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[December 1992] Dreams: Part II

 

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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.)

[September, 1992] Different Yet Still the Same

 

some equations are more complicated...

Friday, September 11, 1992

Dear Journal,

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.

-More Later

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…

[July, 1992] My Dying Soul…Or Something

Saturday, July 25, 1992

Dear Journal,

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).]

“Put the pen down, 14-year old me!”

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?
–Damiella

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.

[July, 1992] Can We Tawk?

Wednesday, July 1, 1992

Dear Journal,

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).

Mona Lisa Vito (played by Marisa Tomei) in My Cousin Vinny

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.

lies, all lies!

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

[April, 1992] Mann & Machine & Me

 

So nice, they put Yancy on the DVD cover twice.

Friday, April 10, 1992

Dear Journal.

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.

[December, 1991] New Year, Same Resolutions

 

this looks familiar...

Monday, Decenmber 30, 1991

Dear Journal,

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…

[August, 1991] Hold On

Wednesday, August 28, 1991

Dear Journal,

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.]

Early 90's pop "supergroup" Wilson Phillips

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.