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[December, 1995] Epic Birthday Weekend, Part 1

 

RIP, B. Dalton

RIP, B. Dalton

12/24/95

I had the best time last night. I had more fun at The Bank than at any concert I ever attended. But before I talk about that, I must recount what happened when Anita and I were in B. Dalton earlier on.

[The Bank was one of NYC’s main goth clubs. There will be many many many mentions of The Bank in future diary entries, so remember it has nothing to do with financial institutions. 

A word on B. Dalton. Located on the busy corner of 6th Avenue and 8th Street, even though it was a chain, the bookstore had it’s useful role in the Village landscape, at least to me and Anita. They had a decent magazine section upstairs and we could just hang out upstairs and read without getting hassled by anybody. That night, we were both in full goth garb, heavy eyeliner, all of it, and had some time to kill before meeting a friend for dinner, so we stopped by there.]

The two of us were just sitting there on the floor reading magazines when this guy comes up to us and introduces himself (his name was Brad). Brad was pretty attractive and at first I thought he was trying to pick me up (he was talking to both of us but standing nearer to me. Plus I was flirting—sorta). Then he says he’s from Alaska and to prove that people over there also dress up like that [gothy] he takes a Polaroid out and hands it to me. The photo was him in full goth make-up and clothing (the make-up was gorgeous. Tons of black eyeliner coming in streaks of lightning from his eyes). He looked amazing. Then he asked if he gave us his address would we write to him. I enthusiastically said “of course!” and he handed me a slip of paper with his name (in parenthases he had written “guy from bookstore” and Anita and I did wonder how long he observed us before he came over).

Actually, he’s from New York but goes to school in Homer, AK (!). He wants to be a screenwriter. I asked what he listens to and he took a tape out of his Walkman that said “this is just goth enough” and showed me the case (it was a mix). Then he said I could listen to it and mail it back to him. Then before he went he said if I really liked it, I could just keep it and make Anita a copy. I told him it was really hard for me to give the picture back and he said he’d make me a color photocopy of it.

This was just such an incredible thing to have happened, especially in New York. Brad said that living in Alaska for a year changed him, that a year ago he wouldn’t have been able to approach us like that. Well, my evening was made, and before we even got to The Bank.

...

[Talk about meeting cute. For a girl who grew up on a steady diet of fantastical tales of modern romance, having something like this happen was a dangerous affirmation on two fronts. First, it made me believe that if something like this could happen, that all of those movies I watched, all the love stories I absorbed and fell in love with myself, were real. Second, it made me believe that the rest of my life could be like a movie: well-scripted, perfectly-timed and plotted, and (most importantly, but of course) romantic. It’s dangerous for something like this to happen to someone so young and prone to flights of fancy, but also tremendously wonderful. I’d pay the price with many doses of reality later on.]

But before that, a few words on my birthday. It’s the best one I can remember. I love being 18. On Friday my parents took me to Atlantic City where I was able to sneak into a casino (the Showboat) and gamble for hours at this computer that had 10 different games. I lost but it was still fun. In the evening we had a lovely dinner at Nino’s, where I got a bit drunk on Margaritas and Frangelico. It was a great day. Yesterday was cooler, though!

Gotta love completely over the top casino decor.

Gotta love completely over the top casino decor.

[I realize my family is unlike other families in that gambling was one of the few things my parents and I had in common and a deep passion (the few other things the three of us loved being ABBA, unagi sushi, and the movie Ishtar—yes really). Never mind that the legal gambling and drinking age was 21, my parents thought 18 was a more appropriate age to start really partaking in vices, and I thank them for it. In the years that followed, no matter how badly we fought, Mom, Dad and I could always guarantee a peaceful, fun day if it was spent in a casino.]

OK, The Bank. We got there early. First, Dava and I went to a deli for a while. We came back and were told it would be another half hour before it opened. But they did let us come inside to wait instead of making us stay out in the cold. And a guy who worked there asked if we had passes and we said no, but he told us he’d give us pass price anyway (let us pay $7 instead of $12).

I’m not in the mood to finish this write [sic] now, but I will eventually.

Aren’t you so glad I took the time to write about the very beginning (and boring) part of the story of going to my first goth club in those last few sentences? And then stopped? I debated leaving that part out, but I couldn’t deprive you, dear reader, of not knowing what happened in that suspenseful half hour when we reached the club early (which is nothing!). But “fun” fact: the deli we waited in was Katz’s, a New York institution and the setting for the “I’ll have what she’s having” orgasm scene in When Harry Met Sally… 

Anyway, that night. That entire weekend. Possibly the best in my life up to that point. Meeting Brad set the tone for what would be a year filled with tremendous surprises. I don’t want to spoil any of them here, but I will say I still have that piece of paper he gave me scrawled with his name and number and “guy from bookstore.” 

[January, 1994] Bittersweet Sixteen

November 15, 2010 4 comments

 

Tuesday, January 11, 1994

Dear Journal,

Let’s go back in time a little bit. My birthday party was really fun. Twenty people came and I had it catered. There was also a caricaturist and a cake with a Harley Davidson on it. I don’t think I stayed in place more than a couple of minutes. On my actual birthday my parents took me to the Harley Davidson Café which is the coolest place. There is this long list of famous people who have Harleys and Larry Mullen Jnr was on the list (though his name was spelled “Jr” not “Jnr,” the way that most people spell it. I like the fact that he tries to be different.

New Years was kind of boring. I stayed home with my parents. I’m happy that I haven’t made any resolutions for this year.

Today I’m staying home from school. There is a story behind this. Lately there have been many storms in New York. Not snow but ice. Yesterday Holly, Tyra and I were going to lunch and were walking down an icy sidewalk. I didn’t realize that we were walking on such flat ice and before I knew it I was falling. I put my hand down to break the fall and landed right on it. When I stood I could barely move my left hand. After school my parents took me to a doctor and he took an x-ray. The verdict: my wrist is very badly sprained. It kind of hurts (sometimes more than others) and it’s a pain doing things with one hand.

I didn’t have the elaborate Sweet Sixteen that a number of my more financially solvent friends had, with a rented hall, a DJ, formal wear, and a giant cake wheeled out for a special candle-lighting ceremony. This didn’t bother me; I was perfectly content with pigs in a blanket, a few balloons, a caricaturist, and a Harley cake.  With regards to the Harley Davidson thing, I’ll be honest. It had less to do with my own budding interest in V-twin engines and all about Larry Mullen Jr’s own interest in them. You know how when you like a guy sometimes you start to like the things he does? It was a similar thing, except that the guy in question happened to the drummer for one of the most famous bands in the world.

As for the sprained wrist, part of me still wishes I sued Hunter College High School. The walkways near the courtyard were covered with sheets of ice and it was the school’s responsibility to make sure they weren’t a safety hazard for the students. I still remember how my friends laughed when my feet flew out from under me (hey, I would have laughed too) and how I shook off the injury until the pain was so bad I couldn’t pick up a french fry and I was near tears. I would have had a case if I sued. But whether it was laziness or my parents not wanting any bad blood between me and the school, they ended up footing the medical bill. Luckily, it was the worst bodily injury I ever suffered and haven’t sprained or broken anything since.

[December, 1992] U2, The Gap, Swatches, Doc Martens…

 

one of my favorite U2 albums to this day

Monday, December 21, 1992

Dear Journal,

My birthday is tomorrow and I am very excited. Yesterday my mom and I went to Manhattan and it was great. We went to the “Gap” first and I got a whole bunch of new stuff. Then we went to A&S where I got a tape for myself (U2, “Boy”) and one as a present (Genesis, “ABACAB”). I also got a book there. Then we went to Macy’s where I got a new watch (it is a really pretty Swatch). Also my starter jacket and Doc Martens were part of my birthday/Hanukka presents. I love all the stuff I got. Oh yeah. My parents also got me “Poison” (it’s a perfume by Christian Dior and it smells really good).

[After many, many, many instances of exhibiting what some might consider questionable music taste, I finally got to fulfill somebody else’s sonic guilty pleasure. Whether Genesis surpasses Samantha Fox in cheesiness is up for debate, but I vote hell-to-the-yes. I’d rather listen to “Naughty Girls (Need Love Too)” over Phil Collins any day.

As for The Gap, starter jackets, Swatch watches and Doc Martens, welcome to the 1990’s, where plaid shirts, combat boots, puffy sport-related outerwear and colorful plastic timepieces reign supreme. It was the year I was a slave to the trends, though I still kept a bright palate. Despite never seeing a basketball game in my life, I selected a jacket for the Charlotte Hornets, simply because it was teal and purple and I found it pretty. (Full disclosure: I even had to double check that the Hornets were in fact a basketball team. Just now. True story.)

 

Oh cassette tape, how much impractical nostalgia I have for you...

I got some of my presents already from my friends. I got a U2 tape (“The Joshua Tree”) from Linda. In case you haven’t noticed, I am really into the group U2 right now.

[Though clearly I still hadn’t noticed that my diary was an object incapable of observation, not being a living thing and all.]

At the moment, they are my favorite. I also got some jewelry from Renee and Erica (both on the bus). Last but absolutely, posotively not least Didi gave me a Swatch too! I was expecting a plaid shirt and was really surprised. It is really pretty, pinkish purple with anchors and square knots all over it. That is just the beginning. I am going to get even more presents tomorrow and the day after that.

Well, I really should try to get some sleep for tomorrow because not only is it my birthday, but we also have a big science test. I don’t think I’m gonna do well. Oh well. ~See ya!

So let’s review. I was 14-going-on-15, my fashion philosophy could best be described as “Technicolor lumberjack,” and I was become increasingly obsessed with U2. I guess it could be worse.

Considering my girly-pop musical track record, it still surprises me that the first band that would form the backbone of my musical evolution would be a straight up rock band like U2. The best way I can describe it is like falling in love. You might have a type, you might have inclinations, but you can never predict what will capture your heart. Something about Bono’s earnest and feverish voice, The Edge’s soaring guitar riffs, Larry Mullen’s brooding handsomeness and adorable eyelashes drumming really captivated me (Adam Clayton was okay, too, I guess). Never before in my life had I found so much passion in music.

And while we’re on the topic of music and passion, here’s something else I was stubbornly fervent about: cassettes. I was building up quite the tape collection, despite a supposedly superior music format that was becoming increasingly popular. I resisted the “compact disc” hype, refused to pay more money for CDs (“we’ll see how long they last…” I’d scoff and roll my eyes) and swore loyalty to my cassettes. Because surely they would be around forever…

[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.

[April, 1990] LOTS to Tell You

February 23, 2010 1 comment

 

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April 21, 1990

Dear Journal,

I have LOTS to tell you!

[This is the beauty and also the danger of keeping a typed journal: it’s easy to write quickly and to produce a greater volume of words…which is maybe not always the best thing for a twelve year old.]

Let’s start with Thursday. Well Chen-chi said that she didn’t want to do it because she didn’t want to hurt Mitch and Rose, so I told her that it was O.K. and not to tell ANYONE.

So we told Rose and I guess that she believed it and she said that she just wanted to date him for fun. (SLUT!!!)

[A. I should have had misgivings the second Chen-chi backed out. Half of a revenge scheme is no scheme at all.  B. Yeah, I don’t know why I considered Rose a slut when Mitch was the one asking every girl in Brooklyn with a pair of acid washed jeans out on dates.  And heaven forbid a pre-teen girl want to go out with a boy for fun.  Not like I was still bitter or anything.]

Anyway, we didn’t tell Mitch about Rose yet because we couldn’t really think of a way to tell him so that he would believe us.

Well anyway, in the afternoon a lot of us had to go to the gym for “Jump Rope for Heart*” and afterwards I found out that Chen-chi told sleaze EVERYTHING!!!

I was (and still am) FURIOUS! That Bitch has such a big mouth!!! I hate her!!!!!!!!!!!

[Hm, karma much? Somehow I had conveniently forgotten ratting Chen-chi out for that egg on Halloween. Not that she knew it, but I absolutely had it coming.]

Well on to Sam’s surprise party. He was SO RED when we all yelled “Surprise!”!

It was SO much FUN! His parents even ordered a five foot hero! And later we played “Spin the Bottle”! (Sean’s mother even offered it!) I couldn’t believe it but I even had to kiss Mitch 3 times! 2 times on the cheek and once on the LIPS! And Elaine even had to go with him (as in French, tongue to tongue!)! If Rose found out about it she would be SO mad!

Sam was really nice to everyone (as usual) but I think that he was being especially nice to me. I really hope that he likes me because I’m beginning to like him more than I ever did before!

Nothing says “fun party” like a sandwich you need two people to carry and impromptu smooching games. I don’t know what kind of liberal mother Sam had that she would actually suggest a game of Spin the Bottle to a bunch of kids. I’m no parenting expert, but isn’t that, you know, the exact opposite of what you hope happens at your child’s party? Don’t you want your little boy to stay one for that much longer instead of throwing him into a circle of prepubescent girls with a bottle? I remember Mrs. P even went into the other room when we started playing, to give us privacy. I can only imagine what she organized for his thirteenth birthday (strip poker?).

Also, the irony wasn’t lost on me that Mitch and I did more kissing after our break-up than during the entire time we went out. Maybe Mrs. P should have tagged along at one of our dates.

* For those who never participated in a Jump Rope For Heart fundraiser, it is just like a race or walkathon or whatever way folks physically exert themselves for a cause nowadays. This fundraiser involved spending an afternoon jumping rope in shifts after going around the neighborhood pestering everyone we knew to sponsor us. Our meager proceeds went to The Heart Foundation and the entire thing was a nice way to get a yellow t-shirt and make us feel like we were making a significant contribution to society. One jump rope at a time.

[December, 1989] You Never Can Tell…

December 8, 2009 3 comments

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12/24/89

Dear Journal, My birthday party was rad! It was so cool. I got a bunch of neat stuff.

Vito C asked me out and I said, “no.” When I told Mitch he said “pretty good” and I wanted to know what that was supposed to mean but he just said “forget it.” Mitch wanted to take me out yesterday but he has the flu so he will take me out next Saturday.

I really think that Mitchell wants to go steady with me. I don’t know, but it’s so easy being with him. I feel so comfortable and not nervouse.

I have heard some bad things about Mitch but I will believe when I see it! If I see it! I can’t wait until our date!

I hope he kisses me! I have to admit that I think I’m falling in love. You never can tell can you?

So here I was, twelve years old, feeling unexpectedly sophisticated and popular, and navigating new dating waters.  I don’t remember what the negative gossip surrounding Mitch was, but I do know I didn’t bother to get details or ask Mitch about his bad reputation directly. Why bother with common sense when I could let my emotions rule? What’s the worst that could happen. As for Vito, while telling Mitch about him have been smart in that it made me seem desired by other guys, I wonder whether it also made me a little too available and eager to commit after one date because I was so quick to say no to another prospect.  I wouldn’t have gone out with Vito regardless,  but this may have shifted the balance of power a little more in Mitch’s favor.

I’m still not sure exactly what Mitch meant when he said “pretty good.” Was he complimenting my feminine wiles at being able to lure two suitors in a short space of time? Was he impressed that it was Vito? Was he pleased that I confided in him and showed him such loyalty early on? You never can tell…

[December, 1989] Beaches and Other Scary Movies

December 1, 2009 10 comments

 

(spoiler alert: one of them doesn't make it)

12/15/89

Dear Journal,

I just (well a few hours ago.) saw the movie “beaches” again and it was really sad at the end. It’s about this friendship that these two girls have and one of them dies at the end (that’s why it’s so sad). It got me thinking about friendship and how I would feel if one of my good (or even best!) friends died. I would be so depressed and miserable, I don’t know what I would do.

Well let’s move on to a happier subject. Like my date with Mitch (which is tomorrow by the way.) I hope it goes all right.

Also my birthday is coming up and my party is going to have a horror theme. We are going to see a horror movie then tell ghost stories, have some food then play with my Ouija board.

In case it’s still not clear, it’s sad because of the death in the movie. Of the friend. At the end.

Ah, Beaches. For those not up on their chick flicks, Bette Midler plays a bold and brassy gal (I know, so very unlike her other characters) who forges a lifelong friendship with a sensible and cautious gal (Barbara Hershey). What could they possibly have in common, you ask? Well, not a whole lot, but you know what they say about opposites (“they,” in the late 80’s, being Paula Abdul and a  cartoon cat). There’s fighting, singing, crying, dying, and more crying. All to the tune of a soundtrack sung by the Diving Miss M herself, who made us take stock and ask who the wind beneath our wings might be. Despite its somber conclusion, the film has moments of levity, plus plenty of shoulder pads, big hair, and a musical sequence about the invention of the bra (you owe it to yourself to hear “Otto Titsling” at least once in your life if you never have).

To me, Beaches is a scary movie because it shows the fragility of friendship and of life itself. However, others out there might consider it  to be a horror movie because of  its abundance of female emotion and sentimentality. Either way, it was not part of my impending birthday’s theme.

As I previously mentioned, my parents let me immerse myself in all kinds of media related to paranormal phenomena, but they didn’t let me watch scary movies. Nothing with Freddy or Jason or Michael Myers or anything of that ilk. Initially they forbade horror movies until I was 13, but decided to loosen up and end the moratorium a year early. Clearly, I decided to really run with the theme.

What better way to celebrate the anniversary of your birth than seeing a bunch of people die onscreen, tell stories about dead people, and then try to actually talk to dead people using a toy/instrument of the occult? Sounds like my idea of a good time!