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[November, 1995] Secret Crushes Revealed! Part 2

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[12/7/95 continued]

I got home and listened to the message Mr. Laurie left:

“Damiella, we have a problem. I spoke to Nathan and now he says he can’t do the show…” Major blow.

Called the show this morning to find out why. Two reasons:

1) He couldn’t get off work (probably the excuse he gave to strengthen:

2) He’s “sort of seeing someone” and at first she had no problem with him being on the show but then it started to bother her. Of course Nathan still wanted to know who it was but could not be told. This is the most interesting part. At one point Mr. Laurie put him on hold and got back early hearing him say to another man: “What about that girl who comes into store? The one who just dyed her hair black…?” So at least he did suspect me, no not at least, I’ve been hinting.

For some reason I was really upset. It was probably—yeah, “probably”—the “sort of seeing someone” part. I left school at 10:00 and began walking to the Village, listening to the Cure’s 17 Seconds and feeling very numb in the unhappiest way. But I made it to Barnes & Noble on Astor Place and spent 4 ½ hours there (skipping Poets House and Sociology) trying to cheer myself up by reading Dave Barry books (it made me laugh as I read it, but when I stopped I barely felt better).

I still remember this quite well. Hunter College High School was on the Upper East Side, and Astor Place all the way downtown, so that was a good 4+ mile walk. I know for a fact that I was wearing one of my pairs of Doc Marten combat boots, because I think I might have written a poem incorporating my footwear into the disappointment. Maybe that makes up for my skipping out on my volunteer shift at the poetry library Poets House? Maybe not. 

And being the good goth that I was, of course The Cure was my soundtrack. I must have listened to that album four or five times consecutively, on my Walkman (it wasn’t until college that I upgraded that particular cassette to CD). And even though The Cure’s fourth album, Pornography, is widely held as their most depressing, it was Seventeen Seconds that resonated with me more, because of the lyrics to “M” which begin:

Hello image
Sing me a line from your favorite song
Twist and turn
But you’re trapped in the light
All the directions were wrong

You’ll fall in love with somebody else
Tonight

Preach it, Reverend Smith.

This would make a pretty cool postage stamp, actually.

This would make a pretty cool postage stamp, actually.

The truth is, things worked out the best possible way they could. I think my dream on Monday night contributed to the sadness. I dreamt that Nathan showed me these two Joy Division stamps but the photos were the most heartbreaking things and just as I needed to be consoled for being so upset by them (I don’t know why the stamps upset me so much. The melancholy photos, Ian’s suicide, etc. It made sense then) he got up and left. But not just because he needed to do something, he made a point of leaving me (on purpose). Then the next day I remember waiting for him to come back to me, and I knew I was waiting in vain, but hoped anyway. It was the saddest dream I ever had and as I was walking in the Village, every once in a while I would get that same feeling, that maybe I’ll run into him, knowing that I wouldn’t.

I used to be really into dream interpretation and even owned a dream dictionary back in the day, but (un)surprisingly, there was no entry explaining the meaning of dreams about Joy Division stamps. Go figure. 

Sadness over not being on a cheesy talk show aside, I have no idea why I would have wanted to run into Nathan that day, except to see his face full of wistfulness as he realized that he wanted to be with me instead of Miss “Sort-of-Seeing-Someone.” Ok yeah, I guess that’s a reason. 

But I was trying to talk about the good of this. The obvious great thing is that I wasn’t rejected on national television. And I know he’s “sort of seeing someone.” And the very best thing is that he still doesn’t know who it is. I hope this curiosity really eats away at him. I’m going to stop by the store on Wednesday (at this point it would seem suspicious if I didn’t) and do the best acting job of my life. When he asks (if) I will of course deny, but be sure to get in something like, “but if it was me, I wouldn’t tell you” (something less obvious, though).

Let’s see, I was already a prime suspect considering what that show producer overheard. Throw in my bad acting plus my lack of any tact or subtlety? What could possibly go wrong! 

I can’t say this is heartbreak, because I don’t feel any actual serious pain (like when I listen to “Lovesong”). It’s more as if my heart was shot with novacaine. It’s just numb. But I’m numb in a really bad way. At least I haven’t ruined the whole thing for myself and there is still hope. But there’s also the terrible numbness.

I also can’t say this was heartbreak, because that usually requires more of a relationship with the other person than buying Cure postcards in their place of business once or twice a month and chitchatting about music. I wish I could tell my teenage self to pretend that it is ruined, to stop having hope something romantic would happen with Nathan. I wish I could also give my younger self a mild spoiler and let her know that something far more magical and romantic was right around the corner…

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[November, 1995] The Transformation is Complete

11/27/95

Just called Anita for about 30 seconds (well that’s how long we spoke) so she could talk me out of going to Record Rabbit tomorrow. As of today it’s been 12 days since my last visit (I really wanted to go last week but Anita’s right about making him wait). I think my feelings for him were even starting to slowly recede and then all of a sudden they came back. I try not to let it overwhelm me and I look for distractions where I can.

I finally met my penpal (well since we’ve spoken on the phone too I guess he’s more of a friend) Arthur and he was really nice (gave me a friendly hug). Wide Awake in America/The Joshua Tree. I’m leaning more toward The Joshua Tree.

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Dyed my hair black. Blue-Black actually. Very different. I love it. Had it done in a salon and it looks great.

Dave (Dolan, the only Dave I talk about—I think) called tonight. It was good to hear from him.  Spoke to Darby this past weekend too and we had a nice chat. An odd friendship the two of us have, though we were much less obnoxious to each other during this last conversation.

I want to be in college already. I want to be out of here.

I want to sleep. I think I should try for some now because I am in a very bad mood suddenly.

I can’t wait until I’m done writing in this notebook because I got a nicer smaller one that I’ll start as my next journal (yes I guess I’m back to keeping journals. At least I’ve begun to put down things other than why life sucks for me, why I’m upset or other angsty teenage bullshit).

God I hope I don’t have trouble falling asleep.

I’m not proud of this, but I did play my parents to get the black hair. I initially asked my mom if I could dye it black and she said no. But it was my father took me to the salon for a trim. As soon as we got there I begged and begged him to let me color it and he finally relented. Prior to that I had waist-length dirty blond hair, so it was a dramatic change. When Mom first saw me, she sarcastically asked, “where is my daughter?” but didn’t make a fuss beyond that.

All things considered, actually a pretty good album. I gave it a bad rap back in the day.

All things considered, actually a pretty good album. I gave it a bad rap back in the day.

As for the pen pal, Arthur, I didn’t keep in touch with him much after meeting. Deep down I’m sure I was hoping there’d be a romantic connection, despite my crush on Nathan, but there wasn’t. I’d bet money that my mopiness at the time was due at least in part to that lack of spark. And the U2 albums is more teenage code. I think I was ranking him by how much I liked the album I was comparing him to. My favorite was Achtung Baby, followed by either Boy or Zooropa, so any guy classified as one of those three would have been a top crush contender. However, The Joshua Tree was somewhere in the middle and Wide Awake in America below that, so I probably was only mildly attracted to him. It could have been worse, he could have been October (my least favorite U2 album at the time).

The mentions of the other friends and sudden depression could have been the usual insecurity and mood swings I had at the time, or a symptom of some family conflict I didn’t want to put to paper. There was often parental drama in the background of my teen years, though I very rarely wrote about it. In any event, the black hair signaled another change in me, one that fit with the darker music I was listening to. Much as I may have hemmed and hawed being goth up until then, now it was undeniable.

[October, 1994] You Too? Notes on Musical Obsession

10/17/94

“You make this all go away
I’m down to just one thing
And I’m starting to scare myself.” – NIN

I dyed my hair yesterday.  It came out very dark brown with red highlights.  A lot of people noticed and complimented me.

Didi and I were talking in the locker hall today and Claudia was nearby.  Didi said something about Doogie Howser (that old T.V. show) and Claudia got all excited because she thought she heard someone say “Dookie,” the Green Day album.  It reminded me of the olden days (9th grade) when Didi would dread saying or hearing the words “you too” around me (“U2? Where?”).  Claudia’s lucky they don’t have more stuff out (as in albums and merchandise) or it could get more serious. She’s the third non-U2 obsessive fan I know (there’s also Alicia with Soul Asylum, and Darby with Smashing Pumpkins). It’s as if I’m drawn to these people.  If I stay with this writing thing, maybe one day I’ll write a book about obsessive fandom.  Or maybe start a support group, something like that.

“I hope someday you’ll have a beautiful life I know you’ll be a sun in somebody else’s sky…” – Pearl Jam

 

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Or better yet, maybe I’ll start a blog in which we can all laugh about these obsessions.

Claudia was quickly becoming one of my closest friends at Hunter. Even though Green Day was her musical addiction and U2/Nine Inch Nails mine, we had other music in common, like Nine Inch Nails and Tori Amos. More importantly, we both had a disdain for the mainstream and the general oppressiveness of our high school. Music helped us both deal with that teenage frustration.

I’ve always been drawn to passionate people, but in high school and college, music was such an enormous part of my identity that I couldn’t help but gravitate toward others with similar obsessive tendencies. I didn’t mind hearing Darby go on about what a songwriting genius she thought Billy Corgan was or Claudia give impassioned soliloquies on Billie Joe Armstrong, because they let me have my turn ramble on about the brilliance of Trent Reznor. And while I always thought Alicia was a sweet girl, when I learned of her Soul Asylum fixation, I liked her so much more for it, and she was glad to have someone she could obsess with, even if our music antennas were set to different channels. In a way it kind of was like having one-on-one support groups.

Even though now I can see that this type of obsession is sometimes a substitute for something lacking in life, at the time I believed it gave a person depth of character and a crazy-in-a-good-way streak to their personality. It always irked me when I would ask people their favorite music and they replied, “Oh, I like everything.” I much preferred it when someone was utterly hooked on a particular artist or genre, even if it wasn’t something I was into (as was the case, when I was a little girl, with Depeche Mode).

Of course now I understand where temperance has its good points.  It’s healthy to have diverse interests and that kind of one-track mindedness can become tedious.  But back then, I didn’t have much else.  I had school, I had my friends, and I had music.  And being so obsessed with music gave me a language that helped me develop friendships in high school and beyond that may not have otherwise come to fruition.  It was a bond unlike any other.

[May, 1994] U2 Propaganda and Purple Hair

December 20, 2010 2 comments

 

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Thursday, May 26, 1994

Dear Journal,

I only have two interesting things to write about.  The first is I died my hair purple a couple of weeks ago.  Actually it came out streaked pinkish-purple, and a lot of it has washed out already but it’s still really cool.

The other thing has to do with Propaganda (the official U2 world service magazine).  In the back there’s this thing Grapevine that lists over 200 addresses.  I wrote a whole bunch of letters and have already gotten 5 responses: Carla, an artist from Minnesota, Nia, a dancer from Australia, Marjorie who is practically my soulmate, also from Australia, Stephen, who knows amazing U2 insider info, from Scotland, and Ronin McMullen Jnr who sounds really sweet, also from Scotland.  They are all U2 nuts!  I’m in heaven.

And my non-U2 friends were in hell.

It’s difficult for me to dabble in something. If I pick up an interest, I tend to do so in a wholly-encompassing way until that interest grows into something of an obsession. This was certainly the case when I was in my teens and 20’s. If I found a band I liked, I had to own every one of their albums (and sometimes b-sides); if it was an author, I tried to collect every book written by them. Sometimes it didn’t work in my favor, like when I discovered Charles Bukowski and learned that a little squalor goes a long way. However, I never burned out on U2, at least not for years. I found such inspiration in their music, and I wanted others to discover the same magic in their songs. So I became a U2 preacher of sorts, and likely drove my friends pretty nuts with my music proselytizing.

Discovering the pen pal section of Propoganda couldn’t have come at a better time. This was before the internet made it easy to connect with like-minded individuals via message boards. This involved pen and paper and postage and waiting up to weeks for a response, depending on how far the letters were traveling. But I didn’t mind, because I finally had an outlet for my obsession that would cultivate new friendships instead of straining existing ones. I was corresponding with people all over the world, including one boy thousands of miles away who I was developing a crush on sight unseen (well, I sent him a photo but was still waiting on his). It didn’t hurt that his last name was pretty close to Larry Mullen Jnr’s, and that Ronin also spelled it “jnr” instead of “jr”–I was a dork for that kind of minutiae (who am I kidding, still am). The fact that we had the same favorite band and that he had what I imagined must be an irresistible Scottish accent was already working in his favor, as were his letters, peppered with sweet and flirty missives. And Scotland was pretty darn close to Ireland…

While I was finding more people to share my U2-holism with, I probably owe some of my friends form back then an apology for inundating them with my musical obsession (especially Didi, who still can’t listen to them today because of me). So if you’re reading this and knew me back in the day, and if you endured one of my U2-are-the-best-band-in-the-world monologues, I’m sorry for the preaching, and I’m grateful you stood by me anyway.

As for the purple hair, I was determined to push the boundaries on just how much my mother allowed me to chemically enhance my tresses. Mom was cool with anything that would wash out, but hennas and other semi-permanent dyes didn’t create the kind of dramatic, lasting technicolor effect I was going for. After frying my hair with sun-in, it shouldn’t have been a big deal for me to dye it permanently, but no matter how much I tried to wear down my wonderful mother, she stood firm on the issue. So I started experimenting with rinses until I found ways to mask my natural bland dirty blonde color. And I haven’t seen it again since.

[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.

[February, 1991] Prepared for the Worst

Thursday, February 21, 1991

Dear Journal,

I know I didn’t tell you about the weekend, but I really don’t want to talk about it. Let’s just say that I think Rose thinks more of her new friends than she does of me.

Anyway, I want to move on to something else. I think that I can finally say that I don’t like Danny anymore. No, I really mean it! Actually, I think that I like Justin, again. Well, the truth is I like Justin a lot. It’s hard to explain, but I know that I have feelings for him.

It’s really not that hard to explain. Justin was cute, smart, and a little shy, end of story. He teased me on the bus and we got into fights, but I got it into my head that it was some kind of demented form of flirting. You know, classic story. Guy is mean to girl, girl hates guy, but has bad self-esteem so starts liking him anyway. I developed a crush on him shortly after he got a good haircut that showed off his hazel eyes. This time, however, I decided to take action…

Teusday, Feb. 26, 1991

Dear Journal,

I did something today that I can’t believe I did. As Justin was walking off the bus (well actually he was off the bus) I threw a note at him. The thing is, in it, I wrote asking him out! I am going to be prepared for the worst tomorrow, but I’m really hoping for the best.

In case I didn’t stress it enough above, there was absolutely nothing in my interactions with Justin that indicated he might be interested in me. Therefore, I don’t know what kind of temporary madness led to my asking him. The fights we had weren’t play fights and he ran with a more popular crowd. But I guess I saw one too many John Hughes movies and wanted to take my own fate into my hands after years of having crushes that went nowhere. At least this time I wasn’t going to cop out and go the secret admirer route. Oh no, no more anonymous notes for me this time (there would be more in the future, though, don’t worry). Nope, this time I decided the best course of action was to throw a piece of folded up paper at my crush from a moving vehicle. That’s me, keeping romance alive.

Was it the wisest thing to do at the time?… (Let’s pretend we don’t all know the answer to that one.)