January 27, 2009

Red Spiral Notebook

My parents are in the process of cleaning out the vast amount of crap that's piled up in their house since we moved to the area in 1989. I'm pretty sure they've got some boxes we never even managed to unpack after the move. In the process, they uncovered a few things they thought I'd want. They dropped them by this weekend. Among the collection were a few books, my guitar stand, a notebook and my old baseball glove. The thing that got me the most excited was the notebook. Because I recognized the red spiral-bound cover and was sure that many embarrassing things were captured inside. I was right - it's a perfect collection of high-school angst containing GPA calculations, terrible poetry, awkward prose and plenty of mixed tape lists. Allow me to illustrate.

So, you get home from a date. It's too late to do much else but sit. So you sit and what do you think about? School has got you down. You're tired of waking up early in the morning to go and going to bed late because of homework. You start thinking, "what happens when I get out of high school?" You start thinking about the SATs. When to take them. Where to take them. Then you have to apply for college. Where to go. How to get there. What happens after you go. It's going to be hard. Did you make the grades you should have in high school? Did you get the right kind of education while you were there?

I'm pretty sure that was the intro of what would eventually become an editorial for the school newspaper I edited. A while back, I found all the old editions. I'll have to check. But, then, this really isn't the most cringeworthy. No, that belongs to the many aborted short stories I attempted in the red notebook.

Roger was a tall man. Big in build, around six feet tall. His long brown hair touched his back when he looked up at the ceiling trying to find the bee that had just flown in the open window. The window was usually closed.

He had been sitting there for a while. Alone in the room. His face blank of expression. No one had ever seen him smile, laugh or cry. The doctors ran around all day trying to see what made him tick. No one knew.

His parents, now dead, had never been able to relay a word he said. He never talked. No one had ever heard a sound he made. As he sat there, a nurse came in. He looked at her then down at his shoes. She injected him with something and quietly left the room.

The expression on Roger's face change several hours later. He reached into a small cabinet and donned a plaid blazer and a small vaudeville style hat. He then began dancing while signing to chorus of Rag Time Girl.

After he had finished his act, alone in his room, he returned the festive clothing to the cabinet and took up his usual place in the room, his face expressionless.

A few weeks later, he had done various renditions of oldies as well as a contemporary mix of today's hits. He had found his ticket out of the institution.

Five years passed. He was living in Hollywood. He had five cars and a lovely home. He was not married. He had major success in the world of recording artists. His first hit By The Way You Have Lovely Thighs went straight to Number 1 on the Billboard charts. Later that same year, he was hit by a very large bus and died while humming a few bars from his latest hit I've Got A Greyhound On My Mind.

I was kind of a fucked up kid I guess. And at some point, my fucked up self was trying to get a new guitar into my cubby little fucked up hands. I even had a budget. I believe this was the only time I voluntarily did math in high school.
Gibson Epiphone Package $313.50 w/tax

From parents $180.00
Saved allowance $120.00
Work (3 day wk) $96.00
Work (4 day wk) $192.00
Total $588.00
- Gibson $313.50
Total in Account $264.00

Finally, there are a few dozen mixed tapes mapped out in the notebook, most of them centered around hair metal, the en vogue genre when I was in high school.

Van Halen - Poundcake
Anthrax - Antisocial
AC/DC - You Shook Me All Night long
Skid Row - Youth Gone Wild
Steelheart - I'll Never Let You Go
Suicidal Tendencies - You Can't Bring Me Down
Guns N Roses - You Could Be Mine
Soundgarden - Big Dumb Sex
Love/Hate - Why Do You Think They Call It Dope?
Motley Crue - Kickstart My Heart
Firehouse - Love Of A Lifetime
Jane's Addiction - Been Caught Stealing
Spread Eagle - Broken City
Faster Pussycat - Babylon
Lord Tracy - Piranha
Extreme - More Than Words
Bulletboys - Hell On My Heels
Sweet F.A. - Prince Of The City
Warrior Soul - Losers

The problem here is that I can still remember the lyrics to damn near every song on the list. Rawk.

So, what do you have lying around that reminds you just what a dork you once used to be? Come up with the best tragically bad evidence of your dorkdom and I will make you a CD of rockin-like-Dokken hair metal absolutely no classier than the one you see above.

Posted by Chris at January 27, 2009 6:30 AM

So you had the male version of a "diary" good thing it didn't have a lock with key heart or you'd really hear about it.

Posted by: Deirdre at January 27, 2009 7:57 AM

I would, but I continue to reach new levels of dorkiness, as I found out last week. :) Though I'd be interested in that mix, since I just recently discovered Deep Purple, AC/DC, etc.

Posted by: Hannah at January 27, 2009 8:18 AM

For the last couple of weeks anytime we play a board game I've been putting the XM Radio Hair Metal station on in the background. My ability to ID song and artist by sound only is running about 90% - which is sort of scary. Last night I was actually singing along to Stryper.

Posted by: COD at January 27, 2009 9:08 AM

Gawd, I have 2m2n (too many too name in note-speak) but my box of notes from my girlfriends and boyfriend-of-the-week are probably the best. We had code names for boys and cigarettes and used numbers and arrows as much as possible, i.e. every note began much like this:
Hey ***ie,

Waz up (arrow instead of up)? Not much here, just sittin in class bein booored! (bubbly exclamation point)

Then it goes on to talk about how much we hate our parents and "does my hair look cute 2day? Tiffany said it looked cute but she hates me so does it look cute, I think it does but does it, does it, does it?"

PS: No, it didn't look cute! I had big giant GA hair. We have a town here named Kennesaw and their is actually a hairstyle called the "Kennesaw claw".

Posted by: mymilabean at January 27, 2009 9:21 AM

I am so trying to figure out how Love of a Lifetime fit into that list. ;)
I have friends who danced to that at their wedding - in 1999. Love it!

Posted by: Traci at January 27, 2009 9:35 AM

I still have a the cassette single of Extreme's More Than Words, along with my thankfulness that I no longer have anything in the house capable of playing it.

Many thanks for the CDs. I'll give them a listen today, then spend the evening writing you love sonnets about how awesome they probably are. It's what I do.

Posted by: You can call me, 'Sir' at January 27, 2009 9:43 AM

I have one embarassing item: D's wool Member's Only jacket...also, I have mixed tapes of soft-Metal...all of their love ballads.

However, the most embarassing, but fun fact, about your list is that "Shook me all night long" was playing on my stereo when D proposed. I don't think either of us noticed in the moment, but I definitely remember catching the end of it after the shock wore off...what a great, romantic song for a marriage proposal. ;-)

Posted by: Krush at January 27, 2009 10:21 AM

I love that you have this. There's NO WAY I'd share the things I wrote when I was fifteen. It's completely horrifying. I can't even read it without cringing.

Posted by: k8 at January 27, 2009 10:35 AM

sweet fa......damn! i saw faster pussycat a few months ago. with bang tango. and la guns. hahaha!

Posted by: madmom at January 27, 2009 10:37 AM

sweet fa......damn! i saw faster pussycat a few months ago. with bang tango. and la guns. hahaha!

Posted by: madmom at January 27, 2009 10:37 AM

Funny you mention Dokken...

I STILL have several concert tees from seeing them in concert in 1986, they opened for Judas Priest. (They are no longer wearable, however..)

I also have the concert program and several posters that I purchased while at said concerts. LOVED me some Dokken. Still do, actually. When I was 14, I was going to marry Jeff Pilson. Totally.

I also have a guitar pic that I got from none other than C.C. DeVille, a drum stick from Mick Brown of Dokken, and the autographs of all of the Dokken members, as well as the autographs of 3 of the guys from the Scorpions (Herman, Matthias and Klaus) that I obtained while at a Monsters of Rock concert in Maine. I totally snuck out for that. I think the date was June 26, 1986. AND? I snuck out of a friends house to go. My parents thought I was at her house, and her parents thought that I went home. I never got caught.

ROCK! lol

I have several old cassette tapes with static-y episodes of the King Biscuit Flour Hour. Any one remember that??

And I have two other cassettes that I still covet..
I called into my favorite radio station one night (94 WHJY in Providence) and got to speak, on air, with my most favorite DJ at the time. We had this whole conversation, and I requested that he play Shot in the Dark by Ozzy. On the other tape, is also a song request, from the same DJ and station, where he calls me his "Faithful Friday night buddy from the Cape." AWESOME.


Posted by: Jen at January 27, 2009 11:38 AM

How about hanging Metallica tapestries next to my Alyssa Milano pictures?

Posted by: Brad at January 27, 2009 11:41 AM

Love it! One of mine - the local radio station had a "top 10 at 10" every night. I kept lists. FOR 3 YEARS!

Posted by: Sue R at January 27, 2009 11:45 AM

I still have friends I hang out with on a regular basis that know me from middle school on. Does that count as stuff I have 'lying around' that reminds me of how much of a dork I was? Because, when we find an opening, we always seem to remind each other what dorks we were way back then.

Evenings with good food and lots of good drink can get quite interesting!

I do come across, occasionally, an odd note or two from a high school boyfriend, and I have a diary or two I haven't cracked open since college. Can't make me either! ;-)

Posted by: cyndy at January 27, 2009 11:48 AM

I accept your challenge. I'll be back after I do some digging.

PS: 18 and Life was on the radio the other day. I turned the speakers all the way up, rolled the windows down in the car, and braced myself for totally rock-out-edness.

I made it through 75 seconds before I put NPR back on. Me? Old.

Posted by: Mr Lady at January 27, 2009 12:22 PM

Man, dude. The vaudeville story is actually pretty good!
I have been trying to find this picture of me standing on top of a volcano in Hawaii from my high school days. Hair down to mid back. Denim jacket with the cover of Iron Maiden Killers airbrushed on the back. About 50 metal buttons and two tiny little plastic skeleton keychains pinned to the front. I think it might give your playlist a run for its money.

Oh, and I thought I was the only other person who knew Bulletboys. NICE! Smooth up!

Posted by: matt at January 27, 2009 1:25 PM

I recently discovered that my neighbour went to the same university as I back in the early 90s, on the other side of the country. She dug out the old yearbook and my husband and her husband proceeded to laugh themselves sick over every photo of us in that book. In the words of my husband, "Did you manage to get laid even once?"

Good times. Good times.

Posted by: mandy at January 27, 2009 1:40 PM

I have a box full of old notes like a lot of people...but in that box there is a small purple notebook. My best friend at the time, Jess, and I used to write notes to each other in the notebook and pass the whole thing back and forth. It was our way of being organized, I suppose. It's an interesting history of our friendship...which ended in her screwing my brother, actually. If you look at the notebook, it abruptly ends right about the time they started dating. Weird? Not so much when taken in context.

Does that just make me a dork or bitter? Heh. Otherwise, you just have to look at my elementary school pictures to know the dork that was me way back when.

Posted by: Arwen at January 27, 2009 1:44 PM

Picture this, 1986, geeky 15 year old girl with the feathered hair, suede leather jacket with fringes, purse with a large raccoon tail keychain hanging off of it, that was me. I used to carry around a lighter in my pocket just in case some guy needed a light, the kicker was I didn't smoke at the time....Loser with a capital L...but I guess I always had the guy's best interest at heart ;-)

Posted by: Gabriella at January 27, 2009 1:51 PM

Don't sell yourself short, that story was totally awesome. Are you going to include "By The Way You Have Lovely Thighs" on the mix cd?

Posted by: Jenn at January 27, 2009 1:51 PM

Ahhhhhhhh! Piranha! "Swimming in the deep blue sea; he's after you he's after me...he's a BAD FISH!" I have that song on my iPod (and about half the other songs too). Apparently we went to high school at the same time. I love "Been Caught Stealing". I have an ex who tells me he thinks of me when he hears "Classic Girl." Also, I once saw Bulletboys perform "Hang On St. Christopher" on the roof of a 7-11 in Mountain View.

Posted by: Brooke Habecker at January 27, 2009 2:22 PM

go here:

enough said

Posted by: elissa at January 27, 2009 2:25 PM

Actually, I just blogged about it the other day. :)

Posted by: Claire at January 27, 2009 2:51 PM

I have a diary I started in Junior high and carried through into part of high school. I also (in a large plastic ice cream bucket) have every note I ever got from my friends in junior high and high school. There's some real gems in there, let me tell you! And the diary... mostly its kind of embarrassing- embarrassing that my mind worked the way it did, that I thought I was cool, that I was as bad of a writer as I was then. Yeah, it's pretty cringe-worthy.

Posted by: Debra at January 27, 2009 2:54 PM

I not only used to do mixed tapes, I also made many recordings. One summer, my friends and I did commentaries for a mix tape for a friend who spent a semester in Australia. We joked. We sang. We ranted. And, brace yourself, attempted to rap. Senior year, I won the "Best Radio Show" in my drama class for the crazy story of Belle and the Terminator.

College freshman year, I recorded a "Book on Tape" for my BFF from the Politically Correct Bedtime Stories, with all the voices, sound effects, and proudly pronounced "debris" day-bris. English as a second language FTW!

And finally, as a test to my friend's Mac recording program my sophomore year, we recorded one of my first written song about freshman year. Forever and ever now I'm teased for that.

I still have copies of some of these somewhere in the closet.

Posted by: oakley at January 27, 2009 2:56 PM

I posted a bunch of old (cringe-worthy) journal entries on my blog once. Here's one of them:

September 15th, 1993
(10 Years Old)
Today was all right. Boy, am I lying through my teeth. Well, we had a sub for half a day and she was a which and an ugly son of a gun. We all started thinking she was a he. Because her hair looked like a wig and she (he) went halfway into the boy's bathroom. Well I'm glad he or she is gone!

Posted by: Tink at January 27, 2009 3:14 PM

Several LP's by the Carpenters and Barry Manilow. Need I say more?

Posted by: Maribeth at January 27, 2009 4:26 PM

I've finally caught up after a month of blog-reading hiatus and I must admit, you have some strange bathroom stories man. And I enjoyed the bird photo immensely.

Posted by: Heather at January 27, 2009 4:56 PM

Chris, that reminds me of the annual Bulwyr-Lytton contest. Are you familiar? It's a challenge to write the worst possible sentence:


Posted by: Casey at January 27, 2009 4:58 PM

I recently uncovered in the attic, in a box labeled "Memories 1991-1993," my lame attempt at a SLAM BOOK from my senior year. Remember those? Any old spiral notebook would have a single person's name at the top of each page. Then, you would pass the book around and people would write what they thought about each person. It was such a stupid idea, and I felt so ridiculous for ever thinking that a slam book was a "cool" thing to do.

Posted by: Jen at January 27, 2009 5:11 PM

Love it! I found my red spiral notebook - except it was more than 1 notebook, it was a box full of notebooks, and some scraps and other things. Brings back crazy memories and yes, a lot of that crazy teenage angst. I also found lots of writing for english class, even some drawings (I can't draw), and ACCKKK, diaries. Oh my. I don't recall any of mine having math in them though.

Thanks for sharing yours. Dorks unite!


Posted by: Daisy at January 27, 2009 5:51 PM

I don't think I have ever met anyone else who knew of Lord Tracy. Brooke (who commented also) and I would go around singing that song when it came out.

Love that mix - I'm putting it on my iPod and titling it Rude Cactus!

Posted by: bea at January 27, 2009 7:49 PM

It's funny you bring this up b/c I've been obsessively listening to the Arena Rock music station on my tv for about a week now. Many of the artists/songs from your aforementioned mixed tapes show up on there, to include none other than Dokken.

Somewhere amidst the clutter I have several old journals, notes, etc. Oooh and nothing like those old yearbook scribbles! "Have a great summer" "Stay cool" "KIT (keep in touch)" lol

Posted by: Kris at January 27, 2009 8:54 PM

dude, you realize that the only time you willingly did math in high school, you did it wrong? haha.

that's why I NEVER willingly did math in high school!

Posted by: Jennifer Berthiaume at January 28, 2009 12:03 AM

Lisa Lisa and the Cult Jam

Enough said, right?

Posted by: Maria at January 28, 2009 5:51 AM

All that high school stuff of mine is under the staircase at my mother's house. Except I believe I do have old journals unless I threw them out for some reason years ago.

Unfortunately I am still a dork. Modern evidence proves it.

Case in point: My friend who lives upstairs was feeling depressed one night a few weeks ago so I went to cheer her up. She was lamenting how lame her life was because she was playing a lot of online poker.

To make her feel better I admitted that I was playing.... Farm Frenzy. (The three year old picked it out. Because it had a pic of a cow.)

It worked.

Posted by: jessica at January 29, 2009 10:38 AM

Know everything. Of course. That's my goal in life. I will never get there, but it's something to aspire to! Once I reached my goal, why would I need to live forever? Plus, I don't want to outlive another child or live for a long time without friends/loved ones.

Posted by: That Girl at January 30, 2009 12:51 PM

OMG--you've just answered one of those questions that periodically annoys me by slithering unanswerably into my brain: "Who sang that 'I'll Never Let You Go' song that the radio stations in Champaign were playing in the summer of '91?" I was living in off-campus housing with my best friend, finishing up my last couple of credit hours before graduating, and planning a wedding that never happened. Things that happened that summer are still reverberating through my life.

I have all my college journals, as well as a box of notes from my friends in high school. Among them: dozens of notes on tiny scraps of torn paper, which a male friend and I used to pass between our adjacent desks during sophomore chemistry class. He was a friend of my crush-- the guy with whom I was planning the wedding five years later--and he was also the reason the wedding never happened.

And there are piles of notes with one of my other friends--we were both at the same stages of our first relationships. The sexual angst of obedient mid-80's Catholic school girls...there's not much funnier, or sadder at the same time. I should organize those notes one day.

Posted by: Gladys at February 7, 2009 8:39 PM