our small town who was hated more than I was. In retrospect, it was that, rather than the simple fact of his gender, that made me decide to lie about true nature of our relationship, and to continue doing it for, oh, THE REST OF MY STUPID LIFE.) To this day, I am still sometimes kept awake at night by the guilt that haunts me over this lie.
07. From all of the above, you’ll have gathered that my “I feel that I’ve grown up now,” WAS actually “really dumb”, just as I said it was. “NARRATOR: But Amber had not, in fact, ‘grown up’ at all, and was soon to discover that it would take more than a glass of watered-down martini and a couple of Babychams to achieve that…”
08. One post in, and already my commentary is longer than the diary entry itself. I’d apologise, but I suspect this trend will probably continue: don’t say I didn’t warn you.
Tuesday, January 2nd, 1990
The only thing I can say about today is that it has been one of the most boring days of my life. [Narrator: But this would not, in fact, be the only thing Amber would say about today…] Yesterday mum and dad said we were going to go into the city to the sales, but today they decided there was too much going on, what with the arrangements for the funeral, and, I expect the after effects of last night still wearing off. [Wow, the SHADE!] We didn’t get up until about 11am!
It’s funny, isn’t it, when I’m at school I can’t wait for the holidays, and when it’s the holidays I can’t wait for school ‘cos I’m so fed up. Anyway, we didn’t go anywhere, and in the end I stayed home and watched the film version of the book ‘Forever Amber‘ which is one of my favourite books of all time, and I was severely disappointed, the film was nothing like the book. I loved seeing my name up on the screen though!! My big ambition is to be famouse [sic] (experts say that it comes from a feeling of insecurity) either a singer, and actress or both!! Problem is, I can’t sing…
Wednesday, January 3rd, 1990
Yet another boring day! Mum and dad were both at work, so I had to go down to grandad’s house until lunchtime. Y’see my parents are very over-protective and the longest I’m getting to stay in the house alone at the moment is from 2pm until 5:30pm (pretty pathetic, huh?). We already had a fight because mum’s uncle’s funeral is on Friday, I’m not going, and it would mean staying in the house alone all day. Mum says she’s going to think about letting me do it, so fingers crossed!!
I came home at 2pm and just lazed about the house for a while. I read Smash Hits (A pop magazine) and Just Seventeen (A fashion magazine) and then done some recording on my Boogie Box which I got for Christmas. Seeing as I want to be a singer when I leave school I’m working on a demo tape at the moment. You probably think I’m not serious about being a musician but I am convinced that is what I want to do, I don’t want to go into a boring office job, I want to be FAMOUSE!!!! [sic] I can sing a bit (a very little bit), am learning guitar and keyboard and have been given grade 1s for acting at school.
* * *
Thoughts from Current Me:
01. Not just disappointed, SEVERELY disappointed.
02. It’s a shame my big ambition wasn’t learning how to spell the word “famous”, huh?
03. “Experts say...” Completely made-up experts, who I just that second invented to make myself sound clever, obviously. They probably WOULD say that, though, tbf.
04. At least I managed to find a way to make that funeral all about ME, though: every cloud…
05. “A demo tape.” Snigger.
06. I saw a quote on Twitter last week which went something like, “My biggest problem as a teenager was that I was both painfully shy, while being simultaneously convinced that I was the main character.” I can’t for the life of me remember who said it, but, honestly, I have never felt so seen. Because that was me in a nutshell. In real life, I was so shy and awkward that I could barely speak without blushing. In my head, though, the issue of whether I should become a singer or an actress when I grew up was a very real dilemma, and one that I would probably solve by just being BOTH. And, as I said myself, I was deadly serious about this. I was actually trying to make a “demo tape” to send out to record companies. Because I veered so wildly between self-delusion (“I can sing a bit”) and self-loathing/complete honesty (“I can’t sing”), I just constantly set myself up for SEVERE DISSAPOINTMENT – which, when it came, would always be enacted with the UTMOST DRAMA. Well, I HAD been given grade 1s for acting, after all…
07. To be fair, I sometimes think my entire life has been spent acting, so I guess that’s something.
08. I REALLY can’t sing, though: it remains the greatest disappointment of my life, and the thing I would most like to be able to do.
Thursday, January 4th, 1990
Something really embarrassing happened today. I went to granddad’s as usual, and when I got home I got out my Boogie Box to do some recording again. Now, as you’ve probably read at the beginning of this book, I like two boys called Jack and Michael. Michael is in my class at school and I see him every day but Jack is in another class and I hardly see him at all. Anyway his older brother James is our paper boy and he comes round every Thursday to collect his money. This particular Thursday I was singing along to Kylie Minogue’s ‘I Should Be So Lucky’ with the mic turned up FULL blast when I heard this knocking sound (the door). I didn’t realise what it was at first and went on singing (I have a terrible voice by the way!!!!). By the time I realised what it was, James (for t’was he) had heard EVERYTHING!!! He was probably creased up laughing! I have never been so embarrassed in my life!!! Now James’ll go home and tell Jack all about it!
Anyway, now for the good news. New Kids on the Block, my favourite group are going on tour and Dad has managed to get us tickets!! I’m soooo excited! I just lurve NKOTB, especially Donnie and Jon!
Friday, January 5, 1990
It was the funeral today. I didn’t go. I have never been to a funeral and have no particular wish to. Anyway, to get back to the subject [ME, in other words: the MAIN SUBJECT.], mum and dad were away by 9am and I was left on my own. I spent plenty of time getting dressed and putting makeup on and doing my hair. When they came home we went to MAKRO which is a great big place with records, clothes and food in it, as well as plenty other things. [So,.. a shop, then? Cool cool, thanks for the explanation, Younger Self…] You can only get in it if you have a special card which you are given if you run your own business. Neither mum nor dad run their own business, but mum managed to get one through her work. Anyway, we went to Makro and bought a few things (mum got a lovely suit) then came home, Absolutely nothing of interest happened when we got home so I had a bath, used all my new bath stuff that I got at Christmas and pampered myself. There’s nothing else to say so I better go now.
* * *
Thoughts from Current Me:
01. The DOOR, people! The knocking sound was THE DOOR! Thank GOD I explained that, or you’d never have pieced it together, would you?
02. I still remember this quite vividly, and when I write, “He was probably creased up laughing,” I mean, “He was creased up laughing by the time I opened the door, so, yeah, I THINK he heard me…”
Sunday, January 7th, 1990
Riding today. Every Sunday I go horse riding and I love it! I have been going for nearly 4 years now, but there is one problem. Y’see, I am a fairly nervous person and I get nervous before we go riding and when I get nervous I get sick. This sounds really pathetic I know and it’s embarrassing even to write this down on paper. Sometimes it gets so bad that I am even physically sick in the car on the way there. I don’t know what the cause of this is, but I know one thing, it’s got to stop!!! It’s spoiling my enjoyment of riding. This morning it was really bad, I was absolutely positive I was going to be sick. However I managed to control it and had a really wonderful lesson! I was riding Sapphire, a lovely skewbald mare and although the lesson was REALLY crowded I had a great time, the jumping especially was fantastic!! I have never jumped so well before in my life.
We went to grandads at night and he gave us a video which had arrived from Canada showing my Aunt Fiona, Uncle Jerry and little cousins Bonnie and Blair. They were over here in the summer and we had a great time! I really miss them, I wish they lived in Britain. School tomorrow, worse luck!!! (I hate school.)
Thoughts from Current Me:
This “Almost throwing up before every riding lesson,” business went on for YEARS, and is just classic me, really, with my innate ability to ruin absolutely everything, for no apparent reason. The thing is, I genuinely did love my riding lessons, and the second I got up onto the horse, I was absolutely fine: it was just the hours leading up to the lesson which were absolute hell for me, as I would make myself literally sick with excitement. Of course, after the first couple of times, this became a self-fulfilling prophecy, and I was basically feeling sick at the thought of… feeling sick. It’s a real skill, being this anxious about absolutely everything, you know…
Monday, January 8th 1990
Back to school. It’s been awful. I REALLY hate school and I think the reason for this is that I’m quite shy and though I would love to be like all the other kids I’m not. I’m really ugly, I know I am. My mum and dad say I’m not, but parents are bound to think that. (Or if not think it, say it.) My clothes are horrible, my hair is horrible and my FACE is horrible. None of the boys fancy me (or even know I’m alive) except Kevin, the most un-popular boy in the school who I can’t stand. Also I have a problem talking to people (except people who I know really well). I just seem to clam up. I can talk to Chloe (my best friend) but she is always looking good at school and has this sort of cool, superior contempt of me. Everyone was wearing the new things they got for Xmas and everyone looked great – except me. I was wearing new stuff too but I looked awful. My confidence is at a really low ebb just now. If you look good, you feel good, psychiatrists (shrinks) say, and I never look good, so I never feel good. Shrinks also say (I’ve never been to a shrink, by the way, but I’ve read about what they say) that my ambition to be famous comes from a feeling of insecurity, and they are right. I am VERY VERY insecure.
Thoughts from older me:
1. I finally learned how to spell “famous”, so at least that’s something.
2. I wonder how my shopping addiction started? If only there had been some clues…
3. Really glad I clarified that “psychiatrists” is another word for the correct term, “shrinks”, and that my younger self knew so much about what “they” say: that must have come in useful.
4. Also glad I pointed out that I was VERY VERY insecure, because I don’t think I did enough in the post itself to adequately telegraph that?
5. I could literally have written this post TODAY, only probably minus the bit about Kevin and the shrinks. I’m trying really hard not to think too much about the fact that I basically never moved on from my 13-year-old self…
Tuesday, January 9th, 1990
School wasn’t TOO bad today, I suppose. I get consistently good marks in most subjects, but I still don’t enjoy school. Remember I mentioned Kevin yesterday, the only boy in the WORLD who fancies me? Today he REALLY annoyed me, he keeps coming up to me and asking me out but I refuse because I can’t stand him. I seen Katie (my enemy from WAY back) today in the corridor. I usually ignore her completely but today I was in such a bad mood that when she said “What’re YOU lookin at?” I had to retaliate so I shouted back, “I dunno but whatever it is it’s staring back!!” She called me a few names for that but I don’t care, she’s just jealous and I have to stand up for myself otherwise I’ll get trampled on. That’s one of my 3 New year’s Resolutions. Here they are in full:
1. To stop being sick before riding.
2. Not to let people walk over me.
3. To take more care of my looks.
Thoughts from older me:
1. I did, in fact, care.
2. Nice little pep talk there from me to me. I didn’t believe a word of it, obviously, but you go girl, don’t let yourself get trampled on! And take more care of your looks, while you’re at it!
Sunday, January 14th, 1990.
I have decided to start putting a hyphen in between my first name and my middle name to make it Amber-Louise McNaught. That means that my Christian name is now Amber-Louise. Catchy, huh?
Thoughts from older me:
NO. No, it really isn’t, Amber.
Sunday, January 21st, 1990
Riding today. I nearly broke my New Year’s Resolution but not quite. I just gagged a lot and was NEARLY sick. Anyway we came home and had a surprise visit from my mum’s friend with her new baby. That’s another thing I forgot to mention, I hate babies. I don’t know what started this but I’m determined that when I grow up I’m not going to have any, I just find it impossible to believe that any woman would want to inflict 9 months of pain upon themselves just to get a screaming nuisance at the end of it who will tie you down for life. Craaaazy!!!!!!!!!
Thoughts from older me:
1. That worked out well for me, didn’t it?
2. Oh yeah, btw, I hate babies, no biggie.
3. Harsh. But true. But also harsh.