June 14, 1990
I went to a Madonna concert, and, well what can I say it was FABULOUS!!! TERRIFIC!!! WONDERFUL!!! EXHILARATING!!! GREAT!!! SPELLBINDING!!! UNBELIEVABLE!!! SPECTACULAR!!! BREATHTAKING!!! THRILLING!!! I hope that says enough!
Even though our seats were in the back of the Coliseum (The concert was at Nassau Coliseum.) We could see very well because there was this big screen on top of the stage that showed everything that was going on the stage.
These are the people I went to the concert with: My Mom, my cousin Anna, Tolya, his father and Tolya’s friend Peter.
When I went to the Debbie Gibson concert, I was really amazed at all the energy she had, but when I was at the Madonna concert, forget about it, I was so shocked at the LIMITLESS energy that SHE had. I will NEVER forget what a MINT concert that was!!
[This was the last Doogie Howser-style entry. After this I returned to the composition book.]
It’s quite probable that I consulted a thesaurus when writing that concert review.
Madonna was never one of my favorite singers. In terms of pure ability, even as a kid I thought Cyndi Lauper and Debbie Gibson could sing circles around her. I also found her boldness and uninhibited (if not calculated) sense of sexuality daunting, much the same way I did of Samantha Fox. Seeing Madonna live on her on her Blonde Ambition tour changed all of that. It raised my opinion of her as a performer and made me gain an enormous amount of respect for her that I have to this day. It’s a concert I’ll never forget, and not just because of how uncomfortable I was watching her writhe around on a big red bed during “Like a Virgin” with my Mom next to me. Regardless of the bawdy shenanigans, the energy, charisma and precision with which she executed that show was nothing short of phenomenal.
I saw Madonna again about six years ago for the Reinvention Tour, and even in her mid-40′s the woman was still impressive. She twisted her yoga-fied body into complex shapes, tangoed in five-inch stilettos, and showed off complex choreography– all while singing live, which puts other divas who use backing tracks (*cough*JLo and Britney Spears*cough*) to shame. Say what you will about Madonna as a singer (and we won’t discuss her “acting,” unless we’re talking Desperately Seeking Susan), but as an entertainer, few can rival her. Sure, Lady Gaga seems to be her present-day successor, but Gaga’s career is a few years old. Madonna has been evolving her persona and captivating the public for over thirty years, without a single collapse or rehab stint or breakdown or bout with “exhaustion.” Let’s check back in a decade or two and see who’s still standing.
Pop culture is fickle, with very few constants. Madonna is one of the rare survivors, and I feel lucky to have been able to see her when she was putting out some of her best music, and to enjoy a concert which shocked and dazzled me so much. Few shows since have made me want to use as many capital letters and exclamation marks.
Oh, and did I mention Technotronic opened up for her? They pumped up the jam, and wore puffy neon pants while doing it.
Like I said, pop culture has very few constants.
May 26, 1990
On Tuesday a lot of the sixth grade went on a trip to Philadelphia. It was a lot of fun too, even though it was educational!
We went to the Franklin Institute, Independence Hall, the Liberty Bell, the Mint and Betsy Ross’s house. They were all fun, but my favorite was the Franklin Institute. That was the coolest of all! It had this huge heart that you could actually walk into! It also had these rad things with electricity and other neat stuff.
Betsy Ross’s house had all these wax statues and a fountain in the front of the house.
We also saw how coins were made which was pretty cool, and I even bought a coin of Independence Hall.
[From what I wrote above, it sounds like the kind of trip I'd be happy to repeat today, ideally with more time in the Franklin Institute. I just wish I remembered more of it. You'd think it would be tough to forget walking into a giant replica of a heart, but the only things I recall from the class trip to Philly are two souvenirs I bought: a miniature version of the Liberty Bell that fit in the palm of my hand and that Independence Hall coin. It's quite possible I bought the coin more for the box it came in, a beautiful velvet blue case with a hinged lid that looked like it should hold something involving diamond-y and much more expensive.]
Well, on to other things. I am going to be getting an achievement award from the borough president, Howard Golden!
It will be given to me at Brooklyn College and then I will bring it to school, so that they could give it to me again at the graduation assembly. And I am going to get a ticket to see the Mets game on June 29! Even though I am a Yankees fan, I will probably go anyway.
The achievement award probably had something to do with my solid academic record and the fact that I was the first student in the history of my elementary school to be accepted into Hunter College High School. I don’t know if being a Russian immigrant also had anything to do with it.
As for baseball, I have never in my life watched a single game on television, and barely paid attention to the few live games I attended. For me the stadium trips were more about chatting with whatever friends I sat next to and the ballpark snacks. Therefore, it is ludicrous that I tried to pass myself off as any kind of baseball fan, and even chose a team. The real reason I picked the Yankees is because I hated the color orange, which, along with blue is a team color for the Mets.
May 15th, 1990
Sometimes when I have a lot on my mind, I write a letter and it usually makes me feel better, so here goes:
Lately I have been thinking a lot about us. I thought about our dating, then our break-up and you going out with Emily.
I know that hating you for breaking-up with me was the wrong thing to do and so was trying to break you and Rose up. I did the wrong thing and I admit it.
The only reason I felt so angry was because I felt that you used me and when you got bored you’d just go on to another girl (which in this case was Carmella Louise, even though she said no when you asked her out.).
I know that we didn’t take any trips to the alter or anything and I’m not even sure we were going steady, you tell me if we were.
I think that during the last few months (and this may sound corny) I have learned and matured quite a lot, because only know am I ready to admit that we really broke-up and I finally except it.
We are going to be graduating very soon and I don’t want us to part being enemies (or whatever we were), so if you just want to be friends than we’ll just be friends.
Next year we’ll be at different schools, but that doesn’t mean that we can’t keep up a friendship.
One more thing, if you got the impression that I hate or resent you, I don’t. Please don’t show this to anyone because this is how I really feel and I don’t want anyone to read it.
Let’s see here… Writing “except” instead of “accept” showed some Freudian slippage in retrospect. And the “trips to the altar” line seems falsely flippant and self-conscious. There’s also the fact that I never actually apologize for trying to break up him and Rose, just admit it was wrong. And okay, okay, I realize how phony and ridiculous it was to try to suggest a friendship after graduation when we never really had one to begin with. Still, I was aiming for closure and resolution on my end, and I like to think I managed to attain it.
Even though I never sent that letter to Mitch, at the very least this shows a nice departure from my evil conniving ways and maybe even a bit (a teeny tiny bit?) of personal growth.
[I seriously considered leaving this entry out of The Diary Project, to spare myself the many layers of embarrassment contained therein. I decided there was too much for me to mock to keep it private.]
May 15th, 1990
Well there’s not really much to tell you.
[Except that there is. This entry was so long and juicy (that's what she said) that I ecided to split it up into two blog posts.]
I wrote a fan letter to New Kids on the Block (well Yan Mei wrote most of it and put Carmella Louise, hers and my name on it.) and I wrote one to Debbie Gibson.
[I don't know what's worse, the fact that I was involved in the writing of a fan letter to New Kids on the Block, or the fact that I didn't even write most of the damn thing and just added my name to the bottom. You be the judge. I just wish I saved a copy of the letter I wrote to Debbie Gibson, because I'm sure it would be highly amusing to read today.]
Well I am going to be graduating very soon, and we are going to have a prom. It will probably be so much fun.
I am going on a trip to Philadelphia with my class on May 22 and we are going to spend the whole day going to museums and other places and learning a lot of new things.
I also think that I am going to have my period very soon, because I get cramps pretty often and today I even got a twitch in my leg, and even though Mom says that it’s just nothing, I read somewhere and some one told me that you get these twitches before you get your period.
I hope that I don’t get it in school, because it would be VERY embarrassing, especially if anyone noticed.
[No, what is truly, truly outrageous embarrassing is that I believed a leg twitch was an omen for menstruation. And that I was actually eager for this cursed event to actually happen.
I blame Judy Blume.
Her classic young adult novel and ode to menstruation, Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret, made puberty this desirable thing. Blume somehow, bafflingly, portrayed a girl getting her period as this cool thing, like a badge of honor. It was an invitation to be part of an older, more with-it, more mature group of not girls (oh no) but women. I wanted that. Had I known the physical discomfort, emotional wretchedness, and ick factor that accompanied the monthly event, I would not have been so impatient. Now I wish I could visit my twelve-year-old self, shake some sense into her, and make her enjoy the few period-free years she had left.]
Today in Family Living class, we were talking about the changes that a girl goes through during Preadolescence and a lot of things that the teacher mentioned are happening to me right now, for example: I am a lot more sensitive now and I cry quite often, and I am growing a lot of hair you-know-where, and my breasts are beginning to grow, also.
In other words, I probably should have been surrounded by flashing hazard lights and enveloped with “CRIME SCENE DO NOT CROSS” tape. And mind you, this was all before my first bout with PMS. So much for me to “look forward” to…
April 21, 1990
I have LOTS to tell you!
[This is the beauty and also the danger of keeping a typed journal: it's easy to write quickly and to produce a greater volume of words...which is maybe not always the best thing for a twelve year old.]
Let’s start with Thursday. Well Chen-chi said that she didn’t want to do it because she didn’t want to hurt Mitch and Rose, so I told her that it was O.K. and not to tell ANYONE.
So we told Rose and I guess that she believed it and she said that she just wanted to date him for fun. (SLUT!!!)
[A. I should have had misgivings the second Chen-chi backed out. Half of a revenge scheme is no scheme at all. B. Yeah, I don't know why I considered Rose a slut when Mitch was the one asking every girl in Brooklyn with a pair of acid washed jeans out on dates. And heaven forbid a pre-teen girl want to go out with a boy for fun. Not like I was still bitter or anything.]
Anyway, we didn’t tell Mitch about Rose yet because we couldn’t really think of a way to tell him so that he would believe us.
Well anyway, in the afternoon a lot of us had to go to the gym for “Jump Rope for Heart*” and afterwards I found out that Chen-chi told sleaze EVERYTHING!!!
I was (and still am) FURIOUS! That Bitch has such a big mouth!!! I hate her!!!!!!!!!!!
[Hm, karma much? Somehow I had conveniently forgotten ratting Chen-chi out for that egg on Halloween. Not that she knew it, but I absolutely had it coming.]
Well on to Sam’s surprise party. He was SO RED when we all yelled “Surprise!”!
It was SO much FUN! His parents even ordered a five foot hero! And later we played “Spin the Bottle”! (Sean’s mother even offered it!) I couldn’t believe it but I even had to kiss Mitch 3 times! 2 times on the cheek and once on the LIPS! And Elaine even had to go with him (as in French, tongue to tongue!)! If Rose found out about it she would be SO mad!
Sam was really nice to everyone (as usual) but I think that he was being especially nice to me. I really hope that he likes me because I’m beginning to like him more than I ever did before!
Nothing says “fun party” like a sandwich you need two people to carry and impromptu smooching games. I don’t know what kind of liberal mother Sam had that she would actually suggest a game of Spin the Bottle to a bunch of kids. I’m no parenting expert, but isn’t that, you know, the exact opposite of what you hope happens at your child’s party? Don’t you want your little boy to stay one for that much longer instead of throwing him into a circle of prepubescent girls with a bottle? I remember Mrs. P even went into the other room when we started playing, to give us privacy. I can only imagine what she organized for his thirteenth birthday (strip poker?).
Also, the irony wasn’t lost on me that Mitch and I did more kissing after our break-up than during the entire time we went out. Maybe Mrs. P should have tagged along at one of our dates.
* For those who never participated in a Jump Rope For Heart fundraiser, it is just like a race or walkathon or whatever way folks physically exert themselves for a cause nowadays. This fundraiser involved spending an afternoon jumping rope in shifts after going around the neighborhood pestering everyone we knew to sponsor us. Our meager proceeds went to The Heart Foundation and the entire thing was a nice way to get a yellow t-shirt and make us feel like we were making a significant contribution to society. One jump rope at a time.
April 17, 1990
I had a terrific Passover at Anna’s house.
I also talked to Elaine on the phone recently and we thought of another plan to not only get revenge on sleaze-ball but also to break up sleaze and Rose!
What Elaine, Chen-chi (we need her help) and I will do is go up to sleaze and Rose (Elaine and I will go up to Rose and Chen-chi will go up to sleaze) and we will tell Rose that we saw sleaze kissing another girl, and we’ll tell sleaze that we saw Rose kissing another guy. We’ll tell them both not to tell each other or they will both deny it and we hope that one thing will lead to another and that they will break up.
I know that it’s a pretty cruel plan but they both had it coming and they both deserve it!
Passover is a holy holiday in Judaism to celebrate the Hewbrew’s enslavement from Egypt. Observing it involves spring cleaning, avoiding leavened bread, asking a bunch of holy questions/praying, and eating things like Matzo, gefilte fish and hardboiled eggs. Typically, it does not involve hatching devious revenge plans on the boy-who-done-you-wrong and so-called-friend-who-has-the-moral-code-of-a-mosquito.
I was not allowed to watch Dynasty when it was on the air, because of its late evening time slot and adult themes. So I don’t know where I picked up such Machiavellianism, because it wasn’t until just recently that I became acquainted with the legendary feud between Alexis and Krystle Carrington. I am equal parts embarrassed and impressed that I was capable of conjuring such a manipulative scheme at such a tender age.
The real question is whether such a complicated plot would work. Would Elaine and Chen-chi be convincing enough? Would Mitch and Rose take the bait? Would I finally find the vindication I so desperately wanted? All would be revealed soon enough…
April 5, 1990
The library thing worked out all right, but I have absolutely incredible news. I MADE IT INTO HUNTER!!!!!!!!!!!!! I AM SO HAPPY AND EXITED!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Total number of words: 24
Total number of exclamation marks 29
This is possibly the only time my punctuation has outnumbered my actual text.
To be fair, I was the first student in the history of my elementary school to get into Hunter College High School. Even taking the entrance exam had been something of a production, so I got caught up in the big deal that my parents and teachers made of my acceptance. It took up so much of my attention that I put additional Mitch-related revenge plans on the back burner to take some time to bask in this achievement (though rest assured, more revenge would be attempted–and soon).
Life was about to hit a major crossroads for me and choosing what middle/high school to attend still remains one of the most significant choices I ever made. Going to Hunter would mean leaving all my friends behind, and leaving Brooklyn behind to attend school in Manhattan’s Upper East Side. It would mean commuting two hours each way by private bus because my parents felt I was too young to take the subway. It would mean an academic course load unlike any I had up to that point and one even more rigorous than some of the classes I would end up taking in college. Saying yes to Hunter meant no longer being considered one of the brightest kids in my grade. It would mean being stuck with the same group of small people from 7th through 12th grade. It would mean a lot of other things I didn’t know to prepare myself for at the time, from loneliness to conformity to working myself to my wits’ end to hone my intelligence and sense of identity.
It would have been easy to say yes to Mark Twain and then Stuyvesant and have what would have undoubtedly been a more pleasant six years of my adolescent life.
Then again, I’ll never really know if it would have really been easier, because I said yes to Hunter, and in a few months my life would take a very dramatic turn.
April 4, 1990
I finally figured out a way to get back at sleaze-ball!
What I did was write him an anonymous letter about how I was in love with him and gave him some clue to who I am by giving Elaine’s description (Elaine said it was O.K.).
Today I’ll write him another letter saying to meet me/her in the library, and the whole gang will be there, then Elaine will say “can you come outside with me?” and we will follow her outside then yell “JERK!” and he will be SO embarrassed and humiliated!
Why get mad when you can get mad and even?
Oh, the plotting. Dealing with heartbreak is one thing, but add a dose of betrayal and mere wallowing just isn’t enough. This isn’t to say that I didn’t do my share of moping behind closed doors (there were still plenty of tears), but I needed another outlet for the bad feelings. Planning revenge while nursing a broken heart seemed like a perfectly reasonable solution. And what better revenge than a scheme that could teach sleaze–er, Mitch a lesson about his nefarious womanizing ways? Who wouldn’t wither under such cruel humiliation as being called a jerk, loudly, in public? That would show him!
The elements were in place and we just needed to see if Mitch would take the bait…
In the late ‘80s/early ‘90s, I was fond of the show Doogie Howser, M.D. in which a young Neil Patrick Harris played a prodigy whose impressive memory and passion for medicine helped him become a doctor at 14. On top of dealing with the stresses of being a practitioner, Doogie had to navigate the everyday pressures and dramas of puberty. Keeping a journal helped him make sense of it all, only he didn’t use paper, he used a computer (twenty years ago, this was pretty damn revolutionary). At the end of every episode, he would type away his insights. As the white words scrolled along the blue screen, many a night I felt like I learned something from his experiences too.
Around the time the show aired, my parents got me a computer. It cost about $3,000 (!) and I used it to write a handful of term papers and play hundreds of hours of Tetris. For a couple of months, I also used it to keep an electronic journal. I thought it would be fun to experiment with a new format and figured it would provide a safe place to keep my private thoughts private (how things change). Tucked into the back pages of the composition book journal are several printed out pages (dot matrix style) from my “Doogie diary.” This is the first entry:
April 2, 1990
Today in Music (class) we saw the tape of some of the talent show and during my act Mrs. Angelo said to me and Elaine
“Look at Mitchell (Also known as: two-timing sleaze-ball), he’s blushing!”
So we turn sideways and he was all red!
I wonder what that means…maybe he kind of misses me after all…
Well since we’re on the topic of sleaze-ball, and sleaze-ball is going out with Rose I’ll tell you what’s up with her.
First of all, I had a fight with her, so we’re not really on speaking terms. Also, some of Sam P’s friends are having a surprise birthday party for him and I’m invited to it. I kind of have a crush on Sam, and I know that he just likes me as a friend, but after the surprise party, who knows what could happen!
Also, Passover is coming soon and I am going to my cousin Anna’s house on April 10 and sleep over. I just can’t wait until Spring\Passover\Easter vacation!
For the talent show, I sang what was at the time my favorite song: “Foolish Beat” by Debbie Gibson. I don’t know whether my sentimental musical rendition had anything to do with Mitchell blushing, or what the fight with Rose was over, but there was tension between the three of us. None of us could communicate it in any real way, so instead the awkwardness grew.
Meanwhile, I plotted my revenge…