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.)
Friday, September 11, 1992
School has started. Everything is different yet still the same in a weird way. My schedule isn’t too great. Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday I have no free periods except for 8th (which doesn’t really count). Didi and Hahn are in my class. Last year’s class was better but some of the girls in this class are really nice. Joyce is in my class again. We have two cute guys in my class. Will Davidson and Grant Simpson.
I lost a little weight and hope to keep the diet up. It’s getting late now so I better sign off. I still want to read a little.
Even after all these years being out of school, I still associate the autumn and start of the academic calendar with new beginnings. More than January 1, it’s the turning leaves and cooling fall temperatures that signal the potential for change. After two shaky years at Hunter, I was ready for some change, hopefully for the better.
I remember 9th grade as the year I tried to blend in more than stand out. After being mocked for my outlandish style, I had enough. No more neon colors, no more bold patterns, strange dresses, or wacky hats. Instead, I asked my parents to take me to shops like The Gap, where I stocked up on generic clothes like plain t-shirts, Doc Marten boots, jeans, and flannel shirts.
Joyce and I drifted apart in the middle of 7th grade and over the next year-and-a-half, I watched her undergo something of a transformation. She was a frustrating girl to be friends with, because despite her good looks and talent, she had a crippling amount of insecurity which morphed into a funnel for reassurance and praise. There are only so many times you can tell a thin and pretty girl that she’s not fat and ugly, especially while struggling with your own self image (and real weight problems instead of imagined ones). I eventually found it exhausting to bolster her self-esteem, but by the time we stopped being friends she didn’t need me. She joined the track team for which she had a natural affinity, trimmed her dancers body down even further, and was quickly embraced by the popular crowd.
I knew I wouldn’t have a transformation like Joyce did, having neither the grace and agility for dance/sports, nor the discipline and twisted headspace for the eating disorders for which some of my female classmates were being treated. Instead I hoped that dressing like the other kids would provide some social respite. Would it actually make high school life easier for me? Time would tell…
Saturday, July 25, 1992
No more diet or exercise for now. Don’t stay with Fran too much, mostly with Jessica, Mindy, sometimes Cheryl and ALWAYS Winona. She is such a tag along. She looks like she’s ten years old and says immature things. I don’t mean to be nasty to her but sometimes she gets on my nerves.
[Actually, I did switch eating plans to something I like to call The Summer French Fry Diet of 1992. I know it's quite a switch from the Fonda-full fitness plan I intended to keep, but let me explain. Day camp outings did not make healthy eatings. We went to movie theaters, bowling alleys, amusement parks, and every Friday fed pizza for lunch, all of which meant sustenance of the greasy/fatty kind. This was before fast food healthy menu options, before air popped movie theater popcorn, before the ubiquity of Subway sandwich shops. On top of that, my pocket money was limited, and french fries rank high on the Affordable Plus Yummy Plus Reasonably Filling scale.
Never in my life did I eaten fries from so many different places. And for the most part, they all tasted the same (with a few exceptions where the mediocre steak fry was served in place of the far superior shoestring).]
One of my councelors, Ricky is very nice. He is cute but there is a special thing about him. He shares my birthday. That makes him exactly six years older than me (20). My parents have 8 years between them.
[Subtle, no? I think we all know in this case "very nice" means "I have the hots for my tall, tan, blue-eyed, good-natured, dolphin-loving camp counselor who was born on the same day of the year I was, which is obviously a cosmic sign that we are meant to be married and live blissfully ever after. Or something."]
I need to write some poetry. Bear with me.
And boy, do I mean bear with me. In case you’re not yet aware of my bad poetry capabilities, let me take a moment to warn you and apologize for the dreadful verse you are about to endure. Have you braced yourself? Are you sure? Okay, you asked for it. Actually, you didn’t, but I’m giving it to you anyway:
With a single gaze
He strips me of any all barriers
Until I am left without a protective
Façade to protect me
And every time his eyes meet mine
An ache courses thunders deep inside me
As he unknowingly steals another piece of my soul
My eyes cast down, I hope he did not see
The brief desperation in them
For when will he realize
That he has my heart at his fingertips
And my dying soul in his palm?
We are going to Boston Monday. I’ll write about it. Gotta go now! See ya!
But enough about my dying soul…
Let’s talk about what a complete and utter teenage cliché I was by having a crush on my camp counselor. It wasn’t the first time I had a thing for an older guy (that was back in elementary school) or one who was somewhat-to-extremely unattainable, nor would it be my last. But oh, Ricky, he was so fine. He was so fine, he blew my mind. And he never took me by the hand, but he did take me by the heart.*
*Toni Basil, if you ever read this, please don’t sue me.
Wednesday, July 1, 1992
Camp has already begun. It’s pretty cool. The person I hang out with the most is not Didi and her crowd. I visit them once in a while but I don’t always feel comfortable around them. Mostly I stay with this girl named Fran. She is really sweet but she talks soooooooo much. She is so outgoing, she even talks to strangers! Compared to her I am like the shiest person ever. Sometimes she reminds me of my cousin Anna (when she’s a tad bit quieter).
Everybody (almost everybody) seems to speak with a brooklyn accent. Sometimes it can be infectuous and I begin speaking with the same accent.
[Ah, Fran. She of denim overalls, huge curly black hair, and endless amounts of sass. She was the CC Bloom to my Hilary Whitney, brash and unruly where I was hesitant and more subdued. And she talked (tawked) with the type of heavy Brooklyn accent popularized that very same year by Joe Pesci and Marisa Tomei in My Cousin Vinny.
After living in Bensonhurst for the latter part of elementary school, I had one of those accents myself (it went well with the perm and acid washed denim jacket). But two years of school on the Upper East Side, which included a heavy duty speech class* and hearing kids with more generic diction, rid me of that accent.
Little did I know that I'd end up being teased for having proper diction (not hardcore, just to the point of mild annoyance.I said words like "dawn" and "dog" with flat o's (to rhyme with "tron" and "pog") whereas the kids I went to camp with pronounced them the way Rosie Perez would in a Spike Lee movie. I tried to put up a good fight, but I was too outnumbered.]
I also sometimes (along with Fran) stay with Jessica, who is very nice, Mindy, who is also pretty nice and Cheryl who Fran and I call Joan Rivers because she is so nosy and is always asking personal questions. I don’t really like her too much.
I am on a diet (sort of. I’m watching what I eat) and I am exercising to Jane Fonda’s workout. Hopefully I will come back to school slim. I really want to be thin and I aspire to have the self-confidence as well as willpower to lose the excess weight.
[I was so pissed when I found out Jane Fonda was anorexic/bulimic until she was 36, including the years she did all these workout tapes. It took years before I could watch one of her movies without being filled with bitter rage at the impossible workouts she tried to lead me through via VHS. I know Jane really wanted me to keep up with her, but there were vaguely sinister undercurrents to her tone in these tapes, like what she was really saying was, "If you can't do every one of these exercises with the grace and ease I'm doing them then you don't even deserve to be led by me and my skinny minions in leotards and might as well press Eject."
Or maybe I was just projecting. Maybe I knew deep down that I'd never look like that in a leotard. And no wonder. I ate. And didn't puke afterwards.]
[paragraphs about what guys at camp I think are cute]
[Trust me, I’m doing you a favor leaving these out.]
To summarize, camp so far is pretty neat and I hope it only gets better from here. Well, I gotta go. See ya!
Every year that I went to Hunter, I had a fantasy that I would lose a bunch of weight over the summer and return to school properly thin and gorgeous. It never happened. And despite every diet that failed (or worked, but only partially and temporarily) I was still optimistic that such a scenario could happen. Especially at the start of the summer and start of a new diet and workout regime. Oh Jane, if I only knew then…
* “Speech class? Whadayoo need speech class for, yoo tawk foine!” – Working Girl
Friday, April 10, 1992
I got my report card yesterday: 95, 95, 96, 90, A, 94, 96, 98. My parents were happy. I was thrilled! My average: 94.5. Wow! I just hope there isn’t some computer error or something.
Speaking of computers, there’s a new show on television. It’s called “Mann and Machine.” I haven’t seen a whole episode yet but it’s something like a futuristic cop has a robot-ish partner. She’s a computer (perfect) but can feel emotions on a very low level. It wouldn’t be that awful being something like that. I would be gorgeous, have a perfect body, be a genius, and other good stuff. I wouldn’t disappoint anyone and live up to people’s expectations. My mom especially would probably love it because the dishes would always be done, my room would always be spotless, the house immaculate and she knows I would treat her and dad with utter respect. I would probably have more guys liking me (since I wouldn’t be fat anymore) as well as my mother off my back to lose weight. My dad would never have to lecture me seeing as I would be the perfect student. I’d never let my temper control me and when I would open my mouth, just the right words would come out. I would be like a blank sheet of paper without a line, spot or crease in it to ruin it.
When I grow up and have children of my own, I hope I don’t wish them to be perfect. That’s what makes people individuals. The fact that they have imperfections.
I’ll start my diet Monday.
Ever have one of those days when you wished you were a robot?
Yeah, life at home was tense even when I got good grades. The high marks, while a source of pride for my mother, still left something to be desired from my father, who wanted me to be the overachiever he never was. I was generally an A- student but he wanted me to be an A+ student. And if I applied myself more, it might have been possible, but I was tired of feeling like I never measured up, and threats and lectures were not a motivator for me. My father even resorted to bribing me for good grades, but that only went so far. Studying extra hours to earn ten or twenty bucks just wasn’t worth it after a while and felt kind of demeaning.
And then there were body issues. I still had some extra weight that I couldn’t shed, because I only had two modes: Diet Mode and Eat What I Want Mode. Nothing in between, no sense of moderation, no understanding that any weight I lost through a fad diet would be put back on if I didn’t learn new eating habits. My parents warned me that being overweight would have a negative impact on my adolescence, and they weren’t wrong. But I was too clumsy for sports and found too much comfort in food when things were tense at home, which they were a fair amount.
While all of this family drama was going on, there were all these ads being broadcast for a new TV show, Mann & Machine, about a male human and female android (albeit one capable of learning emotions) who fight crime together. It seemed every time I turned on the television, there was the beautiful Yancy Butler flaunting her robotic perfection at me. At the time, being an automaton would have solved all my problems.
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…
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.
Saturday, July 6, 1991
As it turns out, I’m not going to Israel. First of all, it’s expensive, and I’m not even going to see the sights. There’s not too much point.
My parents are doing stuff for me to make up for me, not that they need to or have to. Like they ARE TAKING ME TO SEE LES MISERABLES on July 13. I can’t wait! I am going to try to lose as much weight as I can before then, so that I can look good in this outfit that I got.
This doesn’t sound like me. Either I was censoring myself to be far more cool-headed out of paranoia that one of my parents would read my journal, or they did really good spin on that Israel trip and actually convinced me that it wouldn’t be fun. Either way, something about the way I calmly reacted and turned my excitement to the Broadway show makes me suspicious.
To be fair, I was dying to see Les Miserables (or “Les Miz” as it was more commonly called) ever since I saw a spine-tingling talent show performance of “I Dreamed a Dream” in the sixth grade. It was one of the biggest Broadway musicals of the late ’80s/early ’90s, with a heavy duty advertising campaign including posters, bus ads and billboards, and television commercials featuring grimy, earnest singers in rags that made the French Revolution seem so darn tuneful and romantic. While tickets to this show were not a substitute for tickets to Israel, at the time they were pretty good as far as consolation prizes go.
I don’t recall the outfit that prompted yet another diet, but it didn’t take much to fuel the desire to lose weight. This was the summer I tried the cabbage soup diet. The soup, which I sprinkled with copious amounts of Mrs Dash for “flavor,” was pretty vile, and nothing that a human being with taste buds could subsist on for more than a few days unless truly masochistic. It wasn’t the first fad diet or the last that I tried, but, hey, I had a date with some musical French ragamuffins and I wanted to look my best!
Saturday, Dec. 29, 1990
Well, I have some bad news. I did not go to Jenna’s house because some of her father’s relatives died. Too bad! Major bummer! I hope, though, that I will still go to Anka’s house for New Years. That should be lots of fun! Speaking of New Years, I always like to make a New Years resolution list. This year I’ll make it in my new diary. Here goes:
1. Lose some weight (like 20 pounds.)
2. Get Danny (god, he’s sooo cute.)
3. Grow out my hair.
4. Get really good grades. (like mostly A’s.)
5. Get my parents to let me wear make-up.
1. My first diet was not all that pleasant. You know how most diets result in gaining back all the weight and then some? So true. I had unrealistic expectations of fad diets plus no sensible ideas on how to sustain weight loss (I thought once the diet was over I could go back to eating all the hearty Russian foods I was indulging in pre-diet). Within a couple of years, I went from needing to lose a few pounds to being around 20 pounds overweight. And every time I came across a new weight loss system, I was convinced it would be the magic bullet. Did I really think something like the cabbage soup diet would make me skinny? I really did…until I tasted that cabbage soup.
2. Spoiler alert: it didn’t happen.
3. Within less than a year I’d chop it all off.
4. I maintained an A-minus average, which I was happy with. My parents, used to my perfect string of elementary school grades, sometimes found this lacking. It took a while for them to realize that getting a 100% on a 20-word spelling test was immensely easier than getting a 90-95% on a Physiology or Social Studies test that covered many chapters worth of dense material.
5. No make-up until sixteen was Mom’s firm rule, so until then I had to sneak it. Just a bit of lipstick from time to time. The sparkly wacky stuff would come later.
Tomorrow I am going to Elaine’s birthday party.
I want to try something new.
Well since the new year is coming, and the new decade, I want to write down my new years resolutions.
1) Go steady with Mitchell.
2) lose seven pounds.
3) kick my knuckle cracking and nail biting habits.
4) learn how to ride a bike. (I know that I won’t keep that one, but who really cares.)
5) talk my mom into letting me get second holes in my ears.
Well I geuss that does it. I hope I have a good year and decade.
Ah, resolutions. I don’t know where I got the idea to make this list, but it was probably inspired by something I saw on television (did the girls in The Facts of Life ever make resolutions? I’m thinking a strong maybe on that). This exercise sparked what would become a lifelong fondness for making lists, though I no longer make resolutions. Why should the calendar dictate personal self-improvement?
Back in the late 80′s (how sad it will be to usher in the 90′s. Can we have an acid washed moment of silence?) I think I misunderstood the idea of making resolutions with making a wish list. In the spirit of hindsight, I’d like to revise that list for my 12-year-old self. This is what is should have looked like:
1) Realize that being in a relationship is not always something one can control.
3) Now that the nails are safe, kick the cuticle-biting habit (it’s pretty gross).
4) Learn to drive (I probably won’t keep that one, either).
5) Thank mom for not letting me get that second pair of holes in my ears, because accessorizing with one pair is challenging enough.
It is “Spring Break”! This is great! 11 days of no homework and freedom. I am on a diet.
The aforementioned freedom clearly did not extend to the fridge and food cupboards.
I went on my first diet when I was ten years old. My mother had recently lost 80 pounds, and along with a sensible diet and consistent exercise, she credited a tea she drank in helping her lose the weight. It was made by a company called Sunrider and claimed to help cleanse the system and rid the body of fat and toxins.
At ten years old, I only needed to lose five pounds. Athletics weren’t my thing, and I was more likely to spend hours reading than running around outside. In terms of diet, mine wasn’t the healthiest. Russian cuisine involves big portions and lots of meats, starches, and other creamy/heavy foods (have you ever had Chicken Kiev? It’s a piece of breaded chicken that has been wrapped around a stick of butter). While Mom was eating more salads, Dad still made sure we had plenty of salami, bagels, and calorie-heavy Russian foods on hand. And let’s not forget those occasional trips to Beefsteak Charlie’s and McDonald’s.
Genetically, I come from hearty Eastern European stock and by age ten, I had a bit of baby fat. I saw Mom had shed her grownup fat drinking the Sunrider tea, so I decided to try it myself. And the following year, when I gained back the few pounds I shed, I decided to give it another go.
Let’s talk about this Sunrider tea. It came in giant canisters in powder form that Mom ordered over the phone. It was easy enough to make once you knew the tea-water ratio, but drinking the stuff is another story. Imagine unsweetened iced tea that’s been brewed with a bunch of sweaty socks and a few heaping spoonfuls of dirt, to give it a distinct gritty aftertaste. That’s about how terrible this tea tasted. Adding sugar defeated the point of its dietary effects though it was slightly less bitter warm than it was cold. Drinking about two quarts a day was necessary in order to reap the full weight loss benefits.
Why would anybody drink such a horrible concoction, you ask? Because you could still eat pretty much what you want and it would help you lose weight. Aren’t those the best diets of all?
I probably chose spring break so that I wouldn’t have to lug giant plastic containers of gross tea to school with me. Drinking the bulk of the tea by mid-day was recommended, so I’d take sips during class and peed at least once an hour. I also probably grimaced the entire time I drank the stuff, so it was easier to make faces and take frequent bathroom breaks in the privacy of my own home.
Dieting at such a young age was not a good idea, especially since when the tea was gone, the weight eventually came back on, but I was none the wiser on proper fitness and nutrition. Of course it was less about nourishment and more about body image and looking a certain way. I was told at a very early age that being heavy would make life harder for me, so I struggled against it. I still struggle. That Sunrider tea was just the beginning.
today I went to McDonald’s. Afterwards I went to the park and played a game with my mother. I wanted to play a game with either my mom or dad but none of them wanted to play and one will might play with me.
I went to McDonald’s for lunch and after that I went to see the Chippmunck Adveuncher and Mommy took me to all those places.
I know the cool thing these days is to shun all processed foods and go organic, macrobiotic, and other things that end in ick– er, I mean ic. And I do eat my share of salads, brown rice, fruit, and things that are grilled or steamed. But about once a year, I get a craving for McDonald’s fries, and I have to succumb to it.