Updated: Oct 5, 2020
NOTE: This post was originally published on April 17, 2018. On May 7, 2020, my re-designed website went live, simultaneously re-publishing all of my old blog posts.
Last September, I read my teenage diary in front of an audience and it was a truly cathartic experience.
I did this as part of a live taping for the podcast, Grownups Read Things They Wrote As Kids (GRTTWaK).
A friend of mine had shared a call for volunteers willing to read something they wrote as kids live on stage via her Facebook page and without thinking twice, I signed up. Though I had never heard of GRTTWaK, I had been a long-time fan of Mortified, which is all about diary reading (as opposed to the reading of any materials produced in adolescence) on stage and had always wanted to read my ridiculous diary in front of people. So that’s exactly what I planned to do, read from the daily journal I kept the year I turned 16.
A significant amount of time seemed to pass between signing up and the actual show day, and as I do with most things, I procrastinated preparing for the show. With my diary being so ridiculous, I figured it would be easy to simply flip it open, start reading and the material would kill.
When the show was less than a few weeks away, a friend of mine who had been a listener of GRTTWaK for some time expressed disappointment that she hadn’t seen the call when it first was posted, otherwise she would have signed up. Since she was a fan of the show, I seriously considered giving up my spot to her, especially in the final stretch when I had finally cracked open my diary and was struggling to find a single entry to read from that I thought was sufficient.
The best entry I found was all about a big going away party I had thrown for my best friend which actually took place at the very same venue the GRTTWaK show was happening in. Reading this entry might have been neat but it wouldn’t have gotten to the root of why I wanted to read my diary in front of an audience in the first place: I was boy crazy when I wrote that diary, but I was an out and proud lesbian when I signed up to read it.
I was boy crazy when I wrote that diary, but I was an out and proud lesbian when I signed up to read it.
I was mostly crazy about this one boy, Josh, whom I actually reached out to in the weeks leading up to the show. I was honest and let him know that I was doing this thing and that in preparation for it, I was getting re-acquainted with the 16-year-old version of myself who was truly, madly, deeply crushing on him. He thought it was funny, and said that he more than made up for my lack of subtly with his own obliviousness. (Do you really think Josh had no idea how I felt? Listen to my reading below and let me know!)
In those months between signing up to read and actually reading, I also went through a bad breakup with a girlfriend and started dating my first ever boyfriend. He was my sounding board as I prepared and polished my reading — I decided on a series of excerpts from my diary in chronological order — and was in the audience the night I read it for an audience.
To say that I felt like a fraud was a bit of an understatement. The hilarious irony of a lesbian reading her boy-crazy teenage diary was a big part of what made me want to do it in the first place. Now that I was going pretty crazy over a boy for the first time in my life, I got really worried about what people would think and whether it would still have the same effect. Still, I went through with the reading and just as I’d expected, it killed. My desperate, teenage angst truly was hilarious and it felt good to make the audience laugh. It felt great, even.
More time passed between the reading and when the podcast was published online. Meanwhile, I fell more and more in love with my boyfriend. Just before the episode went up, the show's host, Dan Misener, reached out and asked if I would be willing to leave him some voicemails reflecting on my reading experience. Of course, I agreed and so he sent me some questions to respond to and I left him some messages.
A day to two later, the entire episode was released to the world and I just devoured it. I loved the feeling of re-living that exciting night, laughing at/with all of the other readers and their childhood antics all over again. I still hadn’t gotten around to listening to much of the podcasts previous episodes and so I didn’t realize it wouldn’t feature everyone’s readings.
As such, I was sincerely flattered when my reading was featured in full, plus some bonus material — the reflective voicemails I had just left. I don’t want to spoil anything, but the reflections I made and the way they were expertly included in the final cut of the episode truly brought the cathartic experience of participating in GRTTWaK full circle for me.
So, without any further ado, I beseech you to take a listen for yourself! If you're so inclined to comment, I am curious to know what you think of the episode. I am even more curious to know what you would read if given the chance. Also, check out the Grownups Read Things They Wrote as Kids podcast because it truly is a Canadian gem.