July 8, 1990
On June 22 we had our graduation assembly where I got my award back framed and our show was good! (If I do say so myself!)
On June 26th, we had our prom! It was really great, I had this nice peach and silver dress with silver shoes and a silver purse. We had a really good deejay that played the best music! and everybody danced. I even slow danced. I danced (slow) one time with Bruce, Steve, and even Sam!
For our elementary school graduation, Mrs. Angelo had our grade put on a musical revue. I sang John Lennon’s “Imagine” during a slide show of our classmates throughout the years, including class trips, concerts and candid shots. Our entire grade also sang Billy Joel’s “We Didn’t Start the Fire” which was our graduation song. Each of us sang exactly one line and the entire group would chime in for the chorus.
About 30 of us lined up at the edge of the stage for the song. Rose had the lyric “Pope Paul, Malcolm X, British politician sex” but was always too shy to sing the word “sex.” Luckily, a boisterous kid had the next line, so the song flowed seamlessly:
“Pope Paul, Malcolm X, British politician (___)–JFK, BLOWN AWAY, WHAT ELSE DO I HAVE TO SAY”
As for prom, I was nearly delirious with the formality and importance of it. And the dancing! Like many little girls, I grew up on fairy tales, so this was the closest thing I experienced to a ball.
The last song played at the prom was Dionne Warwick’s “That’s What Friends Are For.” Our entire class formed a circle with our arms around each other and sang along, and I couldn’t help but get teary-eyed. I was sad to be leaving my friends behind as I started a new school by myself. At my elementary school, I was considered smart, reasonably popular, and something of a trend-setter (I was the first girl at school to get a perm, and my acid washed denim jacket with white leather fringe was the envy of many). I had a lot of friends, I effortlessly got top grades, I was given solos in all the musical productions, and for a few minutes there I even had a boyfriend. Regardless of the melodramatic way I may have portrayed certain things in the diary entries, sixth grade was one of the best years of my life.
All of this was about to change, in a major way. A new school was looming, one that wouldn’t be nearly as welcoming as the one I was departing from.
[This was the last entry in the composition book diary.]
Today I went to a park with Rose and Rose’s friend Lauren and we had a really great time.
But the really good part was that I saw a really cute guy!
Then I found out that his name is Donald but I call him Donnie (like Donnie from New Kids on the Block!).
Anyway, I also found out that he likes me!!!
I gave him my telephone number and he might call me to ask me out!!!!!!!!!!
He is so adorable!!!!!!!!!!
Eat Your Heart out!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Donald/Donnie never called. Maybe because he didn’t appreciate having a nickname foisted on him like that, especially one that recalled one of the most mocked boy bands of the last 25 years. Or maybe he didn’t call because of my dubious music taste.
Once again, I’m a bit baffled that I thought nothing of continuing a friendship with the girl who agreed to go out with the boy who broke my heart. It’s as if I separated the deed from the people involved, or just took all the bad feelings and projected them at Mitch, since he was the one who took actions to make me feel so terrible. Maybe I saw Rose blameless in all of this because I could see why she’d want to go out with him, I had once been charmed by the gelled hair, pale blue eyes, and rosy cheeks myself.
One thing I’m glad I don’t remember is anything about the encounter with “Donnie.” The very idea of what my 12-year-old self on the rebound must have been like makes me cringe.
Mitchell R is such a two-timing sleaze-ball!!!!! I hate that f#$%ed-up @#$hole!!!
He asked Rose out and she said “Yes!” At first I was furios but then I realized that it was Rose who was getting the raw end of the deal! He’ll just go out with her for a few months (maybe even less!) dump her, and then find some other girl to chase after!!!
She’s going to learn her lesson the hard way!!!
That’s what she said.
I was learning some lessons, too, about how unfortunate it is to date in such close quarters. While I may have made a mistake in assuming things with Mitch were more than they were, working his way through my female friends like that before my body was even cold was pretty tacky.
Oddly enough, at the time I think I was angrier at Mitchell than Rose, which makes less sense to me today. Mitch had already proven himself to be a jerk, but Rose was allegedly a good friend. And yet she blindly agreed to go on a date with Mitch without even asking if it would upset me (which we can see it did, in the most melodramatic way). Either she didn’t realize how utterly heartbroken I was or didn’t care or both.
Oh well. At least I had a good nickname for the boy-who-done-me-wrong. Never mind the fact that it’s up for debate whether he really two-timed me or that our dates. This type of anger and heartache defies all logic.
Luckily, I was about to hatch a plan, one I was sure would bring me vindication against my transgressors…
Today started out as a perfectly normal day but it ended up one of the worst days of my life.
It all started when Chen-chi told me that she knows something about Mitchell that will upset me and she wasn’t supposed to tell me but I dragged it out of her and she told me that Mitchell asked Carmella Louise out but she said “no.” Well I was really upset and disappointed but I made it through lunch and I was talking to my friends on the stairs how I’m going to dump him when we went to the next landing and guess who was at the top? That’s right Mitchell. He probably heard everything. When I got back to the class Sam P gives me a note from Mitchell saying:
I didn’t really give a damn (I was mad enough already!) but he gave me another note saying some shit about liking me but wanting to see other girls and what really pissed me off is at the end it said:
But we could still be friends!!!!!
I’m having mixed feelings about this: part of me is just furious, another part of me is really upset and a small part of me even wants him back! But I guess that is just the way the cookie crumbles.
Now he’s just another name in my book of memories.
Oh, the drama! The race to make that preemptive strike, to be the one who dumps, not gets dumped. The nerve of him for asking another girl out before letting me know where he stand. And what extra nerve to use the biggest cliché in the break-up book by saying we could still be friends! How could he?
In hindsight, I of course realize he lacked the maturity and emotional sophistication to be honest with me, or at least bit more tactful in ending what was a tenuous relationship at best. Let’s review: two months, two dates and zero kisses. Really? Come on, there are Amish kids who probably have steamier relationships than that.
A day or two after the break-up, I took the bracelet Mitch gave me and wrapped it in a note that said: you are a two-timing sleaze-ball! I snuck into the coat room during class and hid the bundle in his jacket. At the end of the day, he tried to give me back the bracelet, but I was a girl of principle and refused to take it.I don’t remember what happened to the stuffed puppy he gave me, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it met with an equally dramatic fate.
While I was able to maintain a brave face in school, when I got home I cried and cried and cried. Then I cried some more.
Yesterday was Valentine’s Day and guess what happened? Mitchell gave me a bracelet! It’s so beautiful! I’m wearing it now. It has a thin gold chain with a heart on it studded with diamonds. I absolutely love it.
I remember being in class that day, and wondering whether Mitch would acknowledge it in any way. I don’t know elementary school dating conventions in this day and age, but 20 years ago, going on two dates in the sixth grade practically meant you were going steady. At least, that’s what it meant to my possibly-deluded 12-year-old self. Even so, I didn’t want to get my hopes up that Mitch would do anything romantic, because he seemed generally shy of showing any public displays of affection (considering that 99% of the time we spent together was in public, I should have seen this as a potential problem).
The school day finished uneventfully, and I resigned myself to the fact that my Valentine’s Day would be nothing special.
I was on my way home, just passing the school yard, when someone came running up behind me.
He probably said something like “I got this for you” when he gave me the bracelet. I probably thanked him.
I held it tightly in my hand until I came home and then put it on. The heart shifted around my skinny wrist when I wore it, so I frequently adjusted the chain until I could see the “diamonds” glimmer in the light. Sometimes I put the bracelet around the neck of the puppy Mitch had given me, so that it looked like the stuffed animal had a fancy collar. But mostly I wore the hell out of it, pleased to have received jewelry on Valentine’s Day, which seemed a terribly romantic and grown-up gesture.
No, they weren’t real diamonds, nor did I believe they were, but I had never been given such a beautiful gift from a boy before in my entire life (unless you count that Tiffany tape, which I don’t).
That day, I felt like Molly Ringwald at the end of a John Hughes movie, triumphing in a happy ending after so many disappointments. It wouldn’t last (it rarely does), but I had that moment of surprise and joy, and that was enough to carry me for a little while.
I’m kind of worried about me and Mitchell. I can’t really put my feelings into words but I think it’s love. I don’t know if I’ve ever been in love or am now but I know that I have very strong feelings about Mitchell. I’m afraid of us breaking up. I might have grown too atached to him or something else but all I know is that I’m going through a big jumble of feelings and that right now I’m feeling pretty confused.
Yesterday Mitchell gave me a gift! It was a little stuffed puppy! It’s so cute!
Today was our play and I think we did pretty well.
There’s nothing like a gift to soothe lack-of-a-relationship anxiety.
At this point, Mitchell and I were still “officially” boyfriend and girlfriend and still had no liplock. Could you blame a girl for being tense about the situation? Oh well, at least I had some sort of token that showed he was still interested.
I’m surprised I didn’t mention anything about the play in my diary sooner, because Mitch and I had the two lead roles. Not only that, we played a married couple, which I undoubtedly saw as a sign from the universe that we were meant to be together and not the coincidence that it was in actuality. The play itself was about a town with no name and all of the dialog was made up of rhyming couplets. In the play, Mitch’s character and my own took opposing views on whether our town should be given a name or left as is. I don’t recall which side I was on, but since I was supposed to play a grown-up married woman, I decided to convey my character’s maturity by wearing a shawl. Because shawl=adult, right?
Back to this stuffed puppy. It was white and I kept it on my desk at home and probably mooned over it during the day and slept with it at night. I was never a fan of stuffed toys, but a stuffed toy from the boy you had a crush on was a different animal (that’s right, I went there, to the bad pun place). And this wouldn’t be the last gift I received from Mitchell, oh no…
About a week ago we had a notetaking class and Mitchell sat behind me and kept fluffing and sort of tugging lightly on my hair.
At the end of class I turned around and say “What? Why were you pulling my hair and he answers “I don’t know it just felt good.” I was floating on air!
Then just friday we were in line to go to science class and I feel someone fluff my hair. I turn around and guess who I see? Yup! Mitchell! He waves and I smile back.* I hope that he will ask me out tomorrow.
The good news is, Mitchell did ask me out, though oddly there was no diary entry summing up the second date. We went to the movies again, though this time we had the good sense to keep it a secret from our classmates.
The bad news is, the movie we chose was terrible: Loose Cannons. Remember that cinematic offering starring Gene Hackman as a weary cop, Dan Aykroyd as his unconventional partner who has a split personality disorder, and Dom DeLuis as some portly dude thrown in for extra so-called comic relief? No? Well consider yourself very very lucky. I considered it the worst movies I ever saw until the day I saw Johnny Mnemonic.
Mitchell and I pretended we liked the movie, and our strained conversation afterwards had us scraping for good things to say about it, like praising Aykroyd’s “zany” multiple personality-filled acting.
Mitch walked me home just like last time and the other bad news is he did not kiss me (just like last time). No hair fluffing, nothing. Maybe the horrendous movie killed the mood?
I was not floating on air after this date.
[*The other good news is that I got better about not mixing up my tenses.]
We are on the bus back.
Yesterday we had square dancing and I danced with Mitch and we held hands for the first time. His hands are really warm.
I also had a dream with Mitchell. I usually dream about a boy I like if I really like him.
Well anyway this was the dream and what I think everything stands for.
First I’m in this store buying an apple (not to eat but we have these kinds that are pins that we have to wear to school).
Then all of the sudden I’m at this small party. I guess Rose was the one that threw it. Well anyway we were all drinking seltzer (yuck!) and there was a song playing. It was New Kids on the Block “Please Don’t Go Girl.” Well Mitchell was just standing there. Then Rose comes up to me drags me over to a corner and says
“He’s really tough isn’t he?” and then the teacher wakes us up. Weird Huh?
Alert David Lynch, because he obviously has some strong competition for strange dream sequences.
For some reason, despite pronouncing myself an expert dream interpreter, I didn’t actually bother to interpret the dream in the diary entry. Twenty years later I can make a cursory guess at what it stands for. I rarely had any privacy with Mitch–or “Mitchell” (it made me feel more mature to call him that for whatever reason). I felt frustrated that our courtship was being stunted by the crowd of our classmates and developing an intimacy was proving difficult. Nevermind the fact that we had only been out on one date.
Either that or I loved my “cool” New Kids on the Block jeans so much, my subconscious brain was paying the price.
We are on our way to Camp Ticonic.
We arrived here and it is wonderful.
We didn’t do much, but I’m sure this will be a good experience.
Gotta go unpack!
Just ate dinner. Getting ready for the night hike.
We just got back from playing this cool game outside. My impressions of today are: wonderful, fun, exciting. If I gave it a rating on a scale of one to ten, then I would definitely give it a ten-plus. I hope the rest of the trip turns out just as terrific as today was.
Our elementary school arranged for a weekend camping trip upstate every year for fifth and sixth graders to provide a greater appreciation for nature and wildlife. It was allegedly supposed to enhance our survival skills and ability to work as a team, if that’s what you call square dancing and chomping on Wint-O-Green Lifesavers until they made sparks in your mouth.
This particular brand of camping appealed to me for a number of reasons:
1. No sleeping in tents. We slept in cabins with electricity.
2. No pooping in the woods. There were full bathroom facilities in a nearby cabin.
3. While the kids took turns setting the table and serving each other, hot meals were cooked by a professional staff and often involved delicious french fries.
4. Exposure to insects or other unpleasant wildlife was minimal.
5. The camp grounds had fun obstacle courses like spiderwebs made of rope we had to climb, and rubber tires to run through (has there ever been an emergency that involved running through neat rows of tires turned on their sides? Didn’t think so. And yet they always make an appearance in obstacle courses).
6. The night hike provided a beautiful view of the night sky, and also a better chance of spotting a UFO.
What’s not to love?
Yesterday I took the test for hunter and it was very hard. I don’t think I made it but you never know.
Tomorrow I am going camping!!!!!!!
I’m so excited!!!! It will be so much fun!!! I just can’t wait!
Well I gotta go back now!!!
The “camping” trip was more of a class excursion upstate to learn about nature, but more a long weekend in the woods with some fun facts about plants and animals. The previous year’s trip was chock full of edutainment and good times, so I had plenty to look forward to.
As for that pesky test I took, it was an entrance exam for Hunter College High School, an educational facility for the “gifted and talented” on Manhattan’s Upper East Side. It’s on par with New York magnet schools like Bronx Science or Stuyvesant High School. The difference is that it’s a combined middle and high school and after 7th grade, no new students are admitted (if you believe the Wall Street Journal, it’s the best high school in America).
I remember the test being as one of the challenging ones I’ve ever taken in my life, probably more difficult than the SAT’s–hell, for all I know it was the SATs.
The testing site was a large building that was part of the Hunter College campus (an affiliate of the high school). Thousands of people turned up, of which only a couple hundred would be granted admission to the school. The swarm of people was daunting and when my father and I approached the crowd at the entrance, he turned to me and said,
“Are you sure you want to do this? What are the chances you’ll be one of the students to get in?”
I looked at the mass of people and thought of how much more fun I could be having not spending the better part of Saturday taking an exam.
I looked back at my father, who was only too happy to turn around, and shrugged.
“You already paid for parking, Dad. I might as well try.”
New Years Eve!!
I can’t wait until later tonight! I am going to my cousins house for a party. (Anna’s)
Yesterday Mitchell didn’t call me so I went shopping and got these amazing “New Kids on the Block” jeans! They are so cool! I absolutely love them! Later!
This is quite possibly the only time the words “New Kids on the Block” and “so cool” were used in the same sentence together.
As a new decade was about to dawn on us, did I take those last moments to reflect on the last ten colorful years? Did I ponder what the dawn of the 1990′s might bring? No and no. Instead I enthused over a pair of acid washed pants with airbrushed graffiti on them spelling out “New Kids on the Block” in bubble letters down one of the legs and the band members down the other. (I have scoured the Internet looking for a comparable photo, but there isn’t one, which can only mean they were one of a kind. Thank heavens for that.)
I could try to defend myself by saying that not hearing from Mitchell caused some sort of fashion temporary insanity. Because there’s retail therapy and then there’s retail suicide. The truth is, I was briefly a fan of this boy band (Joey was my favorite, in case you’re wondering, which you probably aren’t). My taste in music and clothing would take another few years to improve, but at least I ended the decade on a sufficiently tacky and colorful note.
As for the end of the 80′s, I always thought I was born ten years too late. While I was blessed with some fantastic cartoons and sit-coms (Thundercats, Jem & The Holograms, The Facts of Life, Perfect Strangers, Diff’rent Strokes… my definition of “fantastic” is probably not the same as yours), I missed out on a lot of the pop culture being so young. Sure, I had the enormous hair and wore enough shoulderpads to stand in for a quarterback, but I never got to get tarted up like Lucky-Star-era Madonna back then. Wearing fingerless lace gloves a decade later just wasn’t the same. And sure, in recent years I ended up seeing a lot of the new wave and post-punk bands I was too young to appreciate back then (Pet Shop Boys, Sisters of Mercy, Duran Duran, The Cure, Depeche Mode, Human League, etc.) but it would have been really special to see them in their heyday.
I think a lot of people feel out of time in their era. I was a reluctant participant of the 90′s and will always feel like I was stuck with a bum decade to come of age in. And as a another new decade is about to roll in I can’t imagine what kids growing up today will contend with. All I can wonder is whether we’ll ever get those damn flying cars.
In the meantime, I hope somebody out there is tinkering with and putting the finishing touches on a time machine that will one day let me return to the 1980′s and experience it in person again, this time as an adult. I’m sure I’ve glamorized that time period far too much in my mind, and maybe it’s best left in those nostalgic corners. Still, a girl can hold out hope.
Tomorrow I am going to Elaine’s birthday party.
I want to try something new.
Well since the new year is coming, and the new decade, I want to write down my new years resolutions.
1) Go steady with Mitchell.
2) lose seven pounds.
3) kick my knuckle cracking and nail biting habits.
4) learn how to ride a bike. (I know that I won’t keep that one, but who really cares.)
5) talk my mom into letting me get second holes in my ears.
Well I geuss that does it. I hope I have a good year and decade.
Ah, resolutions. I don’t know where I got the idea to make this list, but it was probably inspired by something I saw on television (did the girls in The Facts of Life ever make resolutions? I’m thinking a strong maybe on that). This exercise sparked what would become a lifelong fondness for making lists, though I no longer make resolutions. Why should the calendar dictate personal self-improvement?
Back in the late 80′s (how sad it will be to usher in the 90′s. Can we have an acid washed moment of silence?) I think I misunderstood the idea of making resolutions with making a wish list. In the spirit of hindsight, I’d like to revise that list for my 12-year-old self. This is what is should have looked like:
1) Realize that being in a relationship is not always something one can control.
3) Now that the nails are safe, kick the cuticle-biting habit (it’s pretty gross).
4) Learn to drive (I probably won’t keep that one, either).
5) Thank mom for not letting me get that second pair of holes in my ears, because accessorizing with one pair is challenging enough.
Dear Journal, My birthday party was rad! It was so cool. I got a bunch of neat stuff.
Vito C asked me out and I said, “no.” When I told Mitch he said “pretty good” and I wanted to know what that was supposed to mean but he just said “forget it.” Mitch wanted to take me out yesterday but he has the flu so he will take me out next Saturday.
I really think that Mitchell wants to go steady with me. I don’t know, but it’s so easy being with him. I feel so comfortable and not nervouse.
I have heard some bad things about Mitch but I will believe when I see it! If I see it! I can’t wait until our date!
I hope he kisses me! I have to admit that I think I’m falling in love. You never can tell can you?
So here I was, twelve years old, feeling unexpectedly sophisticated and popular, and navigating new dating waters. I don’t remember what the negative gossip surrounding Mitch was, but I do know I didn’t bother to get details or ask Mitch about his bad reputation directly. Why bother with common sense when I could let my emotions rule? What’s the worst that could happen. As for Vito, while telling Mitch about him have been smart in that it made me seem desired by other guys, I wonder whether it also made me a little too available and eager to commit after one date because I was so quick to say no to another prospect. I wouldn’t have gone out with Vito regardless, but this may have shifted the balance of power a little more in Mitch’s favor.
I’m still not sure exactly what Mitch meant when he said “pretty good.” Was he complimenting my feminine wiles at being able to lure two suitors in a short space of time? Was he impressed that it was Vito? Was he pleased that I confided in him and showed him such loyalty early on? You never can tell…
Today I went out with Mitch and we had a lot of fun.
We saw Jason, Charles, Yanmei (the bitch!), Rose, Penny and Elaine at the movies.
What a coincidence! Really! But it was really fun anyway. And I think that me and Mitch will have something going. Also at the movies (we saw “back to the future II”) I found out that Charles wants to go with (make-out with) Rose but I know that Charles is just desperate (someone told me.) so he asked Rose and they will probably go out. He might like Rose but I still know that he’s desperate. Elaine is really upset because she really likes Charles and thought that he kind of liked her too, so now she’s depressed because she wanted Charles to ask her out. Oh well. I hope things work out between them because if they don’t things can get messy between Elaine and Rose.
Between these type of diary entries and watching old episodes of Dynasty via Netflix (if you’ve never seen a catfight between Krystle and Alexis you are missing out, my friend), I have about all the 80′s drama I can stand.
There’s nothing like going on a date only to find out that you’re being stalked by half a dozen of your classmates. That sort of thing only happens when you’re a kid or a character in a movie filled with wacky misadventures. As annoying as it was to have the group sitting a few rows behind us at the movie, I found it even more irksome that the entire crowd also followed us on the seven-block walk back to my apartment building. It gave us something to laugh about, but made the date more awkward by a factor of ten. The only real privacy Mitch and I had was the elevator ride up to the fifth floor and the three foot walk to my apartment door. There was no kiss and I don’t think we even held hands, so I’m not sure what made me believe that the two of us might “have something going.” But at least I was completely over my crush on Charles and could be a mere bystander in the unfolding love triangle surrounding him.
A few words on Back to the Future Part II. I remember enjoying the movie but feeling cheated that the it ended with a cliffhanger which reduced the film to a trailer for the third installment (the first movie did that too, but still felt more complete). I did love all the special effects, including the hoverboards, flying cars, and holographic theaters, and managed to suspend all disbelief regarding the time travel logic, so that I could enjoy the movie for entertainment’s sake. It’s something I wish I could do more often today.
I just (well a few hours ago.) saw the movie “beaches” again and it was really sad at the end. It’s about this friendship that these two girls have and one of them dies at the end (that’s why it’s so sad). It got me thinking about friendship and how I would feel if one of my good (or even best!) friends died. I would be so depressed and miserable, I don’t know what I would do.
Well let’s move on to a happier subject. Like my date with Mitch (which is tomorrow by the way.) I hope it goes all right.
Also my birthday is coming up and my party is going to have a horror theme. We are going to see a horror movie then tell ghost stories, have some food then play with my Ouija board.
In case it’s still not clear, it’s sad because of the death in the movie. Of the friend. At the end.
Ah, Beaches. For those not up on their chick flicks, Bette Midler plays a bold and brassy gal (I know, so very unlike her other characters) who forges a lifelong friendship with a sensible and cautious gal (Barbara Hershey). What could they possibly have in common, you ask? Well, not a whole lot, but you know what they say about opposites (“they,” in the late 80′s, being Paula Abdul and a cartoon cat). There’s fighting, singing, crying, dying, and more crying. All to the tune of a soundtrack sung by the Diving Miss M herself, who made us take stock and ask who the wind beneath our wings might be. Despite its somber conclusion, the film has moments of levity, plus plenty of shoulder pads, big hair, and a musical sequence about the invention of the bra (you owe it to yourself to hear “Otto Titsling” at least once in your life if you never have).
To me, Beaches is a scary movie because it shows the fragility of friendship and of life itself. However, others out there might consider it to be a horror movie because of its abundance of female emotion and sentimentality. Either way, it was not part of my impending birthday’s theme.
As I previously mentioned, my parents let me immerse myself in all kinds of media related to paranormal phenomena, but they didn’t let me watch scary movies. Nothing with Freddy or Jason or Michael Myers or anything of that ilk. Initially they forbade horror movies until I was 13, but decided to loosen up and end the moratorium a year early. Clearly, I decided to really run with the theme.
What better way to celebrate the anniversary of your birth than seeing a bunch of people die onscreen, tell stories about dead people, and then try to actually talk to dead people using a toy/instrument of the occult? Sounds like my idea of a good time!
Our glee club will have our concert soon.
Also, I feel very different around Mitch. As if I have to watch my every move. I feel uncomfortable but maybe I’m just feeling the tension before a date. Oh well, I hope the feeling goes away.
One of my favorite things about elementary school was singing in the glee club. Mrs. Angelo was no ordinary music teacher. She had permed hair teased into a giant halo around her head and three-inch nails that miraculously did not impede her ability to accompany us on the piano. She was also inventive when determining the musical programs. One concert included a Neil Diamond medley, and to this day I have a soft spot for that crooner, from his immigration anthem “America” to his east coast/west coast struggle in “I Am I Said.”
Mrs. Angelo had us put on concerts for our entire school just for entertainment’s sake, like the showcase of Broadway tunes we did (I sang “Memory” from Cats solo). For the holiday concert, she even had an original Hanukkah song that she composed, “How Many Nights” (so catchy that I can still hum the chorus, decades later). She devised elaborate harmonies for us and made us rehearse often, but shared music with such enthusiasm and love, we didn’t mind.
Mitch was in glee club, too, so we were frequently in the same room together, though we didn’t speak. I guess we were saving up actual socializing for our date, and besides, we’d be scrutinized by our classmates if we talked to each other in front of them. As for the pre-date jitters, I think there was a part of me that worried Mike might find the reason to call off the date before it happened. To make sure that didn’t happen, I tried to keep my distance until then, and focused on singing instead.
Mitchell asked me out! I’m going to the movies with him on Saturday. I’m so happy. I know that I still like J.D. but I don’t think it will work out with him. Gotta go!
So much for J.D. and all of Anna’s “work.”
This is the same Mitch who, back in September I said, “got a new hairstyle and looks cool” and weeks later decided was full-on cute. Behold the power of a good hair. The right cut can make any preteen drop her schemes of making a far away older boy fall in love with her and decide to keep her heart local.
While personality and smarts were important, I’ll be honest: When I was young I was all about the pretty boys with “cool hair.” I particularly like spiked hair, heavily moussed/gelled hair, or bleached/dyed hair. (Exhibit A: Corey Haim) A few snips and a boy could go from being invisible to the top of my crush list or go from being my main heartthrob to mayor of WhatWasIThinkingVille. Superficial? You bet. But the heart wants what it wants and mine wanted a cute face with a hip coif.
While I would learn to look beyond the surface as the years went on, as a kid I had better things to do that wonder whether Mitchell had a good heart or if he was funny or kind. I was too busy planning an outfit for our date and figuring out what I was going to do with my hair (spoiler alert: it involved lots of Aqua Net, mousse, and teasing my permed tresses into something birds could have lived in).
J.D. likes me!!!!!!!!!! Really! My cousin asked him if he wanted to go out with me and he said, “yeah-no” because he thinks I’m a little too young for him but Anna is going to work on him.
I hope things work out.
Also I’m going camping again this year and I am going to bring this journal with me and keep track of everything exciting and worthwhile that happens. I hope nobody reads it because it has my deepest and darkest secrets.
Also I am taking the test for Mark Twain tomorrow and I hope I do well.
I will be so nervous tomorrow!!
Mark Twain was an accelerated middle school that required testing for admission. I would have been fine attending Seth Low, my local junior high school, but I was seen as one of the brighter students in school (permed hair notwithstanding), so I was encouraged to apply to the more smartypants schools like Mark Twain and Hunter College High School. I find it amusing that I wasn’t nervous at the time of writing the diary entry, yet felt that I could accurately prophesize my emotional state for the following day.
Let’s not even talk about the continued abuse of exclamation marks.
As for J.D. I don’t know why his ambivalence stirred such enthusiasm in me. The age difference was a real concern, as was the distance, (when you are a kid, the miles between Brooklyn and Staten Island are like New York-to-London grown-up miles). Regardless of the “work” Anna did on him, and J.D.’s lukewarm reaction to messengered confession of “like,” my dating life was about to take a surprising turn…
Tomorrow, guess who’s house I’m going to????
I really hate that a$%hole now. Yesterday he actually had the nerve to call me! What a s@#&head!!!!!! Maybe it will be a little fun.
Also I have a new love!!! I’m over Francis (who hasn’t called since the date) and back on the track!
His name is J.D.
He’s 15 and gorgeous. I love him!!!!
Just a few little problems.
1. He lives in Staten Island and I live in Brooklyn.
2. He doesn’t know I’m alive!
3. He’s 15 and I’m almost 12.
But I can fix all that (not the age or Staten Isl thing but the rest!).
The way I got to know him is that he is my cousin Anna’s brother’s friend and when I went over to her house I saw him there!
God I love him a lot!!!!!!
I will make sure that very, very soon, J.D. will like me as much as I like him! (maybe even more!)
J.D., I love you!
Also, me and Elaine might start our own baby-sitting club! Isn’t that great!!!! It will be lots of fun!
Total word count: 189
Total number of exclamation marks: 42
Aside from my ludicrous idea of what love was (which clearly did not include getting to know the person or even speaking to him much), I had lofty goals. I set out to win the heart of an older man and to create a babysitting empire to rival the fictional one in Ann M. Martin’s Babysitters Club series.
Not only did these books enlighten me about diabetes, they also made me believe I could easily make money baby-sitting while having lots of fun doing it. Never mind that I had no experience watching children, no business acumen, and wasn’t even old enough to drive. I had enthusiasm and a library card that caused plenty of lofty delusions.
Mom put the kibosh on the baby-sitting scheme just as Elaine and I were brainstorming flier ideas. She did not want her 11-year-old daughter to be responsible for other families’ children and I can’t say I blame her. I was initially upset, but it did free up more time for me to concoct a scheme to get J.D.’s attention. That’s a story with another chapter to go…
Chen-chi is back in school and is doing just fine. I geusse that pill stuff was just rumors.
Chen-chi told me a very big secret.
She has diabetes. That’s why she was in the hospital.
She had sugar problems.
I won’t tell a soul.
Last weekend I went to my cusins bar-mitzva and it was really awesome.
Up to that point, everything I knew about diabetes I learned from Stacey McGill, treasurer of The Baby-sitters Club. She was my favorite character in The Baby-sitters Club series of books by Ann M. Martin (and also had my favorite 80′s name). Poor Stacey also had “sugar problems” and had to give herself injections of insulin and carefully monitor her diet. She was even hospitalized a few times, just like Chen-chi.
The only “sugar problems” I could conceive of was eating too much of it, but I probably counted myself something of an expert on diabetes having read a bunch of children’s books that mention the condition. I felt terrible for Chen-chi because she couldn’t eat any chocolate or candy and had to spend time in the hospital. In retrospect, I also feel bad that there was so much gossip circulating around her, which–let’s be honest here–I helped spread. And yet despite my rumor-mongering ways (and despite being a snitch), Chen-chi was trusting enough to share her health secret with me. This time I learned my lesson and kept my mouth shut.
I am so worried about you. I heard about you trying to kill yourself by jumping in front of a car or jumping out the window but luckily people could and did stop you from doing it but I guess it was too late to stop you from taking those 11 high blood pressure pills.
But Why? Why did you take those pills.
I know things aren’t going too well with you getting pre-suspended but that was no reason to try to kill yourself. That will never solve any of your problems, it will just increase them.
I really hope that you will be alright and please don’t do anything like that again. You really scared me.
I know you will get better and I know things will get better so just hang in there.
Love, Your very sympathetic and worried good friend,
While I was seriously worried about Chen-chi and her multi-faceted suicide attempt, I wonder if some my concern stems from leftover feelings of guilt at narcing her out on Halloween. I also wonder how I managed to believe so many theories as to how she tried to off herself. A car, a window, and an overdose of high blood pressure pills? Really? Really?
I can look back at the situation with a healthy dose of skepticism and question whether reports of Chen-chi’s suicide attempts were greatly exaggerated–if not completely fabricated. Back then, I didn’t question any of it, probably because I was too busy being a “very sympathetic and worried good friend.” One who never sent this letter or came clean about the Halloween incident.
Remember the Halloween parade we had? On the way back upstairs you dropped the egg on the stairs by accident and a teacher came in to tell us about it and if we knew anything to write on a piece of paper an annonamous note. Well I put your name down and even though I wasn’t the only one I am still very sorry.
I mean you should not have been carrying that egg even though it was for protection and I feel that it was sort of my responsibility to tell what I know and I’m sorry.
… … …
Dear 11-year-old Damiella,
Nobody likes a snitch. Chen-chi wasn’t like those hooligans who used Halloween as an excuse to pelt people with eggs and vandalize houses with shaving cream and toilet paper. If she was packing that egg as ammunition against a possible attack from these boys, that’s her business. If anything, you should be more sympathetic after last Halloween when Mom was accosted by young thugs who threatened to pelt her with Nair-filled eggs.
Chen-chi didn’t hurt anyone; she just made a mess on the stairs. You should have known better than to rat her out.
I got my perm after all and I have a few letters that I want to write to fill you in on what has been happening to me lately…
Remember the sleepover we had when we went to Alana’s party at the roller skating rink the next day? Well I just wanted to tell you that I think your friend Peter is a bad influence on you because whenever he’s around and even when he’s not around you act like a very imature person. All of the sudden you start cursing in Russian and acting like a fool.
Also I am grateful that you did so many nice things for me like helping me with my campain for president (really my flyers). But every time I don’t want to do something for you, you act as if you gave me a million dollars and I had to be your slave forever to pay you back. I don’t like it atall.
Although you helped me materialy I helped you too but non-materialy like listening to your problems and giving you advice.
I hope you change fast because the way you are acting if you don’t change soon, you will lose me as a friend.
Make the choice.
Either you change your attitude or you have one less friend.
… … …
Dear 11-year-old Damiella,
At least this time it wasn’t bad poetry.
Tolya was entering his teenage years, so cursing, acting like a fool, and having an attitude is not out of the ordinary. You should see the attitude you’ll be sporting in a couple of years.
P.S. That perm was a really bad idea.
Today two people are going to come in and talk about drugs.
I was probably too overwhelmed by the visit to write more about it.
That day was a somber one in the classroom, and our teacher told us to be on our best behavior and give our guests our full attention.
One of the visitors was a police officer, dressed in uniform, probably to intimidate us with his authority (in my case it worked, in spades). The other was a civilian, probably a drug educator of sorts. They walked around the classroom with a small open suitcase which contained samples of drugs and drug paraphernalia, in order for us to more easily recognize narcotics and say “no.” There were also diagrams and we got a lecture about the dangers associated with the different drugs. Physiological effects were detailed and anecdotal evidence shared, such as the kid who smoked PCP, thought he could fly, and jumped out the window.
Up to that point, my only exposure to drugs was limited to what I had read in books and seen on television. In the Sweet Valley High series of books, one of the characters tried cocaine and died almost instantly of a heart attack. There was also that Very Special Episode of Growing Pains when Mike Seaver was offered coke by a pretty blonde played by Kristy Swanson (of Flowers in the Attic “fame”). There was also that now-iconic commercial where an upset Dad confronts his teen son about finding drugs in the youngster’s room, only to be told “I learned it by watching you, Dad!” All of these fictional incidents disturbed me and hammered home the point of how scary and dangerous drugs were.
None of these moments unsettled me quite like the school visit, though. I found it terribly spooky and could not understand why anybody would take drugs, why they would risk their lives for a temporary high. Those classroom scare tactics made a believer out of me. I didn’t even touch a cigarette until I was 18.
I was supposed to get a perm today but I’m not! Because some of the Beauty Salonists said I was to young and it was to dangerous and my dad didn’t want me to so I’m not getting it.
He was even willing to pay me but I don’t need his stupid money!
Now my mom is going to the salon (for a trim) and then we will stop by Kings Highway for me to get some tapes. (my Idea.)
Maybe that will cheer me up. I DOUBT IT.
It’s been said before, but it bears repeating: the 1980′s were all about big hair. Being burdened with pin straight hair as a young girl, I did everything I could to get extra volume: crimping, curling, abusing mousse and hairspray, you name it.
My mother got regular perms and I was quite envious of the way her hair puffed out at the sides. When I look at photos from back then, I can now laugh at the pyramid-like shape the chin-length curls gave her head. But at the time I was desperate for a permanent solution to my flat hair dilemma (sorry, bad puns are one of my guilty pleasures).
Obtaining permission from Mom and Dad to get a perm took hours of pleading and coercing. When they finally said yes and I made it to the salon it was utterly heartbreaking to be told that the strong chemicals in the curling agents might hurt my young head of hair. I was furious and beyond disappointed. Stupid beauty salonists!
Over the course of the last ten years, my hair has mysteriously developed a natural wave. This is something that would have thrilled me as a little girl, but instead of embracing my hair’s new texture, these days I prefer to wear it straight and frequently use a flat iron to get it that way. Maybe it’s human nature to fight against what you were born with. Or maybe it’s just me.