This is the last entry in our series on Adolescence.
artistic representation of the author circa 1997
When you are young, someone is always making you write a letter to yourself in the future. I only wish they’d invent a time-machine mail-box so I could send a message back to my impressionable teenage self. I’d encourage me to chill out, not to worry about that D in math, and suggest I learn how to play guitar or something instead of wasting time sitting around being depressed that no cute boys have crushes on me.
Of course if my past-self had somehow gotten and been able to follow through with my present-day advice Marty Mc Fly style, I wouldn’t have written all the terrible poetry and hit plays that led me here today to This Recording.
the author, in younger, cuter days
I suffered the usual isolation intrinsic to junior high. I hit puberty on the early side, but I was short and young-looking. I felt immature and overlearned. I longed to escape from Los Angeles. I felt certain I belonged on the East Coast where they read books and cared about fancy smart people things.
Then as now, I was a compulsive overthinker. It coincides neatly with my being an overtalker like Larry David and other people, not all of whom are Jewish. Maybe, like Warren Beatty, I just love to listen to the sound of my own voice riffing. I make a lot of ridiculous generalizations, and then take my sweet time backing down until the other person has gotten all worked up.
the author in high school, archival photo
Like Alex and other Libertarians, I take a certain perverse pleasure in provoking conversational conflict. I like hearing other people be passionate, especially when it’s about something as meaningless and subjective as a cultural preference. I proved routinely divisive among faculty. Was it my ADD or just arrogance? (Both.) They’re lucky text messaging didn’t exist yet.
When not arguing with teachers, I was always doodling or drawing comics rather than take notes. In grade school I got in trouble a lot for reading books under my desk, mostly Fear Street and Christopher Pike. I mastered the napping in class routine, where you put your head down on the desk and try to look like your eyes are just closed because you’re listening really hard.
I’ve always had a lot to say, and might be too confident in thinking it’s notable to anyone besides myself. And as a Womyn and a Ginger, there are some people less interested in listening to me than I am in talking to them. I can be totally unreasonable. I also constantly change positions and shrug it off with jokes. That must be infuriating. But I always try to keep an open mind. I’m no island, peninsula maybe.
A friend joked that I sit out on the front porch in a rocking chair waiting for somebody to talk to. Maybe the genetic switch that makes children with Williams Syndrome so interested in connecting got thrown on in my brain too. At the playground I’d go up to adults with younger kids, and be like “Playing at the park, huh? I see you’re on the swings right now. That’s cool. You should check out the slide later when you get a chance.”
I GOT THAT PURPLE DRESS
I mean sure, I require large blocks of daily alone time for my sanity as much as the next extroverted polymath. I feel most centered in purely solitary pursuits like writing, browsing, and playing pinball. I crave stillness and quiet and the kind of intense solitude best sought in a library. Despite my innate affability and desire for friends, I still think of myself as a loner. Who doesn’t?
The past decade has been a long lesson in taming that strange animal known as Experience. I have aged, but in most aspects I have barely changed. Sometimes I try to think about this from the perspective of my thirty-four year old self. I picture myself looking back on the things I’ve written here about this part of my life, immortalized in bloggy blog heaven. Then I stop, because that completely breaks my mind.
My Favorite Polymath: Benjamin Franklin
BLOGS OF OUR YOUTH
Television Without Pity has ads on actual TV now!
Bob and David, now and 4eva
Nerve, smut etc.
Sweet Adeline, the official Elliott Smith site run by fans
PAVEMENT B SIDES OF OUR YOUTH
Kentucky Cocktail – Pavement: mp3
Circa 1762 – Pavement: mp3
Ed Aims – Pavement: mp3
Brink Of The Clouds – Pavement: mp3
Pueblo Domain – Pavement: mp3
Haunt You Down – Pavement: mp3
Molly Lambert is Senior Editor of This Recording. She lives in Echo Park, California. She’ll teach you how to look her age if you wanna look old.
PREVIOUSLY ON THIS RECORDING