Tuesday, March 13, 2007

'Cause We're Empty as the Desert as We Move From West to East

I think tonight I'll keep with the years ending with a 6 for my "year in review post". So, let's examine 1986, why don't we? Come on, it will be fun. I lived in San Francisco for most of it. This here picture is of me and my friend Laurie. She was the one who talked me into moving to California in the first place.


General: I started 1986 in Big Bear Lake, Ca. I moved to San Francisco at the end of January and stayed until the end of December, when I moved back to Iowa City. If you haven't guessed, this was smack dab in the middle of my confused/lost years.

Age: I was twenty at the beginning of 1986 and turned twenty-one in July.

Music: I worked a lot and was subject to the New Agey/ Adult Contemporary stuff that was shoved down everyone's throats in nicer restaurants. So, I heard a lot of Windham Hill and Deep Breakfast stuff as well as, Steve Winwood, Dire Straits, Sade, Sting and in the Fall, Paul Simon. At the beginning of the year, I worked at a shoe store in Berkeley, so I was forced to suffer through The Bangles, Falco, The Miami Sound Machine and The Pet Shop Boys, in very short rotation and ad nauseum. Ouch. My roommates were hippies, and at home I heard a lot of The Dead, and Bob Marley, and Joni Mitchell-girlie music. In June, my boyfriend (who turned 21 one month before me) went to see Camper Van Beethoven at a club and was totally hooked. They were probably the closest I came to theme music that year.

TV: I didn't own a television back then, but other people talked to me about their favorite shows. I had to schedule some of the high school girls at the shoe store to get off at eight so they could make it home to watch Miami Vice.

Movies: Because I was single and made tips, I had a lot of disposal income, and dispose of it, I did. Here are a few of the movies I saw that year: Blue Velvet, Peggy Sue Got Married, A Room With a View, Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home, Hoosiers, Nine and a Half Weeks, Amadeus, The Mosquito Coast, Soul Man, and Absolute Beginners. Here are some movies I managed to avoid that year, but may or may not have caught later on video: Stand By Me, Transformers: The Movie, Under the Cherry Moon, Band of the Hand, Top Gun, Platoon, Pretty in Pink and Howard the Duck.

Books: As far as I remember, I read a lot of Margaret Atwood, Toni Morrison, Zora Neale Hurston, Margurite Duras, Jean Rhys, Henry Miller, Italo Calvino and probably overdid the Beat stuff. Because my roommate was going to the New School to study poetry, I picked up a lot of her school books.

What I Wanted to Be When I Grew-Up: That was what I was trying to figure out back then. At the time, I kept a drawing, every day and a dream journal. Maybe I thought I'd be a professional journal keeper. Too bad they didn't have blogs back then. Or maybe it's just as well. It's pretty hard for me to stomach my journals from that time. I threw most of them away when I moved to L.A. in 1988.

Winter: The Winter of 1986 sucked ass for me. I moved to San Francisco with my boyfriend and at first, I lived in his crazy mother's house and worked at that horrible shoe store. By March, I was ready to take-off and go where? I had no idea, so I actually stayed and fixed things...For a while.

Spring: In the Spring I started working at the Courtyard Cafe on 24th Street in San Francisco. I moved in with an English girl named Susan. We shared a bedroom in a house with a bunch of other Europeans all living here illegally and desperately trying to get Green Cards. We lived on 24th and Harrison, right by the projects, where even little kids were in bicycle riding gangs. I moved out after I woke up one night to Susan and some guy she had picked-up at a bar, snorting coke off a mirror right next to my bed. It was way too eighties for me.

Summer: I moved in with two girls I worked with in a flat on Randall Street, just up from Church Street, by Day Park. It was fine at first, but then the one who was dating the drummer from American Music Company kept getting snottier and snottier and finally got to the point where she was so much better than us, that she had to move into a nicer place. She was replaced by a wonderful woman who was studying accupuncture. Like I said, they were hippies. We smoked a lot of pot, ate a bunch of mushrooms and made big communal dinners with food we bought at the Noe Valley Community Store. I can't imagine a better way to turn twenty-one.

Fall: I thought I'd try my hand at getting my shit together and went to college again. I was already a California resident, so I could go to Community College for $50 a semester. Even I could afford to fuck-up for that much money. My boyfriend decided he needed to move to the Seattle area where his dad lived and I decided not to go with him this time. He lasted about a month and a half before he came back. In that time, I made up my mind to move to Iowa. He thought he might follow me, but since he'd never been off the West Coast in his life, I didn't think he'd like it. I quit the Courtyard Cafe and worked as a bartender at Macy's Department Store, instead. I finished my semester with all A's and one B, because I went to a Dead Show (the first one after Jerry Garcia's diabetic coma) the night before the final in that one class, and missed it altogether. My professor let me take it later, but dropped me a grade.


Dana said...

I wish I could see you a little better in that photo! I want to take in all of your 1980s glory.

Remiman said...

Sounds like an exciting time. Probably looks better looking back sometimes.
Bad shit I survived looks not so bad today.


I remember I adored the music of Johnny Hates Jazz, Depeche mode..., the police...38 special...'Til Tuesday...wilson phillips...def leppard...U2...foreigner...Genesis...Tear for Fears...the cars...Toto...Fleetwood Mac...culture club...The Bangles...Thomson Twins...styx...human league...aha...spandau ballet...Bruce Hornsby...Doobie Brothers...SuperTramp...earth wind & fire...OMD...Billy Idol...Boston...

dmarks said...

Overwhelming flashback time!!!

Hey, Doc. Give me the keys to the DeLorean. I need to go back!

Margaret said...

what made you choose iowa?

my 1986 home perm would be totally jealous of your 1986 real hair!

Rachel said...

Damn... I wish that we could go to college for $50 per semester here. We have to pay full damn price.

Dexter said...

San Francisco's Chinatown...the hip place to be circa 1986/87...

a said...

Ouch - just not a day I'd like to think of my 1986 -
but you were so much cooler and hip than me, even back in '86 -

Killer said...

I used to live right off the corner of Market and Church, and then on Buchanan right near Union.

I love San Francisco. It wasn't the eighties, but it was still pretty sweet.

Churlita said...


Believe me, you don't want to see any more eighties me than you already have. It might just burn your eyes out.


It was a weird time. i'm glad I went through it, but I wouldn't ever go back and live that way again.

Major EFlat,

You are a regular music encyclopedia.


Oh, Back to the Future. That is a flashback.


I bet your perm was so much better than my constant frizz.

I went back to Iowa because I started there and I had some grades to (ahem) fix and then I stayed because I really love this sleepy old town.


I wish we could in Iowa too. In California, if you're a resident, you don't have to pay tuition, just fees. So, a community college fees at that time were just $50.


I don't know how hip it was, we usually went there to eat and help my roommate shop for fungus and herbs.


Yeah, right. I've never been hipper or cooler than you. BAck then I was just weird and freaked out.


Market and Church? That was a pretty busy part of town as I remember. I bet it was fun.

Bice said...

Well I'm showing up to this post late... as usual. By the time I leave this comment you'll be adding tomorrow's post so why bother even commenting this late right? Because I like to read what you write but I got no damn time to keep up with everyone's blog anymore it seems. Argh!

Churlita said...


Don't worry about it. I understand. you're starting a whole new blogging venture.

Margaret said...

my perm, done in the bar/den at home, is jealous of your curl, friz, what have you, I'm pretty sure

Churlita said...


My curl/frizz is jealous of the fact that your home perm will relax and me and my hair never will.

Nabeel said...

hmm I like this photo .. it has that vintage look to it :)