Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Spring Break Special

Hi again, folks. In honor of my Spring Break, I am posting TWO posts today, because I can't flash you my boobies, get my hair corn-rowed, get sunburned, or have sex with frat boys, or drink until I pass out in the shrubbery. That's my brother's job, anyway. The drinking, not the sex or boobie flashing.
So, here goes.

March 26, 1987
Dear Monique/Monica,
I cannot get this one algebra problem. I HATE IT!!!
C. is being such a jerk lately. I have no idea what her problem is. Maybe it's that time again. She kicked me in gym! And she doesn't say anything to me that is comprehensible. I ask if we need our history books and she says "mnph".
That is really getting on my "noyves".
Bodie is such a pervert. He's always trying to feel the girls out.
LW says that this (the C. thing) always happens right after C. goes to the mall with a friend. The next few days, she ignores them. I wanna KNOW WHY!
"Because inquiring minds wanna know".
Dawn Moresi is pregnant. So is Nancy Glass (Evening Magazine) and Cybil Shepard.
The one, the only,
au revoir,

I was constantly diagnosing people. And isn't the term "feeling the girls out" hysterical? You can take it literally and figuratively.
Dawn lived next door to H. H. always swore she saw Dawn and her boyfriend doing "it", because their bedroom windows were parallel. Dawn was in 12th grade, I think, and was the first teen mom I saw. It seems strange that I didn't go off on a rant about unwed mothers and bastards and sex before marriage. Not that I disapproved of pre-marital sex, it just hadn't crossed my mind. Instead, I focus my capital letters on C.
In 5th grade, we were best friends, but by 8th, she was moving in a different direction, not waiting for me to catch up. I wasn't sure I wanted to catch up with her. I liked my calmer friends like LW and H., who weren't as moody or physically violent.
Is it wrong to spell out whole names? What are the chances of C. actually finding this blog? What do you think?

To my special guest from Wyoming

I have totally been in Riverton! If you come back to read, I'll detail the "vacation" my family took to Montana during the summer I was 16. I think I even have pictures of your fair town.

No Witty Title Today

Yesterday, I typed this entry up. I had a clever title, but with a click of the mouse, all my creativity was gone. Today's entry documents the first written account of my hate affair with math. It was only after years of cashiering that I became proficient in the basics. I could count out the change before the register told me the amount. I can figure and add a 20% tip to any restaurant bill, and use that same skill to take 75% off already discounted women's winter wear.
My math life wasn't always like this. In second grade, I remember feeling a little lost when we counted up pennies and dimes and nickels. It was like I couldn't recognize that a penny was one tenth of a dime, which was one tenth of a dollar. And the half dollar? Fugetaboutit.
I have a distinct memory of my dad "helping" me with math homework in fifth grade. It was late. I was sobbing with misery and frustration. He would not let me go to bed until I got my homework done. Dad couldn't understand why I couldn't understand how to subtract 872 from 2000, for example.
Today, I can look at that problem, add 3 to get 75, add 25 to get 900, and then add 1100 to get 2000, for a grand total of 1128. It was all the carryng and borrowing from the zeroes that blew me away.
"But it's a ZERO! How can I borrow anything from it? It doesn't HAVE anything!!!" I cried. "What the hell is the matter with you? Why can't you get this! It's not really a zero!" Dad also cried.
If only he had put me in a minimum wage job behind a register for a year, then I would have understood the value of every freakin' penny.

March 24, 1987

Dear Francie,
I am really depressed right now at 8:54 pm. I cannot understand how to get formulas for algebra. I HATE THAT CLASS!! Mr. Ockenhouse is a cheap teacher! I don't know why he was hired, he himself said he was terrible at math when he was in school!

Yeah, the Ockenhouse dynasty. Mr. Ockenhouse always reminded me of Jack Sprat. His wife, Senora Ockenhouse, taught Spanish. In 8th grade, we took a quarter of Spanish, and then a quarter of French to see which we liked and would pursue to meet the state foreign language requirement.
Senora Ockenhouse had a lot of "junk in the trunk", if you get my drift. She was tall, big, loud, and not inviting to meek, quiet little smart kids like me.
Madame Stern, on the other hand, wore funky culottes in weird fabrics. She especially liked les grenouilles (frogs). One pair of culottes had frogs on them. She enjoyed art and reading, and the finer things in life, which I did too. Hence, my 4 years of French, even though she always asked about my crabs (see earlier post).
Senora Ockenhouse was always pregnant. They had 4 boys and I think, finally, a girl by the time I graduated in 1991. They drove the first minivan I ever saw.
Damn, I wish I could remember what I typed last night. I am sure it was witty and would inspire many comments.
Oh yeah, Algebra was the only class I ever cheated in. To be fair, it is also a math skill I have actually used in real life. I make quilts, so geometry is my friend. Calculus, which doesn't even USE number, for chrissakes, has never helped me figure yardage. Trigonometry, taught by Mr. Bongiovanni, has never appeared in my adult life. I got B's in Trig, though-my best math grades ever.
Mr. Bongiovanni was a big Italian (naw-did you think he was Irish?) wrestling coach math teacher, which you'd think would have scared the trig into my brain, but he was super nice and a good teacher. I won't go into Calculus, except to say that the teacher wore WHITE linen pants through which you could see his underwear.

Sunday, March 26, 2006

A Happy Day of Leisure

March 22, 1987
Dear Courtney,
Today was the best day I've had this month! It was sunny as hell, no wind, Dan and I rode our bikes up and down Aquetong Road. We made telephones out of cans, I mended my clothes, got my homework done, and Dad was in a good mood all day!
It was great!

Cans. I made a can telephone and thought it was awesome. "CAN" you tell I lived in the country?! Actually, can phones are interesting and magical to kids. In fact, there's a styrofoam cup telephone sitting on my desk at school right now.
Aquetong is an Indian word. You can imagine the various ways I've seen it spelled. We lived where the Lenni Lenape Indians used to live. My mother found arrowheads in the creek when she was little. If you think "Aquetong" was bad, we used to live on "Scholl's School Road". Aquetong is pronounced like "Ack wa tong", not Aqualung.
And a day when my dad was cheerful ALL day? Stop the presses! Usually on the weekends, we'd be put to work, like child slaves. There were always rocks to be picked or dug out of the garden, or wood to stack, or a garage to clean out, or laundry to do, or something to be sanded/painted/washed/ spackled/etc. We'd get sent outside at 9 or so, and were allowed inside for lunch or to pee. If our dad came in and saw us sitting around, he'd say, "What the hell's the matter with you? Get your ass outside-you're not done! I work all goddamned week and it would't kill you to help out a little around here!"
Fatherly love. Nowdays, at 9 am on Saturdays, I'm up, showered, breakfasted, and ready to do something. Not sure what, but my hands itch to get busy. Yesterday, for example, I worked on moving the contents of the old compost bin into the new one I made. I sewed, I did 4 loads of laundry, I changed the sheets, I picked up the dog poo in the yard.
Today, I sewed, washed my car, ran the dishwasher, went to Hancock Fabrics, Jo-Ann Fabrics, went to knitting, came home and washed the fabrics I bought today. And now, I rest.
Thanks Dad, for making sure I'd always feel bad about sitting around and doing nothing. But thanks also for making sure I developed a healthy work ethic. There will always, always be something to do.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Guess? what

Ugh. Upon reading this, I want to eat more Girl Scout cookies and hide in my house. I was SUCH a FASHION WHORE!

March 21, 1987
Dear Louisa,
Hi. Sorry about the last few days, but nothing happened.
Today, I went to Oxford Valley Mall with C. I got a soft yellow Outback Red shirt, a black pair of pants, and a jean skirt. I wanted a jean jacket, but I ran out of money.
C. is always acting contrary to her mom. That really gets to me sometimes. I hate her car!
L. has been asking H. if she can borrow a pair of H's Guess? pants. H says absolutely no way in hell. She got Guess? overalls today. I like H. She doesn't show of her Guess? jeans like Tracey or Bobbie. I really want a pair though.

Again, UGH. How exactly does one show off pants? Don't you just wear them? I ended up getting a Guess? jean skirt from my cousin Crystal the summer before 9th grade, I think. She lived in Fort Worth, so she must have been visiting my grandmom of knitting fame.
Outback Red. Now there's some bad clothing design. The shirt I speak of had that funny tab across the top button, a rounded hem in front, but a square hem in back. I think it had something on the upper sleeve, too.
At our school, the big haired girls wore their shirts tucked in the front, but left the back out, creating a diaper-esque look. I admit to doing it. As you may have guessed, I have no shame.
The black pants, if I recall, buttoned on the side, instead of having a zipper like every other damned pair of pants I could have bought. They lasted me for years, though. It was a frugal purchase!!
C's family car was roughly the size of the Ark. It was red with a white rag top. There were little windows on the sides next to the regular windows. It was white on the inside. I think they got it from a relative. C's mom produced nothing but girls, 5 I think by now. Her mom was super nice and sweet, but her stepdad was a jerk. What was it with me and evil stepdads?
Aie! My eyes are Creationists!!! My computer thinks dinosaurs never existed! I apologize for that freaking Ark link. Takes all kinds.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Romy and Michelle

I love reading diary entries where I wax rhapsodic on the virtues of a new product, which has now become commonplace. I'm sitting in front of a trio of New Age-y Post-Its. They are grey, and have black and white pics of stones on them. Calming, rounded, natural stones. I won them at a bridal shower this summer-I didn't buy them. Heck, I've never bought office products-I just get them from school!

March 17, 1987, Tuesday

Dear Alicia,
Hi. Sunday, I went with C to Roadside America. Today was boring. Yesterday, L brought in this little note pad with sticky on it so you could post it (note) to something. She put one on H's back and it stayed until 3rd period. She really aggravates me sometimes.
C told me that Connie and Tracey are not virgins. I believe it. We (C and me) are writing a story about BW as a little kindergardener.
Ta ta!

Okay, we were in 8th grade. 8th graders should be virgins. Now, based on the percentage of rumor mixed in with bragging, I'm only 50% sure that Connie and Tracey were telling the truth.
And the story thing? C was a great writer. I was too. In 7th grade, we co-wrote a long ass story about the childhoods of Roland Orzabal and Curt Smith from Tears For Fears. Yes, C had an unhealthy obsession with TFF. She collected every 7", 12" and Euro import record she could. For you younguns, music stores used to sell records in an unironic way.
So, we'd each write a couple pages or so, and pass it to the other. Our TFF story involved child abuse and alcoholism, thus spurring Roland and Curt to go into music to make money for therapy as adults. That last part was true-I heard it on a radio interview with them.
Later on, we'd write stories about Mike (our 9th grade crush-Hi Mike!) and the prequel to the movie "Willow". Thinking about it now, it was somehow like masturbating. Stay with me here...I'll explain.
I was too young, too ugly, and too scared of boys to do anything with them. Also, my parents ruled with an iron fist. So, I got my jollies by writing about my fantasy boyfriend, or movie role romance. You get it? Now, our stories weren't sexual by any means, but involved a lot of "Mike saw Allison and was amazed by how cute she was", or "Madmartigan swept Allison up in his burly sweaty arms and kissed her neck and her face".
C and I had code names for the Rennaisance Faire/Willow story, but I can't remember them.
And, lastly, Post Its. Again, L had all the cool things first, even though she was the only person I knew who got free lunch.
H and I had a love/hate relationship. I liked her freedom and sense of humor, but was always trying to keep my place in the pecking order, which led to making fun of her if others did. She was also guaranteed to freak out amusingly when she discovered any prank played on her. I feel a lot of remorse for teasing her like I did, even to this day. We became good buds in our 20's, when she moved to Boston. Many, many, many drunken nights at The Model and our apartment.
I know I'm going to get a lot of site visits by pimply teenaged boys who are not interested in 1987. Hi guys! Go visit my store at! There's not a lot in there now, but "please...keep me in mind..." (Smiths, dumbass!)
Oh yeah, you people need to comment!
I love Matt because he's burning "The Hurting" onto CD right now, so I don't have to listen to my cassette tape of it.

Monday, March 20, 2006

Owl pellets

In rereading this entry, looking for a witty title, I discovered the term "owl pellets". Now, most of you probably aren't that familiar with the digestive products of owls, so here's a good link.
And since Poppymom gave me props on her blog, I really have to post more. Yesterday, was down, I swear!

March 14, 1987

Dear Maureen,
Well, last night's dance was a fiasco. First of all, no boys from my grade came, only me and 9 other girls. Second, the DJ people coldn't get their equipment working, and they only played 5 1/2 songs! C was a jerk last night. She hung around with Connie and AD. I don't like who she's turning into! Today was interesting! Dan and I went over to Mr. Connelly's (4-H leader-Wildlife) and I found owl pellets (casts).

Yes, surprisingly, no boys came to the dance. What a shocker. I can only hope I didn't do the A-Ha dance I blogged about last month.
And yes, I was in 4-H for a couple years. My mom had always waxed nostalgic about her years in it, so my brother and I had no choice. Looking back now, I'm glad she exposed us to so many things. We were also in the library's Stamp Club and of course, the Summer Reading Club.
Our 4-H meetings were held in a different school district, so I didn't know any of the kids. The other girls were just as snotty and mean to me as the ones in my own school. It was always uncomfortable, sitting there for an hour each week, making small talk at age 13. Thank god my brother was there to keep me company.
I went to 4-H summer camp (not band camp, you perv) twice. The best thing about it was an older camp counselor who had a Mohawk and wore a Dead Milkmen t-shirt. I didn't know who they were at the time, but it made an impression on me. I thought she was totally cool!
Aside from that, those were the loneliest 2 weeks of my life. Why were people not friendly to me? Was it the way I looked? Sure, I was geeky, but didn't anyone see my sparkling personality and wit? Oh wait-I get shy in social situations and clam up.
But, while in 4-H, I won a bunch of awards for cooking, sewing, and gardening. I met a girl named Tara Althouse, who later worked with me at my first real job. We kind of bonded, being the dorkiest of our club.
In 9th grade, I told Mom that I was done with 4-h. She was saddened and surprised to hear my view of how torturous those meetings were. "But I had such fun in 4-H when I was little!" she exclaimed.
"That was 30 years ago!" I answered. "Kids aren't nice to each other anymore! I hate Meg! She always looks at me and laughs!"
She sighed, but she could see how I felt. Inside, I felt kinda bad, like I was letting her down somehow, but I got picked on enough at school, I didn't need any more torment from kids who didn't even GO to my school! Besides, I wanted to stay home and listen to the cool music I had heard on the Princeton University radio station. Imagine, a band called "Black Flag", like the bug spray!

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Hoity-toity me

March 12, 1987

Dear Joanne,
Today was tiring. I skipped last night because I was babysitting until 10:30 for an illegitimate baby. Isn't that a hell of a thing?
So, I'm worried about C. Yesterday, I heard she went with AD, Ben, Connie, and Tracey to a cemetary. I just hope they don't get her to turn bad or something. Tracey doesn't even like her! She was making fun of her skirt in reading today. C isn't in my reading.
AD is okay, but Ben? Please!!! He is the stupidest person in our class next to L.
We got 2 more hermit crabs today because Perrin (sob!) died. I didn't name mine yet, but I think I like Johann. Tory. No! Nothing with a name ending in "ie". I can't decide if it's a boy or girl, though.
I'll name him King Tut! Yes! because he is huge (well, big) and his shell is cone shaped!
I am wasting paper so bad. I love Eric Schneider! I hope he dances with me tomorrow at the dance!

So, yeah....this was the beginning of the end of the sanity of my friend C. In a few months, you'll read about how she started carving herself and smoking cigarettes! Horrors!
The "bad" kids in our school started hanging out in the New Hope cemetary after school. New Hope was the name of our town, not the cemetary. At the time, it seemed very dark and evil and scary to me-this hanging out with dead folks. Ha ha-The Misfits just came on shuffle on Matt's iPod/stereo set up!
Alyssa later became a hippie, Connie, so I heard, STILL lives in New Hope, and Ben? Who knows? I don't know why I disliked him so much. When he first came to our school in 6th grade, I got along with him. Much later on, he moved to another district, but still hung out in our town some weekends. We'd see him and shoot the breeze for a while. I feel bad now for hating him merely because he had what must have been a learning disability. He was a genuinely nice guy. Ben, I'm sorry! I was 14 and judgemental! You were really hot the last time we saw you!

Sunday, March 12, 2006

double superlatives, away!

It's funny to read these old writings of mine, and notice all the grammatical errors. In my mind, I was really smart and had a perfect grasp of the English language.
5 years of teaching English has sharpened my eye, and I now see spelling errors everywhere. In fact, at the Deals on S. Kingshighway, there was a sign up yesterday reading "Sorry we our out of helium. Thank you." Thank you for what? For not barging into the store like a crazed rhino screaming "WHO WROTE THAT SIGN? WHY DO YOU HAVE A JOB? TAKE IT DOWN NOOOOWWWWW so my husband and I can stop giggling in the parking lot." Oh, how I long for a camera phone.

March 10, 1987

Dear Melanie,
Today was boring. I have to be in a group with DJ (snob) and VS for Reading. That is the most boringest class in the history of Earth. I must write a letter to Paul in Ireland asking for lotsa information on Ireland for our project in Reading. He better write back!
I have to get some sleep since I got hardly any last night because I babysit Mondays and Wednesdays.

My hermit crab might be dead!!! Waaahhhh!! :(

Yes indeedy, "most boringest". The teacher, Ms. Behler, had dark blonde permed hair which resembled a poodle's ears. She was always very tan. Rumor had it that she was doing our assistant principal Mr. Righi. I hated her because she ended every sentence spoken to a student with "pumpkin", "sweetie", "honey", etc, etc. She was chirpy and bubbly and made me hate the one thing I used to love the most in the world-reading. I didn't need to know how to find the meanings of words in context. I knew all the vocabulary words she gave us. My reading speed was off the charts, as was my comprehension. Heck, I was probably reading when I popped out of Carolyn!
And the hermit crabs-we had a couple, and they were pretty interesting pets. Each new school year, my French teacher Madame Stern would ask "How are your crabs, Allison?" much to the amusement of my classmates. For the rest of the day, the cool kids would echo her words in the hallway. I hated the first day of French class.
Back then, I thought she didn't know the double entendre (ha! I DO know French!) of her words, but now I know she did it to torment me. I talked a LOT in French class, both in English and French.
So now I teach reading, and I can only hope I'm not killing some kid's favorite activity. Wait-65% of my school's students read below a 7th grade level, so I guess I'm safe!
Paul was my Irish penpal who corresponded with me for years. I developed a crush on him, and dreamed of moving to Ireland to marry him and hang out with U2. He came to Boston once, and we hung out, and he wore a tie-dye t-shirt, successfully dashing all my fantasies of becoming an Irish citizen. Sorry, Bono, we'll never get to chill!

Saturday, March 04, 2006

March 8, 1987

Sorry for the lapse in blogging. I was in Chicago last Thursday, Friday and weekend. This week sucked at work and I've been sewing like a madwoman.
Upon reading this, I ask why did I write such boring stuff? I mean, really! Why did I think that future generations would need to know what the temperature was? Or how my grandmother taught me to knit by fear?

March 8, 1987
Dear Luanne,
Today I rode down to Grandmom's and started knitting a country blue Shaker sweater. It is fun, except I have to go slow unless I make a mistake. Then it's off with my head!!

Anyway, today was up to about 75 degrees! I wore shorts! It's supposed to rain tomorrow. Barf gag, gross, nowayhosea, absolutely not young man!
Tired as shit!

I'm gonna put a different name for my diary each night. Love and other indoor sports!

Like I said, dullsville! I drew a picture of me in a sweater with a mistake and a line across my neck. The phrase "love and other indoor sports" is from a teen novel, not my own ingenuity.
And shorts? Knowing me, they were probably Jams I made myself. I wish I had a picture of them to post. I am SO glad capris came into style. I can ease my way into blinding the world with my legs. Have you ever seen how naturally Marilyn Manson-like pale I am? I'm actually darker now than I was then at least on my face. I suppose that's from years of working at the snack bar at the Village 2 pool, and from walking the dog so much. Oh, and going to the Grand Canyon last summer and burning the shit out of my lips.