Top Secret

Harriet the Spy

I’ve kept a journal of some sort since age eight, when I read Harriet the Spy. Over the weekend I went home to Santa Cruz, and I was certain I’d find some comic gold in those journals. After all, I was spying on my neighbors, determined to catch them at some heinous crime. Mostly I observed, with atrocious spelling, dog walks and the comings and goings of different cars. At least in my earliest journal, there’s a constant feeling of suspense. In the journal that comes after, when I was about eleven, I basically bitched about my frenemies and kept lists of all the developing romantic relationships I imagined around me (Ryan C. + Cici M.).

There are some pearls, like when I describe myself writing in the library corner next to the Nancy Drew books. I remember feeling happiest next to dear Nancy. I was afraid of a lot, especially my sixth grade teacher. I also spent a lot of time warning people not to read my journals.

Even now it makes me nervous to post this. The curse could still be alive, and Miss Merlotti has her loyal fans. I like how I insult my own curse. I was a self-aware eleven-year-old.

Besides gossip, I confessed to my diary that I wanted to be an actress.

I had a keen sense of taste, and since I was constantly redefining mine, I kept lists of my favorite things, ala High Fidelity. I thought Gwenyth Paltrow and Winona Ryder were the best actresses around (this was 1996). I listed my favorite band as The Spice Girls, but then I crossed them out and put Beck. One of my favorite songs was by the Butthole Surfers? But this was only because it was on my favorite movie’s soundtrack.

I stopped keeping a diary my Freshman year of college–I got so tangled in my own self-absorption and obsessions that writing about them fed the monster. Coincidentally that’s when I started therapy, and a therapist is like a diary that talks back. But, I do still keep this blog. I can’t wait to read it sixteen years from now.


  1. lynn white says:

    Your childhood journal entries are absolutely precious. Love them !

  2. I feel sad that that little girl felt she would never be as good as Jenny McCarthy.

    • excellentnotion says:

      Dear Keiththeplay,
      I knew my limits, but hopefully with more training and breast augmentation I will one day triumph.

  3. phylotopia says:

    I’m glad that anyone betraying your warning will only dye, not die. It was smart of you to punish them with a new hair color rather than commit murder. Smart cookie.

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