‘A Room of our Own’

grandpa's basement (2)

Handwritten page of a diary dated May 12, 1984

…  all those old things Grandma had rejected down to the basement for all those years they were married and he sorted out what he could use to make himself an apartment down there. What he really liked was the fake leather couch, which Grandma had only liked for two years in the ’80s and then stopped liking. He was happy to be able to use that thing again, and I think the only thing he bought brand new was three leopard skin pillows. He said that couch with those pillows “jazz the place up.” I sat down there with him and watched TV for an hour before I finally got the guts to ask him if he moved down here because he didn’t love Grandma any more. He said “Whaddaya talkin’ about? She’s the only girl for me. I moved downstairs, ya know, I didn’t move to Reno.”

Then I went upstairs and Grandma asked me to reach something on a tall shelf or her and I said “Grandma are you OK with Grandpa making himself a place in the basement?” and she said “Oh at first I thought it was a lot of folderol, but he still comes up to eat and do his chores and watch TV at night and sleep. So yes. I’m happy as a lark.” I guess she didn’t think I looked too convinced. She said “You know I don’t like very much of the popular music. But remember a few years ago I heard a Billy Joel song I liked and I asked whether you had the album so I could listen a few times?” I thought a minute and said “Oh yeah, ‘We all need a room of our own.'” And she just smiled and said, “Don’t ever forget it.”


Original image:
Published in: on January 23, 2016 at 3:49 pm  Comments (1)  

Glenn Frey made me watch ‘Miami Vice’

Frey lookalike cropped.png

Handwritten page of a diary dated February 2, 1985

been on all season, but I didn’t even watch it till last night – even though the only show everybody at school ever talks about is “Ohhh Miami Vice is so good” and if it’s a girl she says “Ohhhh Don Johnson is so cute.” Come on, if that’s what guys are supposed to look like now, I’m in big trouble. But somebody told me once I look like a young Joe Walsh – yes the guy from the EAGLES! I taped a picture on this page so future generations can see that I really do look like him. (I cut my ex-girlfriend out of the picture because there’s no use for future generations to see HER)

So even though I’m more of a Wang Chung guy (and mark my words, Wang Chung is going to be the next Beatles or Stones) I made sure to right away get a copy of Hotel California. Since then I will have a contest with anyone who thinks they know more about that album. And I didn’t even go out last night – ON A FRIDAY NIGHT – so I could stay home and watch Miami Vice because Glenn Frey was on it. (Glenn Frey wrote the lyrics to the song “Hotel California” and they’re ONLY THE BEST LYRICS EVER WRITTEN!) He was a pretty decent actor really. If only Joe Walsh would take a cue from old Glenn and try out an acting career, then Joe could get a big movie part and they could hire me to play his little brother in the movie!!!!!


Original image:

‘All the sugar and twice the caffeine.’


Handwritten page of a diary dated October 4, 1986

… said “You’re 12. I let you go see the ‘Crocodile Dundee’ even though it’s a PG-13 movie. But I am not gonna buy you Jolt Cola. Look right there on the can. It says ‘All the sugar and twice the caffeine.’”

I only have about a 50% success rate at talking her into stuff, so I knew I’d have to think fast. Then I remembered how worried she was a few months ago when the Chernobyl plant blew sky high so I told her with the way all that radiation is in the air, I probably won’t live long anyway, so I should experience things while I can.

It worked? Huh? She agreed to buy it — “but not a whole six-pack” she said, and of course the cashier was not happy to try to figure out how much to charge her for one can that she yanked out off the plastic sleeve.

I went home and poured that Jolt Cola over ice and slurped it down. Just tasted like Pepsi I guess, but then I got in the closet and got out my Star Wars light saber. Even though it doesn’t light up any more I couldn’t stop swinging that thing around. I went in the kitchen where Mom was watching some taped episode of “Dynasty” or “Falcon Crest” as she was chopping up an onion.

I pointed to her hand and said “That’s not a knife.” Then I raised my light saber and said “THAT’S a knife!”

She looked at me funny, so I told her it was the most famous line in “Crocodile Dundee.” She wasn’t even a little bit impressed.

Now it’s about 1 a.m. and I can’t sleep. That Jolt rush was pretty fun at first, but now I’m laying in bed and I can’t stop thinking about stuff that normally doesn’t even cross my mind. Like why does my dad have to dress like he’s in “Miami Vice”? What if Mad Cow disease comes to America and we can’t even eat hamburgers any more?  Why did Yoda have to die in “Return of the Jedi”? Why do I spend so much time thinking about marrying Whitney Houston when I don’t even like any of her songs?


Original image:

‘Line up boys …’


Handwritten page of a diary dated January 7, 1984

… out last night (YES, I know, there goes my New Year’s Resolution, but it’s not the fastest I ever broke one). Let’s state, for the record, I didn’t drink, but the worst thing is how smoky my hair smells after a night at Club Exit, but where else would a Niagara Falls girl go if she has a weakness for Canadian guys. As usual, plenty of them crossed the border last night, as in “Line up boys. Hmm, I’ll take that one and that one.” But I couldn’t find a single one that looked worth the price of even a short long-distance-phone-call relationship. Three times I got asked for my number, and three times I answered “867-5309” and not one of those guys figured out that it’s the phone number from the Tommy Tutone song. Airheads.


Original image:


Published in: on January 2, 2016 at 7:14 pm  Comments (2)  

Rick Springfield, coverboy

rick springfield

Handwritten page of a diary dated July 17, 1982

…  was all bummed out because the mail got thrown on the steps and her copy of TV Guide got rained on. She ran around the house saying, “It couldn’t happen some other week? Like some week when Rick Springfield wasn’t on the cover?” So she put a paper towel on the cover and then ironed it! Yes with the IRON!

She said we shouldn’t pick on her because she only watches “General Hospital” and some of her friends watch three or four soap operas every day. And besides Rick Springfield is multi-talented. Yes, we know, we know, he had a hit song. And she goes “You like ‘Jessie’s Girl”” and I’m like “I never said that” and she’s like “Every time after I play the record you sing that one part of the lyrics over and over.”

OK, she’s right, I do like that one line where he says “and she’s lovin’ him with that body I just know it” because he sings “know it” like it was all one word and he practically spits out the T in knowiT. That’s the only cool part.


Original image:
Published in: on August 21, 2013 at 2:25 am  Leave a Comment  

Merry Christmas Florida-style

merry xmas Florida style

Handwritten page of a diary dated November 12, 1988

…  her xmas cards are NOT “awesome” like she keeps saying. As if I care what cards she sends out. She said the colors on the card remind her of Florida where she is saving up to buy a condo for her upcoming retirement. Florida Florida Florida. I picked up the phone today and I said “Hello” and it’s Grandma singing “Rhythm is Gonna Get You” by Gloria Estefan, and she’s lucky I even recognized what song it was considering she’s about the worst singer who was ever born in central New Jersey (and I’ve heard some bad ones in my school) (which is a good reason why our choir teacher needs to stop telling everyone that louder is always better).

I told Grandma that even if she chooses Miami instead of Tampa, I doubt if the condo she buys will be in Gloria Estefan’s neighborhood. Seriously. She said “I know that, but it is possible that I might run into her in a restaurant some day.”


Original image:
Published in: on March 25, 2013 at 4:34 am  Comments (1)  

Red cowgirl hat

cowgirl dress

Handwritten page of a diary dated March 3, 1986

… pulled out this dress and I barely remembered it at first, so she showed me a picture of myself wearing it. It was really red, I said. It was, she said, and then started telling me that she once saw the ruby slippers from the Wizard of Oz and they’re not as bright red as they used to be either. I’m so sure you saw the real ruby slippers from the Wizard of Oz, I said, and she said she sure did because her Aunt Virginia took her to the Smithsonian once and they have all that kind of stuff you’d ever want to see.

You got to go to all the cool places, I said.

You went on a good long vacation once, she said, but I think she’s probably referring to the vacation when I stayed at a motel with a swimming pool  of which excuse me but I don’t even remember at all so what good is that?

I asked her what happened to the red hat that went with this outfit, but she said I left it in the motel room and when she talked to them on the phone later they wanted five dollars to mail it to us but that was twice as much as the hat cost in the first place.


Original image: http://www.flickr.com/photos/kellysue/3425817043/in/photostream/
Published in: on January 25, 2013 at 10:23 pm  Comments (1)  

Male model

Handwritten page of a diary dated October 25, 1983

…  so embarrassing that we couldn’t just get our pictures taken at school like the rest of the whole wide world but of course Dad thought it would be CHEAPER if we were both in the same picture and he only had to buy one set instead of two. And an even more embarrassing thing was that mom made us some matching outfits. And then on the day we went to the studio the man kept saying that James was so good at posing as if he was BORN to do this and I asked him if I should smile? and he ignored me and said I think James has a future in this business. And I said models are girls and he said no no no no there are a lot of male models and I think you’re looking at one right now standing next to you. And now all the time James is walking around our house posing for imaginary magazine covers. All I can hope for is that the picture gets sent to us and it shows that I look photogenic and James looks as stupid as he really is.


Original image:
Published in: on August 16, 2012 at 10:02 am  Leave a Comment  

Purple wedding dress

Handwritten page of a diary dated March 12, 1982

…  if we don’t get that money somehow, we won’t get tickets for the ZZTop concert.

But Mari had an idea. She said what’s the saddest thing you can think of? I said dead puppies? She said no no no, shut up while I think. And then about 15 minutes later (yes, I was getting bored just sitting there quiet) she said WEDDING DRESS, NEVER WORN. I said I don’t get it. She said the plan is this: We go to the Salvation Army shop and look for a wedding dress that looks still new and we pay around $10 for it. Then we put a want ad in the paper that says “Wedding dress for sale, never worn because I was left at the altar, but it’s pretty as can be and I’ll let it go for $50 because I think it will bring you more luck than it brought me.” That would give us $40 profit — enough for the tickets.

When we went to the Salvation Army, she wanted to buy this one that looked very new but I said MARI COME ON, KEEP LOOKING because the dress was purple not white! (And besides, that particular mannequin gave me the creeps like you wouldn’t believe)


Original image:
Published in: on July 19, 2012 at 1:14 pm  Leave a Comment  

‘Mama if that’s movin’ up then I’m movin’ out’

Handwritten page of a diary dated September 2, 1980

… quite embarrassing how much she loves Billy Joel but the weird thing is she will only listen to that one album. I say Mom. Come on. He has two new albums since then. Try a new one. But she has her mind made up. Only side one of that particular album interests her.

Sometimes this summer it was really quiet and I was in my room reading a book or something and all of a sudden I’d hear it again “Anthony works in a gro-shurry store. Savin’ his pennies for some day …” I mean it. Sometimes I actually wake up in the middle of the night and think Billy Joel is in my room singing “Working too hard can give you a heart attack ack ack ack ack ack.” So actually for once I’m kinda almost glad that school is starting.

Even while she’s taking our picture with our new lunchboxes at 8:15 in the morning the record player is already playing “Don’t go changin to try and please me” and she thinks I’m excited by my new Mork from Ork lunchbox but all I’m really thinking is that at school there won’t be any Billy Joel.


Original image:
Published in: on May 21, 2012 at 12:27 am  Leave a Comment