Funemployment The Journal I Kept When I Was Eight Years Old: A Must Read And Future Best Seller Kaitlin Coghill

The holiday season isn’t always so merry for the unemployed. The stress of trying to find gifts for the least amount of money on various websites is reminiscent of buying textbooks for college and having to defer payments on all of my student loans isn’t so relaxing either. I simply want to crawl into bed with my growling stomach (too broke to feed myself fulfilling food) and sleep until I get a job offer from The New York Times or Vogue or any other reputable publication that won’t make me feel like I have a pointless career. Or at least sleep until I’m brave enough to actually send my resume to these types of publications. We’ll see.

Considering the things I’ve had to do as a grownup, I think it’s appropriate to say that I miss believing in Santa Claus. His jolly character was such a relief for me as a child because for him and his elves, money was no object. I could ask him for the most expensive thing I saw on a Nickelodeon commercial without feeling any guilt and I could stay up all night on Christmas Eve for a good reason: the promise of magic happening in my own home.

My childhood was impressively fantastical. My parents were amazing storytellers and allowed my sister and me to be as creative as we wanted, whether that meant me painting our dog or my sister changing her name to Harriet the Spy. I fondly remember the Christmas morning that Santa left me a note on the fireplace. It said that he brought a present for me that was too big to get down the chimney, so he had to leave it on the roof. My family and I went outside (with a video camera, of course) and saw a pink bike on top of our house. My dad got a ladder, climbed up and promptly announced that there was reindeer poop on the roof. For me, that reindeer poop was concrete evidence that Santa existed and I’d never been happier.

In reality, my dad put dog poop on our roof to make it look like reindeer really did have the ability to fly and land on houses all over the world and I eventually found out that the story of Santa Claus was an elaborate lie told to me by my parents, most likely as a means of controlling my behavior. Not that I was bad or anything. Santa only put rocks in my stocking once. And yes, that’s on video, too.

This holiday season has consisted of me staying at my parents’ house every other week to help my mom out. She’s been sick since October, so I drive from San Diego to Ventura and basically do the same things therapy dogs do: I lay with her on the couch while we watch Kathie Lee and Hoda and give her hugs when she needs a friend. Just kidding. I also do dishes and go grocery shopping. In all honesty, she’s probably helping me more than I’m helping her. She makes me feel like I have a purpose in this gloomy world filled with rejection letters and credit card bills and I am forever grateful.

A few weeks ago at my parents’ house, I came across my childhood journals when I was getting Christmas decorations out of my former closet, which is now storage space for holiday boxes. My parents bought me my first journal when I was eight years old. It was hardcover and speckled with Dalmatian spots because 101 Dalmatians was my absolute favorite Disney movie ever. In fact, my parents bought me a Dalmatian puppy for my fifth birthday because I loved the movie so much. They seriously made all of my dreams come true.

Before I began reading the contents of my speckled journal, I prepared myself for the tears that would probably start flowing immediately. I miss the innocence of childhood an incredible amount. I miss being able to pretend I’m in Mexico making tortillas with my sister. I miss organizing my American Girl Doll’s trunk of doll clothes, and making my Barbies swim with plastic dolphins in the bath tub. And I deeply, deeply miss playing school with my Beanie Babies. But, luckily, I was rather surprised by the words I had written in my journal as an 8-year-old. They weren’t at all tear-inducing or stupid. They were pure, honest, weird and funny. Every entry brought back amazing memories of how much fun my sister and I used to have and how much time I was able to spend with my parents. They also provided proof of my innate editing skills, as multiple entries had editorial notes next to unclear sentences and misspelled words corrected in a different-colored ink. So, to all who wonder, yes, I have always been this nerdy and grammatically annoying.

I chose to make my edits in a less harshly colored blue pen.

I’ve decided to share some of my favorite entries with the public in the spirit of the Christmas season. I’m still a child at heart and Christmas has always rekindled a type of childhood innocence and nostalgia in me. Maybe it’s because I miss getting piles of presents or maybe it’s because I’m looking forward to being a mom one day and having kids of my own to spoil. But right now, specifically, I think it’s because I’m going through a really tough time in my life and looking back at the easy days reminds me that it hasn’t always been, and won’t always be, this bad.

Because I basically loved every entry I wrote, I whittled my list down to the entries that both made me laugh the hardest and will make sense to people who didn’t know me as a child (to clarify who’s who in the following entries, Kelsey is my sister):

1. The entry about the day I described as “wild”:

Seriously, how is this day wild?

 

2. The entry about the day I apparently couldn’t feed myself, and then read a lot: 

I fed myself with lots of words.

 

3. The entries that prove that I was raised in the 1990s:

AYAOTD?

FYI, play baths consisted of playing with our barbies and dollhouse people in the bathtub in our cute, usually matching one-piece bathing suits. So fun.

BBs, and AGDs

Totally learned cursive.

GPs

Names blurred out for privacy purposes.

 OSM/SQ

I was seriously obsessed with television.

A Very ‘90s Xmas, In Two Parts

And I totally did get a Walkman, even though I got a card pulled at school.l

I still love Lisa Frank, snowmen and McDonald's.

 

4: The entries I wrote after I learned what the “giggly” things were (I like these because the seriousness/importance of the subject matter I mention is deeply contrasted with the whimsical lifestyle I was living):

The one where I learned about my period:

I don't think I realized how miserable my period would make in the future.

The one where I learned what sex was (this was long so I cut out the beginning rambles):

My handwriting has changed immensely at this point...anddd this entry is kind of embarrassing.

 

5: The mean entry I wrote about my sister and felt so guilty about that I scribbled out the mean parts:

I love my sister as much as she loved Harriet the Spy.

Transcript of the scribbled areas:
“Kelsey is a stupid nerd. I mean she bugs me a lot. She gets me in trouble. Then after I do something [sic] rong I lie to my parents so I don’t get in trouble… Right now I’m sitting in my desk [sic] righting in my journal. Right now Kelsey is not sharing her toy ball with a lizard in it.
Kelsey is a bonehead jerk.”

 

6: The entry I wrote when I started to like boys, but was still pretty bored:

I cut out the rambles again, because I had to get to the good stuff that was only supposed to be read by my journal, my sister and myself.

 

7. The entry I wrote about the games I would play with my sister:

We still love cats, and I wasn't dumb.

 

8. The entry I wrote in the midst of major health changes for my mom:

Slightly insensitive.

 

9. The entry about my family’s first computer, and all that it was capable of:

Gateway computers were revolutionary.

 

10: The funniest entry of them all: 

My writing has (hopefully) obviously progressed.

 

Being a kid was fun and I’m currently waiting for adult life to become fun, too. I know it will at some point, but until then I’ll read over my childhood journal entries every once in a while and relive what it felt like to be truly free and inspired.

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  1. oh my god! nsync totally does rule whoo! this is unreal, and such a parallel to my 90′s childhood ( i’m 23 ) so good.

  2. “There are two really stupid boys in my class. I have a giga pet!”

    Hahahaha I love how A.D.D. these entries are. So so many 90s references. Fantastic.

    And it inspired me to go find my old diary. Hilarious. I talked about boys a lot and played MASH on every other page.

  3. i totally started keeping a little notepad full of meaningless observations after seeing Harriet the Spy. damn, i miss the 90s.

  4. You, my dear, are my soul sister. Although I have about 10 years on you, I also found my journals this past summer and decided to post up some of the entries. Mind you, this was around 1987-1989 for the elementary school journals, but I went on to NAME my journal. Dear, Jessica.

    http://www.facebook.com/DearJessicaDiary

    I Created a facebook page for it over the summer and Im working to turn this into a one-woman show…perhaps you’d do the same!? All in all, these entries were ridiculous and hilarious and goofy…and still made my tears flow. I miss that innocence, but now I relish from the laughter these pages provide!

    Happy Holidays!

  5. This is so GREAT! I love that you rated your days! I did that to when I was small. A day would get a rating like on your report card – A, A+, B, C, D, and on really bad days an F!! Aren’t reading old journals the best! Love the days when going to grandmas and playing were the BEST DAYS EVER! :]

  6. I have about 7-8 journals that I kept from ages 9 – 18. I put them away for my (future) daughter to read one day when she’s those ages. I figured she’d get lots of giggles on how goofy and ridiculous her mom was! :-D

  7. SO AWESOME.

  8. Aw, I love it!
    I had a childhood journal…Had. My mother found it and saw the not-so-nice things I had written about her and destroyed it! :(

  9. I remember writing a journal entry (circa 3rd grade) about making my bed. Kids are so weird. Thank you for sharing! I think I threw all of my old journals away!

  10. this is great. exactly like my journals from that age, except you were way better about detail documentation. and persevering with that format (today was:, age 8)! what a writer.

    on a sidenote, did you grow up in ventura? it’s where i’m from. :)

  11. Thank you a million times over for sharing your journal with the world! hahahaha Mine sounds oh so similar, with all of its hilarity, slight insensitivity, hopes, dreams, and general childhood wisdom. I always enjoy reading along with about your funemployment stories….I can relate!

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