Sunday, February 04, 2007

The Eleven-Year "Glitch"

Someone recently commented to me that they would like to know several things that I consider strange about myself. Although the list could go on and on, I wanted to specify one particular aspect of my life that I myself consider “strange”. And that’s what I call my “Eleven-Year Glitch”.

Several years ago, while reviewing the altering events that happened in my life, I came to realize that they all happened in an “11th” year. The first event, when I was eleven, involved a huge family migration from New York to California. I admit; at first, I was excited to go to this far away land that my father spoke of so enthusiastically. But as time went on (and I listened in on more of my mom’s phone conversations with her friends), I realized that the only reason he wanted to move was because his sisters and father wanted to move…and they only reason they wanted to move was because their famous brother had just moved there (he was Frank Sinatra's comedian, Pat Henry). Everyone was enamored with a vision of endless celebrity encounters and the promise of a more glamorous lifestyle (at least, that’s what it seemed like to me). I will admit that the thought of leaving for California with my cousins (even down to taking the plane flight together) made the event all the more bearable. But once we actually got there, we ended up moving to different towns--my cousins to Calabasas, my family to Thousand Oaks. Although I got to see them often, I wished we were going to be in school together.

The harsh reality of moving to California for me was that, although it was indeed beautiful, I was at the worst possible age to move to a place where I felt as if I didn’t even speak the language (and was reminded of it every single day of my life by my peers). From the very first day of school, the other students taunted me. At recess, a dirty-blonde, long-haired, tan-legged typical California girl walked up to me with her accessory Barbie friend and told me that if I wanted to fit in with anyone, I would have to actually look like I lived in California, and not on Mars. She informed me that “We don’t wear nylons here.”

First of all, what the heck is a “nylon”?? You mean my stockings? Well, fine then, I’ll toss them as soon as I get home. But don’t blame me if you need sunglasses to look at my legs.

And the next tidbit of advice: “You can’t wear those kind of shoes here, they’re not in style.”

What are you saying?? That these white, high-heeled clogs with a strap in the back aren’t considered a fashion “do”?? Fine, I’ll break my mom’s heart and toss them too. Even though I wore them when I was a bridesmaid in my brother’s wedding last year.

And the third and final enlightenment: “We don’t bring purses to school. And when we wear them, we don’t put them over our necks, we just let them hang on our shoulders.”

Purses... Purses?? I’m confused. Back where I come from, a purse is something you put your spare change in. Could she be saying that my whole, entire pocketbook was indeed a “purse”?? Fine…fine. I’ll ditch the “purse” also, although I have no idea how I’m going to carry all of my lip gloss around. Or do we just wear Chap-stick here?
Last year in my school in New York, we all fought over who was going to sit with the new girl at lunch. I guess in California they don't operate that way.


What would’ve been great was if I actually gave her some New York attitude and said the things that I was thinking. Instead, tears just fell down my cheeks as I sat there and nodded my head in mock agreement. And in true movie fashion, she gave me a fake, sweet smile and said, “Okay?” and got up with her non-speaking, expert face-making friend and strutted away—laughing the whole time. I went home and told my mom I was never going back.

Of course, I was forced to go to school every day anyway. I would stand on the lunch line listening to the strains of “NEW YAWKA-PAWKA!!”, or my all-time favorite, “GIMME A KWAUGHTA FOR A CUP-A-WAUGHTA!!” I cried every single day for several months. Then a funny thing happened…I hit puberty in the middle of sixth grade, along with a few other awkward girls. We became friendly, and by seventh grade, I was feeling as if I could finally fit in with most of my peers. I created a couple of close friendships (I still talk to one of those friends every couple of years), and life went on. By eighth grade, I was totally adjusted to my California lifestyle. And of course, as fate would have it, as soon as I felt comfortable I was told that we were moving back to New York.

I don’t remember much from the final few weeks in Thousand Oaks. I can’t even remember packing up my room, or what I did with my beloved Elton John poster in his jeans and short fur jacket. But one memory that’s always been crystal clear to me is the car ride up my street, leaving my house for the very last time to go to the airport. It dawned on me that I didn’t feel as if I were leaving home; I felt as if I were going home. And I was happy.


Next week I’ll post about my second decade “Eleven-Year Glitch”—stay tuned!

27 comments:

Carine said...

Lisa,
Being an actual native Californian of New York descent, I wish you had been happy here! My parents and grandparents hailed from NY and stayed put once they realized earthquakes were better for them than snow! LOL

Lisa said...

Carine,

What's left out of the story is that my dad's father, his sister and her family and his single sister stayed put in CA (his brother--the comedian--also stayed, but by himself. His wife and my two other cousins stayed right here on LI)!

The reason WE ended up coming back was because my mom was legally blind, and unable to drive. Back then, Thousand Oaks was just the teeniest bit built up, and there were very few buses. She began to feel isolated and far away from her family and friends (I should mention that my mom was 48 at the time that we moved--and I know I'd have a hard time now at 44 leaving all of my close friends and family to go to the other side of the country. I would at least have to be driving distance)! In addition, we experienced a pretty strong earthquake while we lived there, and she was petrified! So we came back. My dad was really disappointed, but he promised my mom that she could come back if she didn't like it--and a promise is a promise!

Take good care,
Lisa

Desiree said...

We moved around a great deal when I was a kid. In fact I would say on average we probably moved 1.5 times a year. So I remember how torturous a new school can be and how difficult it is to fit in. I found that sometimes kids would like me and sometimes they would hate me. I never knew what to expect and every school was different.

Anyway this was a great story. Your posts are always so alive and vivid I feel like I'm right there with you!

Matty said...

Lisa,
11 yr glitch? not 7 yr itch? Now, I'm waiting with bated breath.... for the next episode!
Oh, you're so lucky! It's always been my dream to visit New Yawk, and shop and go to the theatre and plays,,,,and eat at all the best restaurant's....
Frank Sinatra looks a little bloated in that pic, doesn't he?
Is that your Uncle next to him?
I do have a 'Sinatra' post in me,,,,no, I didn't know the man,just his songs!
Can't wait for the next episode...of the 11 yr glitch...!

Lisa said...

Desiree,

I can not even imagine moving around as much as you did! This one move was so traumatic for me. From what you've posted on your blog, I know that you've had other trying times in your childhood, so I wonder if moving was painful for you or maybe even something you considered hopeful at times?

Thank you so much for the compliment. I actually brought myself back so far with this one that I located one of my old neighbors on "Classmates" and emailed her!

Take good care,
Lisa

Lisa said...

Matty,

Hopefull, I will never have to write about the "seven-year itch" (I'm only married 4 1/2 years, but I'm thinking positive)!

Yes, that is indeed my uncle next to him, who is also looking a little bloated. Actually, a lot of us felt that his "burning the candle at both ends" lifestyle is what eventually killed him. But I will say this about the man: he had an indomitable spirit. After his first stroke, he couldn't even speak. Within nine months, he was back onstage performing!

The next two posts are not as "funny" as this one, they're a little more on the serious side...but I guess I'd better find something "happy" and "inspiring" about them just in case someone comes over to view them!!

Take good care,
Lisa

Lisa said...

...and hopefull-Y I'll be more awake and I won't make grammatical errors!

Big Dave T said...

Interesting blog--I like it. As someone who's hardly ever left Michigan, I consider both NYC and LA as cultural meccas. I remember when I used to check my sitemeter, wondering why nobody from NYC or LA would ever even hit on my blog. Now that I have a regular reader from NYC, it's kinda like I'm with the in crowd. And you lived in LA too!

Was a little disappointed there were no celebrity stories to tell, though.

Desiree said...

I think that I approached each move with new hope. Though a big part of me really longed for some stability! So moving itself wasn't painful because with each move I was hopeful that it would be a better move and of course the last move. Sometimes when I was in a school where the kids were really mean to me it was my saving grace!

That's so cool that you contacted an old friend! A couple of years ago I established contact with two of my old high school friends. It was really great to talk to them after all those years and hear about their lives. I had really missed them being a part of my life all those years!

Summer said...

Lisa, it has been a while since i read for you..i am glad i came here and read tonight...really nice memories..i am glad that you felt your are going home at the end of this post...i am waiting for second decade “Eleven-Year Glitch”! have a great night

Lisa said...

Big Dave,

I've never quite been considered someone who was in the "in" crowd--this is a first! Only took me 44 years. ;)

As for the celebrity stories, the first week I was in CA we went to Las Vegas and I met Donny Osmond. I tell that whole story in my post, "S.E., BABY!" from September(sorry, I forgot how to highlight it)! Then there was the time we flew back to NY for Christmas, and Ron Palillo was on the plane ("Horshak" from "Welcome back Kotter"--I know, I know...he's not really that famous. But he was HUGE back then)!

I actually have more "big" celebrity stories from NY than CA. For instance, Tom Jones was at a family BBQ when I was about 8, and of course too young to appreciate who he was. And one time, Sammy Davis Jr. came with my uncle to my grandmother's house. As he got out of the car, he noticed the neighbor next door staring intently, and he looked at him, shrugged his shoulders and said, "Well, there goes the neighborhood!" Cute story. If I can find the picture of him and my grandmother, I'll scan it and post it!

Take good care,
Lisa

Lisa said...

Desiree,

I look back now and see how moving to CA molded my life in a certain way. I learned tolerance, because I would never want to make anyone feel as badly as I did. And I learned the art of acceptance, too...the whole "NY" thing kind of faded into the background once I went to middle school. I pretty much fit in just as well as I would have anywhere else! I guess there is always something to be learned, no matter what we go through in life.

Take good care,
Lisa

Lisa said...

Summer!

I thought you forgot about me! So nice to hear from you! As I told Matty, my next two posts are not really joyously happy or funny, but they tell a tale nonetheless! Hope you stop by soon...next one should hopefully be up before the weekend.

Take good care,
Lisa

Teri said...

Dear Lisa...

"Last year in my school in New York, we all fought over who was going to sit with the new girl at lunch. I guess in California they don't operate that way."

Just want you to know that not everyone "operates" that way in California, but you were in "The Valley," and "Valley" girls are/were notorious for their, shall we call them unique, ways. I hailed from the beach...a far cry from the Valley. Valley girls scared me (still do)...and I went to college, became roommates, and eventually friends, with a few of these chicas.

I bet you gave them a New York minute or two, or at least I hope you did.


Ciao bella...

Lisa said...

Teri,

Looking back at my middle school yearbook, I realized that I knew just about everyone in there, both grades! As I said, I adjusted quite nicely. It was always the same "click" who had it in for me, anyway (and you are correct, they were the "Valley Girls" and their boy toys)! And now that I look back, I was just an easy target. I'm sure they had it in for everyone else, too!

At the time, however, that's how I felt--and I hope I didn't insult my CA readers! I was back in CA two years ago, and I loved it (and not ONE PERSON made fun of my accent ;)

Take good care,
Lisa

Teri said...

No worries chica...I just balanced the scale by making fun of a few New Yorkers yesterday! :)

Seriously, no offense taken - well maybe a bit until I learned you were in "THE VALLEY!" After that, I completely understood.

I look forward and love every trip to the East Coast I make. I love travel, diversity...and I adore Manhattan! Do I fit in? Well, I may try...but I'm sure I stand out like a pair of "nylons," I mean stockings!

Ciao bella...

Lisa said...

Teri,

I've really learned over the years that so many states judge each other on "hearsay"--there are so many people that think all of NY is "tough", and that we all walk around ready to beat the daylights out of anyone who crosses our paths. Or have our Uncle Guiseppe rub them out! Just like there is "The Valley" in CA, well, we have Staten Island. And Queens. And the Bronx...well, okay, there's a lot of places that fit the stereotype, but where I come from we're not like that, lol!! Maybe just some of us. ;)

...just to let you know, when we visit upstate, the people are so different...and I'm sure if you travel all over CA, there are differences as well! You just know the places to stay out of (like the Valley)!

Take good care,
Lisa

Kacey said...

Hi Teri---Great Post --- I kept trying to answer, but the New Blogger won't let me in until I go in through their account. Duh!
Now that Teri is a finalist for The Share The Love Blog Awards---get over there and vote. I promised her I would go out and campaign. There are some terrific bloggers in the final five of each catagory. Get all your friends to give her a vote! I'm shameless!

Kacey said...

Double Duh! I meant Lisa! I'm waiting for the second eleven years!

Lisa said...

Kacey,

I'm way ahead of you, "chica"!! I voted for her already, and I'm so proud of her! She really deserved the nominations, and I really feel that she deserves to win in both categories!

I've been a little behind in reading everyone's posts this week, and in writing my own (I'm typing a paper for school right now that has nothing to do with anything interesting that I could've used as a post)! I'll try to catch up this weekend and visit you at Cookie's Oven!

Take good care,
Lisa

Kerry said...

I just bumped into you blog and I like it. I'll be back.

Lisa said...

Kerry,

I have no idea how you found me, but I welcome you to come back any time!! Thanks for stopping by!

Take good care,
Lisa

Betty said...

Dear Lisa,

I'm going to have to go back and read your Donny Osmond post. I was in love with him. I had a pillowcase with his photo imprinted on it...I'd say your life out west was worth it because you met him AND you adjusted. And for an extra happy ending, you got to move back home. I bet those west coast girls missed you when you left!

Hugs,
Betty

LZ Blogger said...

Lisa ~ As someone who spent the first 50 years of his life in Orange County CA... I must say that I got a certain amount of pleasure from reading this. Not because of how you were treated (I would have expected that) but by the way you expressed the expierence. Now that was CLASSIC SO. CAL! ~ jb///

Lisa said...

Betty,

Although I loved Donny, my friend Maria from "S.E., BABY!" was absolutely obsessed! Her walls were plastered with magazine pictures of him, and she owned everything Osmond from a lunchbox to sheets, and even several pairs of purple socks! She even insisted that Donny's favorite sandwich (something involving swiss cheese, peanut butter and blueberry yogurt) actually tasted good! I won't even get into how she wanted to convert to being a Mormon. I'll bet the two of you would have lots of laughs!!

Take good care,
Lisa

Lisa said...

LZ,

So I got it down, eh?? Yes, there were some kids who were pips, but all in all, it was a positive experience! Life changing, but positive.

And back to you...the first 50 years?? How the heck old are you, anyway?! I thought you were in your late 40's!

Thanks for stopping by, and happy trails!

Take good care,
Lisa

Charlene said...

Well written article.