Saturday, July 6, 1991
As it turns out, I’m not going to Israel. First of all, it’s expensive, and I’m not even going to see the sights. There’s not too much point.
My parents are doing stuff for me to make up for me, not that they need to or have to. Like they ARE TAKING ME TO SEE LES MISERABLES on July 13. I can’t wait! I am going to try to lose as much weight as I can before then, so that I can look good in this outfit that I got.
This doesn’t sound like me. Either I was censoring myself to be far more cool-headed out of paranoia that one of my parents would read my journal, or they did really good spin on that Israel trip and actually convinced me that it wouldn’t be fun. Either way, something about the way I calmly reacted and turned my excitement to the Broadway show makes me suspicious.
To be fair, I was dying to see Les Miserables (or “Les Miz” as it was more commonly called) ever since I saw a spine-tingling talent show performance of “I Dreamed a Dream” in the sixth grade. It was one of the biggest Broadway musicals of the late ’80s/early ’90s, with a heavy duty advertising campaign including posters, bus ads and billboards, and television commercials featuring grimy, earnest singers in rags that made the French Revolution seem so darn tuneful and romantic. While tickets to this show were not a substitute for tickets to Israel, at the time they were pretty good as far as consolation prizes go.
I don’t recall the outfit that prompted yet another diet, but it didn’t take much to fuel the desire to lose weight. This was the summer I tried the cabbage soup diet. The soup, which I sprinkled with copious amounts of Mrs Dash for “flavor,” was pretty vile, and nothing that a human being with taste buds could subsist on for more than a few days unless truly masochistic. It wasn’t the first fad diet or the last that I tried, but, hey, I had a date with some musical French ragamuffins and I wanted to look my best!
March 21, 1991
Well, me and Justin are over before we began.
About two weeks ago I called Justin and he said he didn’t want to go out with me. I’m over him.
I was in the talent show today. I sang “let the river run” and I only hit 1 sour note. What was neat was that a lot of people were cheering for me and complimented me on my singing.
What wasn’t “neat” was that I had to spend weeks on tenterhooks and then initiate my own rejection by Justin. And I didn’t get over him as easily as I tried to make it sound in my diary. When practicing for the talent show, there was a part of me that hoped more than anything that Justin would be so moved by my singing that he’d change his mind and go out with me after all. Obviously, that didn’t happen.
And hey, at least this time it wasn’t a Debbie Gibson song.
I was never a major Carly Simon fan, but always loved the 1988 classic* Working Girl, whose theme song was “Let the River Run.” It plays over the opening sequence as Tess McGill (Melanie Griffin in her finest role) rides the Staten Island ferry, dreaming of a better tomorrow while she begins another day as an under-appreciated secretary. Tess takes her fate into her own hands, transforming herself into a savvy businesswoman. She’s not afraid to defy convention to achieve her dream, something I found inspiring.
Of course my way of defying convention (throwing a note out a bus window at a boy I liked) did not make my dreams of getting a boyfriend come true. Even so, I used “Let the River Run” as an anthem of hope. “Let all the dreamers wake the nation,” belted out Carly. “Blaze a trail of desire,” she commanded. I was a dreamer! I wanted to wake stuff up too! I would have to face plenty of rejection, but wouldn’t let any dumb boys tarnish my optimism. I had too many trails of desire to blaze to let a little disappointment get in my way.
* Your definition of “classic” and mine might vary.
July 8, 1990
On June 22 we had our graduation assembly where I got my award back framed and our show was good! (If I do say so myself!)
On June 26th, we had our prom! It was really great, I had this nice peach and silver dress with silver shoes and a silver purse. We had a really good deejay that played the best music! and everybody danced. I even slow danced. I danced (slow) one time with Bruce, Steve, and even Sam!
For our elementary school graduation, Mrs. Angelo had our grade put on a musical revue. I sang John Lennon’s “Imagine” during a slide show of our classmates throughout the years, including class trips, concerts and candid shots. Our entire grade also sang Billy Joel’s “We Didn’t Start the Fire” which was our graduation song. Each of us sang exactly one line and the entire group would chime in for the chorus.
About 30 of us lined up at the edge of the stage for the song. Rose had the lyric “Pope Paul, Malcolm X, British politician sex” but was always too shy to sing the word “sex.” Luckily, a boisterous kid had the next line, so the song flowed seamlessly:
“Pope Paul, Malcolm X, British politician (___)–JFK, BLOWN AWAY, WHAT ELSE DO I HAVE TO SAY”
As for prom, I was nearly delirious with the formality and importance of it. And the dancing! Like many little girls, I grew up on fairy tales, so this was the closest thing I experienced to a ball.
The last song played at the prom was Dionne Warwick’s “That’s What Friends Are For.” Our entire class formed a circle with our arms around each other and sang along, and I couldn’t help but get teary-eyed. I was sad to be leaving my friends behind as I started a new school by myself. At my elementary school, I was considered smart, reasonably popular, and something of a trend-setter (I was the first girl at school to get a perm, and my acid washed denim jacket with white leather fringe was the envy of many). I had a lot of friends, I effortlessly got top grades, I was given solos in all the musical productions, and for a few minutes there I even had a boyfriend. Regardless of the melodramatic way I may have portrayed certain things in the diary entries, sixth grade was one of the best years of my life.
All of this was about to change, in a major way. A new school was looming, one that wouldn’t be nearly as welcoming as the one I was departing from.
[This was the last entry in the composition book diary.]
Our glee club will have our concert soon.
Also, I feel very different around Mitch. As if I have to watch my every move. I feel uncomfortable but maybe I’m just feeling the tension before a date. Oh well, I hope the feeling goes away.
One of my favorite things about elementary school was singing in the glee club. Mrs. Angelo was no ordinary music teacher. She had permed hair teased into a giant halo around her head and three-inch nails that miraculously did not impede her ability to accompany us on the piano. She was also inventive when determining the musical programs. One concert included a Neil Diamond medley, and to this day I have a soft spot for that crooner, from his immigration anthem “America” to his east coast/west coast struggle in “I Am I Said.”
Mrs. Angelo had us put on concerts for our entire school just for entertainment’s sake, like the showcase of Broadway tunes we did (I sang “Memory” from Cats solo). For the holiday concert, she even had an original Hanukkah song that she composed, “How Many Nights” (so catchy that I can still hum the chorus, decades later). She devised elaborate harmonies for us and made us rehearse often, but shared music with such enthusiasm and love, we didn’t mind.
Mitch was in glee club, too, so we were frequently in the same room together, though we didn’t speak. I guess we were saving up actual socializing for our date, and besides, we’d be scrutinized by our classmates if we talked to each other in front of them. As for the pre-date jitters, I think there was a part of me that worried Mike might find the reason to call off the date before it happened. To make sure that didn’t happen, I tried to keep my distance until then, and focused on singing instead.
Today was horrible!!!!
First I went back to school but our teacher was absent so we had to get split up.
But guess whose class I had to go to?
The same class Marcela’s (the bitch, snob, a@#hole, and f$%^ed-up piece of sh&*) sister is in.
I still have a cold and take cough drops, so in the afternoon when we had glee club rehearsal my coughing began. I could only stand one song at a time without coughing. It’s good that nobody noticed or I might have been a goner. Finally I got through.
I saw Nisa too. I haven’t seen her 5 days so I asked if she could come over my house. She said she’d ask her mom but in the afternoon she said she was busy and couldn’t come.
Neither could: Elaine, Jess, Penny, and Yanmei’s line was busy.
I tried to make french toast for dinner but the handle of the pan broke off. I tried to make toasted bread with cheese but the toast was burned. I have had the worst day.
For some reason, I get this mental picture of my eleven-year-old self stumbling around, with my clothes disheveled and my hair mussed and dusted with flour. When I think of some of the bad days I’ve had as a (so-called) grown-up, burning some toast or having a coughing fit is hardly cause for sympathy. But I also know how those little things can have a domino effect, when one thing after another seems to go wrong. In which case being sick, stuck all day with my enemy’s older sister, coughing through a pastime which normally gave me joy, having no friends to play with, and not even being able to make a tasty dinner at the end of all the misery would add up to a perfect storm of suckiness.
There were worse days in my childhood, ones that involved car accidents, robberies, torment at the hands of mean kids and even meaner teachers, loneliness, boredom, and other things I didn’t bother writing down. But as a young girl, this was one day I was happy to vent about in my journal and even happier to put behind me.