If I had a bunny, I’d call it Led Zeppelin.

Did you ever have a friend you thought was so much more sophisticated and worldly than you? I felt that way about one of my best friends in 8th and 9th grade.  Along with the perceived worldliness, and more so than any of my other girlfriends, K.’s notes can be counted on to mention various aspects of pop culture–sometimes at great length and in unexpectedly sophisticated language for a young teenager.

K. was what you’d call a latchkey kid, as many of her notes mentioned coming and going when no one was home–a completely alien concept to a kid like me whose grandmother lived with her.  K. and her parents lived lakeside in Reston, Virginia–“the first modern, post-war planned community in America,” as Wikipedia explains it.  They had their own dock and a small sailboat.  K. had a snake named Slither and took riding lessons on a leased horse named Hester. She was allowed to drink piña coladas, went to a Schick Weight Loss Center (more on that in a later post), had a prescription for one of the earliest available versions of Retin-A, knew how to cook, took public transportation by herself and had her own bathroom.  If that’s not sophistication, I don’t know what is.

K. even had a darkroom, of which I was immensely jealous, since she was able to make 11 x 14″ prints of her photographs of the boy we both had a massive crush on.  When I say massive, I mean M. A. S. S. I. V. E.–there is no way I could possibly overstate this.  We stalked this poor kid for two years.  More on that later as well . . .


Hi H.!
Guess who’s pen I got hold of again!  Just kidding, this one is my old papermate.
Did you know (oops, stupid pen!) that I owe you 3 notes!  I don’t like this pen, hold on.
That’s better, I guess.
Back to the note you wrote last Friday.  Even no empty barrel would look good on T.!  Why do you always go to the band room?  You know, I think T. is getting his brain back (Thank God!).  We’re getting soft, H.!  I don’t have the heart to do the “trick” anymore (at least not yet).  But when we do get fired up again we have plenty of “stuff.”  Thanks for T.’s phone number.  You wouldn’t know his address, would you?  It’s too bad you didn’t get to shake G.’s hand, Oh well.  You wouldn’t want to shake it now though, with a tick in it!  I can’t stand ticks!  They make me sick!  I don’t think T. is going on the Walk for Mankind either, By the way, when is it?  You’re right about my needing glasses, they’re coming in soon I think.  But I’m nearsighted so I didn’t have any trouble seeing your picture from last year!  It was good!  My school pictures never turn out!  I don’t even know why they bother to take them.  I bet T.’s turned out good!  He’s absolutely photogenic!  T. is so-o-o-o-o wonderful!  He’s helping me to overcome my shyness by his just being nice to me!  I don’t have much problem looking into those GORGEOUS Blue-Grey eyes of his!  I’ve heard that you can learn almost everything about a person by looking into their eyes, too.  And it’s true!  I think it’s fantastic that a person’s eyes are the “most revealing part of their face” because T. has been “Gifted” with such beautiful ones!
Mr. H. never lets our class see anything backwards!  I guess he doesn’t like us [sniff].
The guys that threw pudding at us were that kid G. with the red hair (you know, he beat up S.) and some friends of his.
I bet when T., T.P., D.R. (ick) and C.R. wore their Adidas (sp?) shirts it was planned.  That’s just to much of a coincidence.  I didn’t know C. had an A. shirt.  But of course!  You have to have an A. shirt to be cool!
T.P. is cute.  He was in my Industrial Arts class last year.  So sweet!  So was J. (J.)!  Did you know him?  He moved to Fairfax, poor thing.  He says it’s pretty scary over there.  Once he found a dead body when he was doing his paper route, and people keep setting things on fire!
Oh, Love of My Life come home!  So adorable!  He’s even cuter now than he was last year!
My poor knees!  They don’t like to run.  This afternoon I left my jacket in French so I took my books out to the bus and ran back in to find that Mlle. S. had locked the room (terrific!) so I had to run all the way back out to the bus.
You are so lucky to have all that stuff in your basement!  I bet you could really build up your muscles lifting weights!
T. asked me the same question a couple of days ago.  I don’t have a favorite group really.  I’m not one to buy records that much.  I’m content with my radio.  But I do like the Beatles (Yeah!), Styx, Blondie (hey wow! my nickname) and of course, the wonderful Queen!  Have you heard that new song by Alice Cooper that’s sad.  Let’s see, I like Nights in White Satin by the Moody Blues and the Pink Floyd album Dark Side of the Moon.  I like Renegade, (doesn’t everybody) and have you heard Superman by Herbie Mann?  It’s so neat!  I like the beginning best.
It is pretty nice living on the lake.
I love to go sailing and swimming in it except that I’m alergic to something in the water.  I also just like to look out my window at it.  It’s so pretty!
I would LOVE to live on the beach!   I know who you would like to take long Romantic walks with!
I love riding but I quit for the winter.  I’m no pro but I’m okay.  I ride English.  I’d love to learn Western, it would be so fun, but they don’t teach that ‘round here (can’t spell today)  Have you ever tried jumping?  It’s so fun!  But I don’t think I’d ever get over 3 feet.   I’m too chicken too.  I’m at about 1-1 ½ feet now, maybe 2.
What happened on Battlestar Galactica?

I love babysitting for the kid I babysit for, he’s so cute (cute eyes)  Hes just a little over 2 years old.  
I’m glad you enjoyed last Saturday.  I had fun too.  Maybe we could go again sometime.
I am just about to finish my Poetry project.  What a pain!  Wasn’t T.’s good?  What was your dad an usher for?  That was nice of him to give you that chain.
You never told me about your “very good” dream!  You probably won’t remember it now since it’s taken me a week to write you back!
We have a dart board too.  I’ll have to get it out and set up my own little 3-way game of darts (with T. and N.)
Yes!  I got zapped!  What a pain!  Oh well, I did it all the times I had to and my wish was supposed to come true today but it didn’t.  RATS!  Did your come true?  I didn’t see the Charlie Brown show.  Rast again!
Oh good!  “Hey Jude” is on the radio (W-P-G-C!)!  Yeah Beatles!
I’ve started saving my notes.   Most of which are from you!
That was a cute little note you gave me today!
Are your cousins nice?  W. seems like the perfect age.  D. sounds like he’s at the cute age.  And A. sounds like she’s at the nice age.
I wish those pictures had turned out better.  I’m going to take a whole bunch tomorrow to make up for it all.  What a bummer!  Only 2 really printable photos of T.!  The copies are not expensive but I wouldn’t make you pay anyway!  ‘Cause you’re my friend (Right?)!
I’m just the same way, it’s so boring staying home when we don’t have school!
When is Memorial Day?  I’ll have to check that.
Those articles from the Police Report are really cheery!  What do they mean by “committing an unnatural act?”  Nobody had better commit any unnatural act against our sweet T.!  I’m not really suprised that so much happen’s in Herndon!
Wow!  That’s amazing that T.only weighs 130 lbs. especially if its all muscle (which of course it is) because muscle weighs more than flab!  G. weighs 160 (about) and he’s 6’2” so that makes a difference of 30 lbs and 6” which is 5 lbs per inch!  G. must have heavy bones.
I love your doodles!  They’re so cute!  I wish I could draw but I still draw like I did in 5th grade!
Guess who sings backups on Blondie’s “Heart of Glass”.  You won’t believe this, Brooke Shields!
Oh, I was walking home from the bus looking at those beautiful pictures and J. strolled up beside me (he rides my bus) and asked to see them.  So I handed him the one where it says “Best Wishes” and then the one “To one of my best friends” and he laughed at that one.  Then he asked me if I liked T., now what am I going to say?  “Yes” then he goes into his “aw-w-w-w-s”.  Then he said something I didn’t hear so I come back with this intelligent remark, “What?”  “Are you going to go for it?” and not wanting to sound dumb but not really understanding what he meant, another intelligent answer, “Yeah, I guess.”   J. can be so nice.  Since he knows T. maybe he could put in a good word.  Naw.
I forgot to tell you about this, but in Science (thrilling!) I showed T. my picture of my bunny and he said it was cute and asked if I had named it yet.  “No, I can’t think of a good name” (I’ve been calling it Bunny”)  So he said “How ‘bout T.?”
Me:  “I thought of that.”
T:  “Or Led Zepplin?  If I had a bunny I’d call it Led Zepplin.”
Well, not really wanting to call my sweetie Led Zepplin I’ve decided to name it T.  Almost perfect eyes too.  If you just added a dab of blue to them you couldn’t tell the difference between T. and T.  You have to see my T.!
Today I was so happy when I got home, after having such a fantastic day and getting that little bit of “support” from J.  I walked in the door, threw down my books, and
SCREAMED!
I just had to let all that happy excitement out!
Well, since it’s 7:15 and I haven’t touched my homework, or my poetry I should go, although I hate to.
Anyway,
See ya tomorrow!
Luv,
K
P.S.  Smile for the shutterbug!

Copy of a girl's note

Battlestar Galactica photo courtesy ABC-TV

Clark Kent was cuter than Superman.

H,
How do, you know I don’t have a think to talk about except SUPERMAN the movie, you will believe a man can fly.  I saw it Thursday night, isn’t that great?  Now I don’t have a thing to talk about except cute Clark Kent, boy was he cute, I wouldn’t mind being Lois Lane, Clark was cuter than Superman, you know they are one and the same.  Now I don’t have anything at all to talk about, you know, how do you find enough things to write your letters that long.  Did you sell any subscriptions?  I didn’t.
This is a very boring letter because I don’t have a thing to write!  Guess what!  It’s snowing!  I’m sooooooooooo informative.  By the way, Nooooooooooooo.  You are making me sick with this Lover boy stuff.  Hee Hee.  You know I like T.  I hope mole man and everyone worked out.
Well bye now,
T (felix)
((spy #1))


Clark Kent vs. Superman: who's cuter?

Who is cuter?  You be the judge.

One of the many delightful things about transcribing these notes has been researching all the references to 70s and 80s pop culture in an effort to date them.  Because Superman was released on 12/15/78, I know this note was written in 8th grade.  One of my closest friends, bless her, dated almost all her notes–but the vast majority of them are undated, requiring the highest caliber investigatory skills to figure out when they were written.  Though I haven’t been able to date all of them, most of the time–using references to teachers or classes, boyfriends, songs or albums–I’ve at least been able to deduce what grade we were in.

Then there’s the juxtaposition of my life now, in comparison.  When I first started this project last December, I’d seclude myself in my office for six hours at a time, enjoying hot flashes and drinking copious amounts of wine, listening to BestNetRadio 70s & 80s Hits, bawling my head off as I thought about how long ago all this was and how old I am now.  Poor Husband.

Valerie
Okay, I’m not really all that old now.  But it sure feels like it sometimes.  Seven months and several hundred notes later, I’m much more in control.  At least the hot flashes have stopped for the time being.

Clark Kent & Superman photo courtesy http://www.toptenz.net/top-10-alter-egos.php
Valerie photo courtesy Act III Communications

Finding my way back to me. For realsies.

Recently, while Husband was on a business trip, I re-watched “Julie & Julia.”  I still like the book way better than the movie.  But this time Julie Powell’s experience really spoke to me.  Here’s why:

My family and friends know that I’m a little . . . um . . . different, and that one of the more irritating characteristics of this difference is my obsession with the past.  Apparently I started working on this obsession at an early age because, from seventh grade through twelfth grade, I saved close to 600 notes my girlfriends and I passed to each other during those years.  These notes have moved cross-country with me multiple times, biding their time in a large plastic storage bin with other assorted detritus from the 1970s and 1980s.  I’ve transcribed more than 400 of them since December, and they’re going in my book My True North:  Finding My Way Back To Me.

I’m not going to commit to releasing one note every day for the next year, like Julie Powell cooked her way through Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking.  But I am going to dive in and hope you enjoy this as much as I know I will.  I figure if so many others can morph from bloggers to book writers, so can I.

1/23/78
H,
Well here I am babysitting again. My mom found out that we broke-up. She said D’s mom told her that she didn’t think that we were getting along or something. My mom kept asking me why he didn’t come over or call, all I said was “don’t know.” Then she kept asking me if there was another girl. I said “I don’t know” (as usual.) This dumb dog is jumping all over the house (she’s about as big as a wild boar & acts like one) I didn’t exactly tell her that we broke up cause she thinks that “going together” is what you do when you’re about 18 or 17 maybe 16 or 15. So if I tell her that, she’ll tell a long stupid story or sompin’. My mom says that I shouldn’t like just one boy. So I told her “Well, T.’s nice & P. plays tennis. And then there’s T. but he’s taken.” So then she says, well just be sure that there nice. Then I told her what a butt & a jerk S. is. She tells me to be nice to him. Like hell! (‘scuse my Portugese) She says that . . . . Better just tell ya. Re-mind me to.
Bye—W/B
C

We were in seventh grade when this was written.  As you can see, things haven’t changed much in more than 30 years–except maybe the means of communication.  We’ve gone from pen and paper to texting and tweeting.  One of the things I hope to get across in the coming months is how blessed I feel for having access to this window into the past through the pages of these notes.  Most other people may not care about reliving times like these (or even want to), but I enjoy it immensely.  It’s both entertaining and humbling.