“I’m drunk and right now I’m so in love with you.” – NIN
NIN COUNTDOWN: 28 DAYS
Yes, the countdown has moved up 2 days because I’m going to the Wednesday show (after Claudia the Wonderful gets us tickets). It was an up day. Don’t care about randomness too much. T.W. Wrote back, just what I need. Wonders indeed (I use that word too much. Even though I don’t use it all that often). Chorus sub looks like a Depeche Mode reject. Bad thing? Naw.
“Love comes in colors I can’t deny” – S.P. [Smashing Pumpkins]
More of my teenage code in this entry, but I’m actually able to decipher most of it.
Collecting crushes became something of an inadvertent hobby for me when I was 16. It was rare for me to go more than a couple of months (or even weeks) without having at least one target for my boy craziness, but sometimes I accumulated a few. I remember a lot of them today, but still can’t recall who “Wonderfully Random” was. If it wasn’t Neil, the younger punk kid, it was some classmate I decided was cute and crush-worthy.
However, none of that mattered because I was smitten with Tim Wunderlich from his first letter (and because of his last name, I was fond of making bad puns using the word “wonders.” Sorry.). He was frustrated and jaded and had the furious male scrawl of a teenage malcontent. Tim lived in a small town full of ignorant people, where he was called a “faggot” because he wore his hair a little long and listened to bands like The Cure and Cocteau Twins. He felt imprisoned and misunderstood, which was something I could identify with (as could just about any other adolescent, I imagine). Even though I lived in one of the most dynamic cities in the world, Hunter was a small school which felt like a microcosm unto itself, a brick prison full of kids who were smart, but not wildly eclectic or unusual–at least not on the surface. And while I had momentary escapes from the school, it dominated my social existence for a long time, and I felt more pressure to fit in than stand out. Tim did as well, but fought back against that pressure and did not pretend to be something he wasn’t. That quality in both Tim and Neil were big reasons I had crushes on them (on top of finding them generally attractive, of course).
Then there was, of course, the “Depeche Mode reject,” which was in reference to a substitute teacher who bore a striking resemblance to Dave Gahan, the band’s lead singer. Even though I was not a fan of the group as a kid, I did gradually like them more and more as my music tastes evolved. And while Dave Gahan was no Trent Reznor, he did have a certain physical appeal at times. And having a temporary chorus teacher who had a similar slender, dark-haired, broody, pale British look to him made me… rather uncomfortable. It was the first–and possibly only– time, I felt attracted to a teacher (not counting my girl crush on Ms. Donaldson, which had no sexual component to it). I was embarrassed by this crush, because it felt taboo to have lustful feelings for a so-called authority figure. Much like the crush on Neil felt wrong because he was so much younger than me, this felt wrong because Mr. Pseudo-Gahan was considerably older than me… and because I kept picturing him starring in music videos wearing leather pants. I could barely even look at him in the classroom for fear of blushing. Luckily, he only subbed for a few chorus sessions.
“You don’t need my voice girl you’ve got your own.” – Tori Amos
I just needed to reemphasize what a great day it was. The feeling is like after I take an especially lovely trip to the village. It’s been one of the best days of the year, with everything just falling into place. Imagine how I’d react if something truly phenomenal happened. I don’t know how long it’s been going on, but Anita and I are best friends. I remember telling her once but it wasn’t until her candle-lighting ceremony that it was really…confirmed. We have an immense amount of private jokes between us, I guess that’s one indication. Also when I got home today (to a mailbox more packed than I remember) I knew I would just burst if I didn’t talk to her and tell her about my day. Something totally random but wonderful happened. I’ll call it a one-time fluke, but it was still pretty cool.“Sleep, sleep tonight
And may your dreams be realized.” – U2
This is where once again I wish my father hadn’t read the diary so I wouldn’t have felt the need to be so cryptic. Granted, the random but wonderful thing that happened was almost definitely boy-related, and specifically related to Neil. He was this really young kid (13 to my 16) who I started seeing around school. He was hard to miss because he was a punk in a sea of preppies, with dirty torn up clothes, spiky hair a different color every few weeks, and a playful badass attitude. He was the only true punk in his grade and one of maybe a dozen alternative-looking people in our entire school. Claudia was heading in a more punk direction, while I was alterna-chick with hints of goth, but neither of us were fully formed whereas Neil was all punk all the time. I’m almost positive that I finally met and chatted with Neil that day. I (unsurprisingly) ended up developing a crush on him that, despite his maturity, made me feel guilty because of our age difference. 20 years later a three-and-a-half year age gap isn’t such a big deal but in high school even thinking about him made me feel like he was the Lolita to my Humbert Humbert.
Whatever the happy incident was, for me to compare it to a trip to The Village is major. Anita and I visited Greenwich Village as often as we could. It was all about shopping for music, which was one of the cornerstones of our friendship. We’d start with Record Runner on Jones Street, and maybe stop by Bleecker Bob’s (which is not on Bleecker Street as its name would have you believe), which was almost always had a disappointing (and overpriced selection). Next it was on to Second Coming, a tiny place on Sullivan Street where we found tons of used tapes and CDs. The guy who worked there had a shiny shaved head and a crush on Anita, and we nicknamed him Lysol because the bald head made us think of Mr. Clean and therefore cleaning products in general. My personal favorite record store was Generation Records on Thompson, where I consistently found lots of obscure, sought-after CDs and was intimidated by the tattooed, haggard, too-cool-for-you staff. We usually walked up 8th Street up to St. Mark’s place, where we stopped by Venus (another favorite) and once in a while, Sounds. There was usually a stopover at BBQ for a late lunch and early dinner and then, broke but content with our musical acquisitions, we’d take the subway back to Brooklyn, perusing liner notes on the train home.
It’s funny how friendships can take on the intensity of an affair. Anita and I spoke on the phone several times a day, spent most weekends together, and would even bring each other to school (one of us would cut classes to visit the other—crazy, right?). It’s rare to have that kind of connection on a platonic level, and rarer still for it to endure. But I guess I felt especially close to her since her recent Sweet 16 (what the candle-lighting ceremony is in reference to). I don’t remember what kind words she said about me at the party, but I know that was the moment I fully realized we had become best friends.
“Looking at my watch and I’m half past caring…” – The Trash Can Sinatras
Boy, I’ve really been neglecting this baby. Well maybe that’s because it’s not any type of release for me and I don’t write about anything that I do, think, or feel. I just write about music and my stories (which are actually the two most important things for me). I already kept a diary, and that was mostly a depressing heap. At least that had a lock on it. And anyway I don’t want to write about my emotions. It’s that simple. I saw a really cool/disturbed NIN lyric written on a desk yesterday: “It won’t give up it wants be dead Goddamn this noise inside my head.” If I see it again, maybe I’ll add one of my own.“In my dream I was drowning my sorrows
But my sorrows they learned to swim
Surrounding me going down on me
Spilling over the brim…” – U2
I remember what happened now.
We were supposed to write in our journals every day, and our teacher collected them every couple of weeks just to make sure we were writing the required amount of pages. Ms. Donaldson said we should write something and read something every day, and this was her way of trying to insure the former.
The entries were glanced through and we were told that if we didn’t want her to read something, to indicate an entry as such or fold over the page and she would respect our privacy.
In the early days of keeping the journal, I wrote a private entry, folded it over, and wrote in big block letters DO NOT READ down the page, underlining it several times. I don’t remember the specific content, but generally it was about boys and my despondency that none liked me, at least not the ones who I liked. Typical teen stuff, but it was me expressing my insecurity in a vulnerable honest way that didn’t happen often.
A day or two after writing the entry, my father was leaving for work at the same time as I was leaving for the bus, and started trying to reassure me, in the most awkward parental way imaginable about boys and how they would eventually like me and to be patient or some crap like that. He was as uncomfortable saying these platitudes as I was listening to them, and it wasn’t until I was on the bus that I realized:
HE READ THE JOURNAL.
Granted, the warning on the folded over page was more an invitation than anything, but still. Dad came into my room from time to time to play Nintendo, a point of contention for us because I felt it was an invasion of privacy. My father and I also fought over the Nintendo when we both wanted to play different games (yes, it felt like growing up more with an older brother than a father at times). But Nintendo was nothing as far as invading privacy was concerned compared to reading my journal. I must have left the notebook where he could see it while he was in there (or maybe he did some snooping), and he obviously could not resist the forbidden page. And also couldn’t resist blabbing about it in an indirect but obvious way.
Not only did this add to my self-consciousness and insecurity, it sabotaged this journal. I remember carrying around the notebook everywhere with me, but feeling increasingly frustrated that I couldn’t say what I really wanted to say within the pages. In fact, I some of the later entries are include code words and phrases, and I just hope I can decipher them well enough when the time comes.
Saturday, June 11, 1994
Carnival was Wednesday and Holly, Hahn, and I left after the first hour (and I thought even that was too long). We went to the movies and saw “Four Weddings and a Funeral.” It was great. What was even better was when I got home my second letter from Ronin was waiting for me. I was expecting it for a week and a half because Anita got a letter from him (I gave her the address) and we mailed ours around the same time.
In the letter to her he wrote: “I think Damiella is wonderful.” Heh-heh. Well this second letter was so worth waiting for. His first quote was from “All I Want is You” which is going to be my wedding song. Then he wrote that I was very pretty (I sent him a photo) and that he thought I was his other half. At the end of his letter he wrote he thinks he’s found what he’s looking for! Then there is all this little stuff that we have in common (except our “other” music tastes vary) such as our favorite version of “Pride” (the original) and our favorite Doors song (“The Crystal Ship” and I’m not even into them!). We also agreed that Achtung and Zooropa have changed the face of music.
There is a catch. I haven’t gotten a picture of him yet. I don’t want to be shallow but it does matter what he looks like. If he’s plain-looking, no problem. If the photo thing turns out all right and he’s being sincere, I think I’ve also found what I’m looking for even if it’s (he’s) in Scotland. Hey, at least I’ll have one hell of a story to tell the kids. We’ll see.
I got home from Anita’s a while ago. I consider her my closest friend at the moment, we get along so well. This summer we will go (as soon as her parents let her) to Lolapalooza together where one of the headliners will be my second favorite group, Smashing Pumpkins.
The year is almost over. Good, I have more interesting things to do.
[Last entry in Teddy Bear Diary. Quote on inside back cover:
“WHEN YOU’RE 16 YOU THINK YOU CAN TAKE OVER THE WORLD—AND SOMETIMES YOU’RE RIGHT.*”]
I remember those nerve-wracking weeks leading up to getting Ronin’s picture. I would look at every guy I passed on the street and think, “if he looks like that, I would be fine with it… if he looks like that, I would be…less fine with it.” I tried to forgive Ronin for any physical flaws he might have ahead of time, tried to remember the connection we quickly established over the course of several letters, which would surely surpass the superficiality of what he looked like. But I did pass quite a few males that didn’t pass my “If he looks like that” test.
Finally, his next letter arrived. I tore into it in the elevator, fishing out the small, passport-photo-sized picture, wondering if I was about to see the face of my soul mate.
I felt like I was on a game show where I picked the wrong curtain and the wah-wah-wahhhhh trumpets sounded announcing my misfortune. When I described him to Anita, the first word I used was “bulky.” It wasn’t just that he was a large guy; I was hardly a waif myself, and have always been forgiving of some extra poundage on male. No, it was his face. Despite having blue eyes, there was something doughy and vacant and unappealing about it. I just wasn’t attracted even a teeny tiny bit to Ronin and no amount of great personality could make up for it.
I couldn’t think of a graceful way to reject him. I was so disappointed that I couldn’t bring myself to write Ronin another letter. It was terrible. I can’t imagine how insulting and upsetting it was to him. He may have hinted some concern in another letter to Anita, but she stopped writing to him too. I still feel a twinge of guilt about the whole thing today.
I hope he eventually did find what he was looking for, because it definitely wasn’t me.
* From an interview with Bono.
Thursday, March 24, 1994
I keep going through nice healthy periods when I don’t like Elliot Meyerowitz then something happens to make me start again. This last time I was walking to math and passed by a room he was waiting outside. After repeatedly telling myself not to look at him I did and saw he was staring at me. I just looking into his eyes and that was it.
Today in health (the one class I have with him) I sat a seat away from him until he moved his chair so he could see better (we were watching a movie) or sit next to Cindy J (You know all the guys you consider the cutest in your grade? Well she’s the one who goes out with them). While he was repositioning his chair he brushed by my leg and apologized. Pretending to be deeply involved in a crossword puzzle I mumbled “that’s okay.”
Now he was directly (almost) in front of him and the lights were out so I could only see his outline from the glow of the t.v. A couple of times during the movie (at least 3 or 4) he turned his head in my direction like he was looking at me out of the corner of his eye or maybe he was looking at Cindy. Probably the latter.
After the movie our health teacher took out this fetus preserved in formaldehyde and had a few people at a time come up to her desk to see it. When I went up I made sure I wasn’t standing next to him but then the people between us left. You had to lean over to see it so we both did and he was very close to me. I actually held my breath. I quickly sat down after that. I saw him a lot during the rest of the day. I’m actually beginning to think that I…it’s not possible. How can I if I don’t even know him and can’t even talk to him. No. I do not love Elliot Meyerowitz.
I can’t wait until I leave with my mom Monday. This cruise will definitely clear my head.
“I send a heart to all my dearies
When your heart is oh so dreary DREAM.” — Smashing Pumpkins, “Mayonnaise”
Oh, the teen angst of it all! Being around a boy you liked could sometimes feel like navigating a mine field. So much uncertainty and insecurity and the tiniest gesture or interaction took on an inflated magnitude. It was like being a character in a 90’s version of an Edith Wharton novel, except I felt like I was the only one who took notice of all the nuances, the only one who gave them any meaning. At the time, I would have traded in all those cruises with my mother to have a real connection with Elliot, one that didn’t take place in the wistful corners of my melodramatic brain. Now I can look back on it more logically, I can reason that I hardly knew a thing about this boy and never talked to him, so my crush was mostly based on his looks, and therefore I can’t blame him if he in turn developed a crush on one of the cutest girls in our grade.
I guess crushes by nature are based on superficial traits and a tenuous foothold on reality, at least the ones I’ve specialized in for a good part of my life.
I didn’t stand a chance with Elliot. But at least we’ll always have the fetus in formaldehyde.
Saturday, November 27, 1993
We went to Connecticut for Thanksgiving, but not to my cousin Jenna’s house. We visited The Weinstein’s, the people we met on the cruise. Melanie wasn’t there because she’s in France for the year but Jack came home from boarding school. At first I was a little uncomfortable because I hadn’t seen him in like four months and because I was used to having Melanie around, but that didn’t last long.
We went down to the basement to watch t.v. and only came up for hors d’ouerves and champagne which we each had three glasses of (I didn’t get drunk but I got a little lightheaded which felt great). Jack was sitting on the loveseat (I was on the couch) and he was kind of far away from me. We were watching “Benny and Joon” when Melanie called. I told Jack I wanted to talk to her so I went over and sat down next to him so I could grab the receiver (plus I did want to sit next to him). He had his arm on the back of the couch and when I started talking to Melanie he put his arm around me!
Wait, it gets better!
After he hung up we were watching the movie and I was resting my head on his chest. He kept looking down at me and once he even said something like “I’d kiss you, but I’m really involved with the movie.” Of course after that I could care less what Benny and Joon were up to.
Eventually he did kiss me and it was really nice. At one point he put his hand up to my face which I thought was the sweetest thing (I always wanted a guy to do that). He had a really warm face and neck and smelled good (though I can’t explain how).
The rest of the afternoon we made out, trying not to get caught (we didn’t). After dinner we went for a walk by ourselves. It was really dark and cold out and there were a lot of stars shining (which one doesn’t see many of living in smog-filled New York).
Jack led us to this grassy area near a University where we made out on a hill under the stars. I swear it’s true.
The next day I had to leave so we exchanged addresses and I gave him my picture. He is going to be able to come to my birthday party in 3 weeks. I miss him already.
Jack never responded to the one letter I wrote him and never made it to my birthday party.
I think I his parents mentioned something to my parents about him having a girlfriend. So much the better that we weren’t caught smooching. However short-lived it was, it was the first proper kissing I experienced since the previous spring. It was pretty great to lock lips with an attractive, nice-smelling boy who in retrospect I realize bore a striking resemblance to a gawkier Donnie Darko-era Jake Gyllenhaal.
There’s nothing quite like that nervous anticipation before the kissing begins, and doing it in secret made it just about the most thrilling boy encounter I had experienced up to that point. The champagne, the basement, the starlit walk later on, the stolen kisses the following morning… It was certainly the highlight of my fifteeth year, regardless of the silence that followed.
To this day, I haven’t seen Benny and Joon all the way through.
Monday, September 13, 1993
Tenth grade has begun and for some reason I like it. Maybe that’s because tomorrow is only my fourth real day. I did not get psychology, I got economics but I really like it.
Now for the guy I like. No, the guy I’m trying not to like. His name is Elliot and he has brown hair, I’m not sure about the eyes and he’s shorter than I am. We were both born in Russia and moved here when we were little (he was around 3, I was around 4) and he has math right before me and we sit in the same seat. Coincidence? Well okay maybe but… I don’t know. I have art tomorrow and if I don’t talk to him I’ll consider dropping this whole liking him business. I heard that he was really sweet though.
Anita came over last weekend and I had a lot of fun w/her. She’s one of those people I know I can be good friends with. Plus she got me started on U2. Later.
I’ve never been much of a math whiz, and even today I sometimes get nervous trying to figure out the tip on a check, but I’ve always had a mild interest in economics (I still have a copy of a paper I wrote in 7th or 8th grade on the 1929 stock market crash which was oh-s0-originally titles “What Goes Up Must Come Down”). In particular, I’ve always been fascinated by the idea of investing. I think of it as a more intelligent form of gambling: there’s risk, but with the right information, foresight, and a bit of luck, a potential for windfall. I was looking forward to this economics class because one of our big projects was to take $5,000 of imaginary money at the beginning of the semester, invest it, follow the stocks throughout the autumn and winter, and write a report on the financial outcome. I invested in Harley Davidson, because I had a thing for motorcycles at the time (which may or may not have had something to do with U2 drummer Larry Mullen’s passion for Harleys) and a couple of toy companies, thinking they’d do well around the holiday season (Mattel did alright, but I remember Tyco tanked). The guy who made the most imaginary money invested in IBM (talk about foresight). For all the grumbling I do about Hunter, I have to admit that was a fun project and a great hands-on way to learn about investing.
In some ways, romance can be a bit like the stock market. You invest your time and emotion into a person and hope it somehow pays off, or at least doesn’t make you want to jump out a window. Sometimes you find great fortune and sometimes you end up broke (insert suggestive/witty pun about “losing your shirt” here). I thought Leon was a good investment, and on paper it was all there, but that lunch date never materialized, and since he was a year ahead of me in school and we no longer rode the same bus together, we quickly grew apart when the school year began. Elliot seemed like a good bet because of our similar cultural background and math desk (I know, I was grasping at kismet straws), and also because he was cute and rumored to be a nice guy. However, considering how many ill-advised romantic picks I made in previous years, I wasn’t ready to do any serious investing just yet. In other words, I didn’t have the guts to talk to him.
Monday, August 23, 1993
My summer has not been that boring. The thing I have been doing the most is writing. I just started one day and now I have 64 pages and seven chapters completed. That is the most I have ever written. I hope to have at least 80 pages done before school starts. School. Ugh. I have to go back in less than three weeks.
It will be great seeing my friends again. And Leon (he’s my friend too but I have to put him in a separate category because I am going to write about him). Thus summer, I have kept in touch with him more than I have with Didi. I think we have become really good friends. In one of my letters I told him that even though we might not see each other on the bus a lot, I wanted to stay good friends and not lose touch. He said he agreed in his next letter.
Also, one night I couldn’t fall asleep and I got this really crazy idea in my head. I thought I should ask Leon out! I wasn’t even sure I liked him but I thought since we had so much in common (movies, books, MUSIC) it would make sense. Plus, I rationalized that we would not see each other a lot anyway so this way we could. And if it didn’t work out, or if he turned me down, I wouldn’t see him much. Then I realized it would be a mistake, especially since I was not sure how I felt.
What I did decide was to invite him to lunch before we went in to get our schedules. I couldn’t ask over the phone so I wrote him a 6-page letter and asked him at the very end if he wanted to have lunch, just as friends. He got it the day he had to leave for Paris and called me a couple of hours before. Before we hung up he said he would call me when he got back so we could get together and have lunch. That made my day.
A couple of days ago I had a dream that made me think about things. It took place right across the street from Hunter and is this area of steps, benches and plants that is attached to this huge building next to it. Leon and I were both there and we were standing face to face. Then we… we kissed. It was strange. The kiss was alright, I guess, but afterwards everything was very uncomfortable. I don’t know, it’s weird.
It’s stating the obvious, but maybe my subconscious was trying to tell me there was no real chemistry with Leon, and that we should stay friends. Of course, I would never take such sensible advice from my subconscious. What would be the fun in that?
Granted, I did not have the most auspicious record of asking boys out. One disaster was followed by a second blow to my ego. Both left traces of embarrassment and disappointment, but obviously not enough that I wasn’t ready to attempt a rejection trifecta–albeit, one in which I lose every race.
Leon was different, though. He wasn’t some boy I developed a crush on because of good looks. He was someone whose personality engaged me, someone who I wanted to have a crush on in a way, because he was someone actually worth liking. Except that there was still something not quite there in terms of romantic potential. In theory, I should have been head over heels, but in practice I…wasn’t. Nor was I used to being so friendly with a boy on a platonic level, which was all kinds of confusing to a self-professed “guyaholic.” So for once, I was going to try to be a bit more cautious and sensible, boring qualities it was becoming necessary to cultivate.
Regardless of this romantic ambivalence and machination, considering the fact that Leon and I are friends today, I must have done something right.
Teusday, July 13, 1993
It is our third day on the ship (did I mention I’m on another cruise with my mom? We are on the “Ecstasy”) and I am having a great time. Yesterday we met these two people Melanie, who is 16, and her brother Jack (cute, funny brother I should add) who is 14 (what’s one year?). I thought after last night I wouldn’t see them again but they came looking for me today so we hung out a lot. (By the way, the thing with Mark is over). It was lots of fun. Melanie is fun to talk to and Jack really cracks me up. Did I mention he was cute? He has black hair and hazel-brown eyes. He has medium ears and nose and a nice mouth. I wouldn’t mind getting something started.
They live in Connecticut but he goes to boarding school in Albany (No actually I think it’s Buffalo).
At the Bahamas I went snorkling and I actually got in to the Casino! Yay! I lost $40 in the slot machines already. I love it. Everything here is great.
Considering how detailed and effusive my previous diary entry was, I think “the thing with Mark” deserves more than a single parenthetical, dismissive sentence. I don’t remember if Mark and I spoke even once after our date. If I had to guess, I’d say we didn’t. This is back before cell phones, in the days when doctors, drug dealers, and some teenagers had pagers (remember when we called them “beepers?” Anyone?). While I didn’t have Mark’s phone number, I did have the one to his pager. It was strange to have no direct way to reach him, but prior to our date, he would always call after I paged him. Not so after our date. I paged him a couple of times but he never called me back. A few weeks later, his pager number was disconnected.
While I had fun with Mark and was a bit miffed at his disappearing act, I wasn’t too upset. Being on a cruise ship with lots of fun activities and an attractive guy around my age distracted me from any sulking I might have otherwise indulged in.
Jack looked like a young Jake Gyllenhaal, which might paint a better picture than “medium ears and nose and a nice mouth.” He had a similar smirky smile to the actor’s and a mischievous glint in his eye. Jack was sent to boarding school for some kind of delinquent behavior, though we never learned the details. He and Melanie were on vacation with their parents and we all became friendly, though Mom and I spent the most time with the two kids, who were more interested in the cruise ship entertainment (magic shows, musical revues, stand-up comedy) than their early-to-bed mom and dad. The four of us ended up socializing quite a lot, and I think we all had a better vacation for it.
As for the casino, the ship’s age minimum was 18 and I always got mistaken for older as a teen, so I was able to gamble freely (though I stuck with the slot machines and kept quiet). Dad gave my my first taste for gambling when he taught me to play black jack five years earlier, but slot machines provided a pretty, mindless, colorful way to risk money. I didn’t set out to win, I just enjoyed playing. It was enough to get a rush from winning small, a handful of quarters. In fact, I was even worried about hitting a large jackpot in case I was busted for being underage. It never happened, but I tried to stay close to Mom and watch myself, just in case.
Saturday, June 12, 1993
Today was my date with Mark.
This morning after 7:00AM I had all these terrible nightmares, one where he doesn’t show up and the other where he hates me. I was so nervous.
I was afraid that he would be late but he was on time. My parents just said be home by nine.
First we went to a diner and had bagels. Then we went to Rockaway beach and it was really nice. There weren’t many people there and the sand was almost white. We sat down and talked for a while. He lied down a lot and I was sitting Indian-style. I liked him a lot and was hoping he would kiss me. At one time he was on his knees and kind of leaned toward me and I thought he would but he didn’t. Then he started trying to tickle me a little and I kept brushing his hands away. He also played with my hair, tugging at it and looking up at it.
Then I lied down on the sand and he started taking my hand and stroking it and putting it between his hands. He kept teasing me that my hair color wasn’t real. And then he was on his elbow (but over me) and telling me that it was a wig. His face was very close to mine and that’s the last thing I remember before he kissed me.
I felt like I was in another world. He’s a very good kisser (I hate to admit it but it was the first time I ever french-kissed. It wasn’t gross like I expected it). There we were, on the beach making-out. It was like something out of a movie. Hell, it was better than that, it was real!
Then we left (I really had to go to the bathroom) and drove around some more. We stopped on this quiet block where we kissed some more (he kissed my lips, chin, neck and even ears. It was really cool being kissed on the ear.) and other stuff (I wouldn’t let him get carried away. No further than second).
After that I saw my lip was swollen (it was very passionate) and was a little worried. He drove me home, told me to give him a call, and I kissed him good-bye.
My parents were pretty pissed about the lip (“What is he, an animal?”) and my mom wants him to apologize next time I see him and my dad wants to have one of those “man-to-man” talks with him. Oh boy. At first my mom told me I couldn’t see him anymore but I can on those two conditions. Also she doesn’t want me acting so slutty with him anymore (not exactly her words).
Except for when I got home, I had a really great time. Mark is really nice and very cute. He has brown hair but he thinks his eyes are brown and they are more hazel-green (gorgeous!). Also he has these long, long eyelashes and dimples! *sigh*
Well I better go study my social and science. I hope I have a great relationship with him. Gotta go!
The thing I remember most about my first make-out session isn’t the boy or the beach or the anticipation and excitement of it all. Oh no. What I remember most clearly was really, really needing to pee in the middle of all the kissing. Having such a romantic set-up and beautiful setting for the event, I wanted it to last and last, so I held it in for as long as I possibly could. I mean, how many city kids get to have their first “real” kiss take place on a deserted beach?
Did I say the set-up was romantic? I thought so then, but in hindsight, my mind goes back to Mark’s behavior in the diner. We each had these paper place mats that listed cocktails with accompanying illustrations. There were familiar ones like the Martini and Pina Colada, but Mark kept pointing out and laughing about the “Sex on the Beach.” If he mentioned it only the one time, it would probably not have stayed with me, but he said it a few times, and any discomfort I felt as a result, I brushed away. However now I can’t wonder whether he was trying to plant some kind of subliminal signal. One that wasn’t successful due to my caution, inexperience, and unrelenting bladder.
When I finally couldn’t hold it in any more and asked to find a restroom, the nearest one we could find was at Sizzler, a low rent eating establishment known for its salad bar and buffet which wasn’t quite as cinematic as Rockaway Beach.
Oh, and I had those swollen lips for days. A friend of mine joked,
“That’s not love, that’s assault and battery!”
It turned out to be neither.
Wednesday, June 9, 1993
A lot has happened lately. Saturday, Eddie didn’t call (his strict mom was in town or something and he had to go somewhere with her) but Mark called me three times that weekend. That last time we talked for over an hour and a half! He is so easy to talk to, funny, he’s really nice and I like him a lot. Also, I’m going to see him Saturday! AAAHHH!!!
[Woah, bait and switch much? Was my 15-year-old self going to blindly accept Eddie not calling and let myself be pawned off on Mark like that? Well... We all know the answer to that, so let's let the blind teenage jubilance continue its flow.]
I am nervous about seeing him because he doesn’t know what I look like. Yet I feel like I know him so well, because we talk so much. In the past 2 days I have talked to him four times. That is more than I talk with Didi and she is my best friend. I really hope that things work out between Mark and me. I would love to have a boyfriend this summer and he isn’t going anywhere. Sure he lives in Long Island but he drives so it’s not a problem. Yes he drives. He is older than me by about 2 years. He’ll be 18 March 2. In the fall he is going to Columbia (an Ivy League school!). The only little thing is he smokes but everything else makes up for that.
[Hello, what about the fact that I didn't know what he looked like either? I remembered hot guy Eddie, but not his less mature, non-nondescript friend Mark. Why the sudden enthusiasm? Two reasons. 1. His humor and charm was winning me over, and it seemed like he really grew up in the last couple of years. If he wasn't great looking face to face, his personality would go a long way in making up for it. 2. It had been three-and-a-half years since my last date. For someone as boy-crazy as I was, this was a dry spell of epic proportions.]
My parents are actually letting me see him (though I’m not sure if they know about the age & car situation) but they just want to meet him first. I hope he really likes me. I hope I really like him! Actually I already do but I hope when we meet face to face sparks fly (I’m sorry I’m being so corny).
[And I'm sorry you had to read about me being so corny I was all these years later. At least I had the good sense to be apologetic about it then, too.]
There are only 5 more days of school. Yay! Then, July 11, my mom and I are going on another cruise! Major Yay! I really hope this will be a summer to remember, in the best possible way.
I don’t know about you, but “Major Yay” makes me think of an extremely flamboyant military officer in a pink bedazzled uniform who only makes you drop and give him 20 if you’re not fabulous enough. I’m sure it’s just me.
Moving on. How about this Eddie/Mark situation? I was skeptical at first, but then the naive romantic in me as I thought about the unexpected twisty ways love can find you. It was strange enough to go looking for Eddie all of these years, but then to end up connecting with Mark instead was an even bigger surprise. Who knew, maybe something would come of it. Maybe my life could be a John Hughes movie after all. And hopefully I wouldn’t be Brian, Anthony Michael Hall’s brainy-but-lovable geek, stuck writing the detention essay alone, while everyone else paired off. Time would tell.
Teusday, June 1, 1993
Something surprising happened to me. Let me start at the very beginning.
Three years ago during the summer my parents and I went to this place called Pine (it was like a motel). We spent a little while there and I met this guy named Eddie Klein. He was very cute and I liked him the second I saw him. A lot. I didn’t exactly become his best friend but I talked to him a little. Then I left Pine and just thought about him for a while.
[Pine was a bit more than a "motel." It's like my parents and I shacked up in a dingy hole in the wall along with a bunch of truckers and prostitutes for the summer. Pine was closer to a bungalow colony, but a notch above, with a dining hall, game room, pool, gym, and jacuzzi. It was also the setting for my first kiss.
Eddie was a tall lanky boy with blue eyes, light brown hair buzzed short, and a golden tan. He was friendly and easygoing and a perfect choice for an unrequited summer crush. All I really remember about him is that he once gave a massage the game room, one that was disappointingly platonic.]
Well a couple of months ago Didi was at my house and we were making prank calls. I had this old address book and was looking through it to see who we should call. Eddie’s address and phone number was in there so I told Didi to call him. I remember he told me he went to military school so I didn’t think he would be home, but his mom said something like he’s sleeping so I was very surprised. That was a couple of months ago.
[For those too young to be familiar with the concept of prank calls, there was once a time before cell phones and caller ID, when answering the phone meant not knowing who was on the other end, which made much mischief-making possible. Prank calls were a childish but fun way to pass the time. My favorite was to have several different friends call the same number asking for "Stacey" and being told nobody by that name lived there. The punchline came when a the final person called the number and said, "Hi, this is Stacey, do I have any messages? Hey, we were kids and easily amused!]
About a week ago I happened to be looking through that book again and once again I noticed his address and phone number. I thought “what the hell” and wrote him a letter. I told Didi about this, but I didn’t really expect a response.
[Insert Once Upon a Time Before Emails People Wrote Letters speech here.]
Well he didn’t write back. This afternoon Eddie and Mark (another guy from Pine) came TO MY HOUSE! AAAAAHHHH! I was so shocked. The thing is I couldn’t let them in because my parents weren’t home, but they really wanted me to come out. Instead I gave them my phone number, and they called like half an hour later. I got to talk to Eddie a little but mostly Mark because he wouldn’t let me talk to Eddie until I promised to come out but I couldn’t. I was on the phone for over an hour but at the end of the conversation I talked to Eddie and he said he would call me on Saturday at 6:00. I told him he would have to wait about three weeks to see me (until school ends) and he wasn’t thrilled but I guess that’s good because he wants to see me! Yay! He didn’t really remember me but he came down from Queens to see me! I have to calm down. I hope things work out.
I have to admit, this whole turn of events skates the fine line of cute/creepy. While it was nice for Eddie and Mark to be spontaneous and make the effort to see me, considering the fact that three years had gone by, a phone call would have been preferable to showing up on my doorstep. And while Mom and Dad were overprotective at times, they taught err on the side of caution, which is why I refused to open the door to the two boys while home alone and didn’t go out to meet them, either. I may have been interested in boys, but I was more interested in safety. Points to my parents for raising me to be sensible, at least in that scenario. It makes for a duller story, at least in the beginning, but things did take an unexpected turn…
Monday, January 25, 1993
I got some new tapes from this Columbia House deal and they are free as long as I promise to buy 8 more within the next 3 years. Right now I am listening to Tori Amos and it is a great tape. She is a poet and most of this stuff is real deep. I don’t get a lot of it but I understand it even though I don’t exactly get the symbolic meaning.
Anyway, I found out Chris Drewski likes me last week. Sigh. It feels good to have somebody like you but, you know, if it was only… Oh I don’t know. It’s kind of bugging me though.
Hahn thinks that I like Leon. I don’t (not really), I just love to flirt with him. Not that I would mind if it was more.
I think I’m pretty much over Will. Moving on. Gotta go.
I remember seeing the video for “Silent All These Years” late one night on MTV. I was utterly intrigued with this strange, full-mouthed redhead tumbling across the screen in a wooden box, singing about being a mermaid (as I’ve hinted at before, I have a soft spot for mermaids). I was struck by lyrics like,
“i got something to say
you know but NOTHING comes
yes i know what you think of me
you never shut up”
(come on, that’s lyric heroin for an angsty teen)
Who was this Tori Amos woman?
I had the chance to find out when my parents let me join Columbia House. For those too young to remember (*sob*), there was a time when you couldn’t pick up a magazine without seeing full page ads for this music club. The ads would be dotted with album covers on perforated paper, so you could tear out the gratis albums you wanted and affix them to the membership form. The lure of all that free music was great and I eventually succumbed, though over time my relationship with Columbia House grew more sinister, until I eventually felt like I was being stalked, manipulated, and extorted through my mailbox. But the early days were sweet, and they did bring me and Tori together.
When I first listened to her debut album, Little Earthquakes, I felt a bit the way I did at my initial listening of U2’s Achtung Baby. It wasn’t immediately catchy and I didn’t understand it entirely, but there was something compelling about it. I respected that it took a numerous listens to find rich nuances in the music and lyrics. Tori Amos was confusing, confrontational, crazy, and other adjectives not beginning with “c” (I like alliteration; sue me). She sang about relationships and sex and female identity in a way I had never come across before (it would be a while before I discovered Kate Bush). I also loved that nobody else I knew was familiar with Tori at the time, and took pride in my musical discovery. Her second album, Under the Pink, would be the one to get her the mainstream attention, which I had mixed feelings about. I wanted others to love her as much as I did, but I also wanted her to be something of a secret to share with a select few. And for a little while, it was. In early 1993, finding Little Earthquakes was like unearthing musical buried treasure.
Tuesday, December 29, 1992
Alright it is now time for my annual tradition of… New Years Resolutions! Yes boys and girls, these are the outrageous promises you make and never keep! Let us have a moment of silence…..
Okay, here goes!
1) Lose Weight (how much? Enough)
2) Be nicer and more respectful of my parents (They made me write that. Just kidding!)
3) Be more considerate of others.
4) Be less sarcastic (maybe even a little less cynical).
5) Do unto others…
6) Get a boyfriend. (?)
Well Didi’s comin’ over tomorrow. See ya!
If my New Year’s resolutions were adapted into a film, it would star Bill Murray and a groundhog. Except that I wouldn’t go about things in such a deadpan way (what’s the opposite of having a poker face? Because that’s what I have) and certainly wouldn’t chase after Andie MacDowell (no offense, she’s just not my type). But making the same mistakes over and over again and trying to learn from them? That’s pretty much the theme of my teen years (okay, and some of my 20′s too).
Well at least I was finally recognizing the futility of those resolutions. After not one, not two, but THREE nearly identical lists, it was time to start getting a clue. I do enjoy the fact that I used sarcasm in item 2) in light of item 4) (unintentional irony? I prefer to give my 15-year-old self the benefit of the doubt this time). Being less sarcastic is a resolution I have not kept to this day, with no regrets. What surprises me is that I referred to myself as cynical, since I’ve often professed myself to be one of the least cynical people you’ll ever meet. Hey wait, does that mean I actually stuck to that resolution? Hm…
In any case, hopefully I was on the way to realizing that change should come when the resolve is truly there, not when a calendar dictates it to be there. Or to take stock more than once a year.
(And I can only hope that the question mark after item 6) indicated that I was finally starting to realize what a goofy thing it was to put on a list of resolutions.)
Thursday, November 17, 1992
Today I found out some very shocking and unexpected news concerning Will (Grant too). It started during 3rd period. Betty Michaels told me that she had to tell Tyra (who also likes Will) and me something very important about him. Automatically I assumed one of two things happened, he either found out that I like him or he is going out with somebody. But it was even worse.
[Mind you, either one of those two things would have been a Ginormous Teenage Tragedy, so it was hard to wrap my mind around what could possibly be worse than that. Armed robbery? Murder?]
Betty pulled us into an empty classroom and started telling us about this party she went to Friday. Will and Grant were there and the two of them and a couple of other people were, were—Okay I’ll just spit it out. They were smoking POT!
[Teenage boys smoking weed??! What kind of nonsensical and cruel world is this??]
When she first told me I didn’t even react and I said that Didi has to know about this.
[Didi had a crush on grant, and it was part of our friendship code that news on either of our crushes was reported immediately.]
We told her and she was like WHAT!? Then later we told Hahn because we didn’t want to leave her out. She thought it was really disgusting and just kept saying how gross it was. She was right but she kind of annoyed me because Tyra and I were focusing on how shocked we were and how we never expected it and how upset and numb we were (especially in science the next class, when it really set in.). But what we did for the end of that period was really cool.
Didi had two extra candy cane papers that she didn’t know what to do with.
[Every year for the winter holidays our school would sell candy canes. The way it worked: you bought a folded slip of paper for either a small or large candy cane, wrote a note inside, and the recipient's name on the outside. The following month candy canes were handed out during Official (Hunter's version of Homeroom) with the notes stapled to them.]
We decided to send one to Will and one to Grant. What we did was cut out letters out of a newspaper to spell out (on the inside of both of them) “Don’t do pot or else…” It looks really cool, like a death threat or something. We were all really happy that we did it and I said when they see it they will piss their pants!
[Look, our hearts were in the right place. Sending a ransom-note-looking threat in place of a holiday greeting was the best we could come up with at the time.]
I am still pretty upset. Didi told me how she knew Grant was a little messed up but she never expected Will to do it. I always thought he is as close to perfect as a person can get. I mean, I knew he had to have flaws just like everyone else but THIS!?!
I decided earlier today that I am going to forgive him. I mean, if this was a one time thing, then I can forget about it but… let’s just really hope this is a one time thing.
Those police officers who gave a talk at my elementary school about the dangers of drugs really had an impact on me. I can still remember the suitcase full of samples and their somber attitudes. They made it sound like a single tab of acid or line of cocaine could end your life and I believed them at the time. That terror they instilled stayed with me for years to come, even about marijuana. In turn, Didi and I hoped to instill some of that same fear into our two crushes.
Smoking pot was something I associated with “bad kids” doing, so it was shocking to discover that Will and Grant weren’t the “good kids” my friends and I thought (hoped) they were. My attitudes about that sort of thing have changed over the years, but back then I was one dismayed goody-two-shoes.
At least I found it in the goodness in my heart to forgive the boy I liked for doing something that had nothing to do with me… as long as it was a one time thing, of course.
Wednesday, August 7th, 1992
Boston was really cool. The hotel was the best. The baseball game was totally dull but we (Tabitha, Anita, Didi and I) stayed up almost all night seriously talking and acting a bit wild. We found out more about each other and had a blast. Oh, yeah. After the baseball game, at about 11:00pm we went bowling! That was weird but kinda fun.
[By "a bit wild" I mean we jumped on the beds and ate lots of junk food. There was also a bit running around the motel hallways and a late night pillow fight. And lots and lots of giggling. I know, such crazy party girls we were. Amazing we didn't end up in rehab, right?
Seriously, though, that night was like something out of a Sleepover Friends book. While nowhere near as popular or beloved as The Babysitters Club or Sweet Valley High/Twins series, I briefly read these books in the late 80's. They centered around a varied group of female friends who have weekly (...wait for it...) sleepovers. The only thing I remember about these books is that one of the characters' favorite colors were black, white, and red (to the point where her entire room and outfits were bedecked in the three pigments) and that there were pages and pages of descriptions of the various junk foods consumed. Somehow a plethora of plots unfolded around these slumber parties, whose location alternated between the girls' houses. However, I can honestly say I doubt any of the books revolved around late-night spirited hijinks in a Boston hotel. Us Brooklyn girls know how to live it up.]
The next day we went to a museum and shopping at a place similar to (but much bigger than) South Street seaport.
[That trip to Boston was one of the highlights of my year. And while I ended up living there years later, it was a while before I realized the shopping center we visited was Quincy Market. To date, it was the only time I've been there, which is so much the better, because I'm sure nothing could have topped the small joy I had shopping for t-shirts, candy, and kiwi-flavored lip balm.]
I don’t know how I feel about Ricky Klein at the present time. I mean, if you would have asked me this morning how I felt about him I would have said that I love him.
[Insert *cringe* here.]
Maybe I did love Ricky.
[I really didn't.]
Or maybe I just enjoyed the thought of loving him.
[Could be. I was subjected to a sundry of sappy movies and books at a tender and impressionable age.]
I do know that at one time I had very deep feelings for him.
[Lust + Infatuation = A 14-year-old's "Very Deep Feelings"]
After all I don’t write poems about just anybody!
[Fast forward ten years and we'll all have a good laugh about that one.]
To be honest I was all ready to include a note in the envelope with his tip that uncovered my feelings. I would have given him the poem too.
A moment ago I felt guilty and fickle for feeling this way but now that I think about it I am glad that I began to get over him before I got hurt or embarrassed. I did not tell anybody who I liked (although I think Didi pretty much figured it out) and now I don’t know if I will. I think another reason I began having strong emotions for him is because we were both born on the same day so it was like destiny or something. I guess it wasn’t.
If the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, I was surely straitjacket-bound at that point. Luckily I came to my senses and just gave Ricky the cash. Thank goodness I had clarity and good sense in that moment when I didn’t on numerous similar occasions.
Don’t worry, though, there will be many more lapses in judgment when it comes to boys and many more notes/poems/stories and all around questionable behavior. Guess being sensible this time around was like destiny. Or something.
Monday, Decenmber 30, 1991
I still have a week left of vacation and so far it’s been pretty great. My cousin Anna came over for 6 days and we had a blast. She left yesterday and I kinda miss her. We never got along this well before. Maybe I made another best friend.
For the first time in a while we are spending New Years home by ourselves. I was hoping we would attend a big bash, but maybe this will be fun anyway.
And now: Drumroll please… It is time for my annual resolutions:
1) Lose weight.
2) Get a boyfriend.
3) Be nicer to others (more considerate)
4) Grow my hair one length and grow it long.
Guess that’s it! –Bye-
If these resolutions had a theme song, it would be “Stop Me if You Think You’ve Heard This One Before” by The Smiths. They are so similar to the resolutions I made the year prior I don’t know how I didn’t notice the similarities as I was writing them. I don’t know why I bothered to make a new list instead of writing see last year’s list/insert name of boy I have a crush on now. In fact, the term “resolution” the way I use it is less “a course of action determined or decided upon” and more “thing about me I wish was different but am not gonna do a hell of a whole lot to actually change.”
And those first two items on the list? They could have been called “365-Days-a-Year-Resolutions.” The end of a calendar year may have caused me to take stock, but it was more like taking a strainer to the surface of my consciousness. During my teen years, there was nary an unattached day that I didn’t want a boyfriend, and few get-thin-quick schemes I wouldn’t try.
The nicer/more considerate resolution most likely stemmed from a desire to be less superficial and focus on developing my character more. Or it could have been that I realized just how much my adolescent hormones were running rampant and felt the need to tone down the angst a bit. Or I could have been paying my diary lip service.
As for the hair, some things never change. I went short again last year and as I type this, I am willing my hair to grow as long as I can stand it, at which point I will probably chop it off and begin the whole vicious cycle over again. However, even though it is a course of action I have decided upon, I can’t consider telling my stylist “just a trim, please” some kind of resolution. Being nicer, on the other hand…
I did it. I gave Hahn a note to give to Archie. She told me that he laughed and said, “Damiella wants to go out with me?” Well I’m taking that as a “no.” I’m telling myself it doesn’t matter because I’ll forget it ever happened. It doesn’t matter. It’s too bad, though. I was hoping it would be different this time. Sigh. Oh well. I’ll live. No big deal. See ya!
Of all the reactions you can get when asking someone out, laughter is not high up there. It’s kind of like that movie cliché where a guy calls a hoity-toity restaurant for a table that night and the maître d’laughs in derision to emphasize the restaurant’s popularity. That’s exactly how I took Archie’s laugh.
Even though I tried to hide my disappointment in my journal, it was still an ego blow and a letdown. Sure, I set myself up by asking out a guy I knew was out of my league. Back then I wanted to think it would have been possible for someone like him to go out with someone like me. I was fed a steady diet of romantically improbable fiction and cinema, and really and truly believed life could mimic a John Hughes movie. At least, I wanted it to.
The Hughes films that made up my adolescent core were Weird Science, the Molly Ringwald Trilogy (Sixteen Candles, Pretty in Pink, The Breakfast Club) and Some Kind of Wonderful. All of those movies showed that no matter how quirky, different, nerdy or unpopular you are, you can still get the hot guy or gal that will see you for who you are. In Hughes’ world, the pendulum can swing either way. Popular kids can turn out to be down-to-earth, sweet, and willing to date outside their caste (Pretty in Pink, Sixteen Candles, Some Kind of Wonderful) and unpopular kids can show hidden talents and blossom and turn out to be rad and hot-in-their-own-special-way (Weird Science, Sixteen Candles, The Breakfast Club, Some Kind of Wonderful), or at the very least get a makeover from Molly Ringwald that makes them generic and pretty enough to catch the eye of the dopey jock, (The Breakfast Club).
In the real world? Not so much. At least not in a school like Hunter, where you were stuck with the same 200 or so kids for six straight years. I saw a few cases of extreme talent/beauty being accepted into the fold of the popular kids, or “survivors” as they were known. However, things weren’t shaping up for me to be one of those exceptions, and the sooner I accepted that the better.
He laughed. I laughed. Then our eyes met. He glanced away. My gaze lingered. I never thought I felt this way about Archie. Even at orientation I felt this little attraction. I think it was that moment in art class that I decided considering asking him out.
It is only the first day of school, so I have plenty of time to decide.
When I read over these diary entries, I find some many of them worthy of mockery. Sometimes they make me laugh, sometimes they make me cringe, but this one makes me react in a different way. It’s more akin to watching a horror movie and wanting to shout at some dimwit not to go up the stairs where the killer awaits. Or wanting to scream “WATCH OUT!” to an ignorant pedestrian stepping off a curb into the path of an oncoming truck. In this case, I want to travel back in time and tell my thirteen-year-old self,
“Don’t do it! Please, for the love of all that’s holy, decide to NOT consider asking him out. Just think of all the 80′s teen movies you’ve ever seen and understand that real life will kick your ass if you think they’re indicative of what adolescent life is really like. DO. NOT. DO. THIS!”
After the disaster of asking Justin out, I don’t know why I thought things would go any better with Archie. Especially considering that Archie was one of the most popular kids in our grade and I was… well I was going through a phase where I wore a lot of Blossom-esque hats.
I took a random moment with a cute boy, exaggerated it into something it wasn’t, and was about to do something regrettable. This could only have a happy ending on Planet John-Hughes-Movie. The problem was, I had yet to learn that I was no Molly Ringwald…
(And when I wrote “I have plenty of time to decide,” I think we all know this is going to play out real soon, right?)
Wednesday, August 28, 1991
Boy! It has been a while, hasn’t it? For a boring summer, it hasn’t been so bad. I did go to Ohio for like 10 days & I spent some time with Fay. During that time we grew pretty close & even though we haven’t seen each other in a month, we are now not only pen pals, but are best friends, too! Let me describe her to you. She is 11, tall and thin. She is very pretty, and she acts mature for her age.
[I bet Fay just materializes out of the ether before you the way I paint her with words. Such vivid description!]
What I like about her is that, although we have a couple of things in common, we have our differences, too. Plus we can talk about anything. It’s funny. I thought that Nisa was my best friend, but how can we be best friends when I feel closer to a person hundreds of miles away than I do with one just a block away. I feel that I’m just not connecting with Nisa the way I am with Fay. I haven’t been for a while.
[It had been years since I'd seen Fay and even longer since I mentioned her in my diary. Becoming insta-best friends with her was easy, because we didn't have to deal with each other on a day to day basis. Given enough time, I'm sure we would have had our ups and downs and maybe even some drama involving a Certificate of Friendship. Alas.]
Well. I’m on a diet. I’ve already lost around 10 pounds & I’m praying (not literally) for another 10. I’ve also cut my hair. It looks like the same style as Chynna Phillips. I feel & look like a different person. If I just lose those 10 little pounds before school starts. I will be complete.
[If you lived in America, have a pair of ears, and were alive in the early 1990's, chances are you heard Wilson Phillips smash hit "Hold On" more times than you ever want to for the rest of your life. For those too young (or unborn) to remember, you may have heard the song in Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle, when the square-burger-craving duo sings along--nay, rocks out to the chirpy anthem. Back in the days when my musical taste was of the more sugary pop variety, I was a fan of this "supergroup" who were initially more famous for their Beach Boy daddy (Carnie and Wendy Wilson, daughters of Brian Wilson) and Mamas and the Papas mama (Chynna Phillips, daughter of Michelle). That, coupled with the fact that I was growing out a bad perm and had a catastrophic 'do that was straight on top and curly on the bottom made me look to Chynna as something of a hair role model. My eighth grade class photo bears the exact same haircut as the one above, only light brown instead of blond. In my defense, it was the early 90's and it was still a marked improvement over the perm-plus-small-hedgehog-made-of-hair-and-Aqua-Net-that-I-called-bangs.
The ten pound weight loss came from a ridiculous but temporarily effective seven day diet that included one day of nothing but fruit, one day of nothing but vegetables, one day of nothing but bananas and milk, and a couple of days of nothing but meat and vegetables. Every once in a while Mom would come home with a grainy photocopy of some fad diet that one of her coworkers swore was the best way to lose weight fast. My parents and I tried this one and all of us lost weight...and eventually all of us gained it back.]
Gosh am I looking forward to school! It starts September 11, but orientation is September 6th. I will get to see all my friends (and the cute guys in my grade!) that day! I’ve been thinking about Justin all summer. I want to see if I still like him. And if I do, I want to see if he has matured a bit & if he likes me. I also want to see if any of the nerds I knew last year have turned into hot studs. (I can hope, can’t I?!) Well just wanted to fill ya in. See ya!
So much excitement and optimism for the beginning of eight grade. If I had known it would be one of the most wretched years of my life I would have gone easy on those exclamation marks.
Monday, June 17, 1991
School is over. Earlier than the other schools. Justin asked out Gina, and she said Yes. I was very upset untill I found out that she changed her mind and then said no. (Sound familiar?) I guess Tony figured out (the hard way) “what comes around goes around.” I think I’m over him.
I have some good news. At the end of July, for 2 or 3 weeks I’m probably going to go to Israel without my parents! I would be going with my cousin Anna who is 15 and I like a lot, and her mother. I hope I go. I can’t wait! I can’t believe that my parents actually let me go. I think they are becoming a lot less over-protective.
For a 13-year-old who was fond of complaining how unfair life was, this was a pretty sweet moment. Perhaps it was a coincidence that Justin faced the same romantic reversal of fortune that he caused me, but that’s now how I saw it back then (or even today). I took it as confirmation from the universe that doing a crummy thing would lead to payback.
Vindication aside, what the hell was wrong with Justin and Gina? Who says yes when someone asks you out only to double back and reject them? Was it some kind of passive-aggressive cowardice or further evidence that while Hunter College High School housed the “gifted and talented” it also housed the socially retarded? I vote yes on both counts.
As for Israel, the prospect of the trip was exciting for several obvious, and one less obvious reasons. Clearly I was ready to spend some time away from my well-meaning but overprotective parents and cut loose. I was craving adventure and travelling thousands of miles for it sounded like a great idea to me. And even though I’ve never been a fan of hot weather, Israel in the summertime sounded like the Best Idea Ever as soon as Anna told me how cute the boys over there were. The Promised Land indeed.
Thursday, May 30, 1991
I know this sounds weird, but I think I’m beginning to like Justin again! The smallest problem is that he likes this girl that I could be asking out while I’m writing this!
[That's not a small problem, it's a pretty big one! Because liking unavailable men does not bode well for my romantic future!]
Today on the bus we played “Truth or Dare,” and on one of the dares I kissed Justin! Later Hahn, Linda and I found out from him that he has never even kissed a girl or had a wet dream. Linda says that this means he is very immature about sex. Probably!
And I was Little Miss Worldly when it came to physically intimacy, right? Wrong. To date, all the action I had seen with boys was a byproduct of playing games like Spin the Bottle or Truth or Dare. And any smooching that occurred was domestic not imported (does anyone even use the term “French kissing” anymore?). I can only imagine the badgering Justin must have endured from us that he admitted his inexperience to three girls. At the time, I probably rationalized that Justin wasn’t ready to be with an almost-woman like me, and that’s why he changed his mind about saying yes when I asked him out. Except that I couldn’t rationalize away the fact that he was about to make a move on another girl in our grade. All I could do was take some satisfaction in the fact that no matter what happened with the two of them, I was still the one to kiss him first.
I feel very peculiar about this whole “Justin” thing. Every time somebody brings up him asking the girl out, I get upset. Maybe I’m not missing much. I know that I’m doing that “sour grapes” thing, but who cares. We are going to play “T. or D.” tomorrow. I hope that “something” comes out of it!* –Bye-
I don’t know what “possessed” me to use quotation marks “so damn much” but it was a passing phase. Some teenagers experiment with alcohol or drugs; I preferred to experiment with punctuation. I know, how very “wild” and “rebellious” of me.
*That’s what she said.
March 21, 1991
Well, me and Justin are over before we began.
About two weeks ago I called Justin and he said he didn’t want to go out with me. I’m over him.
I was in the talent show today. I sang “let the river run” and I only hit 1 sour note. What was neat was that a lot of people were cheering for me and complimented me on my singing.
What wasn’t “neat” was that I had to spend weeks on tenterhooks and then initiate my own rejection by Justin. And I didn’t get over him as easily as I tried to make it sound in my diary. When practicing for the talent show, there was a part of me that hoped more than anything that Justin would be so moved by my singing that he’d change his mind and go out with me after all. Obviously, that didn’t happen.
And hey, at least this time it wasn’t a Debbie Gibson song.
I was never a major Carly Simon fan, but always loved the 1988 classic* Working Girl, whose theme song was “Let the River Run.” It plays over the opening sequence as Tess McGill (Melanie Griffin in her finest role) rides the Staten Island ferry, dreaming of a better tomorrow while she begins another day as an under-appreciated secretary. Tess takes her fate into her own hands, transforming herself into a savvy businesswoman. She’s not afraid to defy convention to achieve her dream, something I found inspiring.
Of course my way of defying convention (throwing a note out a bus window at a boy I liked) did not make my dreams of getting a boyfriend come true. Even so, I used “Let the River Run” as an anthem of hope. “Let all the dreamers wake the nation,” belted out Carly. “Blaze a trail of desire,” she commanded. I was a dreamer! I wanted to wake stuff up too! I would have to face plenty of rejection, but wouldn’t let any dumb boys tarnish my optimism. I had too many trails of desire to blaze to let a little disappointment get in my way.
* Your definition of “classic” and mine might vary.
Saturday, March 2, 1991
I have some news, but before I go on, I have to backtrack and tell you what happened the day after I threw Justin The Note.
In the morning, Justin got on the bus, and he did not say one word about the note, so I wrote him another one that said: “Justin, did you get my other note? If so, do you have an answer for me?” I gave this note to Hanh to give to Justin in class.
In the afternoon, for practically the whole bus ride, Justin didn’t mention the note. Then when we were about to reach his spot, Justin took out the note and said “Is this a joke?”
I said “No” and he said “Well then O.K.” And the rest is history.
I got his phone number and we talked about going out. He said that lunch period is too little time to go out. Then he took my phone number. Nothing has happened yet, but I’m sure something will.
Something really funny happened on the bus yesterday. Luke turns to Justin and asks “Do you know who Damiella likes?”
Hanh, Linda, Justin, and me started cracking up hysterically! It was so obvious!
What should have been even more obvious, to me at least, was that Justin was a non-starter.
The fact that I had to write a follow-up note to get an answer from him should have been the first clue. The fact that he thought lunch period was not enough time to go out should have been my next clue. We got a full hour for lunch, which offered ample time to go to a diner, deli, or pizzeria. At the time I took it as a sign that he wanted to spend more time with me than we were allotted during school hours, that 60 minutes would not be enough time to begin to get to know me. Now I can look back and understand his excuse was a way to cover up his discomfort/disinterest. But back then, I didn’t let any of that register.
Instead, I accepted Justin’s reluctance as shyness and spent weeks waiting for him to call and set up a proper date with me. Every time the phone rang, I would hoped it was Justin. Every time the phone rang, it was someone else.
Thursday, February 21, 1991
I know I didn’t tell you about the weekend, but I really don’t want to talk about it. Let’s just say that I think Rose thinks more of her new friends than she does of me.
Anyway, I want to move on to something else. I think that I can finally say that I don’t like Danny anymore. No, I really mean it! Actually, I think that I like Justin, again. Well, the truth is I like Justin a lot. It’s hard to explain, but I know that I have feelings for him.
It’s really not that hard to explain. Justin was cute, smart, and a little shy, end of story. He teased me on the bus and we got into fights, but I got it into my head that it was some kind of demented form of flirting. You know, classic story. Guy is mean to girl, girl hates guy, but has bad self-esteem so starts liking him anyway. I developed a crush on him shortly after he got a good haircut that showed off his hazel eyes. This time, however, I decided to take action…
Teusday, Feb. 26, 1991
I did something today that I can’t believe I did. As Justin was walking off the bus (well actually he was off the bus) I threw a note at him. The thing is, in it, I wrote asking him out! I am going to be prepared for the worst tomorrow, but I’m really hoping for the best.
In case I didn’t stress it enough above, there was absolutely nothing in my interactions with Justin that indicated he might be interested in me. Therefore, I don’t know what kind of temporary madness led to my asking him. The fights we had weren’t play fights and he ran with a more popular crowd. But I guess I saw one too many John Hughes movies and wanted to take my own fate into my hands after years of having crushes that went nowhere. At least this time I wasn’t going to cop out and go the secret admirer route. Oh no, no more anonymous notes for me this time (there would be more in the future, though, don’t worry). Nope, this time I decided the best course of action was to throw a piece of folded up paper at my crush from a moving vehicle. That’s me, keeping romance alive.
Was it the wisest thing to do at the time?… (Let’s pretend we don’t all know the answer to that one.)