Sunday, July 26, 1993
I’ve been back a week now. Let me tell you about the rest of the cruise before I talk about other things.
In St. Thomas I went scuba diving. It was really great. I felt like I was in another world. I had been snorkeling before but there I was actually down 20ft under the water and breathing. I’d love to do it again. Nothing happened w/Jack. Too young and too immature (besides, he has a girlfriend).
[Blah blah, breathing underwater, blah. As if mermaids don't do it all the time. Okay, so it was pretty exhilarating and a little bit scary, not knowing if there might be a creature that could sting or bite around the corner, depending on a clunky tank of oxygen not to drown, etc. As much as I loved it, I don't think the mermaid life is for me. Oh, and Jack? Yeah, as if his immaturity had anything to do with it and I wouldn't have sucked face with him at the slightest chance. There just wasn't one on the cruise. Just a rumored girlfriend. Bah.]
Anyway on to other things. Before I went on the cruise I spent almost a week at my cousin Jenna’s house in Connecticut. That’s where I got the new U2 tape (“Zooropa.” It’s the best. No “Achtung Baby” is the best. It’s my favorite tape. But “Zooropa” is really good.). When I was there I got a letter. That is not very amazing because I get letters all the time. But not from Leon Lehman.
[Before we go on about boys (and get comfortable, because we will go on. And on. Take a load off, make some tea) a few words on U2. The budding interest I started taking in this Irish foursome around the time of my last birthday had by this point mutated into a full-on obsession (all the way). Achtung Baby was my album of the decade and Larry Mullen Jr, U2's drummer, my (hopefully) future husband despite the fact that Mom thought he had "a nose like a potato."]
I don’t know if I ever mentioned him before. He was on my bus the past 2 years and I’ve gone from fighting with him to flirting with him (I didn’t like him, I just liked flirting with him. It was fun) to being good friends with him. Before I left for Connecticut I wrote to him and when he wrote back I was surprised but very pleased. And the letter was really funny (I read it at least 3 times). I sent him a postcard when I was on the cruise and then I called him when I got back. I had a good excuse but we ended up staying on for more than an hour. The next day I wrote and mailed him a letter.
[Actually, I did mention Leon before in an entry where I said pretty much the same thing about liking to flirt with him. Which goes to show how repetitive consistent I can be. I don't know about you, but I don't think I've ever heavily flirted with someone who I wasn't at least mildly attracted to. Though while I found Leon empirically attractive, and while we had a rapport, I'm not sure that it was a romantic one.]
Anyway, the point is I’ve been thinking a lot about him and how I want to be really good friends with him. We have almost identical tastes in music (except for my little, okay humugous almost out-of-control obsession with U2) and both love those great 80’s songs. It’s almost like (don’t laugh ‘cause what I am about to write is kind of corny) he is my soul mate. I think he is such a wonderful person but I don’t want to do anything too sudden or dramatic for fear of losing what tentative friendship we have. See, when school starts again Leon will only be taking the bus in the morning so I don’t want that to be the only time I can talk to him.
[I think it's rare to want a platonic relationship with someone you flirt with, but in Leon's case, it was true, not a matter of immaturity or having a girlfriend or some other excuse. Up to that point in my life, all my close friends were girls, so developing a friendship with a boy was new to me. Boys were for crushes, not friendships; my brain could not compute this new programming. And music was a big part of it. While Leon wasn't a U2 nut, he was a big fan of 80's music and we often talked of the songs we heard on retro stations, from Crowded House's "Don't Dream It's Over" to Cutting Crew's "(I Just) Died In Your Arms Tonight."]
A lot of this was sparked by some things he wrote in my yearbook. He said he thought that we had become great friends. He also said I was more human than some of the stuck-up snobs he knows, that we made each other laugh and that I was very pretty (Aw! Tell me this isn’t like the perfect, sweetest, most sensitive guy in the entire world). I wrote nice stuff in his yearbook too, by the way.
Now I’m not saying that I’m in love or even in “like” with him but I have been thinking incessantly about him. I want us to be really close (best?) friends.
[I guess what it came down to was that while Leon and I had a lot in common, could make each other laugh, and all that good stuff, I just didn't feel that same sort of spark that I did toward Mark or Jack or even Larry Mullen (but then, Larry was in a class of his own). Leon had all the qualities I wanted in a guy, but I wasn't sure that x-factor was there. I wasn't sure it was missing, or just hadn't developed.]
And if I’m not thinking about Leon, it’s U2. Today I went to a mall and bunch of flea markets with Didi and her parents and I ended up buying a video (“Achtung Baby: The Videos, the Cameos, and a whole lot of interference from Zoo T.V.) and two U2 shirts. I also wrote a letter to Larry Mullen Jr, through Island Records which I don’t expect to get any response. I would give anything to meet them but my next goal is to see a concert.
I’m both deeply regretful and deeply relieved that I don’t have a copy of that letter to fan letter to Larry.
I feel kind of bad for Didi, who bore the brunt of much of my U2 mania back then. She told me years later that I pretty much ruined the band for her with my over-zealousness. How bad was it? So bad that nobody could even utter the words “you too” without me immediately perking up and asking, “U2? Where?” Sorry, Didi.
As for Leon, he is still in my life today and I can safely say he is not my romantic soul mate, though he is a good friend. If and when he reads this post, he may get quite a chuckle out of it.
Lehman, this one’s for you.
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.
I just came back from my trip and it was super!!!
I met this gorgeous guy, his name is Francis and he lives in Brooklyn, not too far away from me. I met a lot of people. Here are their names: Liev, Martha, Marina, Ilena, Carrie, Mark and Glen.
Also, I got my First KISS.
We were playing a game called “spin the bottle” and I kissed Francis twice on the cheek and he kissed me 3 times on the cheek and 2 times ON THE LIPS!!!!
I really like him and he likes me. He lives like 15 blocks away from me. Ilena is giving me his address. I still can’t believe I got kissed on the lips by this GEORGEOS boy. My mom saw me with him and she likes him. You never know what will happen.
Wow, My First KISS!
With all these gorgeous boys crossing my path, you’d think I’d take time to learn to spell the word correctly, but alas. The important thing is that I finally got a smooch from one of these “georgeous” fellas.
The momentous experience took place at a bungalow colony in upstate New York. In the summertime, it was common for groups of Russian Jewish families to gather in these ramshackle living quarters near enough to a body of water and let their kids run rampant.
Some of our youthful escapades were innocent enough, like playing handball or holding séances or singing Cyndi Lauper and Little Mermaid songs in a gazebo pretending it’s a stage (that last one might have just been me). Other activities were more questionable, like playing Seven Minutes in Heaven and Spin the Bottle.
One night, a group of us gathered in a circle beside the outdoor pool with a discarded glass bottle. Someone took the first spin and I began to fervently pray that Francis’ spins would land on me. The only thing I remember about Francis is that he had blonde hair and green eyes, and he wasn’t a jerk. That was enough for me to be over the moon when I got to kiss him, not once but two times. Even though they were quick pecks on the lips, I remember buzzing with excitement long after the game was over, unable to sleep after such a new and thrilling experience.
For some reason, despite keeping up with regular entries to the composition book journal, I still wrote in the Hello Kitty diary from time to time. It had three sections of pages: pink, then yellow, then blue. I think the completist in me was determined not to waste paper and make it to the blue pages, though I never even made it out of the pink ones. I ended up mostly sticking with the composition book, but these rare entries show a snapshot of where I was at the time with less filler (despite the repetition of content). A prime example:
I don’t like Charles anymore (he’s a pain in the !?!?!?) but I am madly in love with George. But the good thing is I think he also likes me! I hope he asks me out and that my parents will let me go out with him.
I still love Jonas and a lot!!! But I know it’s impossible for anything to happen with us, but me and George have a chance to get something started.
Me and Marcela (the bitch) are not friends anymore because she walked out on my birthday party which went even better without her.
-Bye- (4 now)
The last time I mentioned George was back in November, 1989, when he started to tell me something that I suspected was a confession of love (or at the very least, strong like). Despite rarely mentioning him in the other journal, I evidently still carried this torch for my opponent to the vice presidential race of our elementary school. What baffles me today is how I interpreted his ambivalence back then as reciprocated interest. Good thing you can cut an eleven-year-old some slack for being clueless in matters of dating (as for later years…well, we have plenty of time before we get to those comedies/tragedies of errors).
And Jonas. Oy, again with the cute third grade hall monitor. I’m awed and embarrassed at how many entries there are in both diaries devoted to Jonas, years after he graduated and long after I randomly saw him at the movies. (I’m also editing a lot of them out of this blog… you’re welcome). At the very least, I was aware of the futility of any relationship. It’s kinda difficult to “get something started” when you never see the person you allegedly love “and a lot.”
I know it seems like I throw around the word “love” a lot in my diaries, and I do, but let’s review a list of some of the other people I “loved” at the time (parents notwithstanding): Debbie Gibson, Corey Haim, Cyndi Lauper, Stacy Q, Blair from The Facts of Life, and Madison the mermaid (as portrayed by Daryl Hannah in Splash). Need I say more?
On Friday I went to see the movie Twins with my parents. It was so much fun. We got pop-corn an ice cream and we played video games.
I had a real blast.
Me and Nisa are now as close as we were.
Rose and me sort of had a fight. We are still ok friends though I guess.
I just hope she does not get her mother involved in this.
The first movie my parents took me to see when we immigrated to America in 1982 was Splash. I fell in love with movies then and there. (I also decided I wanted to be a mermaid, despite the inconvenience in modern New York, especially when shady characters played by Eugene Levy were hunting you.) To this day, going to the movies is a treat for me, from the snacks to the previews to the hush that falls upon the audience when the opening credits roll.
Growing up, going to the movies was one of the main ways my parents and I bonded. We were amazed by the scenes that unfolded before us in darkened theaters and amazed by the snack counters. Much in the same way Beefsteak Charlie’s taught us eating unlimited plates of shrimp was okay, movie theaters taught us that gorging ourselves on tubs of popcorn and sodas the size of my torso was perfectly acceptable. It was the American way.
While I was quick to segue from my movie outing to my latest trouble with Nisa and Emily, let’s forget the friend drama for a moment and talk real drama. Let’s talk Arnold.
Most people who know me are surprised to find that I have a deep affection for the films of Arnold Schwarzenegger. Ask about my favorite films and I’ll mention a string of foreign/indie/arty/classic titles. But no matter how much of a film snob I become when discussing Felinni, Lynch, or Lubitch, the mere mention of an Arnold movie will make me light up with a different kind of enthusiasm.
I don’t know what it is, but I’ve always had a soft spot for this Austrian body-builder-turned-actor-turned-politician. Maybe because he was also Eastern European, and showed us how much an immigrant can accomplish in America. More likely, it was the fact that movies like Commando and Pretador were sheer thrill rides, but then he could turn his intimidating physique into a vehicle for comedy in movies like Twins and Kindergarten Cop. Sometimes the action and humor blended seamlessly and you got a movie like True Lies.
Generally, I prefer Arnold in the more dramatic roles, like the Terminator films and Total Recall. I didn’t even mind Eraser much (especially when a panicked Vanessa Williams scolds Arnold for being late in the middle of a shootout and he deadpans, “Traffic”). There’s something about his big hulking form and thick accent that I find thoroughly endearing. Watching him on film, Arnold has a vaguely bewildered air to him. As if he isn’t sure how he ended up a movie set, but decides early on that he is going to kick as much ass as possible while he’s there. And he does.
I haven’t kept up with his career as governor, but I have to admit I miss seeing the big lug on the big screen. Today’s blockbusters star special effects more than they do action heroes. Arnold was a true action icon. Despite his sense of humor, he still packed some serious muscle and authority. When he screams “GET TO DA CHOPPA!!!” you better listen.
Today I had a fight with Tolya and then somehow I got mad at Tina.
It was all through swimming and I felt mad and sad. I don’t know what I’m going to do.
Luckily, I was able to set my anger toward Yanmei, Marcela, and George long enough to develop hostility toward not one but two new targets. Tolya and Tina were a year older than me and the children of two Russian families my parents were friends with. For a while, they were like the older brother and sister I never had. They probably didn’t feel the same way, because whereas I was an only child, Tolya had an adorable younger brother and Tina had an older brother who was a jerk (he once set his t-shirt on fire with hairspray and a lighter to freak me out gave tedious soliloquies on how R.E.M.’s Green was the best album of all time). For the most part I got along well with Tolya and Tonya, and the three of us took weekly swimming lessons. Mostly these “lessons” meant listening to the instructor for the first 10 minutes, and spending the rest of the hour splashing around with my two friends and pretending to be a mermaid.
Naturally, I don’t recall what they said to me during our swimming that set me off, but if I had to guess, I’d say it had something to do with my height. Tolya and Tina, being ahead of the puberty curve, had their growth spurts early and enjoyed gloating about how they towered over me. Even though I would grow up to be nearly 5’7″ (three inches above the average female height), at the time, I was self-conscious about my smaller stature and found it offensive when those two freaks of puberty called me short.
Whether it really was about my height, whatever it was they said or did burned me up so much that it brought out the vengeful poet in me:
I made up this poem about them:
Tolya and Tina you’re going beserk,
Some people may like you, but I think you’re jerks,
Teddy and Tanya, you think you’re so hot,
I used to be you’re friend but now I’m not.
Move over Byron, Keats, and Shelly! There’s a new wordsmith in town…