On Ball Point Pens, the Gulf War, and Food Shortages

Donated some of every bodily fluid to the lab yesterday, re: irresistible urge to flay myself alive. Turns out that every male in my paternal line going back to Adam maybe didn’t die of alcohol-related liver failure after all.

Wouldn’t it that be ironic, if the teetotaling Mormon in the family developed the same problem?

No hard and fast answers until after more testing next week, but at any rate, it’s good to know the itch isn’t all in my head.

Enough about my internal organs already. Let’s talk about a certain fourteen year old, living in Canada, twenty years ago, shall we?

Jan 8-14, 1991

Nearly every entry during this section starts with a rant about the availability of functional ballpoint pens in my household. Some things never change. My handwriting? Not included. This week marks the beginning of an experiment with extremely small ALL CAPS WRITING.

Possibly trying to conserve ink, as I was also fairly concerned about the family resources. My father had been out of work since before Christmas, our car quit for good, and I was ravenously hungry as only a fourteen year old can be.

Nearly every entry also pontificates on various issues related to the pending Gulf War, which was the first conflict Canada had actively participated in during my lifetime, or my mother’s for that matter. There must have been talk about a draft, because I worried over the young men my sister’s age who would be affected. Every entry counted down the days to January 15th:“January 13th, 1991 Sunday. Two more days to war. Tension is building…” followed by much political commentary and speculation about the actions of the UN and “that creep, Saddam Hussein.”

Mostly I expressed the opinion that everyone over the age of 30 who had anything to do with the war should be locked into a giant arena together and left to fight it out for themselves.  I didn’t see why, in the event of global chemical warfare, the likes of  Mikhail Gorbachev, Brian Mulroney and George Bush should be whisked off to safe, airtight havens while the rest of us were left to inhale the fumes of their erring ways. I frequently mulled over the question, “What are we saving them for?” I even had opinions on the monopolies of oil companies in Saudia Arabia and freedom of speech in Russia.

Long story short: I cared way more about politics twenty years ago than I do now.

On January tenth I thanked my lucky stars for an unexpected arrival of food–or more specifically my grandmother for sending a load of carrots and applesauce, Uncle Shane for some venison, and our bishop for several bags of wheat. We ate wheat in every dish: it replaced the beans in chili, the rice under sweet and sour, and the hamburger in spaghetti sauce. We ate it boiled, ground, and sprouted. Ugh. I do not, under any circumstances (including teenage starvation) recommend wheat sprouts, however I seem to have been ridiculously happy over having any food at all. I did, after a disclaimer about knowing I shouldn’t complain in the face of so many blessings, fantasize briefly about having margarine, dairy products, eggs or fresh fruits and vegetables in the house.

I recounted several miracles of the Christmas most recently past, in which we found quality gifts and clothing at the thrift stores, and the fact that my mother made doll blankets for the Salvation Army in turn “for many brand new, never-been-opened toys for the kids, including a $60 hockey game Clarence [my youngest brother] went bonkers over.”

Oh, and that all-caps mini writing didn’t improve my penmanship much: I think I fell asleep writing every entry. I was making a dress for youth conference, trying to make a February 1st deadline on the yearbook committee, and studying for one test or another, and never getting in bed before midnight. Egad, I think I get more sleep as an adult than I did then.

I ended up attending the youth conference without the new dress completed, but had enough fun to ramble on for several pages about it in shorthand, although when it came to relating what we had for dinner I made an exception and used full and complete sentences. How else to dignify the experience of “real butter,  amazing rolls, amazing gravy and carrot cake for dessert!”


One response to “On Ball Point Pens, the Gulf War, and Food Shortages

  • ladywise

    You were an odd child! lol I had no idea what was going in politics at that age and didn’t really care. My mother wasn’t political other than she thought JFK was gorgeous and after he died, she hated the rest of the presidents. (I was 4 when he died so we listened to her berate every one after that.)I guess it squashed my desire for knowledge of politics.

    I envy you keeping that window into your soul for all these years. I thought it was funny the other day when you said you really hadn’t changed that much through the years. I say all the time, People are who they are, and I believe that. I don’t think most people change all that much over the years.

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