April 2, 1991
Nobody understands me! At least my parents don’t. They don’t understand that some things I want might seem minor to them but are important to me.
I really hate being so restricted! I know my parents love me, want the best for me, etc., etc., but they just don’t understand! (I know I’m being repetitive, but it’s for emphasis.)
It’s really strange, but by restricting me, they just force me to rebel. I don’t even feel guilty when I rebel, because I feel this is what my parents brought me to, so I feel justified.
Let the teenage clichés begin! The post above undoubtedly had to do with my parents infringing on my freedom in some way. At one point, when my grades started slipping, they forbade any social activity during the week. What they didn’t realize is that my grades started slipping because I was unhappy and lonely and thoroughly unmotivated to excel at school. They didn’t know that I was being teased by my classmates and getting into fights on the bus. They just knew what the report cards told them. Luckily I had my journal to vent my frustrations. Which I did with posts like these:
April 12, 1991
MY FUCKING PARENTS ARE MAKING MY F$%*ING LIFE A F#^&ING PRISON AND I DON’T EVEN F@*$ING DESERVE IT!
Wednesday, Jan. 16, 1991
I can’t believe this is happening, but a war has begun. The middle east is involved. I am so thankful that I have no relatives or friends fighting in this war. God, I really want peace for our world. I don’t want people to die. I don’t think that problems should be solved with death or violence.
[Trite much? Let's be honest. I did not follow the Gulf War, and was one of the least political teenagers you could have known in the early 90's. You want to know what inspired the above paragraph? Hearing George Michael's "Praying For Time" playing over recorded messages to the troops from their families on the radio. No, really.]
I am such a hypocrite! Here I am saying that problems should not be solved with violence, when I go around hitting people all the time. Sometimes actions speack louder than words. Maybe war is the best thing for us after all. My father said that the only to have peace is to be prepared for war. Maybe he is right. I hope this war is over soon.
[There was a second, much smaller war going on, taking place on a small yellow bus during trips between Brooklyn and Manhattan. To be exact, the private bus my parents made me take because they thought the subway was too dangerous for their 13-year-old daughter (insert eye roll here). There were a handful of boys on the bus who teased me, and the verbal sparring became physical sparring. I'd punch or scratch them, they'd punch me back (never in the face, mostly in the arms). While I was still sharpening my acerbic wit, I had my trusty nails which were plenty sharp. Since I couldn't reciprocate the mental anguish back then, I had to work with what I had. Considering all the violence I was wrapped up in at the time, how could I resolve these conflicting feelings about war and its role in society? I really couldn't, so the safest thing to do is to go back to talking about boys.]
Well things are so-so for me right now. Nothing too bad (excluding the war) or good is happening to me right now. I have no idea who I like. I think that I don’t like Tyler, but I just like to flirt with him, and smack him around a little.
[There, isn't that much better? And as much as I might sound like a bully, I have to stress that this was all self-defense (against mostly verbal attacks, but still).]
Danny is a different story. I have no idea how I feel about him. I feel very furious with him at times and my heart melts at others. Right now I am SO MAD at him! First of all, I have only begun to realize what a major ego problem this guy has. Not to mention what a wannabe he can be sometimes. I really get annoyed by people who try to act cool. Usually they end up looking and acting like fools. Either you are cool or you are not. There is no in between. Sometimes the way Danny acts ticks me off. He can be such a putz! I guess I don’t like him anymore. Then again, who knows? -Bye-
I think we all know where I stood when it came to acting like a typical teenage boy. The only thing worse is when that typical teenage boy is one you have/had/who-the-hell-knows-anymore a crush on.
Being cool is such a subjective thing. I thought I was so cool in elementary school. I was the first girl in my grade to get a perm, wore edgy outfits like giant button-down shirts as dresses with wide belts (a trend which has since returned, I’ll have you know), and had a collection of big colorful earrings to go with my big colorful personality. Within the first few months at Hunter, I went from being a big fish in a medium pond to a small fish in a tiny pond… full of piranhas. My big personality diminished by kids who all looked the same, acted the same, and dressed the same (Gap, Banana Republic, etc.) and made it clear that I was different–and not it a good way.
Guys like Danny started out different but tried to assimilate with the “popular” crowd. He was one of those borderline kids who was friendly with some of them, but wasn’t truly one of their own. Seeing his efforts to belong infuriated me. Back then it was the phoniness that ticked me off. Now I can look back and admit that part of it was probably jealousy, too, that he was closer to being popular at Hunter than I ever would be.
My big hair, odd outfits, and Brooklyn sass seemed to have no place in a smartypants school on the Upper East Side, but I wasn’t ready to give up just yet.
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.
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.
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 I had a fight with Tolya and then somehow I got mad at Tina.
It was all through swimming and I felt mad and sad. I don’t know what I’m going to do.
Luckily, I was able to set my anger toward Yanmei, Marcela, and George long enough to develop hostility toward not one but two new targets. Tolya and Tina were a year older than me and the children of two Russian families my parents were friends with. For a while, they were like the older brother and sister I never had. They probably didn’t feel the same way, because whereas I was an only child, Tolya had an adorable younger brother and Tina had an older brother who was a jerk (he once set his t-shirt on fire with hairspray and a lighter to freak me out gave tedious soliloquies on how R.E.M.’s Green was the best album of all time). For the most part I got along well with Tolya and Tonya, and the three of us took weekly swimming lessons. Mostly these “lessons” meant listening to the instructor for the first 10 minutes, and spending the rest of the hour splashing around with my two friends and pretending to be a mermaid.
Naturally, I don’t recall what they said to me during our swimming that set me off, but if I had to guess, I’d say it had something to do with my height. Tolya and Tina, being ahead of the puberty curve, had their growth spurts early and enjoyed gloating about how they towered over me. Even though I would grow up to be nearly 5’7″ (three inches above the average female height), at the time, I was self-conscious about my smaller stature and found it offensive when those two freaks of puberty called me short.
Whether it really was about my height, whatever it was they said or did burned me up so much that it brought out the vengeful poet in me:
I made up this poem about them:
Tolya and Tina you’re going beserk,
Some people may like you, but I think you’re jerks,
Teddy and Tanya, you think you’re so hot,
I used to be you’re friend but now I’m not.
Move over Byron, Keats, and Shelly! There’s a new wordsmith in town…
Marcela gave me a letter and she wants us to be friends again! Isn’t that great. She told me to read the letter after school but I couldn’t wait.
Yesterday I went on my monitor job with George and after school he started to tell me something but did not finish. What he did say is “I have a” that is it!
But I do have an idea what it is.
I wrote him a note to meet me by the fountain but he did not come. Right now I think I understand but I still am pretty pissed off!
Back in the days before email and text messages, when we didn’t want to communicate face to face, we had to do it the old fashioned way: pen and paper. I was a big fan of the note/letter, which was indicated in the way I chose to anonymously profess my affections to Charles.
This was just the beginning. In years to come I would draft unsent missives in diaries to let off steam, send fan and love letters, as well as develop countless friendships around the world by way of being pen pals. To this day I still miss getting letters in the mail, going through the process of opening an envelope, unfolding pages, and reading handwriting on the page.
It’s no wonder that Marcela’s letter had an impact on me. Not only did she take time to put pen to paper and discuss our friendship, she had something I did not have: pretty handwriting. Marcela’s girly penmanship included i’s dotted with hearts, rounded and perfectly curved letters, and lower case a’s that looked like typewritten a’s, not like lower case o’s with a tail, the way we were taught at school to make them.
Despite accepting Marcela’s peace offering, it wouldn’t be long before our friendship hit another bump. But for now, I could rejoice in our reconciliation (and steal her way of writing a’s, which I did for many years to follow).
As for George, I suspected that he probably was close to confessing a crush on me. The “heated” competition for vice president could very well have stirred up some feelings in him toward me. What I didn’t understand is: a) why he didn’t finish professing his “like” for me and b) why I couldn’t bully it out of him by requesting–nay, demanding his presence at the water fountain.
I couldn’t believe he didn’t show up. When my plan to uncover the rest of that sentence failed, I did the next best thing, which is get angry at George. Can anyone blame me? How dare he start saying something that maybe-but-not-definitely was to tell me he liked me, but leave me hanging like that (never mind that I was ambiguous in my own feelings toward George). The nerve of some people!
Today we have clubs, humanities, and I have swimming.
I really want to kill Yanmei. She is such a jerk. I hate her!!!
Kill! Kill! Kill! Kill!
Now I feel a little better. I really like glee club and I like Ms. Angelo and swimming is really great because it is very relaxing and fun.
P.S. The only reason I crossed out kill! kill! kill! was because the teacher came around to check our journals so I had to or he would have seen it and got mad.
Or suspected that I had homicidal tendencies. It’s a good thing nothing violent happened to Yanmei during our elementary school years; that entry alone would have made me a prime suspect. I still don’t remember why she inspired such rage in me, only that we developed an amicable (if not occasionally turbulent) friendship over the next two years. But I do find it amusing that I tried to balance out my anger towards Yanmei by writing sweet nothings about my favorite extracurricular activities.
For the record, however strong my temporary dislike of Yanmei might have been, I probably just found her annoying. I did not want to actually kill her or hurt her in any way. I wouldn’t have risked doing anything that would have gotten me kicked out of glee club.