Saturday, May 31, 2008

Job Market-1, BlackenedBoy-0

Mountain Town Summer
Originally uploaded by BlackenedBoy

Given the extremely positive response to my last entry and the congratulations I received from my blogger friends, I was extremely reluctant to write this post. However, reality must persist, and as much fun as I had reading the nice things that everyone had to say about my new job, the truth has to be stated: I've been fired.

After a single night on the job, my supervisor (and the owner of the business) made the decision to terminate me. You'll never believe why.

My shift was due to begin at five o'clock, and I pulled in about eight minutes after. Now, had this alone been responsible for concluding my time at Mountain Town Ice Cream, I would have been irritated but understood nonetheless. Employers who consistently tolerate lateness can begin to see subordinates who arrive at work progressively later each day, and eventually be left in the awkward position of having no one on staff because one of their company's associates simply chose not to show up.

So, had that been the only issue, I would have begrudgingly accepted my former boss's decision and driven away cursing myself for not leaving the house ten minutes earlier. It wasn't, though.

I turned into the lot, parked my car, and got out to greet my then-superior.

"Hi, Mr. Ice-Cream-Owner-Who-Fires-People-For-Absolutely-Ridiculous-Reasons," I said cheerfully.

"I will not abide lateness," he said sternly, handing me the forty dollars that he'd already had in his hand when I arrived.

"Oh, okay," I said, accepting the money that he'd extended towards me. "What's this for?"

"I wanted to pay you for last night," he said, his Southern drawl thick and strong. "Son, there's just certain things we can't do."

He paused clearheadedly for a moment, not to form his words, but simply to stare out at the blue sky as if nothing in the world was the matter.

"Your handwriting is horrible."

"Oh," I said, still not quite understanding what he was getting at.

"So," he continued. "I'm not going to need you to come back."

For an instant I thought that he was giving me the day off, as the idea that I was being removed from my position for poor penmanship was too ridiculous a thought to be the first in my mind.

Then, though, after a moment had passed, I caught on to what he meant.

"Oh," I repeated, but this time with a tone of distinct disbelief. I couldn't see myself, but I'm sure that my mouth had dropped open in shock.

"Sir," I pleaded. "Sir, it was my first night. I was just really nervous and I was trying to take all the orders down in time. I mean, I promise that if you give me one more night I can make my handwriting neater."

"No," he said. "It was absolutely terrible. I talked to my son [Fat-Boy-From-Whom-Mountain-Town-Ice-Cream-Takes-Its-Name] and he can't read it, either. I'm sorry."

"Sir," I said, still genuinely not comprehending that something so stupefyingly nonsensical was actually happening. "I promise you, I can improve that. I mean, I was doing a good job actually serving the ice-cream and making it."

"I know," he conceded. "But we have to be able to read those order forms. Your handwriting was completely illegible. I'm sorry."

His son had in fact mentioned my handwriting the night before, but it was in an off-hand and often teasing way, with the young man at one point joking that reading my shorthand was like "deciphering code."

He never hinted that it would be the one aspect of my performance that could make the difference between keeping and losing my job.

Throughout the whole thing, I was just thinking, "This seriously can't be happening."

I've worked in two grocery stores, a fast-food restaurant, as a babysitter, and at two different newspapers. Before yesterday's incident, I had never once been fired. I am simply amazed that the first (and, I hope, only) place of business to actually eject me from its ranks did so after an evaluation not of my job proficiency but of my script.

I mean, am I the only one who finds that totally insane?

The reason for my termination was so tacitly absurd that even my parents, whom I had fully expected to pounce on the event as proof of my incompetence and idiocy, stood behind me. This afternoon my father called me out onto the deck while he was grilling chicken for dinner, saying that he wanted to talk to me.

"Yeah, Dad?" I asked. "What do you want?"

"Are you okay, BB?" he questioned. "Are you alright with everything?"

"Yeah," I answered. "Yeah, Dad. I was just kind of bummed out yesterday. All I can do is find another job."

His reaction, which surprised me, was likely the result of several different elements acting in conjunction with one another. First of all, I had been particularly demoralized the previous afternoon, and had even ridden with him when he went to the grocery store simply so that I could vent my feelings.

I was frustrated and disgusted, as much with myself as with the proprietor of Mountain Town Ice-Cream, all throughout yesterday evening. I went to bed last night at eleven o'clock, for me an early hour (I am in college, remember). I simply did not want to be awake to think about all that had happened, about the fact that, two days before the end of May and barely over a week before my trip to Movie State, I'd been left without employment.

As of right now, I have no means of income for the summer, something that, as a twenty-year-old whose parents are not oil magnates, is something intolerable and really unaffordable.

The core reason of my parents' response to the situation, however, likely goes to a revelation that my brother Powell made without quite meaning to several weeks ago.

As some of you may already know, I went through a bout of severe depression during my Freshman Year of college. That depression advanced through last summer, to the point that in early August I nearly attempted suicide.

I had confided this only to Powell, and about a month ago during an angry confrontation with our mother and father it burst out of him.

"Powell," my mother had said softly following an explosive argument he'd been having with our father. "You have to be gentle on him. He's dealing with a lot right now."

"So, what?" Powell responded angrily. "BB was going to kill himself last summer, and you didn't even catch on!"

And then my mother was silent.

Now, for the record, I'm not relating this to being fired from the ice-cream stand. As infuriating and upsetting as that was, and as much as it complicates my ability to save money this summer, I will move on. It's not a soul-crushing blow.

I merely evoke my recently-revealed history as a means of explaining my parents' uncharacteristically and in truth shockingly understanding actions in the face of my losing my job after a single day.

I mean, I really thought they'd be all over that. For once, they've shown a compassion and maturity that I often doubt they possess.

Meanwhile, other job prospects are dim but not hopeless. National Coffee Chain only wants someone who is planning on working long-term, because, as their manager told me this afternoon, "it takes about three months to train employees thoroughly enough that they can be on the floor unsupervised."

Really? This must be a high-end cafe. I never imagined that making someone an iced drink could be so complicated.

Minor Coffee Chain told me that their policy is to review applications and then call anyone they're interested in to set up interviews, Crappy Gas Station isn't hiring, Downtown Gas Station only hires twenty-one and over, Historic Restaurant wants "experienced servers," and Boat-Guide Restaurant is currently mulling over whether or not to see me, as they primarily need someone to cover the night shift and that person is required to be behind the bar.

"Well," I told a Boat-Guide employee over the phone. "I'm not twenty-one, but I have a lot of availability. I can work pretty much whenever you need me. I'm a college student and we're out for the summer, so I have a lot of time."

One of the first questions she asked me was how old I was. Does my very voice give it away?

It's a good thing that she couldn't see me, because then I wouldn't have had a prayer.

I'm optimistic, though. One of my good friends, Peruvian Girl, is going to speak to her manager tomorrow at Pancake Restaurant and let him know that she has a friend looking for a summer job.

I would greatly prefer not to take up employment in this establishment, but obviously I'm not in a position to bargain. I'll accept what I can get.

On a positive note, there is a lot coming up very soon. Powell's graduation from Mountain Town High School is this Sunday, June 1st, a fact that is far less surreal to me than I ever thought it would be. It seems like just yesterday that I was preparing to receive my diploma, but that June afternoon passed nearly two years ago now.

Life moves so quickly, but the memories remain visceral and real. It's unsettling sometimes how events that took place years in the past, often well into my childhood, can sometimes feel like they just happened.

On Sunday, Grand Ma Normal Family, Uncle Responsible, Aunt Crazy, and Cool Cousin will come here to commemorate Powell's completion of secondary studies. Grand Ma Normal Family is Aunt Crazy's sister, while Uncle Responsible, married to Aunt Crazy, is the twin brother of my late grandfather.

I've always thought it's so interesting that two brothers married two sisters, thereby becoming inlaws in addition to being blood relation. Uncle Responsible is a short, paunchy, unabashedly bald man whose intelligence is belied only by his persistent allegiance to the Republican Party.

Uncle Responsible spent decades working for the U.S. government, including a stint in the Navy during his youth, and my brother Powell and I have often speculated that he was a spy of some sort (or, as we constantly joke, may yet remain an active agent).

While we kid about it, there are actually some things that would seem to lend feasibility to such a theory: Uncle Responsible would disappear for weeks at a time when my father's cousins were children, and military personnel would stop by periodically to to check in on Aunt Crazy and the children. To this day there is very little he can reveal about his job, ant Aunt Crazy is still largely unaware of where the vast majority of my great-uncle's trips took him (although, whenever anything is declassified, Uncle Responsible can be counted upon to, like a giddy and light-eyed child, drag out various pamphlets and books detailing satellites sent into space long ago whose operation he was somehow affiliated with).

Aunt Crazy is so dubbed because of her boisterous nature. Short, plump, white-haired, and with almond-blue eyes, looking every inch the cheerful old babushka, she is given in her sixties to saying things like, "It's hard out here to be a pimp!" in a faux-urban accent.

This owes nothing to senility (which her daughters routinely accuse her of suffering from) but instead is rooted in her offbeat personality.

Once, during a visit several years ago to my grandmother's house, Powell told a joke that caused Aunt Crazy to oink like a pig.

"Aunt Crazy, you snorted," I laughed.

"Yeah, I snorted," she replied in full ghetto mode. "Snorted some crack!"

"Listen," our grandmother told Powell and I privately later. "Don't tell Uncle Responsible that Aunt Crazy was talking about crack. And don't tell Liberal Cousin, either. They hate it when she talks like that."

She does have moments of unintentional battiness that only enhance her hilarious persona.

"Yeah, I think Mom may be going senile a little bit," Cool Cousin, in her thirties, said during this year's Easter dinnner at Grand Ma Normal Family's House. "I'm going to have to get her some of those board games."

Liberal Cousin agreed that this would be a good idea and the topic soon moved to family members and their resemblance to other family members.

"BB looks a lot like Anne," someone said, referencing my birth-mother.

"Powell looks more like Dad, though," I replied. "And so does Thomas."

"Really?" Liberal Cousin asked. "I think that Thomas looks more like Marie."

"What?" Aunt Crazy, who'd entered the room, asked suddenly. "Marie who?"

"Mom!" Cool Cousin exclaimed through booming chuckles amidst peals of laughter from everyone else.

"His mother!" Liberal Cousin shouted out riotously.

"Oh!" Aunt Crazy responded. "Well, I didn't know."

Before long we were all in tears, as one story led to another and the next thing we knew Liberal Cousin was regaling our dinner with her memory of the time that the family car's hood and flown open while Aunt Crazy was driving on the highway.

"So then," Liberal gasped as her listeners heaved and wiped the moisture out of their eyes. "She drove all the way home looking through the little airholes in the hood."

Cool Cousin cackled at that, and the holiday ended on a very merry note.

I mention Aunt Crazy and the rest so much because Powell and I will be taking a trip with them (although Uncle Responsible's presence on this journey has not yet been confirmed) to Movie State next month.

I leave for Native State on June 7th, and then on June 10th it's on a plane and off to the coast I've never seen before.

Oh, and by the way, Anne is bringing my camera with her to Powell's graduation, so I will have it by the time we depart.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Tantalyzingly Brief Update

Originally uploaded by BlackenedBoy

So, I just wanted everyone to know that I got a job at an ice cream shop and will have to start work this very evening! That being the case, I won't be able to write more about the numerous events that have taken place in the last two days or so.

It's been really crazy. That, however, will have to wait until either tonight or tomorrow.

I still don't have my digital camera. I've asked Anne to please send it to me before Powell and I leave for Movie State with our grandmother, great-aunt, and cousin in early June.

I really hope that you get to see pictures from what promises to be an eventful and entertaining trip.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Journals Section: September, 2002

September 2, 2002
Russia, Moldova, Ukraine, Belarus, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan. These fifteen countries all used to be part of the Soviet Union. The Soviets also invaded Afghanistan in 1979, no doubt trying to make it the sixteenth Soviet republic. Yesterday was the day of the birthday party for little—oh, I don’t know his name. My great-uncle lives only about half a mile north of the Decaying State-Native State border. I rode up with my Grand Ma Normal Family and Great Aunt Crazy, and I begged them to stop at the border but Grand Ma said that there was nowhere to pull over. We got there and it was a bit awkward as we didn’t know anybody, but the situation worked out. I met my second cousin, Cousin I Barely Know and her boyfriend. My initial impression of him was that I do not approve of him at all. He seemed quite a “hillbilly.” I wonder if there is a proper word for “hillbilly,” for in my opinion to use the word “hillbilly” makes one sound like a “hillbilly.” On the way back to Beautiful Town I rode with Grand Pa, Grand Ma, and Powell. Ya idoo na dom. Babushka idyot na dom. Brat Powell idyot na dom. [Translation from Russian: I ride home. Grand Ma rides home. Brother Powell rides home.] We looked for the sign that would announce that we were crossing the border into Native State, but we couldn’t find it. A shame, as Grand Pa had agreed to stop. I will now list my family members, in Russian, on my father’s side:
Tyotya Blonde Aunt
Dyadya Mustache Uncle
Dvayuradnayii Brat Rowdy Cousin
Dyadya Tall Uncle
Tyotya Jewish Aunt
Dvayuradnayii Brat Tall Cousin
Dvayuradnaya Sistra Curly-Haired Cousin
Dva brati

[Translation from Russian:
Aunt Blonde
Uncle Mustache
Male cousin Rowdy
Uncle Tall
Aunt Jewish
Male cousin Tall
Female cousin Curly-Haired
Two brothers]

September 3, 2002
Just eight days left. Solo ocho dias entonces el aniversaria del once de septiembre. [Translation: Just eight days and then the anniversary of September 11th.] It is so sad. My second week of school has started off wonderfully. The only thing that bothers me is that I truly want to change math classes. Y, yo no se si ua chica va a ir con yo a “Homecoming.” [Translation: And, I don’t know if a girl will go with me to Homecoming.] In Gym I hit a bull’s eye and was exempt from taking a test. I got an automatic A. Advanced English I today was the most sexual English class tat I’ve ever had. We students spoke of Roman and Greek theatre. Apparently Greek was very proper, but Roman was like dramatic porn. I even told Blonde Girl and some others about my Dick Wack jokes. In Government something else happened. I learned from Rich Girl that she nearly got into a fight with Walrus Girl! Walrus is the girl who became known for calling me a “damn jackass” all of last year. Rich Girl confided the entire story to me, which surprised me, as she usually fins me annoying. I suppose that there’s always change. Anyway, apparently Walrus was bragging about how a boy named Random liked Walrus better than Rich Girl. Anyway, Rich Girl tapped Walrus on both cheeks and jokingly said, “Shut up, Walrus.” And then Walrus started yelling at Rich Girl! Rich Girl pointed the boy out to me and told me that Walrus doesn’t really like him. She was simply furious for the entire class period (Rich Girl, not Walrus. Walrus doesn’t have any classes with me this quarter) Kto eto? Eto Rich Girl. Chto eto? Eto dyevushka. Adin, dva, tri, chitirye, pyat, shyest, syem, vosit, dyevit, dyesit. [Translation from Russian: Who is it? It’s Rich Girl. What is it? It’s a girl. One, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, ten.]

September 5, 2002
Today at school auditions were held for the play “Lend Me a Tenor.” I was so nervous as I sat in the auditorium. When I first came in I was shaking so badly that I had difficulty maintaining composed speech as I asked general questions. I excused myself to use the bathroom and peed, quickly going back to the auditorium and trying to be confident. I kept repeating in my head, “It’s already yours, it’s already yours.” I wasn’t trying to be self-centered or conceited, just confident so that I wouldn’t mess up. I then had to run back to the bathroom to apply deodorant. I was so nervous sitting there. At first I couldn’t find a partner, but then a Junior girl came up to me and told me that she needed a partner. I said that I would be her partner. However, as we watched couple after spectacular couple walk up onto the stage, the girl decided that she didn’t want to audition. I tried to talk her out of it, saying that it was better to try than to not try at all. I told her, “The worst that can happen is that you don’t get the part.” But she wouldn’t listen. And I myself was a little intimidated. The girls that stand out in my mind are a blonde, who was exceptionally good. She moved around the stage, yelling and throwing her arms in the air. The other girl was a foreign exchange student from Germany. Not only was she reading and speaking in another language, but she was also adding an Italian accent onto her English! And her acting was incredible! The girl who I think will certainly get a main part is a Hispanic (or I believe she was Hispanic) girl who blew me away with her acting skills. There were about three very good boys that I could remember. When my turn came to go up, my partner stayed behind and another girl went up with me. I think that I did fairly well, although my partner (well, the girl who was supposed to be my partner) said that she didn’t think I’d get it. One boy complimented me, and two girls. I still have doubts. Dad told me to have faith, and I do; the end result, all of it is all in God’s hands.

September 6, 2002

Oh Timeless Father lights Above,
Oh glorious Embers of Origin,
Oh Maternal flames of Life
Bearing me eons ago
Oh vast expanses of unmeasured passions
Oh fiery Birth
Siphon of all Existence
Loving, loving God, my Creator
Oh Life
Oh Divine Fate
My heart beats with the fire of Devotion and Love when I look upon thee
Oh mysterious Eternities of Brightness
Will Fate make us destined to come together again?
Or Forever will we proceed obliviously in insignificance?
Oh Unmasked Purity, will we meet again?
Oh Soul of Humanity!
Oh Endless Visage of Being!
Will we meet again?
Oh unparalleled magnificence!
Oh Heavenly artwork!
Will we meet again?

September 7, 2002
I was so inspired yesterday evening after looking at the starts that I felt as if I had to write something down, that I had to express my feelings. I didn’t make the play. No Freshmen made the play. No comment on that “coincidence.” I was a bit disappointed, but my father told me not to be intimidated. And I’m not. Instead, I’m grateful for the experience, because it renewed in me something that I hadn’t felt in four years. As I said, I was very nervous waiting in the crowd. But as soon as I got onto the stage this feeling overcame me, and I felt so comfortable, and it seemed so perfectly natural that I should be there on stage. It felt so good, like a high almost. Although I’ve never been high, I’m sure it must feel very good. However, I’ll stick to acting highs and things like that. Artist, artistka. [Translation from Russian: Actor, actress.] I can now count to one hundred in Russian. I will go by tens:

[Translation from Russian:
One hundred]

Now, I must learn a new number: two hundred. Dvyesti. [Trsnaltion from Russian: Two-hundred.] Oh, also, yesterday I met a boy from Oil-Producing-South-American-County named Paco. His English wasn’t very good so we spoke Spanish most of the time and English for a little bit. Fue divertido! Hablar espanol con una persona espnola! Paco tiene cuarenta anos, como yo. Pero el es bajo! El tiene pelo negro y corto. Tambien, el dice que yo tengo un acento Americano cuando hablo espanol. Yo pregunto si hay terroristas en, Oil-Producing-South-American-County y el dice “No!” Nosotros hablamos sobre el once de septiembre. El dice que el fue aqui, en los Estados Unidos en el once de septiembre. La aniversaria es este miercoloes. Asi triste. Este noche, a las siete de la noche en la television, hay una programa sobre el once de septiembre en chanel once, yo creo. Lo se llama, “Native State Recuerda.” [Translation: It was so much fun! To speak Spanish with a Spanish person! Paco is fourteen, like me. But he’s short! He has short black hair. Also, he says that I have an American accent when I speak Spanish. I asked him if there are terrorists in Oil-Producing-South-American-County, and he said, “No!” We talked about September 11th. He says that he was here, in the United States, on September 11th. The anniversary is this Wednesday. So sad. Tonight, at seven o’clock, there’s a program on television, on channel eleven, I believe, about September 11th. It’s called “Native State Remembers.”]

September 10, 2002
Tomorrow is September 11th. I can’t believe it. It feels as if it was only yesterday that I was sitting in school, terrified, as it happened. I had begged my mother to take us to Hick State that day, I was so frightened. Oh, no! I just received a telephone call from my Aunt Ostentatious! My grandmother Hick Family is in the hospital! Well, she was supposed to be, because she’s getting surgery, and now I think that they believe she might die. I feel absolutely terrible! Powell and Idiot Cousin and just about everyone used to mock her but it was all quite good-natured and now she might die. Grand Pa is terribly upset, as is understandable as they fought terrifically of late. I’ve gotten ahold of Dad, but it took me the longest time. And anyone has yet to get ahold of my mother. It’s absolutely ridiculous how hard they are to reach. If something were to happen to one of us we would never be able to reach our parents in time, and we would just have to call 911 instead. Our embassies in both Malaysia and Indonesia have been temporarily shut down due to terrorist threats. Also, our government has raised to Terror Code from Yellow, which it has been at since March, to Orange, which means that there is “a high risk of a terrorist attack.” I’m not exactly sure what Yellow was, but I know it was something like a mild risk, or so I believe. Code Red, obviously, is the most extreme threat level. I had the most odd dream that my parents loaded us all into a car and began to drive, saying that they wanted us to get away from the East Coast. We stopped in Midwestern State for some reason and I told a boy that I met why we were there. And he said, “But nothing’s going to happen on the East Coast. Something has to happen on the West Coast.”

Air defense systems have been deployed around Washington, D.C. The Pentagon is considering arming them with missiles, and in Bahrain our forces are on Alert Level Delta. What is going on? Now we’re worried about suicide bombings in the Middle East. The Attorney General is on television saying that we have “specific information.” The Vice President has just been taken to an “undisclosed location.” Also, he’s canceled a speech in Washington, D.C. for tonight. They’re saying that the threat seems to be mostly overseas, but they’ve also been saying something else. On September 10, 2001, they also thought that there might be overseas attacks last year, and then look what happened. The President is at the Afghan Embassy in Washington, D.C. He’s supposed to address the media, soon I hope.

Green: Low
Blue: Guarded
Yellow: Elevated
Orange: High
Red: Severe

Ah, here’s the President. He looks as if he’s been weeping! Oh, this is all quite terrible. He’s such a good man, our President!

September 11, 2002
*September 11, 2001*
It seems more unbelievable to me now than it did then. Or not so much unbelievable as horrible. How could those huge buildings have collapsed? How could it be? The buildings were finished in either 1971 or 1973, and they were magnificent. They sound like the kind of place that I would have enjoyed working in. We had a discussion about September 11th in our Government class today. It’s so sad. For some reason I have this image of a Christmas party in one of the towers. I wish that it had never happened. All of the stories are so sad, particularly the stories of some of the Pentagon families. It doesn’t seem like a year. Things that happened to me more recently seem farther off. I’ve noticed that some of the television specials today, such as the one that my parents were just watching on the History Channel, have ceased showing pictures of the planes hitting the buildings. This is good. I want to go to New York City one day. I want to see the New York Stock Exchange on Wall Street. Maybe business would be a good avenue for me. I’ve wanted to be an actor for a very long time but I find that I’m not very good at it. Well, I wouldn’t say that I’m not good but I’m certainly not as good as I thought I was. Maybe I can still do it, who knows? Whatever I do, I mustn’t be middle or lower class. My life must be luxurious. I must have a wife and children, and we all must be very happy. I think about the future often when I am alone and with no other distraction. I think about the future so much so that I can motivate myself to do well. I found myself wondering today how long this country of ours will last.

September 15, 2002
Our President has gone before the United Nations to rally support for a strike against Iraq. I believe that we’ve won over Russia and Norway, at least. Iraq has promised an attack against Israel if Israel aids the United States in invading Iraq. In 1991, during the Persian Gulf War, Iraq fired dozens of SCUD missiles into Israel. Israel has promised to retaliate if Iraq attacks. Today has been a lazy, lazy day. I got up and ate and dressed and cleaned up my room a bit. Then Powell had to go help Dad at work and Mom and Thomas went grocery shopping, so I was left by myself for a few hours. I ate some soup (I love soup) and called Grand Ma (Normal Family) and then I had some Reecees. Mom hid these from us because we like them so and she says that we eat them all and that there are none left for lunches. I’ve discovered this hiding place in the pantry, in a glass ceramic jar that has a Southwestern pattern on the outside. I dare not reveal this to Mom, or she will hide them somewhere else. And do you believe t, she lied to me! Just to see if she was really hiding them, I asked her when she had a few out, “Where did you get those? I thought we were all out.” And she said, “These are the last ones.” Ha! Kind Gothic Girl came here last night. She has just turned fifteen but is still a Freshman because she failed last year. People misjudge her and think that she is a Goth, but truly, she isn’t. She seemed so sad last night as she spoke of depression, and she looked as if she might cry. She hinted that she thought she might be clinically depressed. Also, when I said that I couldn’t understand people our age who commit suicide over depression and social rejection, she said something that alarmed me: “Some people feel like they don’t have any other choice.” As soon as she left I asked Powell if he thought that she was suicidal, and he said no and acted as if I’d asked him something stupid. I hate how he reacts to some things. Honestly, if I didn’t know any better I’d say that he was stupid.

September 20, 2002
I’m sorry for having not written in so long. Lo siento para no eschucho [meant to say “no escribo,” translating to, “I’m sorry that I didn’t write” rather than “I’m sorry that I didn’t listen.”] I asked Math Class Girl to Homecoming. She told me that another boy had asked her, and that she wasn’t sure if she’d even go with a date at all. And now Blonde Girl wants me to go with her—again. I remember the disaster that that caused last winter, and I’m not sure that I’m ready for that again. Rich Girl told me that it would be stupid to go without a date, so I might not go at all. There is another girl that I would ask, she goes by the nickname of Government Class Girl. She’s cute and seems very smart, also she’s friends with me but I don’t know her nearly well enough to ask her. My Government project is due next week. Mi proyecto de la clase de gubernacion, mi maestro necesita este projecto en este viernes. [Translation: My teacher needs my Government project this Friday.] I’ve just finished making an election ballot which gives you the following problem to solve in order to vote for Al Gore: 3(x+y)-43*8/ 9/10+ 1(1-141)*x10-2/ y * [Pi] + the absolute value of the palindrome of 879. My teacher thinks that Al Gore was the rightful winner of Presidential Election 2000. I think that perhaps Al Gore should legally have won, however I also think that George W. Bush is an excellent President, and I am happy that he is in office. Tomorrow, Mom’s Old Best Friend, Military Man (her husband), Wide-Eyed Girl (their cute little daughter), and Older Hispanic Woman (la mujer de Mom’s Old Best Friend, ella es de Impoverished Country y ella habla espanol. De vez en cuando yo no puedo comprender su ingles, asi, yo quiero hablar en espanol con ella [Translation: Mom’s Old Best Friends’s mother, she’s from Impoverished Country and she speaks Spanish. Sometimes I can’t understand her English, so I want to speak Spanish with her.]). Did I mention that I stayed after for math class today? I didn’t want to fail my Chapter 2 Test (which I will be taking Monday) and now I think that I’ll pass the test. My Algebra teacher is so nice, she’s so short and tiny, and she has this tiny, cheerful little voice. She’s the perfect little teacher. Ella es baja y ella tiene una cabeza pequena. Ella es muy simpatica. Ella ayuda yo con my trabajo de matematicas, pues, con algebra. [Translation: She is short and she has a small head. She is very nice. She helps me with my math work, well, with my algebra work.] The weather was so nice outside tonight. It was cool outside. Until recently it was cold in the house, because my father gets hot very easily and he keeps the house like an icebox. My mother can’t stand it. But in the winter, which will soon be upon us, he relents.

September 21, 2002
I’m so insulted! My father has refused [Code began here] to allow me to sit in the dining room with the adults! [Code ended here] I was simply outraged, and I still am! I am an intelligent human being, and yet he denounces my society because of my age, saying, “Yo no quiero escuchar el opinion de una persona quien tiene solo cuarenta anos.” [Translation: “I don’t want to hear the opinion of someone who’s only fourteen years old.”] He said this in English of course, but it’s so degrading and insulting that I’m too embarrassed to write it in English! Doesn’t he understand that because of my age that the forced society of younger siblings (one of whom acts like an idiot, the other of whom throws punches when contradicted) bores me? Yo necesito hablar con personas quien tiene mas anos. Me gusta hablar con mis amigos, pero nos de mis amigos estan aqui ahora! Que es porque yo debo voy con las personas quien tiene mas anos! [Translation: I need to talk with people who are older. I like talking to my friends, but none of them are here right now. That is why I need to go with the adults!] It’s such pretentious bullshit! In school, I am so sociable! I often find myself surrounded by friends, and we speak, well, [Code began here] like any adults. We speak of world affairs and things like that. [Code ended here] The fact that I have attained such a social standing makes this even more degrading. Perhaps if I were an idiot this would be understandable. And do you know, even my mother agreed to it! She suggested it, and he said no. The last time this happened, I remember vividly. We had just moved in. Anyway, we were also having company that night, and I was so offended that [Code began here] I wouldn’t that I wouldn’t come downstairs at all for dinner. Eventually, though, my Grand Ma came into my room and she convinced me to come down and eat at the kids’ table. [Code ended here] Now, I’m honestly thinking about doing the same thing tonight. Except, of course, for the last part. Necesito hablar con mi papa sobre este situacion. Estoy muy enojado, muy enojado a mi papa. Este es una cosa cruel hacer. Estoy mas entonces enojado! [Translation: I need to talk with my father about this situation. I’m very angry, very angry with my father. This is a cruel thing to do. I’m more than angry!] However, I need to control myself. I shall speak with him. Oh, hopefully I can just enjoy this evening. And now he just sits downstairs, and the almost-funny part is that he probably doesn’t even know he has upset me. That angers me further, the fact that he has probably already dismissed the entire situation.

I have won. With adult intervention and perhaps the hand of Providence, I have won. Poor Ms. Older Hispanic Woman (Mom’s Old Best Friend’s mother, who is from Impoverished Country) is ill and couldn’t make it. My mother insisted that we move two chairs into the dining room and seat everyone there. My father didn’t object at all, which is odd, because just moments hence of that I told him how mortified and offended I was. He rudely replied that he didn’t care. Mom, however, took sympathy, something I don’t often see her do, and she intervened. This evening promises to be an interesting one. I wonder if politics will come up, as there is a terrible mess going on in Israel even as I write this. They’ve invaded Palestinian territory due to suicide attacks and are bombing Yaseer Arafat’s Ramallah headquarters. They’ve caused several buildings to collapse. Yaseer Arafat, now that his own life is in danger, has told the Palestinians, well, the terrorists who happen to live in Palestinian territory, to stop their attacks against Israel.

Around 10:20p.m.
It’s as if I’ve traded a victory for a defeat. Mom’s Old Best Friend stayed until past nine o’clock. Her baby daughter is absolutely adorable, and she cooed and we all made a fuss over her. They all left, and to my delight Mom’s Old Best Friend and I did not quarrel. It was after they left that things got bad. We were all watching South Park, but it was deemed inappropriate for Thomas and Dad changed. He stopped on a station that was broadcasting a live performance of some old country singer. Whereas the cause for the concert was very good, the music was terrible. I was just putting my popcorn in the microwave and I heard Powell remark about how he hated the music. Dad said jokingly, “Well, then go to bed.” I said from the microwave, also jokingly, “You go to bed.” He flew into a fury of words, saying that I shouldn’t talk to him or any adult like that. I insisted that I was sorry and tried to bargain, but he called me a “smart ass” and said that he didn’t “give a shit” about what I had to say. He ordered me up to bed. When I resisted, he seemed ready to physically strike me, so I went up quickly, feeling ashamed of myself for letting my rights be violated. I quickly reviewed the 1st Amendment in my head. I hadn’t used fighting words, I hadn’t used obscenity, I hadn’t advocated the violent overthrow of the U.S. government, and I hadn’t incited clear or present danger or used slander. Even at the age of fourteen, my rights are guaranteed. My rights have been violated. I feel a mixture of anger and confusion. This time, though, I’m going to hold this against him. I’m going to try to go as long as possible tomorrow speaking with everyone else normally, but not with him. I think I’ll ask this school week what would happen if I reported this violation of my rights. And then I think I might report it.

September 23, 2002
Dad let me off last night so I decided not to report it. However, I now have another violation. I’ll go into that later. Fall has crept up on us, it seems literally over night. Last night it was so hot and stuffy, I couldn’t get to sleep. Powell came in to keep me company and we joked about Dad’s, well, the name of Dad’s kindergarten teacher, Mrs. Yankoff. I am not kidding. Powell and I pondered her first name. I said that it might be Ima. Oh, by the way, I found out that the Wack guy’s first name is Censored-So-My-Readers-Can’t-Figure-Out-Where-I’m-From. Anyway, after Powell left, I heard it raining outside. I finally opened my window in frustration. Slight breezes came in every once in a while, and it felt so good because of all the heat that I had been enduring. I thought that I heard someone crying. I heard this little whimpering. I could have sworn that it was Thomas. But when I went to check on him he was sound asleep. So I went back to bed and I heard it again. So I closed my window. I discovered that the sill and blinds were covered with rain. The sound became less audible, but I still heard it. For a moment I thought that I was going crazy, but it went away. I suppose that it was something outside. This morning in school I saw my guidance counselor about a scholarship for a foreign exchange program. She’s getting the names of a bunch of exchange programs (all credible of course) with vague descriptions, and having me pick the ones that I think are best. Then she will give me more specific information on the ones that I picked. I have to see her again tomorrow. We did presentations in Inventions and Technological Advances of the 1930’s. My group also mentioned the collectivization that was going on in the Soviet Union at that time. Thanks to me. I’m the only one who knew what it was. At home, oh, wait, it was so beautiful. The sun was shining, but the air was already cool and crisp. That’s why I said that it’s as if the seasons have changed over night. I asked Dad how his day was and then I went in. Dad was working right over at Pole Humper [a boy]’s house. Anyway, I went back outside to ask for a soda and Dad told me that I needed to cut the grass. I did. I also did a terrible job on it. By the time I finished, Mom was home. I started my homework. Powell and I were having a conversation as we did our homework. Mom told me to go upstairs and do it at my desk. Well, there’s simply not enough room. I objected. I said “no.” She ordered me upstairs and announced that I would go to bed at 8:30p.m. I left the kitchen, put my backpack upstairs, and promptly went to tell Dad. I thought that he understood her tyrannical ways, because just days earlier he had said that he was sick of her giving “stupid” punishments. Not so. It was easy for him to say that to us, but while she was actually there he sided with her. She followed me outside and got him to side with her. I went out again and he told me to write five hundred sentences saying: My parents make the rules and I will obey them. I instead didn’t do it. I haven’t done it. When they left for the store I went out walking when I had finished my homework. I was out for quite a while. At least an hour, and I probably walked between three and five miles. I stopped, well, I came in once to get two poptarts, and then walked more. It felt so good to defy them. Oh, it felt so good. When I finally did get home, they were already there. Dad gave me an hour to complete my five hundred sentences, saying that I’d be punished all week if I didn’t. First of all, that would be nearly impossible. I haven’t started them and I don’t intend to. I feel for the first time as if I’m practicing what I believe in. I’m suffering, and I will suffer a week for my defiance, and for my use of Freedom of Speech. All because of the word “no.” I’d do it again, too. Snickers came home today. He was declawed. Midnight was so anxious to see him. She was sniffing him and following him around. Dad was convinced that she missed him. It made us all so happy. I saw Polaris (I’m not sure if I spelled that right), the North Star tonight. The sun was still setting as I saw it, and it was so magnificent. Amidst a blue, gold, pink, and purple sky one single, large star shone bright. I don’t believe that I’ve ever seen it like that before, or at least I can’t remember seeing it like that before tonight.

September 28, 2002
So much has happened. I’m sorry that I haven’t written. Today is Saturday. Let’s see, what’s happened to me for the last five days? Well, my English teacher has assigned us the most tedious project involving flash cards. Oh! I must tell you! I called Foreign Exchange Program today regarding scholarship information. A woman in Hippie State answered the telephone (it was free, though, as it was an 800 number) and we began by talking about the foreign exchange program but our conversation progressed into something else entirely. It was one of the most insightful conversations that I’ve ever had in my life. The woman was twenty-six years old. She had passionate views against capitalism, but also thought that everyone should be peaceful. She was not violently driven. She expressed deep criticism of the East Coast and our obsession with the stock market and the economy. I didn’t even get her name. What a deep thinker she was. The conversation even disturbed me a little. She even went so far as to say that she wished that Hippie State would secede the United States, although she said that she knew that it would never happen.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

A Prayer

I'd just like one day of light
A day for me to smile
All I do is cry inside
It's gone on for while

Why of all the people here
Who You could choose to smite
Did you pick defenseless me
To bury with Your Might?

I've prayed and prayed such coutless times
It's gotten me nowhere
Out of one catastrophe
And into more despair

These thoughts are wicked in my head
Lord, I apologize
My very blood is wicked, too
Acidic in my eyes

Can you see me as I am
Revolting and grotesque?
If you don't then all the rest
Will surely recompense

I've tried so hard and I've been good
I so dare to declare
So why then have You heaped on me
These burdens I can't bear?

Let me go God, give release
Deliver me again
I can't demand and so I beg
For finally, an end

Brief Update

In Mountain Town
Originally uploaded by BlackenedBoy

I don't have time for a full-length post at this exact moment, but I will try to get one up either later today or sometime tomorrow, after the Journals Section. You've probably noticed (or maybe you haven't) that August and July's sections are incomplete. I'm working on that. August is nearly done with and July will be coming along shortly after that.

The problem with journal entries from this period, from the summers of my childhood, is that they're often ungainly and maddeningly long. This is because, as a fourteen-year-old boy out of school and too young to legally work almost anywhere, I had very little to do, when I wasn't outside playing with my friends, but write in my journal.

This explains the lengthy descriptions given of War and Peace , which I was reading at the time and for the ridiculously detailed plot synopsis of which I apologize.

The truth is, the period that the journals are now entering was a very placid time of my life. From December of 2001, when we moved to Beautiful Town, to May of 2004, when we left, I was, save some bad incidents at home, a very happy and content person.

I opened up, blossomed, really came into my own as a person and saw my imagination soar as I reveled in my beautiful surroundings.

I don't think I've ever been as happy as I was then.

Beginning in May of 2004 the journals will begin to take on a very different tone, as that was a time of great upheaval and tumult for me and my family.

In the present, my job search goes on. I've driven out to Western City and scoured the mall there, but nowhere seems to want to give more than ten hours a week. It's the same story everywhere you look.

Later today I'm filling out an application for a coffee shop online, and recently I've applied to an ice-cream stand in town that needs someone to work about twenty hours a week. Given the price of gas, the proximity of the shop, and the comparatively great schedule, this looks like a very attractive option.

"Plus," my mother jokes. "You could get me free ice-cream!"

That momentary levity aside, my parents have hounded me viciously about my lack of employment, as if all of this is somehow my fault and I haven't been applying to every place of business I can think of since arriving home roughly ten days ago.

I have heard nothing back from the newspaper internship I've sought out, and I will have to contact them, along with National Coffee Chain (different from the coffee store whose online application I'll complete later this afternoon) and Local Restaurant.

On top of this, I'm trying to keep up with journals (both the archiving and writing in the current one), work periodically on my book, and possibly join a Congressional campaign. 2008 is the year to be a Democrat after all, and, apparently for me, the year to have a massive heart attack.

I have a big trip coming up in the middle of June that I'm looking forward to, but the onset of that welcome holiday only adds more urgency to the hunt for employment; if I don't have a job before I leave, it will be late June before I can start looking again and probably July before I can work.

God help me.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

A Note to Readers

My last actual post, "Returning to Mountain Town" is located below the August, 2002 Journals Section.

I've noticed that feedback, and thus, I assume, interest, is much lower for the journals than for normal entries, so I just wanted everyone to know that a genuine post is here.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Journals Section: August, 2002

Beautiful Town High School
Originally uploaded by BlackenedBoy

A note to readers: I truly apologize for the ridciulously detailed War and Peace descriptions. Skip ahead to the end of August to read about my first days in high school. August 25th and August 26th are those entries.

August 2, 2002
Last night was a romantic one. I had said that Idiot Cousin was thinking of dumping First Twin. Well she isn’t anymore. Last night the two of them wanted time alone and Idiot Cousin told me that she wanted to kiss First Twin. To French kiss him. So, they tried to be alone, but First Twin’s twin brother Second Twin wouldn’t stop following them. He brought up a case for his argument as to why he should see, saying that First Twin had seen him kiss a girl—when they were eight years old. Which was five years ago. Anyway, after more than an hour of talking with Second Twin, we were finally able to get him to go away. I allowed First Twin and Idiot Cousin to use my backyard, and as they sat looking up at the stars after talking awhile they French kissed. [Code began here] Also, Idiot Cousin says that she put her hand on his balls (that is, testicles), but I’m not sure if I believe that that is the truth. [Code ended here] Tambien, ella (mi prima Idiot Cousin) dice que ella tiene su mano en los “bolas” de First Twin, pero yo no se que yo creo que que es verdad. However, I am quite sure that they kissed. Yo quiero una chica inteligente, bonita, comical, y romantica. Estoy triste, y si, un poco de celoso cuando veo las romanticas de otras personas, pero no de mi prima y mi amigo en particular, solo el idea de cosas romanticas.

Cinco minutos despues de este
Aye aye aye. You so el cuarto de bano solo menos de un minute ahora. Hay mucho caga en el cuarto de bano despues you uso el cuarto de bano. Es asi comical. Anyway, back to what I said, sobre como estoy triste cuando veo las romanticas de otras personas. For example, what I saw on television today. I saw a girl named Hillary Duff, with a boy, Frankie Muniz, having a romance, what I long for. Acting on television, which I pray for, and in California, one of the places that I adore most in the world. Seeing such happiness, seeing such beautiful people, brought something out in me. A terrible longing, and a desire to be and to live and such heartbreak and happiness and desire all at once that my words don’t do justice to it.

August 3, 2002
I am more profoundly loved than I would have thought possible. We are in Hick State, and have been here for about an hour. A pleasant surprise was that Lanky Girl, Short Boy, and Neighbor Mother have come with us. We planned to ride the four-wheelers, all of us, but Inbreeder Cousin [a woman] and Aunt Lesbian took Idiot Cousin’s. Idiot Cousin’s mother did not give Aunt Lesbian permission, and Idiot Cousin is furious, saying, “I don’t want her fat ass on my four-wheeler.” I’m not sure if she is referring to Aunt Lesbian or Inbreeder Cousin, but Inbreeder Cousin has gained a noticeable amount of weight. Also, Inbreeder Cousin and Aunt Lesbian are back together again, to the distress of many. You see, on top of being lesbian lovers, Inbreeder Cousin and Aunt Lesbian are first cousins. Well, they do live in Southern State. [Code began here] This is a constant source of humor between Idiot Cousin, Powell, and I. And they are so fat, like elephants! [Code ended here] Powell, Idiot Cousin, y yo pensamos que este es muy comical, y ellas (Inbreeder Cousin y Aunt Lesbian) son asi gordas, como elefantes! However, despite everything, they can be nice sometimes (even Aunt Lesbian!). Oftentimes, Aunt Lesbian will override her kindness with idiocy and barbarism, though. Mas del tiempo, Aunt Lesbian es cruel, pero de vez en cuando ella puede ser simpatica. They have brought the four-wheeler back. I’m not sure where the others are. I’m hungry. I stayed up late last night reading War and Peace, and I was truly touched. The Rostovs have fled Moskva, which is now burning. Pierre had tayed with the intention of assassinating Napoleon, but instead has saved the life of a French officer whom he befriends! Also, Natasha has discovered that Prince Andrei was with them (Sonya told her) and is nursing him. They have fallen back in love. However, Pierre is still in love with Natasha! Helene is trying to divorce him. The year is 1812. Aunt Ostentatious, Grand Pa Hick Family, and Uncle Schizophrenic are all celebrating their birthdays this weekend. Uncle Schizophrenic is forty years old. That is very sad.

Well, things are getting better. We played Run-Down and then a game of touch football. Then, Powell went to grab Idiot Cousin and accidentally shoved her too hard, knocking her right into the dirt. She got mad and jumped onto her four-wheeler (after stopping briefly at her trailer) and thus the pursuit began. We (Short Boy, Lanky Girl, Powell, Thomas, Friendly Cousin, and I) had already been on four-wheelers, and it was fun. We went through grassy paths and valleys, over smooth roads and bumpy ground. When, after an hour or so, we finally came back, Idiot Cousin went into the pavilion. My mother, Aunt Ostentatious, grandfather, and Neighbor Mother were there. I entered. That was when the situation went from invigorating to insulting. Primero, mi mama—mi mama!—dice, “El es como una chica con su pelo, no? Y entonces, hay referencias a mis experiencias romanticas. [Translation: First, my mother—my mother!—said, “He looks like a girl with his hair, doesn’t he?” Then everyone started making fun of my history with girls.] [Code began here] Everyone thought it was hilarious that I’ve never French kissed a girl. I’m already insecure about that enough. And then my mother made fun of my eyebrows. [Code ended here] Yo pregunto mi papa para mesos para la cosa para mi problema (que es el razon que my familia me sonrien), pero el tiene este cosa! El no compra lo! [Translation: I asked my father for the things for my problem (the reason that my family laughs at me), but he didn’t have it! He didn’t buy it!] I am so scared and excited at the same time about starting high school this year. I hope that I’ll be liked well, and that I enjoy and do well in my courses, [Code began here] and I hope that I get a girlfriend this year. [Code ended here]

August 5, 2002
Ju trever une femeaux amigeaux! Ju de net tejun une femeaux amigeaux, i Ju trever une femeaux amigeaux! Ju cresteria une nove lajujeaux. Lezaufauenest met lajujueaux! Ju tejun une lajujeaux! That is my own language, which I have been working on this evening. I’m not sure what to call it yet. Met nobreveaux c’est BlackenedBoy. My name is BlackenedBoy. I didn’t write anyore after I arrived in Hick State, and I am just starting up again. As I said, both Inbreeder Cousin and Aunt Lesbian were there, and Inbreeder Cousin’s son Poor Boy was there. This boy was rustic, a “hillbilly” in every sense of the word. Thomas commented that he looked like a squirrel. One thing I know is that he either drives ferociously terribly, or he did, at one point or another, try to cause all of us to wreck. There was a confrontation with Aunt Lesbian and Idiot Cousin on Saturday night. In the end, Aunt Lesbian said “Fuck you!” to Idiot Cousin, and then Idiot Cousin’s mom got involved. Such yelling. And in front of Neighbor Mother! Mom was appalled. I’m not exactly sure what Neighbor Mother thought of it all, but I’m willing to bet that she disapproved. Speaking of disapproval, I now know that my grandfather Hick Family doesn’t approve of my father. My father may be getting a new job. He would be doing sales (construction sales) in Native City. He says that he could potentially make a lot of money. On the way home Powell and I saw signs for the House of Delegates election saying “Vote Wack.” We began making jokes, and I said that if his first name was Richard we could call him Dick Wack. Powell and I became nearly hysterical, and my mother began to get angry. While getting out of the car I couldn’t resist and I said that if it were a woman her name should be Anita Wack. Powell and I were crying at this point. Although he can be terrible sometimes, he can also be very good. I love my brother Powell and at the same time I dislike him. Amo mi hermanito Powell, y tambien no me gusta a el. [Code began here] I love my brother Powell, and at the same time I dislike him. [Code ended here] Je amereauxvous met iso Powell, i a’ut simplein o’rastineaux Ju negustiran bemeaux. He did a bad thing “yesterday.” He cursed at me, saying “fuck” in front of many little children, and my Aunt Retard heard and told my mother, who has punished him. I am glad, and I hope that if he does it again he’ll get punished again. I did not read any of War and Peace while in Hick State, which seems odd as there was so little else to do. The most fun was at night, when we played tag and lit fireworks. We all threw rocks, trying to knock the fireworks sideways. We were caught doing this and ordered to stop, so Idiot Cousin threw a rock at Aunt Lesbian’s butt, which Idiot Cousin says hit but which Aunt Lesbian didn’t feel. Idiot Cousin is gone now, back in Dirty Town. Strangely enough, no one really seems to miss her. She was occasionally funny but was awfully bratty. I will miss her shockingly large farts, however. I have never heard (or smelled, for that matter) farts so large. And from such a small girl! Met Pepepeaux, Mememeaux, iso Thomas, i Ju gustira Idiot Cousin, i a’ut simplein o’rastineaux nelleaux de net gustira femeaux. I love my family.

August 6, 2002
“Yesterday” (it is about one o’clock in the morning) was a very inactive day for us personally, but an active day for the world. C’est one sera ceaux lezaufau dawna. Powell and Thomas were punished harshly “yesterday” for fighting. They are grounded for two weeks, during which time they will not be allowed to leave the house, or, for most of the time, their rooms. They will have to go to bed early. They will have a regular breakfast and dinner but a lunch of bread and water. Que fue “ayer” tambien, y asi yo tengo dulces, y yo digo a mi hermanito Powell, “Aqui, tu puedes comer este comida, pero Papa y Mama no pueden saber.” [Translation: That was “yesterday” as well, and so I too candy and said to Powell, “Here, you can eat this, but don’t tell Dad and Mom.”] [Code began here] I snuck Powell some candy today while he was punished. [Code ended here] President Bush met with the nine rescued Pennsylvania miners today. Dad says that he used it as a political tool (Dad actually used the word “ploy”) for his war on terrorism. I don’t know if anyone else saw it that way. My father then went on to criticize Bush’s intelligence with the comments he made after the bombing of a bus in northern Israel. “‘I am just as mad as Israel right now. I am furious. But through my fury—and keep in mind I’m mad—I still believe that there can be peace.’” Now, I underlined one part because I’m not sure if Bush actually said it or if Dad fabricated it. I really don’t see what was so wrong with the statements. Dad also criticized Bush’s use of the English language in general (American English, of course), saying that it is “a far cry from correct.” Yo pienso que el presidente de los Estados Unidos es una persona buena, y yo no se porque mi papa no piensa que tambien. [Translation: I think that the President of the United States is a good person, and I don’t know why my father doesn’t think that, too.] My father went on to criticize the entire United States government and the wealthy, causing my father and I to engage in a political debate. Met iso Powell trever aut flever deaux ze beauxen querer, ou aut bereaux televeaux. Met Pepepeaux de trever met iso Powell aut irlloniceaux aut Decaying State Amusement Park. Nelleaux irlloniceaux aut Decaying State Amusement Park novnuedeveaux. Lezaufauenest c’est met lajujeaux. Lanky Girl, Short Boy, and Neighbor Mother will probably go with us tomorrow, well, “today.” Neighbor Father is said to be in a “bad mood.” Short Boy and Lanky Girl’s half-brother is there now. He is in college or late high school I believe, or perhaps in between. The boy is a dork, and probably a virgin.

August 7, 2002
Cela vous fait ingt-deux francs cinquant. It means, “That will be 22,50 F (francs)” and for some reason that saying is stuck in my head. Ju tejun une cheveaux sicar autnuedeveaux. I had a haircut today. I have been dreading this for some time, as when I have previously done this throughout my teenage years it has turned out disastrously. My hair would just start to grow long, I would go for a trim, and come back with my short hair. My father called me today and told me that we were going to get haircuts. Oddly enough, the first thing that popped into my mind was a sentence from War and Peace: “The last day of Moscow dawned.” In War and Peace this was said as the French armies under Napoleon advanced on the ancient Russian capital of Moscow (or, as the Russians call it, “Moskva”) and the last day of that great city (before it burned, although oddly enough, the Russians did this, not the French) dawned (also oddly enough, very near, within a few days as a matter of fact, of September 11th, which is odd because terrible destruction happened that same day in New York City on that date in 2001). I imagined that the last day of my hair had dawned. Actually, it didn’t really turn out that way at all, although I had expected it to. I had more than two inches cut off of the back, but that was at my own will. Six months ago, I never would have done that. However, I noted that having long hair in the back has become increasingly unfashionable. Having very long hair in the front and long hair (but shorter than your front hair) in the back is fashionable, and makes me look better. My hair in the back is now shorter, but I had to make some sacrifices as I had no length taken off of the front. The result makes my hair look overly big, but by the time school has started it will have grown out long enough to reduce that effect. And at least now I’m not nervous waiting for my next haircut. If I’m lucky and Dad holds up his bargain, I won’t get another one until November. Yo no quiero un corto de pelo ahora, pero quiero a tener un corto de pelo en noviembre de dos mil y dos, entonces yo quiero pelo largo, y yo no qiero pelo corto. [Translation: I don’t want a haircut now, but I do want one in November of 2002. After that I want long hair, not short hair.] [Code began here] I do not wish to have short hair. I wish to have long hair. [Code ended here] Ju scribeaux toshtinau’lait ze lezaufauenest ceaux met diaboconprivat.

August 8, 2002
It is late at night, around 11:30p.m. Saddam Hussein was on television in Iraq today, saying that any United States attack on that nation was doomed and that that “evil” American forces would “dig their own graves.” My father and I were watching the news, and he laughed when he heard this, saying, “Saddam Hussein is a bigger idiot than Bush.” I don’t think that President Bush is an idiot. Yo no pienso que President George W. Bush es un idioto. Yo pienso que el es un hombre muy inteligente y tambien, si el no es inteligente, pienso que el es una persona buena y ama los Estados Unidos. [Translation: I don’t think that President George W. Bush is an idiot. I think that he’s an intelligent man, and, if he’s not intelligent, I think that he’s a good person and that he loves the United States.] The White House has essentially laughed at Saddam’s little speech. I think that we will probably attack. Saudi Arabia has refused to allow us to launch attacks from within their borders. Apparently we’ve been moving equipment to Qatar. Tensions are flaring between China and Taiwan. The Chinese are so pretentious. Beijing claims to own Taiwan, even though it has its own president and a different form of government (democracy vs. communism). China is outraged because the Taiwanese president said that China and Taiwan are both independent nations. Taiwan has canceled some war games and now China threatens a possible invasion. Now this is where we come in. The United States has promised to protect Taiwan from a Chinese invasion (oddly enough, no one in the international community seems to have considered or is worried about this, least of all the United States. Relations between Washington, D.C. and Taipei remain excellent). Si Chin ataca Taiwan, los Estados Unidos dice que lo va a ayudar Taiwan. Taiwan es una isla con una sistema gobierno de una republica democratica. China no tiene una sistema gobierno como este. I cut a lawn today. I made thirty dollars, which, when I deposit it, will bring y third bank account, the one I myself have built, to $276.36 and whatever new interest I accumulate. That’s $276.36 to the some $8,000.00 I will need to go to Russia in 2003. Speaking of Russia, here is what is happening in War and Peace: Countess Elena Bezukhof (more commonly known to her friends as Helene) died of a disease that she contracted shortly after trying to divorce Pierre and marry two other men at once. No foul play (at least on Pierre’s part) took place. Moscow has been abandoned and burned, with most of Muscovites of high society fleeing to St. Petersburg. Pierre does not yet know of Helene’s death. He is secretly in love with Natasha Rostov (although she doesn’t know it) and she is once again in love with Prince Andrei Bolkonsky. Pierre amereauxvous Natasha Rostov, i Natasha Rostov amereauxvous Andrei Bolkonsky. [Code began here] Pierre loves Natasha and Natasha loves Prince Andrei. [Code ended here] Pierre ama Natasha, pero Natasha no sabe que que Pierre ama a ella, y ella ama Andrei Bolkonsky, el hijo de Nikolai Bolkonsky y el hermano de Maria Bolkonsky. Maria Bolkonsky ama Nikolai Rostov, el hermano de Natasha, quien ama dos chicas: su prima Sonya, y Maria. [Translation: Pierre loves Natasha, but Natash doesn’t know it, and she loves Prince Andrei, son of Nikolai Bolkonsky and brother of Maria Bolkonsky. Maria Bolkonsky loves Nikolai Rostov, Natasha’s brother, who loves two girls: his cousin Sonya, and Maria] The year is 1812.

August 9, 2002
I am becoming increasingly glad that I did not allow the front of my hair to be cut, as I’m now realizing how long it is. It really looks great, long and golden. Ju amereauxvous met cheveaux. Amo mi pelo cuando lo es largo. [Translation: I love my hair when it’s long.] [Code began here] I love having such long hair. [Code ended here] For the first time in my life my hair bounces when I walk up a flight of stairs, and when I look down my hair doesn’t stay in one place! Sometimes it gets on my forehead (and I’m sure that it will later get in my eyes) but I don’t mind. Having to clear one’s hair out of one’s eyes every once in a while is a lot better than having an ugly poof for hair. Here is what is happening in War and Peace: Pierre Bezukhof has been taken prisoner by the French after rescuing a wealthy Muscovite girl from a burning building. That was not why he was arrested, however. He was arrested for attacking a French soldier who was trying to steal jewels from an Armenian girl. Pierre is nearly executed, but is spared. Meanwhile, as romance between Prince Andrei Bolkonsky and Natasha Rostov is reborn, Natasha’s brother Nikolai is falling fast for Andrei’s sister Maria Bolkonsky. Nikolai is in a town called Veronezh where he fled after Moscow was taken. One of Maria’s aunts is trying to arrange a marriage between the two. Meanwhile, through the persuasion of Countess Rostov, Sonya has written a letter to Nikolai freeing him from any agreements he had with her. Todo de este libro es muy interesante, y todas de las personas en este libro son asi como vida, con personalidades originales y imaginativas. [Translation: This whole book is very interesting, and all of the people in it are so lifelike, with original and imaginative personalities.] [Code began here] The novel War and Peace is an excellent book, perhaps the best that I’ve ever had the pleasure of reading. [Code ended here] I listened to the legal adviser to the Palestinian Liberation Organization on television today. She creates a powerful argument as to why the United States should aid the Palestinian people in gaining independence (I wonder why they don’t just declare themselves a separate country?) and why the international community should prosecute Israel for violation of human rights. Not that I am pro-terrorism, but I agree with her. I think that Palestine should be liberated. I believe that President Bush had an idea for a “provisional state” a while back. I wonder whatever happened to that idea? I certainly liked it, and still do like it, and I think it is probably one of the best solutions to the conflict. My novel, at some 218 pages currently (with more to be added) is coming along nicely. I plan to confer with my Aunt Smugly Superior tomorrow on how to get it published. My mother and grandmother told me that I should write about something else the next time I write a novel. It disturbed me to think that they don’t like my work. Their worst complaints are that the beginning is too confusing and that the plot in general doesn’t appeal to them. The plot appeals to others, though, so I’m mostly worried about the beginning being too confusing. I might have to add in a prologue.

August 10, 2002
I am filled with strong emotions. Excitement, ambition, among others. Today my family and I went out to dinner at Fruit Wasp restaurant, and the food was very good, much better than I would have expected, but that isn’t what has sparked and aroused such a passionate mix of emotions within me. When we got home, I was asked to walk the dog, which of course I did. As I had just started on a walk with Pebbles and was passing our neighbors’ house (not Lanky Girl and Short Boy, but Fat Woman and Skinny Man, the parents of Little Neighbor Girl and Little Neighbor Boy) when I noticed Skinny Man sitting outside. His sister is a model and has promised to get me a certain number, but she hadn’t gotten back to me. I asked him if he’d heard from her and he told me no, and I asked him if he could ask her about it when next he spoke with her. He then told me (without answering my question about whether or not he would speak with his sister, although it was hardly ignorant and I didn’t mind) that he ad seen something in the newspaper and that he’d see if he still had it. I finished walking Pebbles (she peed in someone’s flowers) and I brought her home. I then went back over to the neighbors’ house, where Thomas was playing outside with Little Neighbor Girl, and I rang the doorbell. Skinny Man answered, and I asked if he had the newspaper clipping lying around. He invited me in and began looking. I took him several moments and I was worried that he wouldn’t find it, but then he pulled something out, made a circle around a section with a green marker, and handed it to me. It read: “MODELS (this in the Classified Section of the Beautiful County Times) Children 2 years old thru adults of all ages. For local and national Catalogs, commercials, TV, NO experience necessary. Selections at 5p.m. or 7p.m. on Thursday, August 15th at the Old President Inn, Civil War Battlefield Town, Decaying State, 5 miles South on US Road. Models Net (***) ***-****. ext #***.” I am so excited about it! About even possibly going! The problem is that Dad’s work may not allow for him to take me and Mom will be in Deep South State. The sheer irony and coincidence of it makes me mad, as if I can never get a break. Dad has said that if his work allows for it, he’ll take me. I hope I go. I hope that I go. Dad told me once that if you just let go of your selfish desires and stop trying to control everything, and you have total faith that a higher power will do good things for you, if you have faith that good things will happen, then they will. Perhaps I should be listening to him.

August 11, 2002
I have learned that the drought crisis in the United States is called “La Nina.” Yo se que la condicion del agua de los Estados Unidos se llama “La Nina.” The opposite of La Nina is El Nino. Although I don’t know why (and I don’t believe my parents know this), both La Nina and El Nino mean “The Baby” in English. I’m glad when we don’t have rain, because the heat allows for my pool to get very warm. Even though the wildfires are very sad, they are hundreds, perhaps thousands of miles away from here, except for a mulch fire in Ghetto Town, and for all I know that may already have been put out. One threat that isn’t staying away from the East Coast, though, is the West Nile Virus. It’s killed seven people in Swamp State this summer (well, Swamp State is far away, but it’s not Swamp State that I mean) and has now turned up in Marble City Another thing that’s killing people in Swamp State is a serial killer who’s murdered three or four women. Oh, also, in War and Peace: Prince Andrei is dead. It’ so sad that he had fallen back in love with Natasha again, realized his incredible love for her and forgiven her for her affair with Anatol Kuragin, and then died. He himself said (or thought, whichever), “Can it possibly be? Can it be that Fate has so strangely brought us together again only that I might die? Can it be that the true meaning of life was revealed to me only that I might live in a lie? I love her more than all else in the world. But what can I do if I love her?” It is all terribly sad. I now know why Black Girl (aka, “Czarina Black Girl”) told me that she wept upon reading of Natasha and Andrei. At the time I had not known of the utter tragedy. When I read it, I, too, wanted to weep. Princess Maria Bolkonsky was with Natasha and Andrei in Andrei’s final moments. She had been in Veronezh when Nikolai Rostov brought her the news that Natasha and Andrei were reunited in Yaroslavl. She immediately set out for Yaroslavl with Mlle. Bourienne, Nikolusha (Prince Andrei’s son, the mother of whom was Lisa, who died giving birth to him in 1806) and Desalles (Nikolusha’s tutor). Nikolusha was able to say goodbye to his father. The poor boy is only six years old. He will probably live with and be raised by Princess Maria. Meanwhile, Natasha of course can no longer marry Andrei, and thus Nikolai and Maria will almost certainly wed. Maria and Natasha have now forged a sisterly bond, while Sonya (who gave Nikolai his freedom believing that he would never marry Princess Maria) is beginning to hate everyone. The year is 1812 (funnily enough, though still tragic, Anna Pavlovna, who is considered old, has outlived Prince Andrei, Lisa, and Helene).

August 14, 2002
There may be hope after all. Although the modeling situation has looked pretty hopeless (let’s face it) since I told my father about it. Short Boy had been trying to get Neighbor Mother to take him (and thus take me) but she told him that it costs $1,000.00 or something, which is not true as I called the place and got some information. I didn’t want a repeat of the Sham Modeling Industry incident. Anyway, Neighbor Mother said today that she won’t go, and, needless to say, I was disappointed. Then, today, Dad told me that he would pay me for watching Thomas this week. I told him that he didn’t have to. Then he called his work today and told them that he couldn’t go back in because his wife is out and no one is here with the kids (he also made two sales today, which is pretty good). Now, I feel a bit guilty about this, but if it starts my career off it’ll be a lot of benefit to my parents anyway. Manana, voy a decir a mi papa, “Yo no quiero dinero para cuidar para mi hermanito Thomas (actualmente, yo quiero dinero, pero asi que?). Asi, por favor, haces una cosa para mi. Llama tu trabajo y diga, “Yo no puedo trabajar este noche, porque de mis ninos, va a estar aqui. (O es ser, porque ella vive aqui?)” Yo voy a decir, “Por favor papa, como ayer? Yo quiero ser un modelo porque necesito mucho dinero asi yo puedo ir a Rusia y colegio. Por favor.” Lo no es manipulacion, es lo? Yo no se. Yo no quiero manupilar (yo no se que este es el verbo infinitive correcto) mi papa. Ahora mismo, mi hermanito Thomas el (mi papa) estan a National Movie Store y la biblioteca. Ellos van a la biblioteca porque yo quiero el libro “Ruso, Tan Hablamos Lo.” Mi gata gorda “Medianoche” (en ingles, “Midnight”) esta aqui con yo. [Translation: Tomorrow, I’m going to say to my father, “I don’t want money to watch Thomas [actually, I do want money, but so what?]. So, please, will you do me a favor? Call your work and say, “I can’t work tonight because my kids are here.” I’m going to say, “Please, Dad, can you do like yesterday? I want to be a model because I’ll need a lot of money so that I can go to Russia and college. Please.” This isn’t manipulation, is it? I don’t know. I don’t want to manipulate my father. Right now, he and my brother Thomas are at National Movie State and the library. They went to the library because I wanted the book, “Russian As We Speak It.” My fat cat Midnight is here with me.] My father and Thomas are at National Movie Store and the library right now. They are going to the library because I want the book, “Russian As We Speak It.” I already know a few Russian words, such as:
Yanvar: January
Dva: Two
Nyet: No
Dasvidanya: Goodbye
Shvibzik: Little imp
Batyushka: Dear little father
Matyushka: Dear little mother
Golyubchik: Dear little pigeon
Uralskiye Gori: Ural Mountains
Sibir: Siberia.
Hopefully by the end of this evening I’ll know a bit more. Midnight (one of my two beloved fat cats) was cuddling with me but left.

About 20 Minutes Later
I obviously spoke too soon. First of all, the library was closed. My father returned home with a movie (“Ladies’ Man”), beef jerky, and chocolate. He said that he’d had a good day, but he must be under stress. I tried my plan on him (el idea que possible es manipulacion [Translation: the idea that is possibly manipulation]) and he began yelling. Then he went into the sitting room to talk to my grandmother (Normal Family) on the telephone. Thomas began hogging the food. I tried to get some, and while he was trying to keep it from me he knocked his drink over (a Coca Cola). As I tried to clean it up, he sat there munching on chocolates, all arrogant and insolent, like such a brat. I grabbed the beef jerky and threw it in the trash. He whined terribly, then ran to the other side of the room, where he began to cry. Over beef jerky. Please. Even if he is only seven. I heard my father tell my grandmother that he’d call her back. He came in, asking, “What’s going on?” Through his tears (what a little brat!) Thomas told him what I had done. [Code began here] “What!?!” he [my father] yelled. “Why’d you do that?” He then shoved me very hard and proceeded to curse and yell. At one point he actually threw a chair. He started yelling about how terrible we all are. [Code ended here] “We” being his three children. [Code began here] Thomas and I were made to go upstairs. Then he let us come back down and he apologized (but not for hitting me) [Code ended here], but it’s too late, as the mood of the whole evening has been ruined. On top of that, Short Boy’s here, and so the family element is gone. I’m going to go down anyway. Perhaps things will get better. They seem better.

August 15, 2002
The news that would have saved me came just minutes ago, three hours too late. Fat Woman, our neighbor, said that, had I only asked, she would’ve taken me to Civil War Battlefield Town. I am so depressed. I can’t write right now. Estoy asi desilusianado, yo no puedo escribir ahora mismo.

August 17, 2002
People reentered Pentagon offices that had been destroyed on September 11th yesterday.

Around nine o’clock in the evening
I’ve been thinking a lot about September 11th lately, with the anniversary coming up. We just saw a special about it on television. I was in school that day. At first I didn’t think that it was that big of a deal. I’d never even heard about the World Trade Center before that day. I forced myself to cry, and I felt so guilty and terrible that I wasn’t crying anyway. It was about seven months before I could really just cry about it. Now it’s been almost a year and if I think about if for too long I start to cry. On television tonight it showed people jumping from the buildings. They looked so little. The air around the towers was just cluttered with little people falling and they were thrashing around in the air. It took them so long to hit the ground, and I felt my eyes well up with tears. And then they were showing Washington, D.C. and all of the people running and crying. It was all so terrible. It gave me a funny feeling, watching all of those people running from the Capitol and hearing the guard saying, “There’s a plane headed towards us.” And everyone was crying and those poor people, those brave people in Pennsylvania, I felt as if I was witnessing something momentous and terrible. El dia de once de septiembre de 2001 es un dia horrifico y tragica que voy a recorder para todo de mi vida. Muchas personas son muerten ahora porque de este dia. El meso despues este meso es el aniversario de las atacas. [Translation: September 11, 2001 was a horrific and tragic day that I’ll remember for the rest of my life. Many people are dead now because of that day. Next month is the one-year anniversary of the attacks.]

August 18, 2002
Well, although it’s not official yet, I have a sneaking suspicion that Mom doesn’t want me to go to Russia. Her partner French Man told her that Russia is filled with “high crime.” Anyway, that’ not what I’m going to write about right now. Friendly Cousin was here yesterday. Angela fue aqui ayer. She revealed some very interesting secrets about Idiot Cousin. For example, one goes like this: when Friendly Cousin was over Idiot Cousin’s house for two weeks, something happened. Idiot Cousin’s parents were at work, and Idiot Cousin mixed rum and Coke and started to drink very heavy quantities of it. She says that Idiot Cousin became very angry, and started spraying hairspray in Friendly Cousin’s face. She then demanded that she go to sleep, and when Friendly Cousin turned the television on very low, Idiot Cousin yelled something like, “Turn that [Code began here] fucking [Code ended here] thing off!” Idiot Cousin then proceeded to lock Friendly Cousin out of the house. I don’t believe that Friendly Cousin is fabricating this story at all, as I would expect nothing less of Idiot Cousin, who is hot-headed anyway. Also, Friendly Cousin told me that when she woke up Idiot Cousin claimed that she didn’t remember any of it. I don’t believe for one minute that Idiot Cousin doesn’t believe that that happened, or that she doesn’t remember. It sounds just like the kind of stupid thing that Idiot Cousin would do. I am sick to death of her, and Powell is, too. No one was sorry to see her leave here. Well, my mother perhaps. My father really didn’t care either way. She bullied Thomas, went through Powell’s things (and mine), and annoyed me. Although, there were two days when Powell wasn’t here, it was just Idiot Cousin and I, and we got along very well. When she isn’t acting like a brat or pretending that she has money (she may actually believe that, although I don’t see how she could, it’s quite obvious. She has created quite an illusion for herself) she’s really very funny. Oh, I got the book Russian As We Speak It, but it turns out that it was for people who already knew at least a little Russian. I’ll have to go back to the library sometime this week. I did learn some things, though. Here:
Kak vas zovoot? What is your name?
Minya zovoot BlackenedBoy (Davidovitch), maya familiya Our Family. My name is BlackenedBoy (Davidovitch) my surname is Our Family.

August 19, 2002
Around twelve-thirty a.m.
I have started reading a book called Romanov Autumn, which is about the last century of Imperial Russia. I’ve gotten four chapters into the book (the chapters being relatively long), and here is what has happened so far: During the Napoleonic Wars, Grand Duke Nicholas, son of Tsar Paul (assassinated) and brother of Tsar Alexander I, meets Princess Charlotte of Prussia. They fall in love and marry in 1817. They have a child, Alexander Nikolaeivitch Thay have another child, Maria Nikolaievna. Alexander I gives Alexandra Feodorovna (formerly Princess Charlotte of Prussia) the land of Peterhof to prevent her family from moving to Germany. Alexander I dies and Constantine and Nicholas throw the throne back and forth, with Nicholas finally accepting it in December of 1825. Decembrist Rising is put down. Nicholas and Alexandra have other children. Polish rebellion crushed. Granddaughter Alexandra dies. Tsarevitch Alexander II’s daughter Alexandra Alexandrovna dies. Alexandra Nikolaievna dies while giving birth in 1844. Nicholas I dies in 1855. Tsarevitch Alexander becomes Tsar Alexander II. Dowager Tsaritsa Alexandra Feodorovna dies in 1860. Tsaritsa Maria Alexandrova (wife of Alexander II) dies in 1880. Alexandria Peterhof passes on to Tsarevna Maria Feodorovna. Elena Pavlovna marries Grand Duke Mikhail Pavlovitch. Alexander II comes to the throne. Tsarevitch Nicholas Alexandrovitch dies before marrying Princess Dagmar of Denmark. Now, here is what is going on in the world: floods in the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Romania, Russia (and either Austria or Hungary, I’m not sure which) have ravaged Europe. Flooding has killed about fifty-six people in Russia, and about one hundred ten throughout all of Europe recently. Flooding has receded in the Czech Republic but intensifies in Germany. Also, a disturbing event in threatening Moscow. Washington relations. Apparently Russia is planning to sign a $14 billion economic package with Iraq. Right now we’re (we being the United States) thinking about invading Iraq. This is adding to my parents’ recent bout of anti-Russianism (well, not so much being anti-Russian, but being opposed to my going to Russia). Opposition has not been made official yet, but I’m sure that it will be sooner or later. Even my father seems a bit opposed. [Code began here] Powell and I have developed a system of money. Today I clocked in at: [Code ended here] 105 million RublesK. Oh, never mind that stupid thing. I shouldn’t have written about it in here. Only eight days until the start of school. The thought is depressing. Solo ocho dias y entonces escuela va a empezar para un otro ano. Pues, actualmente, para solo diez meses, no todo un ano en realidad, gracia a Dios para que. Cuando pienso sobre lo (escuela, no Dios) estoy desilusiando. Pero, yo se que la escuela va a ser divertido. [Translation: Only eight days until school starts for another year. Well, actually, for only ten months, not actually a whole year, thank God for that. When I think about it (school, not God), I’m depressed. But, I know that school will be fun.] Bozhe tsarya khrani! God Preserve the Tsar. It says it in the book Romanov Autumn. Oh, the poor Romanovs. With all that has happened to them, the poor Romanovs.

August 21, 2002
Terrible things! Terrible things! I am forbidden from going to Russia! My parents are convinced that it is not safe. Now I am looking at France as the possible place for my visit. Their school systems are impossibly hard. School runs Monday through Sunday, from 8:00a.m. to 5:00p.m. I am just going to save for a year and then try to convince my parents to let me go. Meanwhile, in War and Peace: Petya is dead. This came as a great shock to me, as he was only sixteen years old. He was with Denisof and Dolokhov when the Russians were leading a surprise raid on the French forces, and he was struck in the head with a bullet. When Countess Rostov found out she was banging her head against the wall! Sonya and some of the maids had to restrain her, and only Natasha could truly comfort her. Princess Maria (who had been staying with the Rostovs since Prince Andrei died) suspended her plans to leave them. Denisof is absolutely devastated. Meanwhile, among the Russian prisoners who had been with the French was Pierre Bezukhof (who, by all rights, should be dead). He had befriended a man named Karatayev (possibly his surname) who was later shot by the French when he became ill. The book is almost over. Petya’s death was surprising and sad. [Code began here] Poor Petya is dead. [Code ended here] Oh, I don’t want to go to France! I only know a little bit [of French] (well, more than what I know in Russian). Here it is:
Comment allez-vous? How are you? (formal)
Ca va? How are you? (informal)
Ca va! I’m fine
Je suis ca va tres bien. I’m very well
Merci. Thank you
Merci beacoup. Thank you very much
Qu’est-ce que vous voulez? What do you want?
Voulez-vous autre chase? Would you like anything else?
Avec ceci? Anything else?
Non. No
Ce cera tout. That will be all
Vous etes d’Etats Unis? Are you from the United States?
Vous etes d’ou? Where are you from?
Je suis d’Etats Unis. I’m from the United States
Une, deux, trois, quatre, cinq, six, sept, huif, neuf, dix; one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, ten

Actually, I probably know a little more than that, and I’m not sure if I got the numbers right. Alright, I’m going to write a conversation in French on the next page.

Me: Bonjour. Etes Natasha?
Natasha: Oui, je suis Natasha, bonjour. Comment allez-vous?
M: Non coment allez-vous. Ca va.
N: Oh. Ca va?
M: Ca va! Je suis ca va tres bien, merci beacoup, et vous?
N: Ca va bien.
M: Qu’est-ce que vous voulez?
N: Une biere.
M: Une biere!?!
N: Non, non. Je voudrais un jus d’orange.
M: Oh. S’il vous plait! S’il vousn plait! Un jus d’orange por le mademoiselle.
N: Et vous?
M: Oh, oui. Pour moi, une the, plus un jus d’orange.
Waiter: Voulez-vous autre chase?
N: Non.
M: C’est possible.
W: Bien.
M: Natasha, je suis d’ou?
N: Je suis de Lille, je suis francais. Vous etes de Lille?
M: Non. Vous etes de Lille.
N: Et vous? Vous no etes rancais? Vous etes d’ou?
M: Je suis d’Etats Unis.
N: Oh! Tres bien!
W: Avec ceci?
M: Non. Je vous dois combien?
W: Cela vous fait vingt-deux francs cinquante.
M: D’accord, d’accord. Vingt-deux francs cinquante.
W: Oui. Cela vous fait vingt-deux francs cinquante.

August 22, 2002
Today was a wonderful day! Orientation at the high school was extraordinary, and has rekindled my desire to go to Russia, as there are some students here, at our school, who are with the foreign exchange program. They came from: Germany (3), Uzbekistan, Ukraine, Russia, and Mexico. I hope to meet the Russian girl. Dad says that he will take me to the library today or tomorrow. My beloved fat cat Midnight is here with me. I have to go, to pet her and also to clean up the kitchen.

August 23, 2002
Okay, here’s what happened at orientation: I was so afraid as I got out of the car and walked down the walkway. I had Dad drop me off a little way up, and then I walked down. I passed by Blonde Girl (my sort of ex-girlfriend, whom my cousin Idiot Cousin calls “Plumpy the Whale”) and her best friend Weird Last Name Girl. They were both laughing at something and I got incredibly uncomfortable. Although I knew they weren’t laughing about me, years of indignities and cruelties on the part of my peers has caused me to always question whether or not people are laughing at me. When I hear a name snickered (oh, Snickers!) anywhere, I wonder. This probably roots from an experience in the sixth grade during which I was walking out of a classroom and I heard someone yell, well, not yell, but say to a friend something like, “Fag” or “He’s a fag.” I knew, without a doubt, that the comment had been made about me. It’s a paranoia I’ve developed, one that still follows me after a period during which I made many friends and went from being a dork to being, well…people know me, lots of people at my school know me, I’ll say that. I walked past Jackie and she ran after me and started conferring as to how my summer had been and then there were Stunningly Beautiful Girl and Ugly Girl and Sort-Of Canadian Boy and Boy I’m Not Sure I Remember, and the five of us just talked and then Bus Girl was there, too! And oh how we laughed! (I would run into the other Girl I’m Not Sure I Remember later that day and she was actually rather rude, not bothering to talk) Then we saw Burned Boy, and he had hair! Well, he’d had hair, but it had been very short. Now it was long, not long, but longer, and I couldn’t have imagined such shockingly blonde hair on Burned Boy! And I walked in and signed up for the Red Cross Club and Walrus Girl was there and we hugged and whatnot. I nearly signed up for Drama Club but Shakespeare Girl warned me not to. I knew instantly not to sign up because Shakespeare Girl feels so passionately about Shakespeare that she got into a fight over Comedy of Errors with Mean Boy last year. I reminded Bus Girl of this and how she laughed! Intelligent and Kind Girl was there, and she had signed up for Drama Club. I said nothing. Intelligent-and-Kind-Girl-Who-During-Our-Early-Teen-Years-Was-Unnervingly-Mature-and-Understanding-From-Today’s-Perspective is such a wonderful person. Her personality and physical appearance really clash, as she looks just a little bit like a goth but she is so incredibly and touchingly sweet. I thought about her this summer, but then again, I thought about many people this summer. While reading War and Peace I have imagined Sonya as Stunningly Beautiful Girl and Helene (Bezukhof) as Faded Girl, who I barely know. She is strikingly pretty, though. Anyway, then we went into the auditorium and got lots of information about the school. I should have asked Intelligent and Kind why Skater Boy wasn’t there. Skater Boy isn’t really a very close friend of mine, but when I went through a difficult time fitting in socially he stood up for me a lot and he probably still doesn’t know how much it meant to me. Other Boy I Don’t Remember and Intelligent and Kind Girl weren’t there, either, and neither was Mean Boy (not that I care) or Obese Girl. Horseface Girl was there, gap-toothed stringy-haired and all. I shouldn’t make such comments even if she was shockingly rude to me and even if this is a personal diary. Well, maybe if this is a diary I should make such observations, but on a less harsh note, just to get the thoughts out without saying them to that person. I am so excited about starting high school! I saw Lacrosse Boy and Some Girl I Don’t Remember and Stoner Boy. I didn’t know him very well but I noticed that his hair has gotten incredibly long, and in earnest of himself he was kind of showing it off. He was one of the few boys who could still wear a bowl cut without being incredibly unfashionable, and he just let it grow. Some Girl’s friend made a comment about how ugly it is. My own hair has gotten rather long and all of my friends liked it, and now my father is talking about getting it cut again, but I honestly don’t think that he’ll act on it. I’ve written a letter to the Russian Embassy in Washington, D.C., but my father wants to read it before I mail it. It’s less than a page long and yet he absolutely will not get around to reading it, and if I ask him even once a day he tells me to “stop pushing it” or something like that. If he would only take the less than a minute to read it! Here’s what it says: “To My Russian Friends, I am very interested in your country, language, and culture. I would very much like to visit Russia on the foreign exchange program, however my family cannot afford this. Therefore we are looking for corporate sponsorship. It is to this end that I would ask of you to please send a letter to me enclosing the names of all the American companies which have bases in Russia and their headquarters’ addresses in the United States. Thank you very much for your cooperation and time. I have a passion for your nation and people, and have a strong desire to visit Russia via the foreign exchange program of AFS. I lack the appropriate financial means to do this, and I would like to contact companies in reference to scholarship. I thought that the companies most appropriate to contact would be companies that also have stores in Russia. Any help is vastly appreciated. Thank you. BlackenedBoy.

August 24, 2002
Dvayuradnaya sistra Idiot Cousin vot! My cousin Idiot Cousin is here. Also, her sister Bratty Cousin is here. Dva dvayuradnayi sistri vot! Two cousins here! Tyotya Ostentatious vot! Aunt Ostentatious is here. Idiot Cousin, Bratty Cousin, and my Aunt Ostentatious just arrived here moments ago. Idiot Cousin seems a bit down in the dumps. She says that this is because she is sick. I think that it partly has to do with the fact that First Twin just dumped her because he found out that she had told everyone that she had her hand on his balls (testicles), which, he says, she did not. He called her a selfish brat and said that she “makes up too much shit.” I told her this over the phone yesterday. Yo pienso que First Twin tiene razon un su decision sobre mi prima Idiot Cousin. Ella nunca dice cosas verdades, y todas de las personas estan enojadas con ella. Ah, mi primita Iiot Cousin. Su papa no es aqui este fin de semana. Bueno. No me gusta el mucho del tiempo, pero de vez en cuando el es simpatico. Mi papa no se gusta Tio Fake. Hoy es el dia de la fiesta muy grande. La fiesta es si grande que nosotros necesitamos dos casas, pero para solo una fiesta! Dva domi! Nosotros estamos asi emocianados! Yo pienso que Idiot Cousin es el solo persona que no es emocionado sobre la fiesta (que es en dos horas!). Ella mira un poco de desilusiando. Ella dice que ela tiene un fiebre. [Translation: I think that First Twin was right in his decision about my cousin Idiot Couin. She never says anything true, and everyone’s angry at her right now. Ah, my little cousin Idiot Cousin. Her father isn’t here this weekend. Good. I don’t like him much of the time, but every once in a while he can been nice. My father doesn’t like Uncle Fake either. Today is the day of the big party. The party is so big that we need two houses, but only for one party! Two houses! We’re all very excited! I think that Idiot Cousin is the only person who’s not excited about the party (which is in two hours!). She looks a little depressed. She says that she has a fever.] Well, sort of. Se said that she feels a little sick. Hopefully she’ll start enjoying herself when we get to the big party! I think that she will. I know that I will enjoy myself. Food, society, swimming. The party lasts from three until eleven o’clock, although (as ridiculous as this sounds) I’m not sure if we’ll be allowed out for the duration of the party. Absolutely terrible. But, if we can stay out the whole time (it’s going on both next door and across the street) we’ll have eight hours to party! There’s one problem, though, but I think that I’ve solved it [Large omitted section] [Code began here] Vi [vi meaning “you”] can guess the rest. [Code ended here] Vi means “you” in the polite form. Ti is the informal form, used between peers, family members, and when addressing animals. Oh, my gosh! School starts the day after tomorrow! This is our last free night of the summer! What a way to finish it off, though!

August 25, 2002
The party was excellent yesterday! [Code began here] And, I finally passed on the throne of Aria! First Twin, Idiot Cousin, Innocent Cousin, and Powell are now the proud rulers of Aria. [Code ended here] I don’t think that any of them really cared, and at this point neither do I. Here’s what happened at the party: Well, when it first started at three o’clock in the afternoon there weren’t many people going. Idiot Cousin and I went there and Acne Girl and her sister Older Girl were there. Although I hadn’t known it earlier, we were able to block off the roads surrounding the party. When the term “block party” was used I didn’t realize it meant an actual block party. Oh, I have to go! I’ll write more later.

To continue: Idiot Cousin and I went back to my house, where she took out what I thought was a lighter. She told me that it wasn’t working and asked me to help her with it. So I picked it up and pressed the button, and what a shock went through me! Then we laughed and went back to the party. We changed into our bathing suits and went swimming in Gregarious Boy’s pool. Lacrosse Boy, Powell, Thomas, Idiot Cousin, Little Neighbor Girl, Bratty Cousin, and Acne Girl’s sister Older Girl were there. After swimming we ate and listened to music and talked about many things. How fun it was to laugh and be friends.

August 26, 2002
Here is what happened today: today was my first day of high school, and it was so great! First, I got up at around six a.m.! I can’t remember the last time I was awake that early. My hair (now getting quite long) was standing all up and looked very odd (I would see later in the day that some boys wear theirs like that on purpose!). Mom says that she actually woke me up twice, but I must have been asleep when she tried the first time (well, obviously, but what I mean is that I stayed asleep). When I did wake up I got dressed and used the bathroom. I got a glimpse of myself in the mirror and laughed, then went downstairs, where Mom had apple juice and waffles waiting. I ate heartily and discovered that apple juice and waffles are not the best combination. I went upstairs and went into the bathroom. My long hair was sticking out at odd angles, but not rigidly straight. It looked as if it were floating. The slightest movement of my head would cause a golden wave of hair to move around my head. I seized the comb and tried to comb down the right side of my enormously long bangs. They merely shot back up. So, I turned on the sink and started to fill it. If I could just get my showers in the morning this wouldn’t be a problem, yet my parents are reluctant for any change or for any modernization concerning the way that they govern us (although such change/modernization was made later today, which I will explain later). After the sink had filled up (I noticed that the water wasn’t exactly clean; we do brush our teeth in that sink), I looked reluctantly at the water. I’d done it all of last year, but I had hoped that I wouldn’t have to do it this year. The water was sort of dirty and my hair, well, wasn’t. But, as I couldn’t go to school looking like that, I plunged my head into the water. It floated around in the water and I actually had to push some of the longer sections in. I felt around under the water to make sure that it was all wet. Except for the part of my hair on the back of my neck, which is too short (now) to need it. When I brought my hair out of the water it was hanging down. I raised my head to see and large amounts of hair instantly fell forward, partially blocking my view of the mirror. I stood over the sink as my wet locks dripped water, and then I quickly moved from the sink to a rack where the towels were. I threw my head back and before all of that long hair could fall back into my face I had the towel wrapped around my head and I pressed it tight. Then I brushed my teeth, using a new battery-operated toothbrush that my mother bought for me. I brush each side, right and left, for at least one minute, then my front teeth, tongue, and behind my gums and teeth for at least one minute. After brushing my teeth I got my things together and left (prior to brushing my teeth and after drying my hair I brushed my hair into a good style). I said goodbye for the day to my family. I walked nervously down to the bus stop, incredibly self-conscious about my socks, which are a light brown, like the shade of coffee. Mom had told me before I left the house that the socks were not a wise choice for my first day, but no one said anything, although I had been sure that they would. Football Boy, Acne Girl, and Older Girl, were the only other kids at the bus stop. I greeted Football Boy and asked the girls if I had offended them in any way during the party. Both answered yes. I apologized. Football Boy then asked me jokingly, “Why are you annoying people, BB?” I answered that I hadn’t meant to, and then the bus pulled up. It was so crowded! I didn’t no where I would sit, but then an older boy moved over and Football Boy and I both wound up sitting there, conditions were so crowded. When the bus pulled up to the school I got out and went to homeroom. We were allowed to carry our book bags around, and will be able to do so permanently. During homeroom someone in the school pulled a fire alarm and we were unexpectedly evacuated. Our teacher was separated from us because apparently we went the wrong way. When we got back, to pass the time of the unusually long homeroom our teacher told us of her days in photography. She told us of how she met Mother Theresa. She described her as “feisty.” She also told us of how she got to shake hands with the pope. She told us of a homeless man and of her belief in Divine Providence (even though she’s not supposed to, no one cared, no one was offended, so let’s see what those jerks in San Francisco have to say about that). All in all, I think that she’s a nice person, although Mrs. C is still my all-time favorite. I do hope that they come up for Christmas this year. We then went to the assembly, where I got quite a shock. A boy who I had seen last year at Beautiful Town Middle School had sat with Skater Boy a lot, and I also had sat at that table. His hair had been very long, I would have estimated it at about seven or eight inches long all around. My own bangs reach their longest length at about 4 ½ inches. The longest length with just my hair in general is about five inches. All of the boy’s hair had been cut off, short, like a crew cut. He didn’t look very happy with his high school debut either, and I must say that he looked terrible, although I’d never say that to him as I feel too sorry for him. His parents probably forced him. After the assembly (by the way, I saw Lacrosse Boy there) I went to my first class, “Mod 1,” Basic Mathematics. I hope to get this changed to Algebra I as soon as I know if I passed the Native State Functional Math Test. I then went to Gym, where we toured the locker rooms, and then to Advanced English I. I must say that the variety of students and styles amazed me. What amazed me more was the level of tolerance in the school. Styles ranged from conservative boys with close-shaved hair to boys like myself, and boys with afros, and boys with very long hair, and goths and dorks. Some girls are goths, and I once saw a girl who is now in my homeroom wearing fishnets outside of school. Burned Boy, Blonde Girl, Ugly Girl, Faded Girl, and Bus Girl are all in my Advanced English I class. I absolutely love my Government class, and the bus picks me up right outside of the portable where my government class is. I love high school. High school is great!

August 27, 2002
Here’s what happened today: Today was pleasant, as was yesterday. The only thing not so pleasant was the society of a select few people, said people being Burned Boy and one girl. I had been polite to Burned Boy until he said that I had a gay laugh, and then I said, “Well, not as gay as your haircut.” He shut up. Math was nice. I met a girl named Math Class Girl who I think that I might like, although now would be far too soon to reveal my feelings. Also, one number has boggled the minds of my math class: 879. I’ll explain why tomorrow, as I can’t remember the word for what that number is supposed to be. Gym was short as always, or it seemed short, even though we ran the 1,400 meter dash. Then, during English I, I accidentally got confused and went to lunch. I was returning to my English I class when Ugly Girl said to me, “Where were you?” At first I thought that she was joking, because I accidentally Gym twice last year. But no, I had done it again. Of course, everyone found this absolutely hilarious. The English teacher (Very Young Woman) was completely alright with everything and said that it was understandable. At lunch (the first time) I noticed more examples of hair styles that I haven’t known to be popular anywhere else in recent times. For example, First Twin and Second Twin’s brother Marijuana Boy is growing an afro. Here, it is very stylish. Also, I have noticed another style. One boy who was sitting at my table had hair near my length, and he had combed it all straight forward, then curled the ends. It seems to be a very popular style. I rewrote my letter to the Russian Embassy. Dad has read it and approved it and hopefully it will be mailed tomorrow.

August 31, 2002
My letter to the embassy has been mailed. This is the first weekend of the school year, although it is not the first regular weekend, as Labor Day is Monday. I’ll write more later.

Oh, how terrible things are here now! And it all started with me. For I was too lazy to clean up a bowl of popcorn. Mom saw it on the table today and inquired as to why I hadn’t cleaned it up. I told her that someone had used it after me, which, as I now reflect upon it, I’m not sure is true. She then said, “And I guessed you just expected the nigger to clean it up?” Angrily I answered, “I told you that someone else used it after me. What part didn’t you understand?” She became angry and told me that I would be punished. So I went to Dad’s workplace (well, not his permanent workplace, but where he was working today). I told him, and he became furious and told me to go home and be there when he got there. When he arrived home I went downstairs so as to inquire about something else and he began advancing toward me and saying how angry he was. In my head I had rehearsed what I would say, but I completely failed. I was so frightened and he said that I had a stupid look on my face. He couldn’t see how afraid I was. Then he hit me, and I began to cry. Not because it hurt, but I don’t know why. I cried for nearly an hour, the whole time not knowing why. Then, driven on by me, and telling Dad about me, she proceeded to tell him about how Powell had complained to her about mowing the grass. So this prompted her to look for Powell and Thomas, and when she couldn’t find them she became upset. She told Dad and he did nothing, and they began one of their terrible fights where they’re all silence and then all screams, and then all silence again. It’s very tedious. I apologized for starting it when I realized it was all my fault, but from both of them I got little or no emotion. They both merely said (and this is a bit odd as they were in different rooms and not speaking), “Okay.” Now Mom’s apologizing to Powell, Thomas and Dad. I had better go to the kitchen. Well, I had better go to the first floor.

Well, I’ve been sent to bed. They’ve once again united. One night of suffering is enough to sacrifice for their unification. It’s not too much. I have finished War and Peace, and I was left with a sad feeling. Surprisingly, Natasha married Pierre and became the next Countess Bezukhof. They had about four children. Ilya Rostov died that year, and left his estates and finances to Nikolai. As a result, Nikolai, Sonya, and Countess Rostov became dirt poor. That is, until Maria Bolkonsky marries Nikolai. Natasha, who was so full of life, becomes a plump woman obsessed with domestic affairs. Her children and husband are her only joy. Denisof, who proposed to Natasha long ago, was shocked and saddened to see her. Pierre has started a secret society, which Nikolai is convinced will only act against the government. What a book. I wish to know more. It was a bit of a sad yet happy ending to the story which has captivated me for so many months.