(RIGHT) I was a very happy baby, but almost entirely bald. I was actually born with a full head of thick, curly black hair, causing my mother much joy and happiness, because she loves curly dark hair. Unfortunately, my hair promptly all fell out, as if to spite her, leaving my poor mother little recourse except to tape bows upon my shiny cranium in some effort to announce my femininity to a world so cruel to new mothers. "Is ... it ... a boy or a girl?"
By the time this photo was taken, I had begun to grow a sparse crop of hair on my head again, but it couldn't compare to that first, newborn hairdo.
I had also, if you notice, already perfected my Michelin Tire Man impression, though it had only thus far progressed to my arms.
(LEFT) And now we have Halloween 1973, when my brother dressed as a baseball player and I dressed as an angel. In truth, we were both simply wearing pyjamas with a few accessories to make them into "costumes." My mom made a halo out of aluminum foil and thoroughly rouged my cheeks, then put a baseball cap on my brother's head and subjected him to the rouge treatment as well. I'm not sure why my mom felt that rouged cheeks should be a part of every childhood Halloween costume, but it continued for quite a while.
(RIGHT) Last Easter, I wrote a journal entry about a camping trip with my dad, during which our family friend Uncle Al played Easter Bunny. This is my brother and me with Uncle Al, rambunctious husband to Aunt Bev, who had long straight hair and played "Puff the Magic Dragon" on her guitar. Nally and I adored Uncle Al, though modern society would probably be suspicious of a grown man playing with two small children. That's kind of sad, actually. Uncle Al was a lot of fun.
(BELOW, LEFT) Ahh. Next we have photographs of the day on which I received my first kiss. I was almost 4. My cousin Bobby was 6. He was a charming older man ... how could I resist? Especially when we were sleeping under the same blanket? Our cousins Bobby and Denny had come to visit us for a few days ... who knew that romance would bloom?
A few things to notice. In the upper left, we have (left to right) Bobby on a Big Wheel, my brother Alan on a tricycle, Denny on a Big Wheel, me on a tricycle (with stylish streamers on the handlebars). Denny is pointing a squirt gun at my mother who is taking the photo. Bobby and Denny were pretty obnoxious with the squirt guns on this visit, actually. My 2-year-old brother couldn't figure out how to work the squirt guns, and so he would just take the gun to the spigot, fill it with water, then drink out of the squirt gun, then start the process all over again. Sort of unclear on the concept.
On the upper right, Denny is displaying an evil expression while I cover my mouth, giggling. In truth, what was happening here was that Denny kept bashing into the back of my tricycle, trying to make me fall off. I apparently thought this was terribly funny.
On the lower left, we see my cousin Bobby warming up for that first kiss, giving me some kind of line like, "Come here often?" I am once again giggling into my hand. On the lower right, we are rudely interrupted by Denny, who leapt upon us with no warning. The course of true love never did run smooth. Notice, however, that I am still giggling into my hand. I think I was just terribly embarrassed and excited by this whole "two cute boys in the house and one of them keeps flirting with me" situation. No shameless hussy, I.
(RIGHT) As a warning to any of you who might mean me harm, I now present this photo of me with a rifle. Okay, it might be more threatening if I wasn't topless, but the underpants are so awful that they alone might strike fear into the hearts of evil-doers everywhere.
My dad is in the foreground. We're down by the creek that ran behind his house in Silverado Canyon. This was when my parents were divorced, but Dad hadn't yet moved out of California, so we spent every other weekend with him. Alan and I had a lot of fun playing back in the creek (which Dad pronounced "crick," leaving me with an apparently permanent tendency to pronounce the word that way). Dad taught me to shoot rifles from a young age (as evidenced here), and we continued to shoot at bottles and cans together well into my 20s, until I cut him off.
(LEFT) Oh my. This is me and my brother at some sort of small festival run by the local Elks lodge. The first thing I'll have you notice is how incredibly terrible our clothes are. This was during the period of time when we were getting most of our clothes from the local CHOC (Children's Hospital of Orange County) thrift stores. My pants are obviously too small and Alan's t-shirt has a HONDA motorcycle on it (and he has gotten the shirt incredibly dirty, but he just tended to do that). Our outfits are saved, however, by the fact that I am wearing a candy necklace (always in style) and Alan is wearing vampire teeth and waving a back-scratcher. We're also both wearing some kind of cheesy medals, probably for three-legged races and such.
(RIGHT) Holy mackerel! Welcome to my really really awkward stage I went through around 11-12 years old. I had a really bad perm, gigantic plastic-frame glasses, and a number of teeth that fell out at the same time, leaving me with a Bugs Bunny sort of effect.
You should also note my red-and-white striped pyjamas. I loved these and wore them often, partially because my two best friends had matching pyjamas and we wore them whenever we spent the night at each other's houses.
The reason this photo was taken, however, was to spotlight the new headphones I had received for Christmas. Check them out. They're as big as my head. And my stereo is a happenin' bit of technology, if I do say so myself. I particularly like the gargantuan radio tuner on the right-hand side. Stylin'!
(LEFT) Luckily, my hair grew out, my teeth came in, and I stopped wearing the striped pyjamas. You can't really see me very well here, but I was a pretty hot and happenin' babe, though I was incredibly shy and still wore the plastic-framed glasses. The gentleman playing cards with me on my bed is John, my best friend and first love for whom I pined for some 10 years, from junior high into college. I'm still in sporadic contact with him. He's now very happily married and has 5 kids.
If you look closely, you can see in the background a unicorn calendar, a picture from the movie The Last Unicorn, a feathered roach-clip (these were all the rage for a year or so, though I didn't wear mine clipped in my hair like the cool girls did), and extremely ugly curtains. John and I played cards all the time, sometimes in my room, sometimes in the kitchen, sometimes outside, just basically everywhere. Mostly not at his house, though, because his mom was weird and his older brothers liked to rag on us.
(RIGHT) Well, we've had the first kiss and the first love, now we have the first date. Guy Carpino asked me to the Homecoming Dance freshman year, when I was 13 and he was 14. My mom wouldn't buy me a new dress, because we couldn't afford it, and so I wore the same dress I'd worn to 8th-grade graduation. Luckily, Guy wasn't too dressed up, either, so we matched pretty well.
At the dance, we didn't actually dance very much, because I was too shy and he was wearing his father's shoes, which were too big for him and hurt his feet. The one song I remember us dancing to (possibly the only song we danced to) was Spandau Ballet's "True." I'd hated the song previously, but then went into a stage of going all misty eyed and embarrassed whenever I heard it.
In the photo, you may notice the attractive dead plant in the upper right, displayed in a hanger made of shells. My mother was one hell of an interior designer! Go Mom!
(LEFT) Some of those on my friends list will look at the photo and nod and smile and have fond memories. Others will blink and peer and wonder, "What the hell is all that crap on her walls?" This was my heavy-duty Duran Duran phase. All of the photos on the walls are Duran Duran pics, all of them gotten as fold-outs from teen magazines whose names I can't even remember.
The kitten I'm holding was named Nigel ... after John Nigel Taylor, bass player for Duran Duran. Make jokes at your leisure. She (yes, she, despite the name "Nigel") was a very sweet cat and I missed her a lot after I moved away. I cried a lot when Mom called me to tell me they'd had to put her to sleep.
What you can't see in this photo is that I'm also wearing a green-and-white Duran Duran t-shirt. I'm not joking, either. I had a serious obsession thing going on.
(RIGHT) Boy. Does this photo even require any explication? Yes, I did own some faux-Madonna clothing in the mid-1980s. I'm not sure if you can tell in this photo, but my hair is also partially dyed "blonde" (it was really pretty much orange, actually) in front. I think I still had a "tail" at this time, too, dangling down my back. I wanted simultaneously to be Madonna and to be one of the Thompson Twins (I had a huge crush on the red-haired lead singer, whose name I once knew but have now forgotten).
Notice my lack of accessories, though. Even as a teenager I was impaired in that department, though I did during this time have a tendency to wear very long, dangly earrings. I had both ears pierced twice. Now, almost 20 years later, all 4 holes have closed up. I'm no longer chic. Darn.
(LEFT) This is me and my brother with a few of our cousins (no Bobby or Denny, though, as indicated by my loopy handwriting when I was 15) up at Griffith Observatory. I'd gained some weight at this point and was very sensitive about it, and so was trying to look as small as possible in this picture.
Things to notice: I'm wearing a Depeche Mode t-shirt. My cousin Misty is wearing the little plastic shoes that were so popular during this time period. Alan is wearing slip-on Vans, which had pretty much gone out of style.
(RIGHT) I have a lifetime habit of growing out my hair very long, cutting it very short, growing it very long, cutting it very short, etc. This was one of the shortest haircuts I've ever had which still managed to suit me. Usually, short hair makes me look like Charlie Brown. I liked this haircut, though.
This photo was taken when we were at a Parents Without Partners gathering. A hay ride, I think. We'd shown up early (my mother is always incredibly early for everything) and so my mom forced us to pose for some pictures while we waited for everyone to show up. "Pretend you like each other!"
(LEFT) Okay, so we've had first kiss, first love, and first date ... now we have the first boyfriend. His name was (and probably still is) Tim, and this photo was taken at some kind of formal dance our dorm was putting on. I'm wearing a dress I bought for the junior-year "winter formal" in high school. Tim actually owned a suit.
Tim was Russian. He wasn't born in Russia, but all 4 of his grandparents were born in Russia and escaped during the Revolution, fleeing to Persia. His parents were both born in Persia/Iran and grew up there before moving to the U.S. when they were teenagers. Going to his house to visit was always very strange, because his family mostly didn't speak English to each other. Instead, they spoke a mishmash of Russian, Farsi, and broken English. I mostly couldn't understand anything they said. When Tim's dad tried to speak English to me, Tim had to whisper a translation in my ear. I mostly spent my visits nodding and smiling and trying to be invisible.
Our relationship eventually ended very badly. We were together for about 3 years, and then I ended things while we were living together in a sort of annex of my grandparents' condo. Tim was obsessed with getting us back together, so I was the one to move out and find another apartment. He continued living with my grandparents for about 6 or 7 more years afterward. It was freaky, and I stopped going to visit my grandparents because of it. They luuuuuuuuuuuuved Tim. He and I tried to be friends, but every time we would try to do something friend-like, he would eventually work the conversation around to, "I think I've figured out a way we can make this work!" or some similar conversational twist.Eventually, I said that I didn't think we could be friends until he was able to move on. We never did become friends again afterward. Every time I saw him, he had this distressingly pathetic eagerness to talk to me. I just stayed away from him. Sometimes I wonder what he's doing now, but my experience with reinitiating these types of friendships after a long time hasn't been good.
(RIGHT)Tim took this picture on one of our visits to Lodi to see my Grandpa. This is the grandpa whom I occasionally mention in this journal, the only family member I really felt close to, aside from my mom and brother. He's my dad's dad, and I was his first grandchild. He always treated me like I was the most precious thing in the world, like I was extraordinary and wonderful and perfect. He was the only person who ever cherished me. He loved to hear stories about how well I was doing in school, or activities I was interested in, or whatever. He thought it was all interesting, and it all made him proud. He was also sort of cantankerous (with people other than me), prone to making bad jokes, and just generally a funny old guy. I loved him very very very much.
He died a couple years ago. For rather complicated reasons, I wasn't able to go to the funeral. Thinking about him still makes me cry, because I wish I could have spent more time with him, especially before he became so ill and debilitated by strokes and heart attacks. The last couple times I saw him, he was mostly paralyzed and couldn't talk. He tried, but he couldn't get the words out and it made him really mad, so that he slammed things around in his hospital bed as much as he could, which wasn't much. He was in a hospital bed, but not in the hospital. I think that, at least, was probably a comfort to him. His wife was a R.N., so she nursed him at home. I'm not sure if that changed near the end, but at least he didn't spend YEARS in a hospital room. Instead, he spent years mostly paralyzed in a hospital bed in his living room, watching "Wheel of Fortune" and getting pissed off that his wife was telling him what to do and he couldn't argue back.
But I'm selfishly glad that I got to see him and talk to him and read to him a few times more than I would have if he'd died right off, like the doctors thought he would. And for the first couple years, he could still get around on his own, sneaking out back to smoke cigarettes when his wife wasn't watching, that sort of thing. It was only when progressively more and more strokes rendered him mostly paralyzed that things got bad.
I wish I'd lived nearer, so that I could have visited every day. (It was an all-day trip on Greyhound for me to visit.) I wish I'd been able to spend time with him frequently, telling him about my life, telling him jokes, reading to him, even just watching tv with him and holding his hand.
He was a great guy. I think I'll always miss him.