A couple of days ago while clearing out old boxes in our apartment my mother found a journal I had kept as part of my daily class assignments in the 4th grade. Every entry is dated between Sepetember 1999 and June 2000.
It was humbling as well as mind blowing to see what was on my mind when I was 9 – 10 years old. I realized that despite a 14+ year difference from then to now I have a very similar outlook on life as I did while in elementary school. A few words are misspelled and some entries are unfinished, but a lot of what I re-read from the journal made me think really deeply about my own perspective and how it has evolved with age. It was also a laugh riot much of the time. I read through the whole thing a few days ago and have several interesting quotes to share from my pre-pubescent, unwaveringly optimistic self:
1. My prediction of what life would be like at age 20:
September 15, 1999:
“At the age of 20, I’ll probably look for a job. I want to be either a lawyer, a cop or an architect.”
I was way off there.
2. A more accurate prediction about ‘The Simpsons’:
September 21, 1999:
“My favorite TV show is The Simpsons because its so funny. I watch it every day. I think that show should never come off air. It’s the best show.”
The Simpsons have not gone off the air since their first season in 1989. Called it, bruh.
3. My theory of how space travel would solve the eventual problem of overpopulation:
September 23, 1999:
“If I went to space, I’d try to find planetary systems. I’d build a glass dome on every planet I find so people can live on other places than Earth. I’d make spaceships go much, much faster. That way we can reach new planets faster, that way Earth won’t get crowded.”
Not a bad idea I guess, although technology isn’t there just yet.
4. An eerie anecdote about a recurring dream:
September 30, 1999:
“My dream last night was a [dream I had] dreamt before. It’s when I’m on a swing over train tracks. I almost got hit and then, I wake up.”
This one was really interesting to me, especially considering in recent years I’ve done much research on lucid dreaming and have tried successfully several times to make myself lucid. I even remembered what this dream looked like when I read this! It was something that hadn’t crossed my mind in over a decade and I didn’t even remember that I had recurring dreams at 9 years old. Triptastic.
5. A visit from the leaders of the Ursuline sisters to my school.
Ocotber 8, 1999:
“I thought yesterday was great! Yesterday Sister Letizia and Sister Maria Dolorosa [De La Rosa*] came over to my school. I think they had a great time. I know I did!”
This was a very special day. The leaders of the Ursuline sisters, an international organization of nuns who founded my elementary/middle school St. Philip Neri came to visit the school. My 4th grade teacher was Sister Jeannie, an Ursuline nun who will always have a special place in my heart. She invited me and my classmate/best friend in life Bianca to come have lunch with the Ursuline sisters, one from Indonesia and one from Italy if I remember correctly. Me and Bianca were selected because we had the best grades in Sr. Jeannie’s class. It was a great time and there was even an article in the Roman Catholic local newspaper Catholic New York where Bianca and I were interviewed about the reconstruction of St. Philip Neri Church. I did a lot of internet digging but couldn’t find the article =(.
6. My undying love for The New York Yankees and my rivalry with my dad, a life long Mets fan:
October 13, 1999:
“The Yankees are the best team ever! They’ve won 24 championships and this year ther might win their 25th! My dad says the Mets are better though. But that’s not true. Because the Yankees rule!”
The Subway Series rivalry has been a recurring topic between me and my dad throughout my life. The Yankees went on to win the World Series that year and made it a 3-peat in 2000. They won the whole thing again in 2009. I really hope Derek Jeter can retire on a championship this year.
7. My thoughts on the imagination:
October 18, 1999:
“I use my imagination to do anything or go anywhere. My imagination makes me anything. I can be swimming with the fish or flying with the birds.”
I like this one a lot. By coincidence in recent years I used a similar line as the last sentence in a song I wrote.
8. Where I thought I would be at age 28:
October 27, 1999:
“When I’m 28 I hope to have a nice life. I’d like to have a wife. I think I’ll have a child, too. I’ll have a decent job to support my family; I think being 28 will give me responsibility. I’m sure I’ll be mature enough to handle it . . .”
A surprisingly level-headed and humbling statement to re-read from my 9 year old self.
Who knows? I’ll be 28 in 4 years and usually don’t make plans past a week into the future. In 2018 this might be a reality, but we’ll have to wait and see.
9. My plans when I thought about running for President in 2000:
November 5, 1999:
“If I were President I would make the U.S. the most enjoyable country in the world! I’ll make school fun! For lunch they’ll be McDonald’s food (which will be required by law). Every time someone has to take their child to their job, the kid automatically gets transported to the nearest D.Z. (D.Z. is short for Discovery Zone. This is also required by law.) D.Z. will include laser tag, arcade games and climbing tubes (this is all required by law).”
My 9 year old fantasy of being POTUS involves a lot of ridiculously short-sighted executive orders mainly revolving around the happiness of children, which is great; in hindsight however I’m not too sure an exclusive contract between McDonald’s and every school cafeteria in the U.S. is such a great idea. It is a true shame though that Discovery Zone isn’t really around anymore. I was the epitome of a 90’s kid.
10. Another really cool one about dreaming:
November 10, 1999:
“When I sleep, I dream about fantasy worlds, mystical journeys and mythical adventures. I can do anything in my dreams. That means I can do anything, anywhere, anytime, anyplace! But when I wake up it’s all over. But there’s always tomorrow…”
Totally love this entry! It reminds me that as a youngster I was just as much a free spirit as I am now, and wondered about life, dreaming and consciousness even back then. Sankofa in full effect.
11. Perfectionism and anxiety over my grades.
November 17, 1999:
“I hope my report card is wonderful. I usually get good grades, but this is a new teacher I’m dealing with. I’m curious about my report card, but I’m afraid too.”
Another recurring theme in my life: grade anxiety. I love the drawing. Such symbolism. I had nothing to worry about; throughout elementary I school I got straight A’s for the most part. This may have been the trimester where I got first honors in my class. I’ll always remember that not so much for the academic achievement as much for the fact that when I got first honors in the 4th grade it was the only time I outdid my life long friend Bianca in that respect. She usually took first honors and I always got second honors. *Dusts off shoulder*
12. A great entry to display on the 4th of July:
November 19, 1999:
“Life in the colonial times was hard and diffcult. Well, that’s just my opinion. In the colonial times America had just started and they were still under the control of Great Britain. They had a Revolutionary War and to Britain’s surprise, the thirteen colonies won. If the thirteen colonies hadn’t won, we’d be slaves of Great Britain!!”
I made a scared face with the dots on the exlcamation points. I didn’t want to be Great Britain’s slave. Happy Independence Day. LOL
13. A weird little piece of flash fiction:
November 30, 1999:
“One day, Dan Latchmen, the detective, was trying to solve a mystery.
‘There isn’t any clues to this murder,’ he said.
But when he asked a nearby neighbor, he received some information.
‘I saw strange shadows,’ said the neighbor. ‘It looked as if one person threw a bunch of knives at the other person.’
‘Well, do you know who the murderer is or who he is?’ said Dan.
‘Mommy says I shouldn’t talk to strangers,’ said the neighbor.
I laughed really hard just now while typing this out. Detective Latchmen was on to something there.
14/15: My ‘best dream’ and an unusual pet.
January 4, 2000 (I wrote ‘1999’ out of habit):
“My best dream is when I’m flying with the birds over New York City. I can see everything! A plane passes by. A person inside waves to me. Then I hang on as tight as possible and hitch a ride to Hong Kong!!”
I totally love this. I completely forgot that back then I had dreams of flying on the backs of birds. I’ve had lucid dreams in recent years where I fly like Superman and it is the most amazing feeling. It’s really cool to see that this dream in particular was what I considered to be my ‘best dream’ over 14 years ago. A certain friend of mine would appreciate the reference to Hong Kong ;).
January 5, 2000:
“An unusual pet is an invisible dog.”
I’m not sure if I just didn’t feel like writing much at the moment or if I was just being a smart ass here. Probably a mix of both.
16. “I, Ruben Muniz, have a dream . . .”
January 19, 2000:
“I, Ruben Muniz, have a dream that there will be no more violence on Earth at all. Every gun, rifle or bazooka will be thrown away. Anyone who tries to harm anyone else will be put in jail for 2 years or will pay a fine of $5,000.”
We did a writing exercise around the time of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day in which we wrote our own versions of ‘I Have A Dream’. Mine started off with a great topic sentence, but my details on how to achieve world peace may have been a bit off. I don’t know if 2 year prison terms and $5,000 fines would stop violence worldwide, but those damn bazookas have got to go!
17. Me definitely being a smart ass:
February 4, 2000:
“I think we have rules to break them! Just kidding. I really think we have rules because we wouldn’t be sybalized [civilized*]. If there’d be no rules life would be wild and dangerous.”
In the fourth grade I was a top student in terms of academic grades but had one of the worst sets of conduct grades. This was probably around the time I got my report card with A’s down the line in every academic subject with a bunch of C’s and D’s right next to them in the conduct grade chart. I was venting, but I think had just gotten grounded for bad behavior grades even though I had a 90something average.
Could you really blame me?
18. ‘Crazy things’ on Valentine’s Day:
February 14, 2000:
“It’s Valentine’s Day, and crazy things are happening. A kindergardener gave me a valentine, my friend brought his crush a rose, and two other boys are betting who can get a girl first!! Doesn’t love make ya do some stupid things? I think so!”
Lmao. Wise words about love.
19. “What did you learn in the fourth grade?”
June 14, 2000:
“Some things I’ve learned is that you must believe in yourself. You have to give it your all every time and if you fail, try until you succeed.”
This was part of my last and favorite entry in my 4th grade journal. This one left me speechless for all the right reasons. I would say ‘I couldn’t have said it better myself,’ but, yeah.
It was such a humbling experience coming across writings of mine from such a long time ago. Reading through the whole thing and writing this article really reassured me that throughout all my life’s changes, I’m still the same kid at heart. – RSM