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  • Writer's pictureLisa Czarina Michaud

#5: friend crushes + punk rock high school reunions

Updated: Dec 15, 2021

May 1st, 2021

Greetings from Seine-et-Marne and Happy May!!

I'm not going to do that thing where I say, "Oh my God, I can't believe it's already May!"

It's May. I believe it.

And so does our medieval village. Look how happy she looks.

So, the final installment on how this book came about is upon us. The grand finale, so to speak that I really didn't mean to drag out. It's just that when you have the oh-so classic scenario of having a five-year-old home during a pandemic who is just starting to read and write (in script too!), I felt like I needed to get in on that. So my writing efforts took a snooze for a few weeks.

So it was October 2019...after a long, esoteric trip overseas... it was my first autumn in New York in ten years where I had forgotten just how breathtaking the colors are. We don't get that kind of explosive foliage in France (as much as my mother-in-law insists we do...we don't), so I was feeling all sorts of pumpkin spicey.

The real purpose of this trip though was not to cause high school reunion havoc but to spend some last quiet moments with my grandmother before she passed the following spring.

Together we did Italian people things like drive 30 minutes to get mozzarella at the Italian market that sells pantry items with prices still in lira (my grandma and I suspected these items may be expired), engage in long talks about escarole, and stop at a funeral or two where some of the attendees asked me if I had flown in from France just for it.

I was, like, I don't even know who died, which is an acceptable response at an Italian funeral.

Anyway like I said, doing Italian people things.

So, what happened at the clandestine, underground, punk rock 20th class reunion that I actually made a flyer for?

Just to note...the real reunion was branded with the 90s Saved by the Bell (which, okay...I feel it) vibe so I decided to go in the more Zima/Nirvana Font direction. And yes...the bar is called Memories.

Foreshadowing...Did I succeed in bringing our class together for the reunion everyone really wanted (and fucking voted for)? Was it three cheers for the class weirdo? A grand victory for the underdog?

I know we all love that story...but this is Long Island.

So I left my house and my mom was very much against me doing this sober. But I told her that I planned on staying true to my Sober October commitment. She then told me my pink corduroys were cute. And we left it at that.

I arrived at the bar (again...Memories).

And no one was there.

No biggie. I was the organizer so it was normal, so I found a seat at the bar and ordered a Shirley Temple.

Ten minutes went by...twenty minutes...thirty minutes...and still no one.

Sitting at a sport's bar. Alone. On a Saturday night. Wearing pink cords. And sipping on a Shirley Temple.

This was almost 40.

Thinking it was a bust as did the drunk kid next to me who kept reminding me in his barbecue breath that no one was coming, my classmate, Andrew then walked in.

I have to say if there was anyone in my graduating class that I would have wanted to walk in, he definitely would have been one of them. I always had a friend crush on him because I always thought he was cool. He sat in front of me in the 5th grade, when I had just moved to Long Island from the city, and I liked his Champion sweatshirts and his laugh.

Anyway, so he sees me at the bar sitting by myself and he let out a laugh that brought me right back to 5th-grade homeroom and he said "Yeah, this was pretty how I pictured this going. Our class fucking sucks."

So he got a beer, frowned at my Sober October and we talked about everything but high school. I told him about the novel I was working on and explained it's in alternating POV between a 20-year-old girl and guy, a sort of he said/she said thing.

The thing is, I told Andrew, was that my male character is a drummer and felt like I was entering unchartered waters. I was up for the challenge but I just didn't know where to start.

Well, he said, I was in luck because he was a professional drummer. Is it just me or is that fucking crazy? The one person who shows up to my class reunion happens to sorta/kinda resemble the character I was writing? Cosmic, right?

So our high school reunion became novel research as I listened to him share anecdotes about gigs and gear even though the book is not about drumming because hi, boring book. The drunk kid next to us then declared, "Drumming? I wanna hear about some fucking!" I told him there was plenty of that too in my book too...because the characters are 20...and it's me writing it.

Eventually, more classmates showed up to a grand total of seven and while we didn't quite have the party that Prince had in mind for the Class of 99, I caved into peer pressure and had two glasses of wine, danced to the house band doing covers of "Money, Money," and I flew back to Paris the next day.

If you were to tell 15-year-old me this story, she would have been like, yeah, that sounds about right...and then she'd say...Paris?

When I returned, I thundered through the first draft of the novel, which I got done before Christmas...and then cranked out a second...a third...COVID break...and so on...

So you have the backstory and now onto the making of this book of sex, drums, half-French dudes, and 90s playlists.

The photos came back from the photographer where some of the pictures are totally Glamour Shots at the mall, the back book copy has been tightened up, then there's the title...and then the cover! Soon...soon...soon!

Speaking of friend crushes, this week marks the 25th friend anniversary with my friend Yoko.

Picture nerdy me (still with the fucking blonde hair) at a Sonic Youth show in NYC. I saw her up front taking pictures with, like, a real camera (not the cheesy box camera I brought). I really wanted to talk to her but I was intimidated because cool girls (and I guess now cool moms) do that to me. I almost didn't...

But then I did and lied by telling her I was making a zine (don't you love how 90s this story is, by the way) and asked if she could make me doubles of her know, for my zine.

Awesome way to start a friendship. With a lie. From there we exchanged numbers and she'd visit me in Greenwich Village where I worked slicing bread and over time we became friends.

We were born one day a part of the same year in the same city. It was meant to be even if she was so Lenox Hill and I was so NYU Medical. Our astrological birth charts are wildly similar, by the way.

Anyway, 25 years later, here we are...and I never did get those Sonic Youth pictures and she never did ask about my zine.

These days Yoko actually is involved with zines, music and so much other cool shit she's doing out in Oakland, California (check out her Patreon here)!

On top of her own zine featuring her gorgeous artwork including the sketch below, she also contributes art for Jessica Martinez's Party On! Party On! a celebration of break-ups, self-love...and Wayne's World.

Described as a faux self-help guide using quotes from the cult classic, there are also essays from self-doubt to self-discovery, comics, and musings on pop culture and grumblings on current events. All witty, honest, and beautifully portrayed, zines have come a long way since the 90s.

I'm not going to lie though, they had me at self-help and Wayne's World because "Go out with somebody else..." is probably the best break-up advice I had ever heard.

And with that, I wish you an awesome weekend wherever you are braving all those Justin Timberlake May memes I know you'll see today.

It's only May because JT says it is.

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