Dear Sophie Love Sophie

I have kept a diary religiously since I was five. (I say "religiously" at least in part because until I was an atheist, I believed that my diary was basically a telegram service to God.) I often wrote open-ended questions as if someone was going to read my diary and answer them. A sample: Who will ever love me? Will I ever be loved? Would I be loved if I was less fat? What IS love, anyway? I am alone, and fat, and should I therefore basically be dead? Etc. 

Since I'm home in Portland for the winter holiday season, and have access to the troves of priceless paragraphs chronicling, in exhaustive detail, my nonexistence adolescent love life, I thought it would be fun to scan a few entries, and respond to them the way Future Sophie would to Young Sophie in 1998. It's not actually all that different from telegramming God. 

Before we get started, let's get to know Young Sophie. The year is 1998, and Young Sophie is 13 years old -- which is a super-good year for her, because she's clinically obese and is really, really into the Spice Girls in a completely not-ironic way.  

Let's break this down. Favorite color: yellow. Great. Normal. Favorite food: pizza. OK. Favorite sport: basketball. So far, so good. I have not changed much since I was 13.

Under TV shows, I had previously listed "Are You Afraid of the Dark" as my favorite, but crossed it out in favor of "Flash Forward" and "Anything on TGIF." This was mostly because I was boy-crazy, and those shows had hot, tweenage boys on them to obsess over. There are entire entries in this diary that are just elaborate written fantasies of how I would spend an evening with Rider Strong. They're PG-13. Ish.

My favorite movies were apparently all the "Brady Bunch"es (I have no excuse), "Spice World" (see note on Spice Girls above), and "Romy and Michelle's High School Reunion." That's still a good movie. I stand by that choice.

I had to Google "Johnny Whitworth" just now to see who he was, because I completely forgot. He was the hot guy who played Liv Tyler's love interest in "Empire Records." Since then, he's basically just been on "CSI: Miami." So I stand by that choice, too.

I have no idea why I picked Demi Moore. It is possible she was the only actress I could think of.

Under songs, I wrote "Possible," by which I meant, "Dreams" by the Cranberries. I thought that song was called "Possible" for my entire childhood, and right up until last spring, when some DJ on a LiteRock station unceremoniously broke the truth to me. The music video I picked was "Torn," which was, all things considered, a TERRIBLE music video (it's just Natalie Imbruglia shooting pouting selfies into a camera for four minutes), but I think I had kind of crush sort of thing for her, so that was good masturbation fodder. 

When I started this diary, my favorite things to do were "write, read." I later added "listen to songs, be with pals," I'm sure because I thought that would make me appear cooler. Really, I should have just left it at "write, read," because that was much more honest. My favorite subject was "writeing." Apparently, it was not spelling.

OK, let's get to it.

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Dear Sophie,

Here's what's up: you are not that good at basketball because (1) you are not all that athletic, and (2) you don't really care about basketball. That's OK! You are totally good at drawing little cartoon cats at the bottom of the page, and you're terrific at writing fan letters to the Spice Girls. You know, we can't all be good at everything all the time. That's just not the way the world works.  No one ever listens to you -- and this is a shot in the dark (basketball pun intended) -- because you are really, really whiny, and spend a lot of time talking about how you are fat. STOP COMPLAINING ABOUT BEING FAT TO PEOPLE. It makes them feel uncomfortable.

Love,

Sophie

 

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Dear Sophie,

Some important lessons here:

  1. Your diary is an inanimate object, and so not only did it not "know you" when it was summer, it also does not "know you" now. It has no brain. It literally does not know anything.
  2. Let's talk about your nicknames for Joe Sackett, OK? "Peek-a-boo" is a weird, semi-pornographic, name for a girl with bouncy blonde curls. It is not for the tall, dark, handsome boy you have a crush on. "Die4Luv" is infinitely worse for more reasons than I could possibly enumerate, but let me do you a favor and tell you RIGHT NOW that using the number "4" for the word "for" is going to get old in like TWO SECONDS and you don't want to be on the wrong side of that cultural shift. 
  3. That song is called "Flagpole Sitta." NEVER ADMIT TO ANYONE THAT YOU EVER CRIED WHILE LISTENING TO IT DO YOU HEAR ME.
  4. Here's what you should do: get over it. Spoiler alert: Joe is gay. He's like, really, really gay. You don't know that right now, but he's SUPER gay. It's frankly embarrassing that you don't know that already, just based on stereotypical context clues. It is not worth your time to obsess over him; trust me. 
  5. Love you too.

Love,

Sophie

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Dear Sophie,

PHEW. Good thing you kept this diary under lock and key. What a disaster it would have been if someone had gotten their hands on this top secret info about Your New Makeover! CITIES WOULD HAVE COLLAPSED. Really dodged a bullet, there. 

Soph, you've GOTTA stop skipping meals. Trust me. You think that's the way to go, but it's not. It slows your metabolism, and you won't end up losing any weight, plus you don't get to, you know, ENJOY LIFE. Food is the most fun thing of life. I know you think it's kissing boys, but that's because you haven't kissed any boys and you don't know that kissing boys is just not that great. It's cool for like one minute but then it's pretty boring. Food, on the other hand, never gets boring. It's always the best thing ever.

Hey, how'd the magnetic earring go over? I don't remember what that is -- is it like a magnet that looks like an earring? Pro-tip: get your ears ACTUALLY pierced. It doesn't hurt that much, and it has the advantage of not being a weird fake earring made out of a magnet.

The wavy hair trick is cool, though. Do that. That'll make you more popular for sure.

Love,

Sophie

PS - What teacher doesn't "let you understand fine?" You need to explain this more. 

 

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Dear Sophie,

Presumably, this is a note to your kids. Right? That's why at the top it says, "NOTE TO MY KIDS." So my question is, under "DON'Ts," you write, "DON'T fall in love and then as your mom for advice." Is that because you did that and your mom gave you bad advice? Or is it because you'd prefer not to be bothered by your unborn children when they fall in love in the nebulous future?

Good point about cheese puffs, though. It's never really a good idea to expect ants to go away.

Cool drawing.

Love,

Sophie 

Dear Sophie,

Look. I am going to give you some tough love right now, because someone has to. You complain to everyone who has a working set of ears who will give you the time of day that you don't have a boyfriend and that you want a boyfriend. Do you not realize that? Writing that this is a secret is like Miley Cyrus writing in her diary that it's a secret that she does tons of cocaine. I know you don't know what cocaine is, or who Miley Cyrus is, but trust me: that was really cool reference, and you just got BURNED.

You are not afraid of someone liking you. That's a fun excuse and everything, but you're not afraid. It's just that no one is into you, because you're a little bit chubby, and a little bit weird, and you spend a lot of time complaining about how you are lonely and want a boyfriend, and that's off-putting. But don't worry! You'll grow into your figure, and you'll met whoever-he-is. (His name is Eli, by the way. You're going to be CRAZY in love with him, and you guys will make out a TON -- in public, no less; it's going to be nauseating to everyone around you. And when you break up, you are going wonder why you ever wanted a boyfriend, because it's going to hurt like crazy. But then, eventually, it won't hurt, and you'll meet other men, and women, and you'll get less sloppy at everything. It just takes time.)

You're right that you're always going to love Joe, and Trevor, and maybe even Alex (although you guys don't really talk again after he switches schools, because he actually never liked you at all, even a little bit). Your heart is BIG, and that's a really cool thing about you. The thing about love is that it changes, and you learn how to let it. You're right that you can't "shatter" love -- but that's because it's not hard, like glass; it's pliable like clay, and it just goes around looking different day after day. It's actually super-cool; it's one of the best things about being human.

So my advice is: embrace it. Enjoy that big heart of yours, and love like crazy because WHY NOT. You're not ever going to regret it.

Also, it was mean to call Alex "The Penis" in front of all your friends. You were kind of a bully. He wasn't THAT cruel to you.

Love,

Sophie

 

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Dear Sophie,

It's 15 years later, and I think I can do some demystifying for you. Ready?

  1. You're talking about privilege, I think. Gifts aren't actually "distributed;" there is a vast network of institutions that make things the way they are, and some of them are really dehumanizing and unfair. You have spend your whole life asking big questions and trying to understand what's really going on, and then fight fight fight to change the balance to favor the oppressed. It will never sort out, completely, so you always have a life mission. 
  2. Your computer sucks so bad because it's 2000 and all computers suck so bad. Did you know that one day you will carry a tiny computer in your pocket EVERYWHERE, wherever you GO, and you will be able to write e-mails on it and take pictures with it and EVERYTHING? Hold tight.
  3. There aren't really stupid, greedy people. There are people who are misinformed, and people who choose easy roads, and people who are afraid of their own vulnerability. It will be hard to be empathetic all the time, but do your best. We are all just humans, trying to figure stuff out.
  4. You don't tie bow ties -- they clamp on like that.
  5. "Friends" isn't as good as you think it is. On the other hand, baseball is as boring as you think it is. So I guess it's a moot point.
  6. OK so, sometimes there are days where your life feels really heavy, and you're at a crossroads. And then you go see a movie about something that is close to your life that it illuminates something you didn't really recognize before. In literature, this is called "realism," and, if I'm painting broadly, extends into "modernism." You actually end up majoring in that in college. Sorry to disappoint you. 
  7. First of all, never say "what the spatula is the" anything. That is never going to catch on. Second: the point is marking burned CDs and labeling notebooks and stuff. 
  8. Sigh. Plants don't think. Stop personifying everything. It's really unattractive.
  9. People get busy. Try texting!
  10. Trevor was not in love with you because you did things like walk to his house every day to sit near his mailbox and SMELL it because you were OBSESSED WITH HIM. That is a crazy thing to do, and if anyone ever did that to you, you would get a restraining order. It is AMAZING that Trevor did not get a restraining order against you. AMAZING.
  11. Wait til you discover YouTube. It's gonna blow your mind.
  12. McSweeney's published a great article about this, actually. 
  13. I guess I can't blame you, because you don't really use Google yet, and Wikipedia isn't a thing yet, but it stands for Federal Bureau of Investigation, and it basically investigates VERY serious crimes. That, and makes lots of cameos on crime-based television series.
  14. They're just like women, but they communicate less. Actually, they're a lot like your sister.
  15. Look. Men (and here I believe you technically mean BOYS) are mysterious to you right now because you just can't get them to fall in love with you. But they will, at some point, want to stick their penis inside your vagina, and your job is to make sure you just remember that we are all human beings. We ask for things differently, and we show our love in different ways, but we're all just human beings. OK? Now. Go hang out with some boys, and don't worry about if they want to make out with you. Someday they will. For now, just enjoy playing video games with them. 
  16. Is this a joke? One day, you will attempt stand-up comedy. Please, please, for the love of god, make sure your jokes are better than this one.

Love,

Sophie