3rd Grouping Of Excerpts From Dreams Don't Die
|OCTOBER, 1990 "Agony On Air"
Jonnie thought he had a benign infection, but after additional testing, he's been diagnosed with throat cancer!
"If I can't sing, I don't want to live!", he wept, over the phone.
"How are they treating you?" I worried. "Can they operate?"
"I don't want to be cut up!", he cried. "I'm...scared!"
"I would be too", I admitted. "But what's the alternative? You're just going to give up?" He's been drinking like a fish, so depressed that I'm afraid to leave him alone. "Where are you? Angela and I will come and get you."
"No-", he refused. "I don't want you to see me like this!" Then he hung up.
I drove around-with Angela and then Mom-for hours looking for him at all of the usual haunts, and finally the radio station, at which Bill is a part time dee-jay. Odds were the two would turn up there eventually.
I tuned in the station in the car. Jonnie was indeed there.
"I've got cancer y'all!", he sniggered, on the air. He was obviously intoxicated. "I'm gonna die!"
"Stop it, Jon!", Bill protested, pulling the microphone away. He cut to a commercial. When we arrived, I let myself into the studio. I rushed over to the trembling, terrified young man and held him tight.
"You don't deserve this!", I whispered. He withdrew a cigarette from his shirt pocket and lit it up, taking a drag.
"Since when do you smoke?" I questioned, fanning away the billow.
"Why not?" he replied. "I already have cancer." I snatched the butt and wrestled away the rest of the box. I ran out back to toss them in the trash. He followed. "Nobody cares about me!"
"What about me? Would I be here if I didn't?" I reminded him. "And what about your family and all of your fans?" Who were at that moment in a state of shock. The switchboard was suddenly lighting up with callers from all over the island, concerned about the stars very public agony.
"I don't know what to tell them", Bill confessed, aside. "The tabloids are going to jump on this."
October 12, 1990
Jonnie's a wreck. He's been stumbling around with a bottle of liquor in one hand, refusing to see anyone. I was trying to be a friend, but now he's shut me out completely.
October, 1990 "Politics"
In all fairness to Mr. Lanier, please note that this entry consists of Jonnie's testimony alone, as told to me. He claims Mr. Lanier is jealous of our romantic involvement, but all I can be sure of is that he has been positively awful to us since word of our relationship got out. What could be possibly have against Jon and I dating? Is it supposed to unethical because we have the same manager? He can't claim it's because he wants me to appear "young and pure" because goodness knows he's reworked my image to make me appear anything but....Jonnie is a great guy with more talent than you can shake a stick at, stays out of trouble-okay, most of the time-so why doesn't Mr. Lanier want me involved with him? Whatever the reason, it's not professional, and it's not fair and I don't know what to do about it. I am not sure whether or not I can trust him to handle my affairs, but with Mark I will lose my EMI contact and Mark is a man of some influence. I've already been pulled from the Salt & Peppa TV special, live at the meadowlands. I was just cut from New York's upcoming Budweiser fest, at which I was to perform, along with Joey Kid and Times Two, which I was very much looking forward to meeting. I was asked to possibly produce Frick and Frack's new album. I was already slated and supposed to produce Jon and Bills new album. He's cancelled all of it. For reasons I can't understand. He could conceivably black ball me and then I could never again get my foot in the proverbial door. Again, not fair, but where there is money to be made there are politics involved and the music business is no exception. Where is the line drawn between business and pleasure and where can I file a complaint?
July, 1990 "34-24-34 HIKE!"
I went with Jonnie to his mother's wedding, meeting at last his two brothers. She was a radiant bride, in a floor length, navy blue gown.
"I can't wait to get married!", she hurried, putting the last touches on her hair and make-up. "I am going to run up the isle to meet him!" This wonderful man who fills her life with more joy than she's ever known. I pray for such love. She wept happily at the altar, as Donnie sang the couples wedding song, "Here and Now". When she tossed her bouquet, the young women charged after it like a pack of football players. I dodged to the left; I lunged to the right--cutting off the single cousin. With a great Tarzan-like cry, another determined party jumped me from behind, clawing for the prize. We went flying into the table of desserts, which slid to one side and nearly onto the floor. I landed only inches from the punch bowl but I had it in my grubby little hands...The mass of blue and white flowers, wrapped in ribbon and carrying the promise of eternal love.
"I CAUGHT IT!", I shrieked, holding it high. Cheers from some, dirty looks from others-including the one resentful rival who was now combing icing out of her hair. Wedding cake. We wore it well. "Sorry", I smiled. The unmarried men were next to take the floor as the groom now dangled his blushing brides garter high in the air. He twirled it around his finger.
"Come and get it!" he teased, and shot it out like a rubber band-powered spaceship. When Jonnie managed to snatch the garter, everyone suspected a fix. The camera's zoomed in as he inched it up my trembling leg.
"Higher, higher!", the men chanted. Jonnie snickered, rolling it over my knee and up under my dress until I squealed. He smiled that sweet, sexy smile of his and for a while that warm, fuzzy feeling returned.
EXCERPT # 26 July, 1990 "Turn It Up!"
Angela (Aka Angie), Steve and I ventured into Manhattan to be in the studio audience of the new MTV game show "Turn It Up!". We waited on line in the heat and humidity for more than an hour, before making it into midtown studio. It was spacious, larger but less glamorous than it appears on television. The ceiling, dense with scaffolding held microphones, cameras, monitors and lighting equipment. A chubby stand-up comic bounced in to hype everyone up for the taping.
"You call that APPLAUSE?" he cried. "Man, you guys SUCK!" The show's host-blonde-haired comedian Jordan Brady suffered the humiliation of being brought into the studio strapped to a stretcher. They ran him around the block in an ambulance-with sirens sounding-and carried him in twice.
"Let's do it again!", the stage manager instructed.
"How the heck could I fuck that up?" Jordan questioned, frustrated.
"You look too dead", she replied. And so, out they ran for the third time.
We were a bunch of maniacs, jumping about trying to get on camera each time it scanned across the audience. I leapt up, screaming. Steve buried his face, embarrassed.
"You are such a media hound", he said.
"You say that like it's a bad thing!", I laughed...continues.....
Excerpt # 28 December, 1990 "Spiraling"
December 10, 1990 Robomel
Determined, I agreed to try a new medication-prescribed a drug first used to prevent seizures in epileptics. I took it only twice. The first dose so upset my already sensitive stomach, I vomited. The second dose stayed down, but hit me like a ton of bricks. I was so zonked I lost all sign of a soul. I wandered around devoid of emotion, expression. I do not want to go through life "stoned" and so, I will not take any more of those wretched pills. Slowly, my mind is clearing...
December 12, 1990 Spiraling
"I LOVE you!", Dad screamed, grabbing hold of my arms. "I've no other choice. This has become of life or death situation! If I don't help you, they'll arrest me!" He and my mother pushed me out into the night air and into the car, while I struggled unsuccessfully to free myself.
I was frantic in the back seat, grinding my nails into the cranberry velour. Where were they taking me?!
"You're not living like this!", Dad expressed, glancing at me in the rear view mirror. "You weren't born to suffer! You were born for MUSIC!" ...Ah, yes, Music...Had I forgotten thee?
"I know", I mumbled, a single tear trickling down my face. I feel as if everything I care about is suddenly slipping through my fingers...
I had once again refused to take the medication, and so, thinking the doctors would hold me down and force the pills down my throat, my parents drove me to the emergency room.
"My God, it's going to help you!", Mom exclaimed, dragging me through the doors. I was met by a rather startled staff.
"Name?" the triage nurse began, through a glass partition. I didn't want to tell her. I didn't want anyone to know it was me, falling to pieces before their eyes. She poked her head out.
Dad announced me as if he could barely believe it himself-ashamed I think.
"Wow. We'll be right with you."
"I want to go home", I protested. I want to run as far as my legs will take me, far from scrutiny and judgment. I was suddenly placed under the microscope and slowly dissected-mind and body. They checked my blood pressure, temperature and took a urine culture. (They wanted blood, but I dodged the needle.) They tried to admit me, having an opening in their eating disorders program.
"It's very informal", a curly-haired nurse explained, through bifocals. "You'd have a roommate, like in a college dorm. There's TV, Ping-Pong..." Yes, and locks on the doors and fat orderlies with sour expressions and unwanted injections too, I feared. Continues....
Excerpt #43 January, 2000 "What were you saying?"
He has a great mouth, I thought. Look at those lips-plump and pink, like two pieces of fruit. And those eyes.... I want to bathe in their burgundy depths.... Michael is positively distracting. Exactly six foot tall and slender, he has enormous, oriental brown eyes. His black hair is short and shiny at present, although I've seen photos of him with it blonde, long and even with punky bleached blotches in it. He wears khaki carpenter jeans upon his hips, a white wife-beater tank top, two small hoop earrings and a small tattoo on his right shoulder. For all of his shy sweetness, he definitely has a wild side, having adventured in Amsterdam and raved for a week in Hungary. Michael's extremely intelligent, a passionate, gifted artist. He has a lot of value to say but one this particular afternoon I'm ashamed to admit I didn't absorb more than a word or two. He can not help but ooze sex and I was all caught up in it like a fly in molasses.
"Do you think so?" he asked, his raspy European accent leaving me smoldering in my shoes.
"Oh, sure", I responded, without any clue as to what we were talking about.
"You Do?", Michael gasped, startled.
"Eh, maybe not", I retracted. He could have been revealing the mysteries of the cosmos but I missed it entirely. "What was the question?" Will you marry me? Do Belgians do it better? What in the name of 'am I ever this lucky?' possessed this hunk of a man to spend two grand and two days traveling half way around the world to meet the likes of me? I had a million running through my head but couldn't quite pinpoint his.
If genetics has anything to do with it, it shouldn't surprise me that Michael possesses such stunning good looks and charisma. Though he admits he now lives modestly in southwest Germany, he was born into Belgian aristocracy, the eldest son of Rene Degeest, of the affluent, influential "Degeest" family some liken to the Kennedy's of America. His uncle owns and operates a premier international food production company. (Name omitted by request of privacy.) His mother Lilianne is an artist, a brown-eyed beauty who as a young woman caught the eye and heart of renownd American poet Hayden Carruth-who she absoluteuly adored. Michael's sister is Berlin Based model turned fashion designer Judith Degeest. His first cousin is Belgium television star Conrad DuBeau. Others are prominent figures, involved with business, finance and politics. And Michael is himself a gifted artist and graphic designer, both handsome and well-regarded.
His was an unconventional upbringing to say the least. After leaving the country upon his parent's separation at age five, he has returned to Belgium only twice since--to visit his father and at his dying Grandmothers request. His mother and stepfather were for several years members of the notorious religious cult “The Children Of God" whom traveled with them throughout Europe in a converted bus. Michael and his five younger siblings comprised a family band. From town to town they went, singing on street corners while his stepfather preached. I imagined the European version of the Partridge Family. Only with Bibles.
"I was the untalented one of the bunch", Michael had laughed earlier in sharing this story. "I wasn't much of a singer, so they tried me on guitar and then the drum and shaker and I was finally told to just stand there with the tambourine and look sweet." They toured the greatest cities in Europe, and were recieved in some with near ignorance and in others by listeners by the hundreds, as in Zurich, Switzerland, which Michael remembers as one of the most beautiful places on earth. The best thing about life on the bus was the ability to see the world, and at such a young age. The worse Michael explains, was the inability to hold onto lastnig friendships. "Once you met someone nice in one city you had to move on...." For this reason he and his siblings were especially close. The family certainly survived, and without debt, in this lifestyle, but never got rich in the venture. The first 10% always went to the church, regardless of earnings. He was fourteen before they finally left the sect and settled in the comparably quiet woods of the Black Forest. So while he remains a Belgian citizen and is a blood born Degeest of some standing he remains completely unspoiled. He hesitates to as much as mention who his father is, lest people think of him differently. "Or come to me looking for money I haven't access to", he explained. Though he makes no claim to the family's fame nor fortune, he privately ponders what a privileged life he might enjoy should he return to his homeland. I don't much care who his parents are, for whether they were princes or paupers they together managed to produce Michael, who standing there before me needed no more than his smile and gentle charm to impress me. I am mesmerized by the young man.
* "Have you heard a word I've said?" he questioned, folding his arms. "What did I say?" Okay, think fast. And for buttons sake stop staring at his ass.
"Something about wanting to kiss me?" I smiled. Subtlety isn't my strong suit.
"I was wondering if I should-", he admitted, red-faced. "If, when, how? " And suddenly gutsy globetrotter he and mile a minute me were both shaking like a pair of hillbillies with a jug of moonshine under their belts.
"How about now?" And so, after a brief moment of hesitation he leaned in and planted one on me. It was our first awkward, anxious, titillating and triumphant kiss.
Saturday, January 16, 2000
After a night of both lovemaking and tears, Michael left to return to Germany early this morning. We were silent as I drove him to the airport-neither of us knowing what to say. "Goodbye" was not an option...
"I will be back", he promised, touching my face. His voice wavered, emotional. "I love you."
"And I love you!" I whispered, holding him so close I couldn't tell where I ended and he began. I couldn't bear the thought of our being separated. I had somehow come to love this sweet and sexy stranger before I ever laid eyes on him. That he with his slender build, shaggy black hair and exotic oriental brown eyes was so attractive to me in person was icing on the cake. He is everything I ever wanted in a man but never dared to hope such a man existed anywhere on earth. That we should find each other-and under such extraordinary circumstances, was in my mind, a miracle.
"I have to go", he sighed, kissing away the last few minutes before boarding. I watched him as he embarked, staring through the glass and whining softly. It wasn't fair. Fate had in a single moment brought me an angel and too quickly ripped him from my arms. My being ached, anguished with loss. I couldn't breathe.
I could not escape my sorrow, though I tried-distracting myself with phone calls to friends and attempts at reading and recording music-before finally creeping into bed after midnight. It was a strange but seductive blend of sweat and cologne that overcame me. That lusty aroma that lingers in linens suddenly flooded my senses with the memory of love... Essence of Michael...I wrestled beneath the sheets in his absence, missing his touch, his tenderness. With lips like wine he'd left me drunk with desire. The hangover is hell... I know I should have changed the sheets but I couldn't bear to wash away what little remained of him... I pulled on a sweater he left behind and eventually cried myself to sleep... My heart is broken like never before...
EXCERPT #4 August, 2001 "Butthead & The Boy"
Much to my disadvantage, I have always worn my heart on my sleeve (and very often my ass on my forehead).
"Patience", a friend cautioned me. He and his wife have been a great comfort to me through my separation from Michael. I have been jumping hoops trying to win him back, and failing miserably.
"So, I guess kidnapping him and forcing him to be my sex slave isn't an option, huh?"
"So much for plan 'A'." If I don't laugh, I'll cry. Option "B" involved a lot of alcohol and just as many tears, and I'd really hate to go there. I can't believe he's gone. My God. He's gone....This man with whom I planned a future, to one day buy a house, to share a second success in music, to attend college and open an art studio and babies....all of it lost. I can barely breathe....
"Concentrate on making a better life for you and your son. With or without Michael, he's counting on you."
"That he is", I sighed in agreement. Christian deserves so much more than what I've been able to give him in terms of quality time and attention these past couple of weeks of personal crisis. I waste my time pining for a man who doesn't want nor deserve me when all that really matters in my world is laughing in the corner with a crayon lodged halfway up his nose.
"Look, Mama!" he announces, "Look what I can do!" I would explain the risks of intranasal insertions in a moment. First I removed the object and held him close.
"I love you, little monster", I teased, squeezing with all of my heart.
"I love you too, mama monster", he returned, kissing me.
. EXCERPT # 15 January, 2002 "Feels Like Someone's Missing"
"Tell me when I can panic", I asked Michael. I am two weeks late for my period and have every reason to believe-given the lovely array of symptoms showing up-that I am pregnant.
"Now would be a good time", he said. We haven't told anyone about this possibility other than my mother and his and well, mine is rightfully concerned about how I would care for a second child and his is hopeful. It would be her first grandchild. (Though she and his siblings live in Germany we all remain in close touch through e-mails and telephone calls.)
To think this time next year we might just have a baby. I wonder if it will be a good pregnancy. I wonder whether I'm going to go to bits. I've been told some women-especially those with preexisting mental illness can become quite disturbed prior to and following the birth of a child. I was surprisingly blessed with Christian. I think-oddly-last time I was among the 10% who actually got well during that time. God is good.
"I'm bleeding", I announced, to Michael who stared up from his magazine.
"Are you sure?" he asked, worried.
"Uh, yeah", I assured him, soiled and sore. Was I ever bleeding-heavier and more painfully than a typical period.
"Call the doctor." I did, and he told me I might be having an early miscarriage. I should have gone into the office for an exam to confirm both the pregnancy and loss but I didn't want to know. It was stress, a hormonal imbalance-I thought up half a dozen more bearable reasons for such a late period. I didn't want to know we had lost a child-a child we weren't sure we wanted but in two weeks had come to look forward to.
Fear. Disappointment. Relief. Grief. We ran the gamut of emotions this evening. We had become so sure I was expecting that we began conjuring up visions of the baby that might be, and thinking up possible names.
"Anya will have to wait", I sighed, propped up beside Michael in bed.
"What made you so sure we were having a girl?" he asked.
"I don't know", I shrugged. . Chubby, with her father's dark hair and eyes is the way I imagined her. With a sweet smile and an intoxicating giggle. Heaven only knows how we would have provided for her, but she wouldn't have gone without love.
Christian so wants a sibling. He begs me almost daily.
"Eat good food and pray and maybe you'll have a baby", he innocently implores-before school, before bed, in passing a mother strolling her infant. "Just try, okay Mama?" We aren't trying, but children are seldom planned.
"Maybe One day", Michael whispered, pulling me near tonight.
"If God wills", I sighed, laying my weary head gently upon his chest. "When we're better prepared."
Excerpt #44 Intro
This is my story-our story-of how during and despite the days of economic recession and the gulf war that followed, we managed to not only survive as teens in a changing world but as young artists in a changing music business-an industry which before Debbie Gibson's arrival all but ignored the notion of a self made artist of such youth. It was the night of June 16, 1989 and I made my first nightclub appearance-as "Melody". I was one of the first in a new breed of teenage pop-dance-freestyle artists writing, producing and even rarer, marketing my own material. I and my contemporaries were among the first young entertainers making waves in a musical movement which would begin in New York and cross the country like wildfire-only continuing to gain strength with time. We not only sought to leave our mark. We sought to change the course of history...Some of us made it. Some of us didn't. All of us dared to be more than we were when we started and along the way gave something and took something from the effort. For everyone who dares to dream, this is for you...
Excerpt #45 (From the "Background" section:)
...These many stressors coupled with a genetic predisposition threw Depression and OCD into full swing.
I became alternately anorexic and bulimic. I was 5 foot 3 and 3/4 inches tall and 82 lbs. at sixteen, so emaciated that at one point sitting down on anything other than a pillow proved painful. I was so weakened that my doctor put me on a full-year medical excuse from gym class, citing "malnutrition." Which was an understatement. Impaired during puberty, my body ceased developing and had begun literally digesting its own flesh to survive. I went for months to weekly weigh-ins at my doctors. A battalion of tests revealed life-threatening disease-my liver enlarged, my bladder and kidneys infected, my stomach shrunken and no longer able to function properly. I was in physical and emotional agony.
Perhaps it was a slow attempt at suicide-perhaps a cry for help-but in retrospect I suspect it was more likely a manifestation of my need for control over something-anything in my life. My parents pleaded, prayed and finally resorted to trying to force-feed me at the table. They knew as doctors had prepared them that I might very well die of my illness. I was so depressed at one point I didn't care if I did. Recovery would not be easy nor instantaneous. To begin healing I had to first admit I was sick and as crazy as it may sound, I didn't think I was.
At the recommendation of the high school's social worker, I entered psychotherapy. I greatly resented it at first, but it would prove to be an insightful journey. ...In fact, I think it may have made me a better writer. Prior to therapy, I couldn't as much as mention my personal problems-aloud or on paper. I must have thought if I didn't address them, then they couldn't really exist. I foolishly believed ignoring the beast would drive it away.
When it felt as though I had little to live for, I found solace in music. It offered-as did my diary-the emotional outlet I so desperately needed and provided me a source of self esteem. I wasn't pretty, or popular, or wealthy- or healthy for that matter-but I could sing. It was all I had and it was everything.
I was groomed for journalism. Having written, printed and locally distributed little self-illustrated stories from the age of 10, having won a national honor society essay award at the age of 13, having then earned an invitation to a young authors convention in East Hampton and having so impressed the publisher of a Long Island publication I was offered my first professional writing job at 15, while a sophomore in high school, it only seemed natural that I would pursue a career in the field. But as much as I loved the written word, few things could excite me like music. I wanted to step out from behind my stack of fine paper and pens and into the spotlight. I wanted to sing; I wanted to dance; I wanted to leave my fear and shame behind and ...shine.... But though I was friendly and funny with those I knew and trusted I was shy and awkward with others and working up the nerve to break out of my proverbial shell would prove challenging. So would acquiring the needed tools of the trade.
EXCERPT#46 Taken from the Background Section:
I'd begged my parents to take me into a recording studio to record my songs, but was consistently turned down, until-out of the blue, days after my seventeenth birthday-my wonderful piano and songwriting instructor of ten years-the founder of the Malverne School Of Music and later the author of "The Art Of Effective Piano Teaching"-Dino P. Ascari-recommended just that to my parents.
"Melody has real potential", Dino began, approaching them after my Saturday lesson. "I think she could one day go professional, but-nobody's going to sign her if they don't hear her."
"Do you really think she's good enough?", Dad asked.
"Yes", Dino responded, smiling at me. "I believe she could be very successful".
I could kiss the guy.
"How much do you think it would cost to do that?" Dad asked-in his most serious business tone.
"It varies", Dino explained, "But it's not inexpensive. I think maybe the best bet would be to create a home studio, assembling it a piece at a time".
"What do you think?" Dad asked, consulting with Mom aside. I sat in sheer amazement, crossing my fingers, toes and whatever else I could reach. I'd hoped, wished and prayed for these "tools" daily, and God must have heard the desperation in my heart.
"Let's do it!", Dad decided, and I leapt up screaming.
Dino was a phenomenal teacher. He was hard on me sometimes because for whatever reason he saw in me the potential for greatness and refused to accept a half-assed effort on my part. I could be lazy, uninspired, tiring of the drills, the scales, the hours of daily practice while my friends were involved with more light-hearted things. He reminded me of my gift, and its eventual payoff. The hard work would be worth it. He not only taught me piano theory but the art of improvisation. We studied the form and formula of great songs and I learned how to compose, to transpose, to create music of my own and with his guidance I flourished.... He believed in me and that belief kept me going even when life served me up a plate of sour grapes. I had wine in me and I have Dino and my parents to thank for the opportunity to cultivate it.
My parents took out a $5,000 loan. After church the following Sunday, we set out in search of a synthesizer. We made one stop-to one of the islands premier music stores. A long-haired musician/salesman attended us, pointing out a vast selection of makes and models. I stopped at one set out on the floor. Its shiny ivory keys glistened proudly as if to say, "Hey, look at me! Take me home with you!" I was in love.
"How much is it?" Dad asked, cautiously. I thought he'd stroke when they quoted him the price. "HOW much?"
"We could sell you the floor model for a thousand", the salesman added, seeing my despair. Dad turned to me, but I could only manage an anxious murmur. I knew it was more than they could afford to spend on a single item.
"Are you sure this is the one you want?" Dad double checked.
"Oh, yes!", I beamed. He took a long, deep breath.
"Then...We'll take it!", he laughed, his pockets jingling. I felt almost guilty as they paid at the register. I knew it was a sacrifice, and I wasn't sure I deserved such a generous gift.
"Thank You!", I gushed, repeating the words. They seemed inadequate. "Thank You! Thank You!"
I was so overwhelmed I couldn't bring myself to touch, much less play the new synthesizer for the first week. I just sort of sat and stared at it. When I finally worked up the nerve, I ever so gently laid my fingers onto the clean, cool keys, and could scarcely believe they were real. We actually possessed this magnificent instrument! It was like Christmas for three weeks. Every day or two my father returned home with another component for the growing studio. One day it was a 4-track cassette recorder; the next evening a drum machine. Then came the microphone and reverb unit, followed by a keyboard amp.
"So, what do you think?" Dad smiled, setting it down in front of me.
"I can't believe it!", I squealed. It was a dream come true. I threw my arms around him happily.
"So, have you recorded anything yet?" he wondered.
"Are you kidding?" I exclaimed. "Gimme a few days and I'll figure it all out!" Once I did, I seldom left the basement studio, resurfacing only to eat and use the bathroom. I slipped on a pair of head-phones and worked through the night. I was in my element.
Things were changing...I was changing. I blossomed out of nowhere. The braces came off. I grew out my hair. I was eating well and discovered a figure I hadn't known was there. I saved and invested in a trendy new wardrobe. ...I carried myself with newfound confidence.
I began not only producing my own music, but attempting to market it, going the rounds of local radio stations and night clubs. My demo came with me everywhere.
"You're dreaming!", Debbie laughed the first time I marched into a deejay booth with it. "They aren't going to play your music!" But more often than not, they did. "That-", she sputtered, as one song came pounding through the house speakers, "That's YOU!" When the room responded favorably to this debut, she grabbed my arm and started shouting, "That's her! That's her! That's my best friend!"
I was determined-daringly so-when it came to addressing industry people, even complete strangers in fairly powerful positions. I was tired of being overlooked, mistreated by my nay-saying, put-down-a-minute peers, and by adults who took me only as seriously as the frail little doll I appeared to be. There was a hunger in me, a passion I'd never known. I would work for it, beg for it-demand my shot at stardom. I would make something of myself or die trying.
I'd impressed the owner of a large Long Island night club, who took it upon himself to go to the media with the news that he'd discovered the next teen sensation. The area's top dance music station announced me as a "Hot New Star"-who was about to appear in her first showcase the following Saturday night. New York's own Hot 97 Fm sent deejay Kim Howard down to broadcast the performance live from the club. I was just 18 and my world as I knew it was about to change...
Excerpt#48 "MEDIA SHOWER" From June 16, 1989
Forget butterflies. I was harboring dragonflies. I'd been working towards this moment for years and now suddenly it was here and I was admittedly scared stiff.
"Fake it till you make it, baby", Marco, the clubs twenty-something Puerto Rican deejay encouraged, helping me onstage. He announced me. "Ladies and Gentlemen-I am pleased to present for the first time, MELODY!" And the room overflowed with excitement. I pulled the microphone from its stand and -with my heart pounding, and my knees shaking- began my first song. At long last, I thought-staring out into the smoky darkness-an AUDIENCE! The establishment was filled to capacity with friends, family and curious strangers-who didn't know who I was, but figured I must be somebody, for all the radio and print promotion I'm suddenly receiving.
"Why, she's just a kid!", one man cried out. A petite 98 lbs, blonde and baby-faced, I do not appear to have earned my 18 years. I was escorted offstage by two of the bouncers at the close of my two song set. I was surprised I needed them, overwhelmed as the crowd closed in. (Mom and Dad watched and waved from a few yards away, momentarily unable to reach me.) Marco led me by the hand into the deejay booth which for tonight became a suitable shelter. My parents -having pushed their way through-joined us.
"Melody!" two young men called. I poked my head out. They actually wanted an autograph!
"I'm not famous!", I responded, laughing.
"You will be", one of them remarked, handing me a pen and one of my glossy new 8X10 black and white photos to sign. I hesitated at first, flushed. "She's even cuter in person", he said, nudging his friend.
"Me?" I laughed. "Where have you been all my life?" I feel like I've stepped into the twilight zone. No one has ever paid me so much attention, and all I can do is smile and shake my head.
"Welcome to the dream", Marco smiled. It promises to be a ride I'll never forget....
Excerpt # 49 June 22, 1989
Somebody pinch me! You wouldn't believe the response from last nights show... I've been besieged by phone calls and you wouldn't believe some of the people on the other end of the line-A&R reps, radio stations, people interested in buying my music and other artists, including the one and only Brenda K Starr-who is offering her support and encouragement.
"This business can do a number on even the most talented of young people.", she warned me. "You're good enough to make it. You've got to be strong enough to take it. No matter what challenges lie ahead, don't give up!" That she-the sweet and stunning star behind the hit song "I Still Believe", among others-believes in me means more to me than she will ever know. That she thought enough of me to take the time to call me blew me away.
"I won't!", I promised. "I couldn't give up if I wanted to. Music has me by the heart. Come famine or fame, it won't let me go..." If I can become even half the performer Brenda is, I will have a career I can be proud of. She ran off to have Chinese food with her brother and I ran out back to tell my parents about her. Dad was busy in his vegetable garden, his clothing dusted with soil and his skin tanned and glistening in the sun. Somehow I think Dad seems the most peaceful when he's immersed in his gardening, giving to the earth and taking from it an impressive selection of fruits and vegetables. He dreams of being a farmer, a cowboy, of buying a ranch out west and I dream of earning enough in music to one day buy it for him. (It is an unusual dream for him to have perhaps but if you knew the stress this man lives with here in New York, the desire for a simpler life makes perfect sense.)
"Dad!", I shrieked, with excitement. "You'll never guess who just called me! BRENDA K STARR!"
"That's Wonderful!", he grinned, arms full of seedlings.
I've already received requests for music from several indi record labels, and will need to seek representation before I can consider any potential contracts.
"You have talent-", Select Records A&R rep Jose Bonilla began. "But it needs to be developed. You're still so young. I want to see what you're really capable of, whether you can continue to write good songs." I don't know quite how to take it all. In a mere few days my typically lame life has changed in weird, wonderful ways...Even my impossible to impress father is himself thrown by it all. Dad warns me against getting my hopes up, but I am not so easily discouraged. I'll be a senior next year, but I'd give anything to be out of school now, free to pursue music full time. It is a dream I just may actually realize.
EXCERPT # 50 July 3, 1989 Do Latinos Do it Better?
"Melody!", Marco called, from across the dance floor. He ran to meet Debbie and I at the door. He had the manager waive the door charge. "She's an artist." She's an artist, I thought. I like the sound of that! Tonight I was there not to sing, but to dance, with Debbie and the group of new friends we've made here/. For the first time in my life I feel like I belong to something, somewhere, as if I finally have purpose...
July 10, 1989
I've been hanging with that dangerously sexy deejay, Marco from the club. (Trust me when I tell you that prior to June 16th, I couldn't have gained the attention of such a man were I on fire and flailing at his feet).
"You are so pretty", he gazed, last night. "If only you weren't so young."
"I'm not so young", I informed him, folding my arms. "I'm a woman." To this, he laughed, sitting down beside me upon the blue vinyl bench.
"Yes, you are", he agreed, touching my chin. "But you're a young woman-too young for me to get involved with."
"No-", I protested.
"I have to be careful", he said... "A guy could fall in love with the likes of you."
"Why do you make that sound like such a bad thing?" I asked, staring into his beautifully brown, long-lashed Latino eyes.
"Because I have to spin another record", he smiled, returning to the turntables.
Perhaps it is because he was there when it all happened. Because he had my back. Or perhaps it is because he is kind and handsome and a mysteriously mature 24. Whatever it is, I can't shake it. .
EXCERPT #51 July 20, 1989
Though we make feeble attempts for the sake of propriety, Marco and I can't seem to avoid one-another. Every time one of us turns around, there the other is-staring, smiling, trying to ignore the chemistry and failing miserably.
"I'll call you", he finally relented, stopping me at the mall. "I'll call you, okay?"
Friday, July 27, 1989
Tonight belonged to Marco and me-spent spinning records and tearing up the floor, our bodies intertwined and swaying to the rhythm.
"Feel the beat", he instructed. "-and follow my lead." he dirty-danced me across the floor. He's been teaching me some of the new moves-such as the forbidden lambata. "Put your hips into it."
"Any more hip action and you'll be a daddy", I snorted, to which he shrieked.
"Dance is always about sex", he told me, "No matter what anyone says. Like the ancients by the drum played around the fire, we too are seduced by music. We can not help but to dance, and the human body in motion is truely a beautiful thing..." Which is one reason I love Dance music. It lives. It breathes. It sweats and sighs. It is primitive, pure, raw energy.
"Are you sure you're only eighteen?" Marco mused, as I cued another song in the booth. "You're awfully self-assured for eighteen."
"Musically maybe", I laughed, handing him back the pair of heavy chrome and leather headphones. "It's the one and only thing I'm sure of." With every public appearance I gain confidence, courage, and I am more comfortable occupying my little spot in the limelight. But then there are nights when I shun it-stealing away to a secluded corner with Marco.
"Tiny temptation is what you are", he muttered, kissing me for the first time. "And I'm dead in the water."
August 9, 1989
The rhythm that stirred the soul and moved the hips lit the fire that was now burning out of control. In the shadows of the storeroom anything can happen and tonight the possibilities both titillated and terrified me. Lifting me upon the wood laminate table, Marco all but devoured me-our pulses pounding, our breath heated, my flesh awakened like never before...
"Damn it", he whispered, halting things. "I want you."
"I think...I want you too", I flushed, my body drawn to his with gravity that rivaled that of the earth.
"We shouldn't be doing this.", he scolded himself.
"Sure we should", I responded, too turned on to consider the repercussions of our actions.
"I never should have let it go this far", he worried. "What would your parents think of me?" They know nothing about our relationship and they never will if I can prevent it. As far as they know I've been spending an insane amount of time with Debbie, who covers my tracks but worries I'm in over my head. "I'm sorry." He sat me up, straightened my clothes and made his leave of me.
"Marco, wait!" I cried, aroused and abandoned. I fell back upon the gray cement wall with a clunk, my head hurting as much as my heart. I sighed, wondering how to keep from setting off the sprinkler system...
Perhaps I am in over my head, but if I never brave the waters I will never learn to swim. Marco overwhelms my senses, overturning deep-seeded fear. In my blossoming sexuality I am both triumphant and tortured-by the resurfacing memories of sexual trauma. Consider the violent near rape at 14 and the assault a year and a half later...Though I try not to dwell upon these events they have undoubtedly affected me, leaving me to a discernable degree, inhibited. When it surfaces, fear too often dictates when I act and when I run. I want to know love in all of its physical and emotional complexity. I want to let go of my fear.
August 16, 1989
Clearly Marco and I were doomed-Headed for Heaven or Hell, perhaps both. As things progressed one evening after closing while necking in his car I braced myself for what I thought would be my first time. Well, I was a nervous GO and he was a nervous GONE. He scrambled out and away and I followed him out into the moonlight.
"What's wrong?" I worried, thinking I had either said or done something unintentionally awful, or worst yet-whatever rare cosmic alignment responsible for our most unlikely match had suddenly dispersed, and with it his affection.
"I can't do this", he said. "I never expected to feel this way", Like what? Nauseous? He turned to me. "You're amazing." I smiled.
"And I think you're awesome, so what's the problem?" How I wished I hadn't asked. He looked away, worried.
"Baby, what IS it?" He beat around every bush in town.
"It doesn't only have to do with your age" he explained, taking in a deep breath. "My wife wouldn't like it." SCREECH. I paused to clean out my ears. Surely I'd heard wrong.
"Your WIFE?" I startled. "You're MARRIED?!"
Oh he was good and married alright, and his betrothed was apparently already suspicious that he might be messing about with that "little blonde singer chick". How had this rather important piece of public information escaped me for so long? Perhaps I didn't want to know. I didn't want it to end. I didn't want this man beyond my dreams to settle down to reality. But I had now found his flaw-, and it couldn't be overlooked. Nor could his wife. I prayed she wouldn't track me down and throttle me with a mic stand. I hadn't intended to cross her. I didn't know she existed.
I sulked all the way home, whimpering like someone had just kicked me in the stomach. I was hurt, angry. But more than anything, I was embarrassed. I'd been gallivanting around town with a married man, thinking his heart was in an entirely different place. I'd let my guard down. I'd let myself feel things-and with an older man-I'd never before dared to... He found my heart and once exposed, pierced it with the cruelest of blades ...I am a fool...
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