Serendip is an independent site partnering with faculty at multiple colleges and universities around the world. Happy exploring!

The Experience Timeline

Kirsten's picture

 Kirsten Johnson

Normal.dotm 0 0 1 792 4516 Cambridge Rindge and Latin 37 9 5545 12.0 0 false 18 pt 18 pt 0 0 false false false


Paper #7

The Experience Timeline

            I was looking one day, through one day for books that looked interesting to me. I was in need of a good book.  I stumbled upon a picture of a girl with a distressed look on her face, and a bloody nose with a tissue held to it to contain the bleeding.  This grabbed my attention, and I eventually decided to buy he book.  This book opened my eyes to a new writer that wrote about things that I cared about, was interested in and that pertained in different ways to my own life.  This book entitled Dear Diary by Lesley Arfin was my first taste of who would become my one and only “blogger” whose blog I read on a regular basis.  In our course we have spoken of many different types of evolution. Along with that we have discussed who or what can evolve.  During our discussion it was mentioned that evolution couldn’t happen on an individual basis (Making Sense of…).  When this came up I realized that many of the changes made in Leslies life were caused by issues and influences created by the people she surrounded herself with.  Therefore, her tale of a decent into drug addiction coincides with the notion that evolution cannot happen on an individual basis. It takes more then one person to influence a severe change in a person.

Her book, based on her column in Vice Magazine, it is a tale of her life from adolescence to adulthood told from the perspective of some selections from stories she kept through her life.  These passages were supplemented by “updates” made by Arfin (Tallman, Alissa).  In these updates she gives insights into what she was talking about in the diary entry.  Another type of update that Arfin utilizes is the interviews of the people that pertain to the particular part of the story.  I enjoyed the book because many of the things that she had done I had done as well.  It created a connection for me in that way to this book.

To begin to talk about what I know about Lesley Arfin I will begin with her adolescence where she went through her first big change.  Soon after Lesley began her entries in her journal she became “popular” and even sooner became ostracized by her “popular” friends (Arfin, Lesley).  This shift in her social life was the causation of her rebellion of becoming this “bad girl” that associates herself with people that end up influencing her to take drugs and drink alcohol.  Lesley may have never began her downward spiral addiction if she had not experienced being ousted by the popular crowd that lead her to socialize with people that encourage her to do drugs and drink.  She continues a relationship with these people because she has finally found a crowd that she can be “not a looser anymore” with (Arfin, Lesley).  Seeing as humans are social beings, we can often surrender ourselves to something that we may have avoided otherwise to maintain the relationship (“Peer Pressure/Social”). 

Along with associating with people that regularly do drugs Arfin does not have an ideal home-life.  Her parents constantly fought, which is another way to illustrate the way that individual evolution cannot occur without the facilitation of others (Arfin, Lesley).  People that did not have a bad home-life, like myself, can testify to using drugs to escape reality (Decker, Carley).  This being the case, it is understandable that one with a bad home-life would abuse drugs to escape from their terrible home-life. 

Even in her choice to clean up, it was motivated by an outside source. She did not make the decision to clean up by herself.  It took the confirmation of the lead singer of the band Bikini Kill, Kathleen Hannah, telling how she cleaned up and has stayed sober ever since to kick off Arfins sobering up (Arfin, Lesley).  Lesley needed to see someone that she considered “cool” that was sober to reassure herself that she could still be what she considered “cool” even if she was sober. 

This tale of the downfall and the rebirth, so to speak, of Lesley Arfin adds to the notion that the Making Sense of Ourselves in an Evolving Universe came up with that “individual evolution” is not individual at all. In fact, it takes the influence of many, or one (if that person has a strong influence on your life) to make a person change.  All of the big changes that Arfin went through had outside influences other then her own from being shunned by her peers and becoming a “bad girl” to the lead singer of her favorite band motivating her to get clean.  It takes more then just oneself to make dramatic changes in ones life.  Dear Diary is a terrific example of how this could possibly be true.

Works Cited:

1.  Arfin, Lesley.  Dear Diary. Brooklyn, NY: Vice Books, 2007

2.  Decker, Carley. “TEENS' ESCAPE FROM REALITY IS A BAD TRIP.” Youth News Network 4 Mar. 2001. 4 Nov 2010


3.    Making Sense of Ourselves in an Evolving Universe class discussion. Prof. Anne Dalke and class. Bryn Mawr College, Bryn Mawr, PA. 2 Nov. 2010

4.  “Peer Pressure/Social.” Drug Addiction Causes. Sec. What Are The Risk Factors? 2010.  11 Nov. 2010. <>

5.    Tallman, Alissa. “Review- Dear Diary.” Suite 101 14 Jul. 2009. 11 Nov.   2010