11 Things I Have Inexplicably Kept Over The Years

Last night when I was searching the closet for the missing box of Sassy magazines, I pulled out some plastic bins that I had stashed against the wall and decided to poke through them.

Like I said, everything that came with me on my move passed the “If I don’t bring this with me, I will literally die” litmus test, however, when it came to my old papers and mementos, I’m sure I was looking at things as a whole and not as individual pieces. That is, I saw these bins (and the others like them — there are more) and just knew “That’s old stuff. It’s sentimental. It’s coming with me.”

And there’s some sentimental stuff in there that I’m glad I still have, of course. But there are also a handful of items that I’m not entirely sure why I kept. (And, like, will continue to keep. I’m sharing this stuff with you for fun and to playfully tattle on myself, but like… I’m not throwing any of this stuff out. Enjoy!)

1. Sassy index (1993)

There was a small window of time when I was able to back order issues of Sassy straight from the source (because eBay wasn’t a thing yet). They sent this list when they sent me my purchased copies and not only has it been a handy reference for my collection, it’s a reminder of The Way Things Used To Be. Like, I think this thing was typed on a typewriter and then photocopied a bunch of times. No one would ever send something like this out ever again — you would just buy your back issues of magazines online. That is, if you wanted back issues of a print magazine.

Added bonus is a list tacked onto the back of Sassy’s short-lived “brother” magazine Dirt. At the time, I thought Dirt was pretty cool, but now looking at the topics they covered, it seems pretty lame.

2. Fake excuse letter (1995)

That is not even CLOSE to my mother’s handwriting

In the spring of 1995, at perhaps the height of their popularity, the Irish alternative band The Cranberries planned to play a free concert on “the mall” in Washington, DC. And a couple of my friends, including my best friend Julie, were going to ditch school and go. For some reason, I seem to remember Julie actually getting permission from her parents to go. I could be wrong. I do know, however, that I certainly did NOT have permission to go. I may not have even brought it up to them because my parents were not going to let me skip school to hang out in DC all day at a free concert. Nope. Which I was fine with until the morning of the show when I decided I really, really wanted to go. I didn’t even really like The Cranberries — I just didn’t want to be left out.

So Julie grabbed my Pickebicke notebook, ripped out a page and in her best mom-style cursive, carefully wrote me an excuse letter which I promptly took to the school office and was then promptly excused from school at 9am that day. Just like that. I remember being blown away by how easy it was. Why did I not know how easy it was to skip school? Because I was a goody-goody who NEVER skipped school. EVER. And also, I think I had done it one other time the year before — I went home (because I’m an idiot) and was caught by the terrified real estate agent who happened to be showing our house that afternoon to some prospective buyers. And I was resoundingly punished, of course. So I was skittish. But Julie assured me that we would be gone all day and no one would be any the wiser.

The concert was a DISASTER. The opening band, Chisel, was, I think, booed off the stage? And not for being bad — but because everyone there wanted to see The Cranberries THAT BADLY. And then when The Cranberries got onstage, all hell broke loose and after one and a half songs, they left the stage (and probably the city).

I have almost no memory of the “riot” — I think Julie, her guy friend who drove us, and I bailed out of the crowd early during the first song —

(Like… I think they opened with “Linger” or “Dreams” and people started moshing. Like… it was stupid.)

So we bailed out of the scrum and walked around, away from the insuing chaos. And that’s where we happened upon Ted Leo and Chris Norborg from Chisel and evidently, I got their autographs on my fake excuse letter. I don’t remember much about my interaction with them except I was complimentary of their set and assured them they weren’t bad and didn’t deserve to get booed. I’m sure they were amused by my intense, teenage sincerity.

Anyway, I never got caught and it was a really fun day and Mom, if you’re learning about this for the first time via Facebook, I hope you’re not mad.

One last thing and then I’ll move on: I was laughing about the fact that I was keeping this note in a sheet protector and there were other papers in there with the note, so I took it out and I guess this is where I kept all my autographs? Because I found my Courtney Love autograph, which I’ve been looking for, along with — allegedly — L7’s autographs obtained for me by a pen-pal (yeah, I had those) and a photocopy (?) of Hole-minus-Courtney’s autographs…?

The set list is from an L7 show, I think?

3. GO! Records flyer (1995? 1996? 97?)

I don’t know where I got this and I don’t know why I kept this and I don’t know why I still have this. The only band I’m familiar with from this lineup is Frodus, whose lead singer worked at The Record Convergence where I frequented regularly (I had a huge crush on him) and I don’t even know if I went to that show.

(Like… here I am talking about The Record Convergence and not GO! Records because I rarely went to GO! Records. I think I went one time at its old location and one time after it moved and then never again? I DON’T EVEN REMEMBER.)

I did go to the Indie Rock Flea Market but I don’t know if this is from the year I went or what.

WHY DO I STILL HAVE THIS???

4. Printed Internet articles about Air Miami (1997)

Somewhere between the year I graduated from high school (1996) and the end of the century (1999), I interned at TeenBeat Records. I say “interned” but really I volunteered, as I was not getting college credit for it. While I did work hard — I showed up dutifully at Mark Robinson’s house every Friday and did whatever minor task he needed done for the label — I really was sort of loitering. I desperately wanted to be a part of the “scene” and being involved with an indie label seemed to be my ticket in. But since I was (a) not in a band and (b) awkward and weird and (c) in love with Mark Robinson, my presence was probably more of a burden. Maybe. I don’t know. Mark and his then-live-in-girlfriend/now-wife Evelyn were always very lovely to me so maybe I wasn’t so bad. Regardless, after a year of working there, I was asked, politely, to leave.

If I had to guess, I would say I printed these articles (which are reviews of Mark’s band Air Miami’s album, “Me Me Me” that appeared on, what looks like various college newspaper websites) at my mother’s office, which, at the time was I think the only place my family could access the Internet without paying for it, a la America Online. Or perhaps this was about the time we had non-AOL Internet at home.

Whatever the situation was, the fact remains I PRINTED OUT ARTICLES FROM THE INTERNET AND HAVE KEPT THEM FOR NEARLY 20 YEARS SWEET FANCY JESUS.

[NOTE: I just discovered that I was on TeenBeat’s 1997 Christmas card, which I had completely forgotten about. I really thought jet black hair looked good on me.]

5. Ash stickers (199?)

Remember the band Ash? Because I don’t.

Some light Googling reveals they were a 90's Irish alternative band, which is all well and good, but that doesn’t explain why I have 8 of their stickers.

Ash ash ashashashashashash

6. Directions for Graduation ‘96

I hated high school. I started out trying to like it — I tried out for field hockey (not because I liked that sport or sports in general — I hate sports — but because the field hockey girls always looked so sassy in their plaid skirts and polo shirts) and considered trying out for The Precisionettes, which was our school’s dance team and even ran for Sophomore Class Treasurer (I lost to the incumbent). But by sophomore year, I was over it. And by senior year, I was so sour. With good reason — my senior year was awful. I broke up with my boyfriend who would literally spit at me when he passed me in the hall, I pissed off a couple of the popular “alternative” girls (with good reason — I said shitty things about them in my zine) so they and their friends circulated a flyer of my face on a pig’s body to everyone in my class and a few popular underclassmen, I got bronchitis from stress and missed two or three weeks of school and people thought I dropped out… It was bad. So I was SO SO SO excited to graduate and GET THE FUCK OUT OF THERE.

Then, on the day of graduation, I was filled with an unexpected melancholy. I remember sitting in my seat, in my polyester white cap and gown and wondering if I had just been overreacting the last four years. Did I do everything I could to make my high school experience good or did I bail and not give anyone or anything a chance? Was it really that bad?

Then I got hit in the head by an errant beach ball, sending my cap flying off my head.

As I heard giggles coming from behind me, I told myself I just had to get through this stupid ceremony and then I wouldn’t have to see any of these fucking people again.

I still have a few of my graduation invitations, but this flyer… I’m shocked it’s made it this far in life.

7. Papa Smurf/Grandpa Fuzzy flyer from Julie (1991?)

The aforementioned Julie has been my best friend since second grade and she and I have a mile-long list of memories and inside jokes, which I’m forever grateful for. I feel very lucky to have a friend like Julie and am proud that our friendship has lasted this long. I have kept a folder of all the letters and notes and silly things she’s given me over the years — most of them hold very strong, symbolic feelings for me.

Except this thing.

“Grandpa Fuzzy” was the name of a weird gnome toy I owned when I was in 5th or 6th grade. About that time, Julie and I liked to make audio tapes of ourselves being silly and making each other laugh. One tape is almost exclusively about Grandpa Fuzzy. At one point during the recording, Julie (as Grandpa Fuzzy) hurls himself against the sliding, mirrored, closet door in Julie’s room, which sent Julie and me into spasms of laughter. Like, pants-peeing laughter. I’m being completely sincere when I say that it’s one of my fondest memories.

And Julie must’ve made this flyer on a lark, being silly, and sent it to me or given it to me at some point in the 90’s. I’m sure she’ll be shocked to see I still have it. JULIE WHY DO I STILL HAVE THIS??

8. Forbidden Planet underground “newspaper” (1995?)

At one point, my high school had two underground newspapers.

The first one, Aachen Light, showed up in select people’s lockers and was quickly shared and everyone was appropriately scandalized/excited as all “literature” had to be approved before being circulated and Aachen Light certainly was not approved to be distributed. It was actually kind of scandalous — I think it called people out by name and brought up decent concerns about politics and school ethics. (I think??? Maybe??)

The underground paper that followed, whose name escapes me, was a forgettable attempt to capitalize on the excitement drummed up by Aachen Light.

Julie and I decided to throw something together to see if we could get some anonymous attention. I’m sure she spent the night one weekend and we put together Forbidden Planet and most likely made copies of it at my mom’s office the next morning, which is where I made all my photocopies in the 90’s because it was free and no one cared that I would use REAMS of paper for my own personal use.

In an effort to drum up interest, we focused on the yet untapped-by-the-competitors area of being pro-drugs, even though neither Julie nor I knew anything about drugs. That’s the story I’m sticking with, at least. I mean, I’ll let Julie speak for herself, but as for me, the only drug I was abusing in the 90’s was sugar. Still, we talked a good game and people actually kind of liked Forbidden Planet. We did one of two more issues before the hype around underground papers faded to nothing and we all moved on.

I actually undertand why I still have this, because it’s kind of funny and cool that I was a part of this in high school. However, the CONTENT of this thing is embarrassingly bad.

We really did think we were saying something. Yikes.

9. Picture of Evan Dando from Rolling Stone (1994)

OH YOU GUYYYYYSSSSSS.

I LOVED Evan Dando. Like… I loooooooooooooved him.

And how could I not?! Look at that face! Those lips! That stubble! Those eyes! That hair!

I don’t remember how I discovered The Lemonheads, but I went through a VERY SERIOUS period where they were MY LIFE. And I kept this photo of Evan next to my bed for a few YEARS. And I mean EVERY BED. I would bring it on VACATION.

My love affair with Evan Dando ended on the night I saw them at the 9:30 Club in D.C. in 1997 and my friend Kelly and I managed to finagle our way backstage. Evan was sitting between to two very attractive girls, probably about to go have a threesome. I, in my sweaty, fat, awkward glory asked him if I could have a hug. He looked at me and sniffed, “No,” and then walked away.

10. This picture of shirtless Jordan Knight from Tutti Frutti magazine (1990 or 1991, probably)

I don’t know if you can tell from the fact that I had cut the other members of NKOTB out of the picture or the fact that I affixed this image to a blue piece of plastic to, I’m guessing, protect it from being taped to the wall, but Jordan was my favorite New Kid on the Block.

And this was my favorite picture of him. Can you tell?

I mean, I loved all pictures of Jordan, but I loved this one enough to tape it to a piece of plastic so the delicate corners would be kept intact. This hung on my wall by my bed until it was replaced by that Evan Dando picture, I’m sure.

Aside from the obvious (pecs, torso, treasure trail), I think the thing that turned me on about this picture of Jordan was his neck and shoulders. (!!!!!!!!!???????)

And now looking at this thing, can I just point out how much fucking jewelry he’s wearing? Four rings, a bracelet, and a belt buckle with, I think, Jesus on it. Good grief.

11. FumanSkeeto promotional poster (2000? 2001?)

I do not know why I have this. My favorite member of NSYNC was JC.

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