Posts Tagged ‘fear’

[December, 1989] Beaches and Other Scary Movies

December 1, 2009 10 comments


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


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!


[November, 1989] Unsent Letters Part 3: Suicide Watch

November 13, 2009 3 comments


Don't do it! You have so much to live for!


Dear Chen-chi,

I am so worried about you. I heard about you trying to kill yourself by jumping in front of a car or jumping out the window but luckily people could and did stop you from doing it but I guess it was too late to stop you from taking those 11 high blood pressure pills.

But Why? Why did you take those pills.

I know things aren’t going too well with you getting pre-suspended but that was no reason to try to kill yourself. That will never solve any of your problems, it will just increase them.

I really hope that you will be alright and please don’t do anything like that again. You really scared me.

I know you will get better and I know things will get better so just hang in there.

Love, Your very sympathetic and worried good friend,


While I was seriously worried about Chen-chi and her multi-faceted suicide attempt, I wonder if some my concern stems from leftover feelings of guilt at narcing her out on Halloween.  I also wonder how I managed to believe so many theories as to how she tried to off herself. A car, a window, and an overdose of high blood pressure pills? Really? Really?

I can look back at the situation with a healthy dose of skepticism and question whether reports of Chen-chi’s suicide attempts were greatly exaggerated–if not completely fabricated. Back then, I didn’t question any of it, probably because I was too busy being a “very sympathetic and worried good friend.” One who never sent this letter or came clean about the Halloween incident.

[October, 1989] Drugs are Bad

November 9, 2009 4 comments


Dear Journal,

Today two people are going to come in and talk about drugs.


Did you say No?

I was probably too overwhelmed by the visit to write more about it.

That day was a somber one in the classroom, and our teacher told us to be on our best behavior and give our guests our full attention.

One of the visitors was a police officer, dressed in uniform, probably to intimidate us with his authority (in my case it worked, in spades).  The other was a civilian, probably a drug educator of sorts. They walked around the classroom with a small open suitcase which contained samples of drugs and drug paraphernalia, in order for us to more easily recognize narcotics and say “no.” There were also diagrams and we got a lecture about the dangers associated with the different drugs. Physiological effects were detailed and anecdotal evidence shared, such as the kid who smoked PCP, thought he could fly, and jumped out the window.

Up to that point, my only exposure to drugs was limited to what I had read in books and seen on television. In the Sweet Valley High series of books, one of the characters tried cocaine and died almost instantly of a heart attack. There was also that Very Special Episode of Growing Pains when Mike Seaver was offered coke by a pretty blonde played by Kristy Swanson (of Flowers in the Attic “fame”). There was also that now-iconic commercial where an upset Dad confronts his teen son about finding drugs in the youngster’s room, only to be told “I learned it by watching you, Dad!” All of these fictional incidents disturbed me and hammered home the point of how scary and dangerous drugs were.

None of these moments unsettled me quite like the school visit, though. I found it terribly spooky and could not understand why anybody would take drugs, why they would risk their lives for a temporary high.  Those classroom scare tactics made a believer out of me. I didn’t even touch a cigarette until I was 18.

[July, 1988] I Want to Believe…And I Do


Dear Diary,

I have a story to tell you.

Last night I saw a shooting star and a few minutes later I saw a…UFO!!!

It was flourecent orange and it flew in a zig-zag line then it just disappeared. I had to admit I was sort of scared.

"Don't pick me!"

"Don't pick me!"

When I was nine years old, my parents did not let me watch horror movies. They did, however, let me watch Sightings and Unsolved Mysteries and other shows featuring spooky phenomenon and somber reinactments. Little did they know that those programs would terrify me more than any hockey-mask-wearing or claw-weilding serial killer. Because I didn’t believe that a burned man in a striped sweater would kill me in my sleep, but I did believe that being abducted by aliens (and possibly experimented on) was a plausible scenario. One that remains terrifying to me in adulthood.

While that night proved to be thrilling, it also planted a seed of fear and an irrational phobia in me. When we returned to Brooklyn, I began reading more books and magazines about The Unexplained, finding myself increasingly fascinated, but also increasingly frightened. At night, when some kids might say a nightly prayer before bed, I would stare at the sky beyond beyond my window and say a prayer of my own, to any alien life flying around in their strange craft, to leave me alone. As far as I know, I have yet to be abducted (*knock on wood*).

To this day, I don’t know what I saw, but it wasn’t a plane and it wasn’t fireworks. My parents and I spent that summer at a bungalow colony with my a handful of other Russian families and a group of us witnessed the orange lights late one night. The adults exclaimed that it was a UFO and while there might have been some vodka flowing earlier that night, it wasn’t enough to induce mass hallucinations. Besides, I saw it too (years before my first taste of alcohol) and I can’t explain it, either.

Whether or not it was an alien spacecraft paying a visit, those orange lights and the shooting star that preceded them had a lot of influence on my life-long interest in cosmology and the paranormal. Whenever I am outside New York City and somewhere with a more visible night sky, I always look up, searching for something out of the ordinary…

[June, 1987] Holes in My Ears


Dear Diary,

today I got my ears pierced. It hurt a little but it’s worth it.

mannequin head enhanced

Beauty is pain...yeah, I hate it when people say that too.

It only took a little over a year, but I got my nerve back and decided a little pain was worth a lifetime of accessorizing. The way I remember it, my parents took me to a costume jewelry shop akin to Claire’s and I picked out a pair of studs. My earlobes were first dotted with a felt-tip pen, then I felt the brief sting of the piercing gun twice, and then my days of clip-ons were over.

That’s not how my mother tells it.

I got the beginning part right, but when that first post cut through the tender skin of my earlobe, according to my mother I let out a shriek so loud I scared the other customers in the store. Allegedly, I cried out in agony and stubbornly refused to get my second ear pierced. If you care to believe my mom’s version, she says it took a good 15 minutes for her and my father to calm me down and convince me that I would look silly going around with an earring in one ear and a black dot where the other stud should be.

Being a sucker for logic (and symmetry), I allowed the woman in the woman in the store to pick up her instrument of torture and finish the job, suffering quietly through the rest of the procedure. A mirror was held before me so that I could see the results.

Whatever pain I felt vanished the second I saw the sparkle of those stones in my earlobes. So pretty! I turned my head back and forth to watch them glimmer and smiled.

When friends asked, I told them it didn’t hurt that much. And apparently, I lied about it to my diary, too.

[March, 1986] The Story Behind the Story

August 20, 2009 1 comment

March 15, 1986

Dear Diary

long time No see. Today I got a story for you! Tomorrow on Sunday I mite get holes in my ears. I am so excited. I do not think it is going to hurt.


Sun. Mar. 16 1986

Dear Diary

the day before today I wrote a storey about that I will have holes in my ears. but I did not. I feel so sad. but I’m glad I have you then I can shere my feelings with you.




Can I get a collective awwww?  I read this and felt pity for my eight-year-old self, imagining my high hopes and how they must have been crushed come Sunday, when I was left with virgin earlobes.

I was sure this was a childhood disappointment due to flawed parenting and called my mother to verify (and maybe pout about it a little bit all these years later). She told me what really happened.

Apparently, a friend of mine decided to do some DIY body modification and pierced her own ear with a sewing needle. Not being the brightest bulb, she did not know about the importance of sterilization and ended up with an infection. Her puss-filled, swollen earlobe spooked me; it was, to borrow a word I used back then, “grody.” That crimson lobe served as a visual aid of the pain that surely awaited me if and when I pierced my own ears.

Repulsion and fear built up in me until I knew I couldn’t go through with it.

I chickened out and told my parents I no longer wanted my ears pierced. To their credit, they never gave me a hard time about it. So all that remorse in that second entry is not aimed at my mom and dad and any false promises they may have made. It’s regret at my own cowardice, which prevented me from getting something I really wanted.