It wasn't until sixth grade, at P.S. 168, when my teacher took us on a field trip to her house that I realized we were poor. I have no idea what my teacher's intentions were - whether she was trying to inspire us or if she actually thought visiting her Manhattan brownstone with her view of Central Park qualified as a school trip.
I went to private school for a very long time, and we always wore uniforms. Then in third grade, I switched to a public school, so I was so excited to wear what I wanted on the first day. I remember I chose this orange hoodie with a skirt, and it's so funny when I think about it now because my style really hasn't changed that much.
I was first influenced by a friend in fifth grade when he brought a Walkman to school and was listening to 'Paradise City' by Guns 'N Roses, which he had concealed within his hoodie. He put the headphones over my ears and I was completely blown away by what I heard. I'll never forget that.
My father was retired military, and my mother was an educator. She was incredibly creative. I used to love going to her school during the summer and helping her decorate her classroom. I would draw Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck. She was a sixth grade teacher. She and my father are the ones that got me into my love of music.
I wrote my first play as extra credit for my fourth grade English class. 'Can Helen Stop Smoking' was a satire on the ill effects of cigarette smoking. My friend Vicki Haugabrook played as Helen and I directed the show. At the time, my brother Vince was leading the campaign to get our grandmother to quit.