the writing and photography of Neil Kramer

My Fifth Grade Diary


A few months ago, I attended a reading of bloggers and writers reading from their teenage diaries. All of the participants were women. After the show, there was some discussion about diaries and gender. It seemed that every women had kept a personal diary in their youth, but hardly any men. Is this why women feel so comfortable blogging?

I told everyone that I never kept a diary. Writing for me was geared more for fiction than for self-exploration. So, you can imagine my surprise today when I found a diary in the back of my closet! I completely forgot about it. I wrote it in the fifth grade. Unfortunately, I lost interest in writing the diary after one month. I started it in January and ended it in February.

I’m not sure it is interesting to anyone, but what the hell — here’s the first week of entries. I found the second entry the most intriguing, for obvious reasons.

January 2nd

Today I went back to school. The day passed quickly. Today for some reason our teacher, Mrs. Mattis, brought 4 books, like pamphlets, called “What Should I Tell My Daughter.” It was about sex on the girls side. When I was home my Mom and a little bit of my Dad were bugging me about sex. All day my feet were killing me because of growing pains.

January 3rd

Today was a normal day. A rumor which was not true was that I showed my penis to my classmate, Freya. it started off with Tracey then went so forth. But many others have been having this trouble. My Hebrew school, regular friend, and ringolevio classmate said “Our class is the sexiest class in the school.” He’s right. My seat was changed from between Debbie and Freya to between Subha and Robert S. (Snipple). Larry was between Subha and Robert S. Now, he’s between Debbie and Freya. They all love each other.

January 4th

Today it was a normal school day. At gym we had dancing. Our class has more boys than girls so some boys doubled-up as a girl. I was one of them. A boy named Steven (spiderman) said to Barry (Eggy) who was dancing with a girl named Jamie, “Dancing with your girlfriend?” I was astonished when Barry said, “At least I can afford one.” Then me and Barry (Eggy) came home. I got a 100 in spelling.

January 5th

When I woke up this morning, I felt lousy. The day passed along slowly. At gym, I played like a zombie. One event, in gym, was when a girl named Sandra tagged her own man. A boy named Steven, who wants everything perfect, said to her, “Don’t tag your own man.” She thought he said “old man” not “own man.” She started to cry because her father died on my birthday. After school, I went to the eye doctor. My eyes got worse and I need new glasses.

January 6th

There’s been a problem. The lock on the diary just broke. I don’t even have time to write. I’m on the history committee on Mexico with Subha and Mahaan in school. Me and Mom bet on the first one who curses, yells or gets mad has to give the other person $1.00. Grandma came in 4th Place in a Reader’s Digest lottery. Mom says it’s a hoax. I say it’s true. I walked to school with a person I know but don’t know his name. At school, I helped a new girl named Sheri with math. The teacher told me to.


  1. Y

    “Today was a normal day” is my favorite part of all of that. The Penis Rumor comes in a close second.

    I really want to go to one of those readings. Are they having anymore anytime soon?

  2. Dagny

    It’s a normal day when there is an untrue rumor about your penis? Sheesh. And I thought I had an exciting life.

  3. cruisin-mom

    Neil, quite impressive that you would use the word “astonished” in fifth grade. Oh, and do you really think we buy that crap about the penis rumor not being true?

  4. LVGurl

    Comments #1,2,and 3 already said it perfectly.

    Meanwhile, I’ll sit here impressed that your diary was covered with signs of the Zodiac.

    p.s. Define “sexiest class in school” from a fifth grader’s perspective.

  5. Neil

    LVGurl — I was very into astrology as a boy. I completely believed it. Now I think it is nonsense, which is sort of sad.

  6. Pearl

    Neil, my daughter is in grade 5; I can say that her diary would be very different than yours if she kept one. For one, she prefers to call it a journal (is that the sign of a future writer?), but her entries primarily consist of sketches of funky girls in funky outfits.

    re. Jan 2: “When I was home my Mom and a little bit of my Dad were bugging me about sex.”

    Neil, I was drawn to that phrase “a little bit of my Dad” — huh?

  7. Kathy

    Oh lord, that is too funny. I’m trying to remember what I would have defined as a normal day in fifth grade. Yep, penis rumors and deeming our class “the sexiest.”

  8. Marilyn

    I love how much sympathy you had for the girl whose father had died. I live for stuff like this. More, pls.

  9. V-Grrrl

    Awash in memories of “What Should I Tell My Daughter” and Ringolevio (best playground game EVER).

  10. Meredith

    I just love stuff like this. Please show us more!

  11. Finn

    You played ringolevio? I thought that was really old school…

  12. Otir

    I have a fifth grader at home. He was in a journal too, but only because it is an assignment from their teacher. He does use words like astonished and others that are even more complicated that I have to look up in the dictionnary unless he agrees to explain them to me.

    I wonder if he will have a blog later. Today they like to play with Webkinz better than writing. But he writes nice poetry I have to admit.

  13. cruisin-mom

    our little pamphlet in 5th grade was called “now you are a lady”. (seriously)

  14. :: jozjozjoz ::

    I love that you shared this with us!

  15. Los Angelista

    Rumors that someone showed a penis. That is SO upper grade school. Too funny.

  16. Los Angelista

    And oh, I just saw I’m your blog crush of the day. Aww, I’m blushing.

  17. Danny

    I eat this kind of stuff up. More! More! I, too, was fascinated by the phrase “a little bit of my Dad.” I hope you’re bringing this diary back to L.A., it’s worth at least a few therapy sessions!

    “It was about sex on the girl’s side.”
    “It started off with Tracey then went so forth.”
    “Our class is the sexiest class in the school.”
    “They all love each other.”
    “Some boys doubled-up as a girl. I was one of them.”
    “There’s been a problem.”
    “I walked to school with a person I know but don’t know his name.”

    Brilliance! What insights into the young Kramer mind! My old diaries just list what I had for dinner that day.

  18. bethany actually

    You were a talented writer already as a fifth-grader!

  19. Megan

    That was awesome. Too bad there isn’t more than a month of it.

  20. Nina

    I love these entries and the rest of the finds you have been posting. You couldn’t look more like your dad – except for when I see pictures of your mom. Then you look like her. This is great stuff. More, please.

  21. Jenn

    You found GOLD in that closet! I don’t remember writing in a diary, but I do remember people always buying them for me and everyone had one of those little cheap locks with the instantly lost tiny key. The only thing I can remember about fifth grade now is that I was the one in charge of watering the plants at school! I can’t remember our class being “sexy” at all! I should have written more!

  22. Pearl

    wow…i’m a blog crush of the day — twice in one year?!
    thank, neil…my blog crush, every day of every year!

  23. catnapping

    oh god, this is excellent. i envy you getting to go back and see exactly what was important to you at that age.

  24. Velvet Verbosity

    Gah. I was such an idgit when I was in my 20’s. I got rid of all writing evidence from my younger years. I was embarrassed at how “childish” it was. Well. Duh.

    Trouble was, I was dead serious about wanting to be a genius, and any evidence that I wasn’t just mocked me so I got rid of it.

    Anyway, fabulously brilliant. Thanks for sharing!

  25. plain jane

    Love it!

    My mother found my high school diary after I left home, said it was “disgusting” and burned it.

  26. Geeky Tai-Tai

    I’m very impressed with your 5th grade writing skills. Especially, when you used the word “astonished”.

  27. OldOldLady Of The Hills

    I do see why the 2nd entry is intriguing…! LOL! Just want to wish you a Very Very Happy New Year, Neil…I hope 2008 is a WONDERFUL year for you and all those you love!

  28. brettdl

    Would you believe I kept a journal — I hated calling them diaries — for years and years? I’m afraid to read them.

  29. Bec

    A gold star for your 100 in Spelling. Well done!

    Just stopping by to say: Thank you for being fabulous. Happy New Year to you and Sophia. May 2008 bring you joy and beauty!

  30. Long Story Longer

    Just sending happy new year wishes and had to say that I LOVE hearing from little 5th grade Neil, and I, too, am impressed with the use of “astonished”! 🙂

  31. stepping over the junk

    I have alot of my childhood artwork. IN fact, my dad has alot of it too which cracks me up…I dont have any old diaries…just my old sticker book…you know, the kind for trading…very weird.

  32. Sarcomical

    it is CLEAR, you were meant to be a writer.

    thanks for sharing. 😉 fantastic, and a much more interesting diary than i ever kept.

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