Millennium Memoir
Moon and Stars . .

12.1.1999

Ballet Dreams and Temper Tantrums

I began keeping a journal at the age of "8 11/12" as the front page of of my now-ancient diary proclaims. It's a small pink book with a picture of Little Twin Stars on the front cover. It is well-worn now, a bit sticky from having juice spilled on it more than once and the binding lists slightly to the side.

I took the business of keeping a diary very seriously. At that age, I was already worried about possible apocalypses and I thought that I ought to record bits of knowledge from present-day science and technology, on the off-chance that my diary should survive some cataclysmic event and hence be more than just a recollection of my days, but also a valuable resource for any survivors that might find it.

Hence, at the bottom of my very first entry, the following definition of electricity:

(electricity)
a kind of energie
caused by e
electrons rubbing
together

Spelling and layout reproduced as-is, of course, in my childish, painstakingly traced script.

I kept this journal until I was fourteen, when I finally ran out of pages and bought a new journal. I recorded all sorts of things, lists of friends, crushes, deep thoughts, not-so-deep thoughts, snippets of stories, dreams, fantasies.

Most of my life between the ages of nine and fourteen can be found in these pages. Chronicled somewhat irregularly, with bursts of assiduous daily recording, followed by long silences, usually when I was too busy to write.

The irony, is that some of the most important and most life-changing events in my life have been left out of the pages, because I tend to write more, when less is going on and write less when my attention is focused elsewhere. Unless I'm just venting. There are lots of pages of rambling, discursive rants and vents, particularly about my parents during my teen years, which is of course, utterly unsurprising.

One of the central passions of my life when I was ten years old, was ballet.

I'd been taking classes every year since I was eight, and before that I'd also taken dance between at ages four and five, but a bad experience with a new teacher left me high and dry for about a year.

During the 1982-83 school year I started over at the Ecole Marli in St. Job, a ten minute drive from our house in Uccle, a small suburb of Brussels, Belgium.

For the next few years, I would take ballet at least once a week and towards the end of our stay in Belgium, twice a week.

I loved to dance and hence my diary entries or those years focus a lot on dance practice, preparing for the shows and the annual stage: three to four week dance camps at the seaside which had sessions in the spring and summer.

During the summer of 1984, I was at stage as usual and this is what I had to say on August 21st:

Dear Diary,
I went to Dance this morning
We did toe shoes today but I could'nt get one shoe on so I did half toes instead.
Eileen did good on toes.

Then we went to the villa we played Atari 'till lunch was ready. After lunch we went beach then pool and while waiting for M. EUGENS we went playground. that's all so bye bye.

* porc, potatoes, peas, carrots for supper

What's interesting is that even back then, I would hesitate to put my bad behavior in my journal. I was actually scolded for not getting my shoes on in time and I pitched a hissy fit and threw my shoe across the room, had to take a time out and then was allowed to put my soft shoes on to rejoin the class.

One of the most serious faults that I have, is my temper. When I was ten, my temper was under far less control than it is now and I was prone to tantrums and dramatics of mythic proportions on a regular basis.

Of all of my faults, this is the one that I've worked on the most. I still indulge in the occasional bout of theatrics, but I don't even come close to losing my temper on a daily basis as I did back then.

My father used to call me Sarah Bernhardt and my brother Douglas Fairbanks when we were kids, because of the copious amounts of tears that were she upon any occasion that we were punished.

I'd like to think that this dramatic flair lent itself well to my acting skills later on in life.

But mostly, it just lingers as a tendency to blow things out of proportion and go into hysterics when I discover that there's only $5 left in the bank account and we have $500 left of bills to pay.

However, if there was one thing that I wanted to change about myself when I was ten, it was my temper. I think now that I could turn to my ten-year-old self with pride and say "Hey, look at me now!"

Soundtrack: In the summer of 1984, I was listening to: Mike Oldfield's Discovery, Cyndi Lauper's She's So Unusual and continuing to enjoy such classics as the theme from Sesame Street and Beethoven's 9th symphony as well as Tchaikovsky's Swan Lake.

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