To Cecilia on her 20th birthday

October 4, 1993, 20., Monday,

On Wendsday [sic] there was this full moon [a blue moon actually], and it was so beautiful. You could see a crater on the bottom, and there [were] these grey clouds on it. It was so nice out you could see the color of the stars. For the next few days it stayed there. And yesterday I washed with a new soap from France. But do you know what it was like at the very dawn of time? Clouds of biting dust, gasses, no true sun, etc. And the soap was once animal fat, ashes, and rose petals. That’s the way my life is. Sometimes so perfect, sometimes Hell.

Those are the opening lines of my third journal Cecilia, who in spite of being “only” a big five-subject college-ruled notebook and a bursting binder of looseleaf paper, has a place in my heart as my favourite and dearest journal. I was so attached to this imaginary friend of sorts I’d created for myself, someone to pour out my heart and soul to, I had a really hard time letting her go and finally moving on to my next journal, Rita. Because of the different kind of dark night of the soul that followed, Rita went on to become my next-dearest journal.

The following is taken from a much-longer piece I wrote on my old Angelfire site, on Cecilia’s 10th birthday:

I created her, I named her, I protected her, I confided in her, I loved her. It’s like the nursery magick in The Velveteen Rabbit—something becomes Real because it’s been loved so damn much, it doesn’t even matter that it’s not alive. She was one of the best friends I ever had. She always listened to me, even though she could never talk back to me and telling me I was just babbling or sounding goofy or ready to be committed to the psych ward. She couldn’t give me a hug or comforting words back or anything that flesh and blood best friends do, but she was there for me when I most desperately needed a true friend.

Her beauty was that she was there to listen to me and never made me shut up and stop talking, put me down, nothing. She didn’t have the worries and depression I had, being abiotic, like I once told her, but she almost assumed a real human identity to me. I even gave her a physical description early on—five foot one, five pounds overweight, long black hair, big green eyes, and long nails. Maybe I held onto her longer than I should’ve, the way I kept her going for a whole other year after the pages just clear ran out, but I was just too attached to the dear friend I called Cecilia to say goodbye.

And then I let her go when the time was right, her sides splitting with pages, after I had finished quoting from a hundred songs. [For years I had the habit of starting each journal entry with a song lyric, and used many songs multiple times.]


I can’t believe I’m now old enough to easily remember 20 years ago, though two decades still seems like a vast stretch of time. Everything was so different in 1993.

Since 1989, I’ve had the following journals, and yes, from Cecilia on, they’ve all been named for songs:

Journal #1 (the only one I never named), September 1989-February 1993

Helena, February 1993-September 1993

Cecilia, October 1993-January 1996

Rita, January 1996-June 1998 (ended on the anniversary of Tiananmen Square)

Prudence, June 1998-December 2000

Rael, 8 December 2000 (John Lennon’s 20th Jahrzeit)-February 2002

Athena, 1 March 2002-October 2003

Emily, October 2003-May 2005

Zelda, 1 June 2005-November 2007

Eloise, 29 November 2007 (George Harrison’s 6th Jahrzeit)-September 2008

Current journal, begun September 2008, abandoned 1 March 2009, picked up a few times in 2012 and 2013, finally permanently resumed my longtime daily journaling habit September 2013, hopefully never to be stopped for so long ever again. She needs a name!

But there can only ever be one Cecilia.


My So-Called Teenage Life Blog Hop, Part Deux


Amy Sonnichsen, Christa Desir, and Andrea of Maybe It’s Just Me are hosting the second My So-Called Teenage Life Blog Hop. Participants will share old teen journal entries or poetry.

I recently took my old journals out of storage, along with some other very special things (among them my coin, marble, and stamp collections, the framed “Don’t Tread on Our Valley” poster I made, my DVDs, and my most important books, esp. the ones by my four favoritest writers). I checked to make sure all the journals were still there. On my next grab to get all my stuff out of storage, I’m getting my vinyl collection. Right now I only have 15 of my LPs with me.

I kept regular journals from 1989-early 2009, and then I just stopped. I was putting too much of my own life on the back burner for the sake of my dysfunctional relationship, and that included regular journaling and even going to shul (synagogue). I’m trying to get back into the journaling habit now.

Five journals spanned my teen years—Journal #1, Helena, Cecilia, Rita, and Prudence. A lot of the entires are unlike anything you’d expect to find in a teen’s journal. I sound like some 50-year-old intellectual with no life a lot of times, always going on about world literature, Russian and American politics, past life dreams and regressions, other dreams, religion, music, philosophy, news, history, and the state of the world. Other entries are too personal and painful to share here.

I’m sharing one from Rita and another from Prudence. I had just turned 20 by the latter entry, but it was about an incident that happened when I was 14. For many months in Prudence, I faithfully recorded memories I’d never mentioned or fleshed out previously. Thanks to that, I now have records of many things I otherwise would’ve forgotten completely, or never been able to recall in so much detail today.

Some of these names are pseudonyms; others aren’t.

December 14, 1996, 20., Saturday,

“Heaven and earth would come together,/And gentle rain fall.” My beautiful Empire State is covered in snow and ice now. I lay awake till well after midnight last night, sad. I left my heart in New York, Massachusetts, and Vermont. Now I’m getting upset again. “None of that!”


And I was upset over the situation in Russia. The president is out shooting boars and having picnics with Helmut Kohl, and people are suffering! I have always wanted world peace. I thought: “General Lebed could negotiate world peace!” So the incumbent had better resign! Now I’m upset again!

I MISS NEW YORK! Vermont and Massachusetts are so far away. I still have our house, the city, my school, Hackett, the pond, etc., etched in my mind. They think we’re happy Here. That New York “is” ancient history. Our home is in New York! I was happy there for almost sixteen years.

I got a letter from Teri today. She mailed it on the ninth. That’s when I mailed her letter. That’s telepathy! [Later our letters crossed in the mail again, after a long time of not being in touch.] She asked about me. She went to my house. I am touched. I am upset. I miss New York. “It is a wound which cannot heal….”

I miss the playground. I want to go Home! I miss Boston! I miss Manchester! I miss Cape Cod! I want to be Home and to see my friends for eleven, four, and two years! So I finally know what a broken heart feels like. I was so happy this Spring, out on the playground, taking in Sun, eating lunch, reading, lost in the GULAG, giggling in History at the teacher’s jokes and stories about the insane English monarchy, Marx and Bakunin getting into fistfights, stumbling over the pronunciation of “Iván Denisovitch,” telling us about Yeltsin’s drinking habits,….

Now I am not happy! I would give anything to see a familiar face. I never knew I would leave my beautiful New York. Oda must’ve cried day after day, when it was Safe!, over poor, poor Mikhaílachka. Her baby, her surrogate little sister. As Oda once asked: “Will it ever stop hurting so much?”

December 28, 1999, 20., Tuesday,

….And then the spanking story. I was in the group of lawyers representing the government for our moot court for Hr. Lorenzo, since Vanya and Mark were in that group. Unfortunately Brain was too. And Brendon. I was having it up to here by Then. And rude lousy Brendon wanted me to move my desk so’s he could sit closer to someone, I think. I naturally refused, several times, and finally he gets up to bodily move my desk.

Big mistake.

I held it in place with my weight, then, as it gave way, I finally snapped. I slapped his ass in those blue jeans once, twice, thrice….And he just stops. Vanya and Mark were giving me these big huge awestruck smiles. Brendon and 99.9% of everything he says is perverted. Brendon and the oilless rubber. Brendon and the maxi pad. ‘Nuff said.

“Whoa, I knew you liked me, but not enough to grab my ass!” or something.

Dimwit. I never like liked him!….Later on the bus, maybe that day, maybe later, Mark and Bruce got on with me up front, and we started talking, and eventually Mark goes: “She gave Brendon a spanking!”

Bruce is like: “You gave Brendon a spanking?” I nodded proudly, and he says gravely but in a disguised funny-voice: “Gave him what he deserved.” Oh, God, Brendon.

My So-Called Teenage Life Blog Hop

Today, 21 June, is the My So-Called Teenage Life Blog Hop, hosted by Amy Sonnichsen and Christa Desir. Participants will post excerpts from old teen journals or poetry from their teen years.

I began journalling in 1987 and began regularly journaling on 8 September 1989, the first day of fourth grade. I continued pretty much continuously till early March of 2009, and journalled every single day for much of that time. I’m rather embarrassed I fell off the wagon, but I’m trying to get back into the habit now, with the journal I’d only recently started when I abruptly stopped.

Starting with my second journal, I named my journals. From the third one on, they were all named for classic rock songs (e.g., Zelda, Emily, Cecilia, Prudence, Rael, Athena, Eloise). I think I’ll name the current ignored journal Suzanne, after The Hollies’ song “Sorry Suzanne” (1969). I already had a journal named Eloise, after The Hollies’ song “Dear Eloise” (1967), and I like to use two names from each group I pick a namesake song from. Anyway.

My journals are in storage with most of the rest of my stuff in my so-called fiancé’s parents’ basement, and unfortunately, I could only find the ones from my twenties and my very first journal, which went from September 1989-February 1993. I wasn’t up to going through all my crates to find my midway journals, so I have Helena (second journal) and Cecilia (number three) to pick from.

I picked a classic entry from Cecilia, 23 June 1994, describing my junior high graduation the night before. I later somewhat based a few graduations in some of my books on certain of the events at this ceremony. “Mortimor,” later shorted to “Timmy” and “Tim,” was a boy I had a huge puppy love crush on for years. Now I thank God I didn’t end up with him, because his looks REALLY deteriorated after junior high!


June 23, 1994, 20., Thursday,

….Graduation was a total rip-off. The first speaker was a nut. Mortimor kept gettin’ angrier and angrier at him! The speaker was bringin’ up violence and the O.J. Simpson case at a graduation! And then he was all like: “The person next to you might not be there in a few years, because they’ll be lazy and uneducated.” Mortimor was furious. He was yellin’: “What the f— is this? What the hell is this s—? How dare he tell us about our families and call us lazy? What is this, a pep talk? This guy’s a nut!” He kept makin’ me laugh durin’ that nutty speaker. Scary part is that he’s a judge!

….This one girl won awards. Mortimor and his pal were amazed. Mortimor was goin’ like: “How smart can this girl get? Her walls’ll be covered with all that s—!” Then some guy won awards. Mortimor went like: “His pants are mad tight! Lookit that fag tag on his pants!”

Then they finally let the homerooms start goin’ up. Mortimor kept glancin’ at his watch and shoutin’: “This’ll take all evening!” Mortimor’s pal was laughin’ at the kids who kept messin’ up. He said: “It’s shake with the right, take with the left!” Then he pretended ta be onea the kids and twisted his arms around. They were both shocked when more’n kids in a row finally got it right. When we went up, Mortimor’s pal went over the correct way. Then he said, when we went back: “I think I messed up.” Mortimor gloated: “got it right!”

His pal was ticked off when we unrolled the papers. He yelled: “What’s this? Some damn note! The real diplomas come in July! This was a total rip-off!” Really, it was! And the last time [so I thought] that I’ll see Mortimor for quite awhile was as I was leavin’ the gym, after that rip-off ceremony. I turned around and saw him. I hope that I’ll see him around a few times this year. Well, when I see him again, we can laugh our heads off about that nutty first speaker. I know that I’ll really miss seein’ him.

….Mortimor ain’t like my 5th grade crush, whom I quickly recovered from. I know so much more about Mortimor’s life. I hope that he’s happy ta be a person in you and Helena. He actually stood up for me a few times in his own way. He’s a nice guy whom the world should know about. Really, I woulda been dyin’ during the speeches and awards had it not been for Mortimor and his pal sittin’ next to me. I just know that he’ll become a success!


And [my father] was tellin’ some guys at his work about the nut speaker, and it turns out that the judge was ranked near the bottom of a recent survey of best judges, plus he’s not known for racial or gender sensitivity! Not too popular at all!