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[October, 1994] Half-Past Caring

February 7, 2011 4 comments

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10/8/94

“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.

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[March, 1993] Sick Mind

September 1, 2010 2 comments

[I debated leaving this entry out. It was written during a dark time and paints me in a rather morbid, petty, envious, and depressed state of mind. Things were tense at home. But as The Breakfast Club put it, “Everyone’s home life is unsatisfying. If it wasn’t, people would live with their parents forever.” So I’ll go easy on the judging if you do. Except for the fact that I was 15 and still misspelling “Tuesday.” There’s no excuse for that.]

Teusday, March 30, 1993

Dear Journal,

I’m kind of bored. Even though it’s past 10:00 I don’t feel like going to sleep. Sometimes I wish I would get like no sleep the whole week and get all pale. Then I wouldn’t eat for like a week and get all thin until one day I just pass out in class from exhaustion and starvation. I have a really sick mind.

[That and I read way too many young adult novels about girls with cancer, eating disorders, and less common maladies like cystic fibrosis. I won’t say these books glamorized illness, but there was a macabre appeal to the ailing protagonists. They had a sickly skinny beauty, garnered a certain amount of sympathy and attention, and were revered for their strength through adversity. Or mourned for their short and poignant lives if they didn’t beat the disease. Either way, I can’t deny the allure of being such a tragic and admired figure… except I wanted the fast track where I could just not eat or sleep for a week instead of going the whole illness route.]

Joyce and Duane really like each other and could be going out any day now. Just as soon as she breaks up with her other boyfriend (Bitch. Oops! Did I say that? Oh my. Actually I really don’t have much against her but she just gets to me. I don’t even know why I’m mentioning her in my diary but I need something to talk about.

[Well, we can always talk about my inability to close a parenthesis and the frustrating experience that occurs as a result. What we shouldn’t talk about is how unpleasant all this covetousness is. Trust me, I know.]

I’m not in a very good mood, and I don’t really know why. Life, I guess. Just everything. Vacation is coming up soon. Good. I want to just sit around doing nothing for a while. It will be nice not having so much stuff to do. Damn, I’m so moody. I wish I weren’t me.

The more things seem to change, the less they really do. I could say those very same words these days; still moody, still stressed, still need a break now and again. Life still has its moments where it kicks my ass, with one crucial difference: I don’t want to be someone else. Not the sick girl or the popular girl or whatever other girl seems to have a more fascinating life than my own. I’m riddled with imperfections (hello, human here) and might wish some things were different, but overall, I am cool with being me.

[December, 1992] Dreams: Part I

Tuesday, December 29th, 1992

Dear Journal,

My birthday was great. I got a lot of great presents from my friends. All together I got 6 U2 tapes! I also got some great jewelry and an engagement/planner type book full of Van Gogh paintings (he is my favorite artist).

"Irises" 1889 by Vincent van Gogh

Even though it is vacation, I have been thinking about Will so much. For the past 5 days I have dreamt about him.

[Traditionally, I only dreamed of a boy if I really liked him (at least according to a previous diary entry). In this case, it was more than just the crush on Will. The day before winter break, he somehow  found out I liked him. Didi caught him writing about it in a note to a female classmate he was friends with. I was horrified, especially since this discovery clearly indicated he did not reciprocate my feelings. It was a special brand of teenage mortification, hence the five nights of being tormented by his guest appearance in my dreams. Let the nightmarathon roll!]

Day 1: Didi and I are sitting in a café and Will is there. There have been some new students that have entered our school and somebody was reading down the list. When the person got to a girl named Viola he said:

“Yes, that is the girl I’m going out with.” He said in the obvious way so I would hear and get upset.

Will and I moved to a smaller table and I thought that I was going to cry.

This is where it gets weird. We move back to the big table where other people join us. Then somebody spilled all these beans or lentils or something and we all start trying to clean them up. I start sweeping them off the table and the waitress goes: “Why don’t you make more of a mess?”

[Not a whole lot to interpret here. I mean, somebody actually spilled some beans. More text than subtext, really.]

"Waiting Room" 1882 - Vincent Van Gogh

Day 2: Will was sitting many, many seats away from Didi. Yet there he was, all of the sudden, sitting next to Didi. He wanted to sit next to her because he wanted to tell her something. What he told her is that he didn’t like me. And I don’t mean it that way. I mean at all. How rude.

[Yeah, figment-of-my-dream-Will! Learn some manners! Maybe that’ll make you appreciate how delightful my 15-year-old self is, dammit!]

Day 3: I don’t remember specific things but I know he was there in class and I was talking to him.

[And what really matters is that he was there, torturing my subconscious with his mere presence. Insert wistful adolescent sigh here.]

Day 4: I was going to walk to Radio City Music Hall to see the Christmas spectacular and it was raining. Will was talking to Didi and he goes, “She’s going to walk there all by herself in the rain? Without an umbrella?” He was genuinely worried about me (or at least as genuine as you can get in a dream).

[This one is my favorite, because it has a nice mix of pathos, restraint, and paranoia.]

Day 5 (yesterday): I was in art class and we were drawing these strips that were all different colors. We had to do 24 of them and I did my 24. Since I was done, and kind of sad I decided to go in the closet for a while because I was really not in the mood to face anyone (especially Will).

After some time I came out and saw that Tyra was sitting next to him so I asked her if she would move over so I could sit next to him. She did, I sat down and then he begins to insult me! I don’t remember what he said but it was this whole long monologue/list of insults. I put my hands over my face and was going to cry.

Clearly, my dream self should have never come out of the closet.

This diary entry went on for pages and pages swooning about Will, which I have edited out (you’re welcome).

As for Didi’s presence, she was instrumental in what little contact I had with Will before the dream- and proverbial beans were spilled. We both shared several classes with Will and Grant, in classrooms where there were no assigned seats, and chair-desks were arranged in a loose circle. Didi and I would get to class early and engage in a subtle-but-painfully-calculated ritual in which we would move around the chairs in order to maximize the possibility of having our crushes sit next to us. It may sound a little crazy (agreed), and I couldn’t tell you the methodology behind the madness, but I swear it worked about 80% of the time.

Until Will found out I liked him. Then I tried to sit as far away from him as possible.

[October, 1992] The Survivor Crowd

Friday, October 3, 1992

Dear Journal,

Hozumi said something today that really stayed with me. You see Joyce has had a crush on this guy Rodrigo since seventh grade. He is sort of “popular.” Hozumi calls that the “survivor crowd.” They are not really “popular” because then we would all like them. But we don’t. Anyway she said that it really sucks liking someone from the survivor crowd because they can never go out with you because you are not a survivor.

(but sometimes you do)

That is exactly the way it is with me, except Joyce is thin, pretty and talented (although she is really down on herself, which pisses me off!) and I’m just Blah!

Reed (on the bus, sometimes) is a “meatal-head.” His father died a while ago. Hozumi is also a “meatal-head” (It’s not an insult or anything). Her father is an alcoholic (she admitted it in Art). I think that this whole thing (the music, the clothes…) aside from they might like it, I think it’s an escape. From reality I suppose. They are kind of lucky, though because they have this sort of façade and everybody leaves them alone. Nobody knows what they are really thinking or anything. It’s not that they don’t have friends, they have their own group, but mostly their life is kept secret unless they want to reveal something. It’s the same with everybody else but at the same time it’s different.

I am pretty unhappy right now. I feel lazy and apathetic. I don’t really think it’s just a phase, either. I am just feeling really hopeless right now. The only time I don’t feel that way is when I’m distracted somehow, or I’m laughing. Putting my feelings in writing helps though. If I had no mode of expression I (God forbid) might do something rash. I wish things were different. I better go to sleep now. I always feel better in the morning.

Despite my inability to spell always spell “metalhead” correctly, I was fascinated with this small subculture at Hunter (who, for the record, listened to hardcore, punk, and other genres besides metal). They were outcasts, but at the same time they had their own microcosm to exist in, even their own hallway at school. I wasn’t freak enough for the freak hallway, but felt out of place among the rest of my peers and dissatisfied at the idea of being ordinary. While I had a handful of friends at school, I still felt unpopular and uncomfortable in my skin. I think many of us felt that way. Joyce certainly did, though I couldn’t understand why. I guess it wasn’t my place to understand her.

“Survivors” was a term referred to the core group of kids left over from Hunter Elementary School who attended the high school (and didn’t have to test to get in). They were usually wealthy and attractive kids and formed the root of the “popular” crowd. It was easy to feel diminished by their elitism, but when you don’t like yourself, it’s easy to feel diminished by anything and anyone. The truth is, I never really knew the “survivors” and could only imagine that they were more fortunate, their lives somehow better. In actuality, we all had aspects of our lives that were kept secret, we all had our battle scars. And maybe some were blessed with more looks, money, talent, or brains, but we were all trying to survive a challenging academic environment and the trials of adolescence.

I wish I could go back and tell my fourteen-year-old self that things would be immeasurably better in later years, but at the time, it didn’t feel that way. And besides, new struggles have a way of replacing the old ones and I had to learn coping mechanisms somehow. Difficulty and depression come and go; the best we can hope for is a strong spirit and plenty of endurance.

In a sense, we were all part of the survivor crowd back then. And we all still are today.

[December, 1990] The Beginning of the End

Saturday, Dec. 15, 1990

Dear Diary,

I’ve decided to continue with my writing since I just got a new diary. I don’t know if I would’ve started writing if I didn’t get this diary.

no gift like the present

Today I had my birthday party (my real birthday is on December 22, in a week).

I had so much fun! I got a lot of great presents! Yanmei got me “Exclamation!” (the perfume). Myrna gave me 50 dollars (Whoa!), Nisa got me this good book and a pair of earrings (they’re okay), Joyce got me this great purple turtleneck with a white shirt with gold beads on it (She also got me socks and stockings to wear it with!), Chen-chi got me these beautiful ceramic swans (two of them in black), Helen got me this cool earring and necklace set (they are gold and in a leopard pattern). My parents got me a lot of stuff (including two Nintendo games, two movies, a walkman…)

I had such a blast! (I think everyone else did too.) Oops! I left an important thing out! Rose gave me this diary for my birthday! I love it.

I blew out all the candles on my cake and made a wish that Darryl N would like me. It was worth a shot! A lot of other stuff happened, but I don’t want to use up all the pages in one entry!

I just want to say one more thing. Tonight I found out a big secret about Joyce. She’s adopted! I suspected it before, but now I know for sure. I feel so bad for her, and I know I’m really lucky to have a pair of wonderful parents who love me. I’ll be sure not to act very different around her. I’m glad though that she has a great guardian. And I hope Joyce and me will stay friends.

This new diary I received was pale pink, with combination lock and watercolor drawing of a teddy bear wearing a bow, sitting at a window beside a tea-cup.  On the inside cover, written (a year or two later) in big letters was the following quote:

AND YOU CAN DREAM

SO DREAM OUT LOUD

–“Acrobat” (U2)

As for Joyce’s “big secret,” I don’t know why I felt the need to remind myself I not to act differently around her.  It’s not like I discovered she killed someone or had a life-threatening/contagious disease.  But I guess I was still used to more traditional family structures and had never met anyone adopted before.

This only made Joyce more exotic and fascinating to me.  And as much as I wanted the two of us to remain friends, we didn’t. While we were both shy and insecure 7th-graders, Joyce went on to thrive in athletics, becoming a track star and one of the more popular girls in our grade.  I would become…well, neither of those things.  Helen, another new Hunter friend, also became popular and quickly faded out of my circle of friends.

In fact, within a year I would lost touch with most of the old and new friends who attended my 13th birthday party.

This entry, poised on the cusp of teenagehood, is one of the happier ones in the diary, and also one of the last times I’d show genuine gratitude and affection for both of my parents for years to come. And in case you’re wondering, I’m almost positive that one of the Nintendo games I received was Dr. Mario.

[May, 1990] Are You There God? It’s Me, Damiella

February 25, 2010 8 comments

[I seriously considered leaving this entry out of The Diary Project, to spare myself the many layers of embarrassment contained therein. I decided there was too much for me to mock to keep it private.]

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May 15th, 1990

Dear Journal,

Well there’s not really much to tell you.

[Except that there is. This entry was so long and juicy (that’s what she said) that I ecided to split it up into two blog posts.]

I wrote a fan letter to New Kids on the Block (well Yan Mei wrote most of it and put Carmella Louise, hers and my name on it.) and I wrote one to Debbie Gibson.

[I don’t know what’s worse, the fact that I was involved in the writing of a fan letter to New Kids on the Block, or the fact that I didn’t even write most of the damn thing and just added my name to the bottom. You be the judge. I just wish I saved a copy of the letter I wrote to Debbie Gibson, because I’m sure it would be highly amusing to read today.]

Well I am going to be graduating very soon, and we are going to have a prom. It will probably be so much fun.

I am going on a trip to Philadelphia with my class on May 22 and we are going to spend the whole day going to museums and other places and learning a lot of new things.

I also think that I am going to have my period very soon, because I get cramps pretty often and today I even got a twitch in my leg, and even though Mom says that it’s just nothing, I read somewhere and some one told me that you get these twitches before you get your period.

I hope that I don’t get it in school, because it would be VERY embarrassing, especially if anyone noticed.

[No, what is truly, truly outrageous embarrassing is that I believed a leg twitch was an omen for menstruation. And that I was actually eager for this cursed event to actually happen.

I blame Judy Blume.

Her classic young adult novel and ode to menstruation, Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret, made puberty this desirable thing. Blume somehow, bafflingly, portrayed a girl getting her period as this cool thing, like a badge of honor. It was an invitation to be part of an older, more with-it, more mature group of not girls (oh no) but women. I wanted that. Had I known the physical discomfort, emotional wretchedness, and ick factor that accompanied the monthly event, I would not have been so impatient. Now I wish I could visit my twelve-year-old self, shake some sense into her, and make her enjoy the few period-free years she had left.]

Today in Family Living class, we were talking about the changes that a girl goes through during Preadolescence and a lot of things that the teacher mentioned are happening to me right now, for example: I am a lot more sensitive now and I cry quite often, and I am growing a lot of hair you-know-where, and my breasts are beginning to grow, also.

In other words, I probably should have been surrounded by flashing hazard lights and enveloped with “CRIME SCENE DO NOT CROSS” tape. And mind you, this was all before my first bout with PMS. So much for me to “look forward” to…