Wednesday, November 26, 2008

A Day Before the Journey

It's about three o'clock in the morning right now, and I'm preparing for bed. Later today, Powell and I will get into his car and drive to Decaying State. We were supposed to leave Wednesday, but he decided he wanted to see some friends of his coming home from college so we postponed departure until Thanksgiving morning (given the late hour at which we're going to bed, it will now likely be Thanksgiving afternoon).

My parents left Wednesday afternoon for Humid State, where they finally arrived about eight hours later. My mother wasn't made aware until after they were nearly in another state that Powell and I were staying longer than expected, with the result that she could only stew at us having the house to ourselves for a night.

Powell hosted a friend, Pale Blue-Eyed Boy, for most of the afternoon and into the early evening. Pale Blue-Eyed Boy is a Junior at Mountain Town High School and is sixteen years old.

He's fun.

Anyway, I decided tonight to post some more singing videos!

The first is of me singing the Star-Spangled Banner. The video cut off before I could finish, but most of the song, including one of the money notes toward the end, is still there.

The next video is me singing the bridge from Kelly Clarkson's song, "Behind These Hazel Eyes," mainly just to show that I can. It's a difficult song that allows me to go into my upper register, which is where I am strongest.

Those of you paying attention will notice that my last singing video, "Never Again," was also a Clarkson cover. I'm sure I'll lose some credibility in saying this, but she's actually my favorite recording artist, so that should explain why so many of her tracks are popping up on here.

This next one, also a Clarkson number, shows off a bit more of my lower register.

I promise that I will have some material by other artists soon. I have plenty of things in mind. And, now is as good a time as any for a Hair Update.

These pictures were taken of me several days ago:



Here I am in August:

BB Gets a Haircut

Shortened Ponytail

Quite the improvement between then and now, I'd say.

I'll be sure to write more from Anne's Town, and you can expect a full post on our Thanksgiving feast, which will be the first we've ever spent with her.

I hope everyone has a happy holiday, and I can't wait to read all about it.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Latest Developments

Wreath on the Door

It’s been a while since I’ve put up a full, non-poetry entry, and a lot has happened in the time since then.

The last thing even resembling a normal post was the one I wrote about the election nearly a month ago, and the last piece I published that followed what my readers have come to expect as the customary format of my articles was “As We Head Into Fall,” penned, if my memory serves me well, in late October.


Many of you, of course, will be aware of the circumstances that have prevented me from writing more regularly and more extensively; midterms, papers, and concert reports have abounded, very effectively monopolizing my time.

Now that the semester is winding down and the only thing I need to worry about is final exams and selecting my classes for the spring (which is a mercifully-long two months away), I’m enjoying some well-earned rest time, during which my attendance at school is cursory, my studying scarce, and my time at home extensive on these cold Fall days.

I am genuinely proud of the work I’ve put in this semester. During my Freshman and Sophomore Years, I allowed depression on the one hand and shameful laziness on the other to intervene and rob me of both the high marks and self-efficacy that should have been mine. I knew I was intelligent, had always been hailed in high school and before by my teachers as very bright, but never put forth the effort in college required to really excel.

It was almost as if I was afraid to expend the necessary energy, as if in engaging in honest academic labor I’d somehow be losing something. I think that, in truth, I was somewhat fearful that my best might not be good enough. I worried that I’d put forth the greatest effort I could, still fall short, and discover in fact that the intellectual persona I’d built for myself was but a thin layer atop a mediocre inner being, barely hidden by elitism and arrogance.

This, of course, is not the case, and my actions during the first two years of college were irrational, at least discounting the effects of clinical depression.

All traces of that terrible time are nearly gone now, something that amazes and very happily surprises me. Two years ago I was an absolute basket case, thinking of nothing but our family’s Thanksgiving trip to Deep South State and after that of my month-long Christmas vacation to get me through the dark storm of the Fall semester. My every waking moment was spent counting down to the next release, the next escape, the next temporary alleviation of my fears and anxieties.

Last year was much better; paired with different people in a different dorm, I initially struggled but was eventually able to find companionship, make a set of unusual friends who, though varying greatly in manner and interests from me, I still like to keep in contact with. That year, I looked forward to the holidays, but as a pleasant period of relaxation, not as my salvation from a miserable existence.

The demons came back this summer, true, but there is no question that last school year was far superior to my Freshman Year.

All of this reflection, by the way, makes me aware of how profoundly old I am becoming. To almost all of you, this will seem ridiculous, but to the few readers my age and younger, it should make perfect sense. I am twenty years old now, and my twenty-first birthday will come in April. The stage at which I’ve always considered other people to be adults, the twenties, arrived for me seven months ago, and now in five months' time I’ll be legally able to drink.

I just can’t believe how fast time has gone. It feels like yesterday that I was a Freshman in college, uncertain, afraid, and convinced I would never find my way, longing for the visit home and the extended holidays that would save me. Yet that was two entire years ago, and at that time I was eighteen years old. Eighteen! Today I can’t even imagine being that young.

At least in my life, the two years between eighteen and twenty were vast, and the separate individuals on either end of that time-span are enormously different people. I have learned, because of the traumas I went through, a great deal that only two years ago I had no inkling of. I wonder if other people at twenty feel this way as well.

Between sixteen and eighteen I changed very little, physically or emotionally, but between eighteen and twenty my personality underwent a total realignment.

The craziest part of this is that in two years, when I’m twenty-two (I can’t even fathom being so old), I’ll probably look back on 2008 in the same way that I now look back on 2006 and marvel at how little I knew and how naïve I was. I'm sure of it because I’ve always done this; in 2003, on the eve of my fifteenth birthday, I had a minor panic attack contemplating my advanced age and how sophisticated it seemed that people with so many years should be.

Now, of course, fifteen is incredible to me, yet my eighteen and fifteen-year-old selves had much more in common with each other than either has with me today.

The key difference, amplified as I’ve gotten older, is this: youth does not last forever. At fifteen, I knew that five years in the future I’d be twenty, still a kid. Now, I have the deeply-terrifying knowledge that in five years I will be twenty-five, in no way a kid. Twenty-five-year-olds marry and have children. That really is quite frightening.

I consider someone to be very young up to the age of twenty-three. Once you reach twenty-four, though, you’re in your mid-twenties, and then it’s only a matter of time before the thirties roll around and official oldness begins.

If any of my readers are insulted by my blatant attack on the ancientness of thirty-year-olds and the implied swipe at the inconceivable timelessness of those past thirty, please bear in mind my perspective: I’m a twenty-year-old man who has been slowly realizing that actual adulthood, not the pseudo-adulthood of a college kid but the real thing, will begin within the next decade.

It’s a bit scary.

I really should not worry about this. Twenty is still very young, and there is still a good deal of time left. I mean, I still have to shave only every three or four days and there is a very good chance that my voice isn’t entirely done changing yet (Anne explains that Scandinavians are “late bloomers”).

My preoccupation, though, is with time itself. There is only so much, and the fear that I will misspend what of it I have is a great burden on me. At twenty years old, I’ve never had sex, never played dirty, never even had a relationship that lasted longer than a couple of months. The most I’ve ever done is kissed, and all of that with a single girl (the relationship mentioned just now).

There’s nothing wrong with this at all, but I’m getting on a bit and feel I should probably have done more by this point. Thank God for the years ahead.

A friend of mine from class, Persian Boy, with whom I stayed after school to have dinner one night last week, has kissed a girl but never actually had a girlfriend. He is a Christian and so at least has an excuse, but even he said, albeit while laughing, “I feel like such a loser! Time’s running out!”

“Oh,” I objected, ignoring the glut of mashed potatoes stuffed between my cheeks as I opened my mouth. “Don’t say that!”

“No, not ‘time,’” he clarified. “Time in college.”

I suppose that’s somewhat better, though it brings up a whole set of related issues.

Where will I be two years from now? Assuming that my current academic patterns hold up and my lackluster first two years aren't enough to offset the recent gains I've made, I will have graduated by then and could very possibly be in Swamp State with Teach for America.

Persian Boy knows he’ll be at least a semester behind, along with many other people, and that I don’t think I’d mind terribly. I believe I could tolerate one year extra (and, given the current economic situation, it might actually be smart to stay put), graduating with the class of 2011, but anything more than that would be too much. I’d go to summer school and do whatever I had to, but I will not become one of those people who stays in college for ten years. They go to class after class after class, hang out in dorms with people half a decade younger than they, and never actually live. That will not happen to me, because I will not let it.

Speaking of academics, I should probably return to why I’m rather pleased with my performance this semester. Admittedly, I did not attend class as often as I should have, but this has not been my way since the beginning of my university career. Making a 10:30a.m. Anthropology lecture when you live an hour and a half away from campus is not something that will always happen. What I did do, though, was go to class when it was crucial, diligently study the course materials, and take pains to ensure that all assignments and papers were turned in on time, or, if slightly late, were accompanied by legitimate and understandable reasons for the lateness. Those tasks that I could not physically hand in at due date were, with the exception of a single Sociology essay, e-mailed to my professors. The result of this has been A’s on the overwhelming majority of my tests and exams, and very satisfactory marks on my papers. If I do well on my final exams, I can expect to receive nearly all A’s on this semester’s report card.

That, therefore, is very good.

The end-of-semester preparations are being accompanied by Christmas vacation preparations, as during that time I will be visiting family, having my wisdom teeth taken out, working, and participating in an internship with the Western City Newspaper.

Recent events at work have caused me concern, though I think some of it may be undue.

We recently got a new manager, the aptly-named New Manager, from Decaying State. This twenty-eight-year-old has brought with him a companion of similar age, Huge Man, who is replacing Odd Boy as the assistant manager (our division manager, Fat Man, was evidently dissatisfied with Odd Boy’s performance in that position).

New Manager appears innocuous at first, but elements of his personality have emerged that I find distasteful and in fact repulsive. I don’t know him well enough to pronounce judgement on his character, but some of his values certainly conflict with mine. He suffered an accident while four-wheeling several years ago that has left his back severely weakened, but is full of stories from before that incident of his great physical prowess and insurmountable skill as a fighter. Huge Man, an individual of few words who strikes me as basically kind, has quietly attested to the numerous losses he's suffered at New Manager’s hands and to the truth behind claims that he and New Manager once “curb-stomped” an opponent who was allegedly ruining a friend’s life.

New Manager was trained from an early age by a father and godfather, and from the latter he twice suffered a broken nose, injuries sustained at the ages of four and five, respectively. He firmly believes that he was raised correctly by his father, an influential man in New Manager’s Decaying State hometown who pulled strings to get his son out of trouble on several occasions.

All of this goes strongly against my own beliefs, but until recently I was not forced to interact with it.

Over the last week or so, New Manager has taken to organizing wrestling matches among staff members, matches entered into enthusiastically by most of the male employees. When first informed that I would be participating (for my permission was never sought out), I was very reluctant and remonstrated strongly.

I am by far the lightest young man in my age group (I weigh 130lbs), outweighed by at least thirty pounds by all except Short Italian Boy, who is only sixteen years old. After repeated assurances there would be nothing but grappling (I was particularly preoccupied with the idea that someone might sit on me), I hesitantly acquiesced to the “mandatory” fighting.

I will admit that this was somewhat fun. I fought Tough Boy, 165lbs, and lost after a mighty struggle, even managing once to shake him off from atop my body after he’d pinned me.

My fight against Hulking Boy, a seventeen-year-old addition to the staff who stands at 6’3” and weighs nearly 300lbs, was far more one-sided. I did alright at first, dodging his attempts to grab me and making several lunges of my own, none of which touched him. Then, though, he seized me around my waist and lifted me into the air as if I were no heavier than a child’s toy.

“Ah! Oh, my God!” I yelled from my suspended position above his head. “Okay, you win!”

He dropped me over his back, causing me to scream quite like a little girl, caught me in one hand, and daintily placed me back on my feet.

Before going up against Huge Man, I clarified several things.

“You are not to sit on me under any circumstances,” I laid out. “And do not, DO NOT, pick me up.”

I tried my best. I nearly knocked him over at one point. Before long, though, I was on the floor, kicking and rocking as hard as I could as both of my shoulders touched the ground and I was declared pinned.

I concede that this was enjoyable in a way, and that watching some of my larger co-workers face off against each other was entertaining. I hadn’t really wanted to do it, though, and that’s what I take issue with; I felt coerced into a situation.

On Saturday night, New Manager finally crossed the line.

During a second round of fights, New Manager wanted to “show me a move.” Upon announcing this, he took my wrist in his hand and applied so much pressure that I fell to my knees. After I’d told him to let go, he still held on for several seconds. This was too much.

Afterward, I went to his office and told him that he’d had no right to do such a thing. He finally admitted that he’d been wrong and apologized. During this conversation, he and several others, including Odd Boy and Tough Boy, informed me that they were getting together to train and said I should come along. I really did not like this idea, but felt pressured when others, including Tough Boy, repeatedly posed the question, “Don’t you want to be able to defend yourself?”

Tonight, I called New Manager and told him that, after thinking it over, I’d decided not to take part.

“I hope you don’t think any less of me,” I said. “But it’s just not my thing.”

“No,” he said. “I don’t think any less of you. I understand.”

“I felt kind of guilty, because all the other guys are doing it,” I replied.

“No,” he said. “Don’t feel guilty. Don’t feel guilty. It’s your decision.”

“Yeah,” I continued. “I just don’t want to. And about the wrestling—”

“You can still wrestle,” he said. “But you don’t have to if you don’t want to.”

“I don’t think I do,” I answered. “And I don’t want you to ever do anything like what you did again.”

“I won’t,” he said. “You have my word on that.”

I’m the kind of person who detests being forced into anything, so will if approached in the wrong way refuse to participate in something I would ordinarily have enthusiastically embraced. Had my agreement been solicited in a different manner, I very probably would have found the idea very appealing. As it was, though, the feeling of being cornered combined with the sheer weirdness of it made me unwilling to go along.

This is difficult for me, because I am insecure and seek to fit in as much as possible. The conclusion I have reached is this: if people like Tough Boy and Odd Boy view me any differently because of my forbearance, then they’re not real friends.

Christmas Tree

On the domestic front, my mother took it upon herself this Saturday to put up the Christmas decorations. Her decision on the matter very nearly led me to entitle this post “What the Hell is Wrong With My Mother?” due to how early in the season it is.

We typically hang the Christmas things up the day after Thanksgiving, but she reasoned that because none of us will actually be here for the upcoming holiday she should get it out of the way.

“You could have waited until we got back,” I said.

She just shrugged.

Stockings Over the Fireplace

So now, two days before Thanksgiving, our Christmas tree is up, stockings hang over the fireplace, wreathes adorn the doors, and lights are festooned on banisters and across countertops.

It does make the house very cheery, especially given the unseasonably cold weather we’ve been having lately; it is not unusual here to have temperatures in the 80’s well into October, but since September it’s been very chilly, since October quite cold, and since the start of November downright freezing.

Decorations on the Stairs

I read a story in the New York Times recently concerning a group of German scientists who believe that we are currently entering a period of global cooling slated to last for a good part of the 21st Century’s first half. It is theorized that this natural phenomenon will temporarily offset the manmade temperature increases of global warming and return weather patterns for a time to what they were before climate change had such a dramatic impact on the environment.

My father, who grew up in Native City, remembers years during his childhood when snow fell by Halloween in large enough amounts to accumulate. Such a thing has been unthinkable in Native State or here for years, but it may now be returning. I would welcome that trend.

Cooking Thanksgiving Dinner

The reason for the early decoration, as mentioned earlier, is that all members of my family will be gone for Thanksgiving. My parents, Thomas, and Pie are going to Humid State to stay with my Aunt Ostentatious and her family, while Powell and I will be driving up to Anne’s Town and spending the holiday with her. We’ve never actually had a major holiday with our birth-mother, and she is very excited to host us.

“I’m going to make pies, and turkey, and mashed potatoes and all kinds of stuff,” she told me over the phone today.

“You should make pumpkin pie,” I prodded.

“Oh, I will,” she reassured me.

“I love pumpkin pie,” I said.

“Me, too,” she replied.

The promise of a large meal is no idle bluff; Anne, for never having had a family to feed, is a weirdly-talented cook whose dishes are delicious. I’m quite excited to be going with her, and will be sure to document mine and Powell’s journey to the North. We may even stop at a Certain Line as we exit Dixie to photographically memorialize our transition through regions.

It is bound to be even colder in Decaying State, though, so we’ll have to pack accordingly. Of course, I doubt that even subzero temperatures would persuade Powell to take pants; he’s known for sporting shorts all year round, regardless of weather.

“Don’t let Powell bring shorts,” Anne petitioned me as we discussed the trip tonight. “It’s so cold.”

“Don’t worry, I won’t,” I promised, knowing all the while that nothing I could possibly say would dissuade my brother from clothing himself in a way that is potentially hazardous to his health. He simply doesn’t care.

Because we will be in separate states in different parts of the country two days from now, our family sat down on Monday night for an early Thanksgiving dinner. It was very nice, the kind of calm, peaceful, loving, and happy event that makes me thankful I still live here even with all of our problems. We aren’t a perfect family, but we do love each other. Our gathering Monday was punctuated by jokes, teasing, and the tender words of people who’ve lived together for over a decade and intimately know each other. Regardless of the many issues, my parents are my parents, love me and have cared for me, and my siblings, particularly Powell, have been lifelong companions and have deeper knowledge of who I am than anyone else.

Pie and Thomas Are Ready for Class

Pie Playing Teacher

In addition to Thanksgiving dinner, my parents completed Monday work on my sister’s playroom. Now, what two weeks ago was an unfinished storage area in our basement is an impressive and stylish repository of toys where Pie, and, to a lesser extent, Thomas, can throw balls around and play class using the chalkboard that’s embedded into the wall.

Pie at the Drums

On the Drums

Well, I think I’ve gone on enough for tonight. I almost feel guilty for forcing all of you to read so much.

I’ll be sure to post from Anne’s Town and let you know what we’re up to.

Christmas Tree in the Dark

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Truest Lover


My truest lover lives in glass
And moves with me from pass to pass
His hair is gold, his eyes are green
His full lips have a luring sheen

His body pulses, pink and slim
And no one on Earth matches him
He makes me blush and moan and leak
When beads of sweat fall down his cheeks

His white throat tempts my round mouth so
And bids hands where hands should not go
His rosy cheeks scream to be touched
By tongues that soothe soft skin in lust

I stare at him for days on end
Wanting that smooth back to bend
It's time now that I face the truth
I love this narcissistic youth

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Blackest Eyes

You do not want me
And you never will
It's something that's certain
It's something instilled

That is alright, though
And how could it change?
Your morals and virtues
I'd not rearrange

For my sake I'd touch them
But for mine alone
I'd not sink to rob you
Of your granite stone

Even if your face
Alights and intrigues
Even if your hand
My own hand would please

Your eyes are what got me
What captured my gaze
I haven't seen such eyes
In thousands of days

I'd like to get closer
But know that I can't
Pardon me, dear one
This frustrated rant

But you are so sweet
So happy and pure
It saddens me that
I will never be yours

A Note to Readers

My Journals Sections are usually very long, and February of 2003's is even longer than normal. As is customary, I will recommend a passage that I particularly like to spare this site's visitors from having to go through the entire post.

The entry for February 16, 2003, is very nice and I think most readers will find it enjoyable.

Journals Section: February, 2003

February 1, 2003

Something terrible happened today. I will write about it later. But I’ll continue with the other entry. I had gym first. Huge Boy, a friend of mine from Government, was there. Some other people I knew. After gym was Algebra I. I’m in Part B now. Then came Spanish. Then Chemistry. This first day of the second quarter (first day for me) was very dismaying. Gym was, to say the least, socially devoid. In Algebra I was with people who I’ve known for a little while, so that was okay. Plus, the material is easy, and the teacher, Mr. Nasal Voice, is very nice. Spanish was just disappointing. The teacher, Senora Canadian Spanish Teacher, makes no attempt at a foreign accent, or, if she does, she does so in a very poor fashion. The Spanish alphabet goes: a, b, c, ch, d, e, f, g, h, I, j, k, l, ll, m, n, n, o, p, q, r, rr, s, t, u, v, w, x, y, z. The Spanish “v” is pronounced like an English “b.” The Spanish “b” is pronounced regularly, although they are listed as two separate letters. So, if, in Spanish, you saw “Verbos infinitivos,” you would say, “Berbos infinitibos,” whereas the teacher actually says “Verbos infinitivos.” It’s maddening. Chemistry is just like, there. Not boring, not exciting, not anything, a dry spot that takes up ninety minutes of my day. Although I nearly laughed when our Chemistry teacher called herself “tough.” She’s really very nice, but her policies are strict, and pointlessly so. She openly told us that she thinks that her policies will build character and teach us a sense of responsibility. I disagree. I think that she will have a very efficient class, however, I doubt that her unnecessary regulations will have any lasting impact on her students. I think that all of the popular kids who never get anything done and who will one day work in Wal-Mart won’t get anything done and that they’ll complain moronically to their fellow idiot peers. To continue, yesterday was much better than Thursday. Oh, wait! To continue with Thursday: I came home, and, as always when I am alone, I began singing. I love to sing, and I’m working to improve on it. I honestly think that I have the vocal capabilities and range to one day be quite good. Powell sometimes mocks my deeper notes. Then, I can sing some notes that are so high that my seven-year-old brother can’t reach them, and his voice hasn’t even changed! I did this once unknowingly when Thomas had a headache, and he wasn’t happy. That’s why I’ve signed up for chorus. I think that this will improve my natural skills and allow me to harness my voice, because I have a lot of faults. However, something that happened on Tuesday caused me to become more determined than ever to get into Chorus. Powell often judges me. He usually just says I’m okay. Then, I gathered my breath, and let loose. I physically felt the difference. Something that I was doing just felt different. It felt better. Whatever it was, it felt good. My voice emanated from me and filled the room. Powell, after I had concluded, gave a thumbs up and said it was good. I said to him, “I felt it.” It made me happy. I now knew that I had the potential in me. I was able to achieve “good” status from Powell (which, given Powell’s extreme rudeness, is saying something), although I have yet to figure out how I was able to slip into that better state. I’m hoping that Chorus will help me there. After that, Powell and Thomas went upstairs. After a few minutes I heard screaming. I ran upstairs to see what was going on. You’ve heard the expression, “It looks like a bomb hit this place.” The corner of the room looked literally as if an explosive had gone off in it. The CD player and the table were on the floor, and various items littered the floor. Thomas was on some kind of rampage. Powell and I had to work together to take control. I helped in every way that I could. It was a bit of a Pyrrhic victory, though. Powell and I were able to contain Thomas (who, for his age, is uncannily strong) and save Powell’s room. Mom arrived home as Thomas lay crying beside Powell’s bed. He’d become ferocious, vicious, wild, practically ravenous. It became necessary that I should hold his legs down as Powell dealt with his arms. He howled like an animal when he realized that I was forcefully holding him down. He truly frightens me when he does this. Although I knew that he was crying because he wanted so desperately to do Powell harm and couldn’t, he still worried me. Anyway, as Thomas became increasingly volatile and violent, he was beginning to pose a very real danger. It became necessary, I thought, as did Powell, to use some physical force against him in the form of striking blows and pushing him. Thomas, you see, acts like a little tough guy, but in reality cries and is easily injured. He pulled my hair so hard and was pinching me tightly. He closed his fingers with their long nails as near to each other as they could go into my arm, I slapped him off of me, then seized his hair and pulled lightly. He let out a cry like a baby, a literal “Wa!” I’ll write more later. And there’s much to write about, namely that the shuttle Columbia exploded today.

February 5, 2003

Well, anyway, to stop Thomas’s screams and cries we carried him to make him laugh. It worked. I thought that we would be fine. Far from it.

February 6, 2003

[My mother] threw an absolute tantrum. She kicked backpacks, she threw binders and papers, she cried. She lightly rapped Thomas on the head and of course, Thomas burst into tears. She punched me hard enough in the shoulder to make Thomas shriek, but he cries at everything and it barely phased me. She left in her car, slamming the door so hard that a picture fell off of the wall. I began screaming at Powell for something about apologizing. I was overwhelmed. After all of the injustice, all of the exaggerations, all of the false accusations, all of the knowingly-undeserved punishments. It had all culminated, and even the thought of apologizing for a problem that I hadn’t created, seemed unbearable, unbelievable. I hadn’t used literal socialist tactics against children, I hadn’t been the oppressor. It wasn’t long before I started to weep. I couldn’t help it. There was so much outrage, and, on top of it, so much anguish. It was as if the realization of it all came to me only that night. She came home minutes later, just missing my vociferous cursing and screaming and pressed forth fallacies against justice. Powell and Thomas were promised a swift and severe physical beating (and an expected although not acknowledged psychological one). I don’t know why I was excluded from the promise of my father’s kinetic wrath, because I was doing what they were doing in the absolute kinetic sense: fighting to stop Thomas from destroying Powell’s room. I was motivated to defense, as was Powell. However, he was to suffer more than I. This was a bit of a surprise, as I was the one to be “interfering.” She is of the opinion that my brother and I should be strict isolationists in regard to one another and our family. I have quite seriously been punished before for “not minding my business.” For example, they accused Powell of doing something that he hadn’t, I happened to hear them, and I offered the evidence that he didn’t or couldn’t possibly have done what they said. They don’t care if one of us has conclusive evidence. Actually, it’s probably why they encourage, no, demand isolationism. It’s a good thing that I don’t ever listen to them or I’d be perfectly horrific. I might not help a person being mugged or testify in court.

February 8, 2003

After she came back, she had to leave to take Thomas to basketball practice. She told us not to use or answer the telephone. [Then she called] I naturally assumed that it was her trying to catch us disobeying and be able to punish us more. I dialed *69. It was her. Amazed at her audacity, I called her back. She told me that she was on her way home. She had a meeting and we were to be in bed by nine o’clock if she wasn’t home by then. She said that if she caught us up later than that we’d essentially be dead. So I devised a very thorough plan to defy her. We were going under the assumption that she wouldn’t be home until after nine o’clock. For the first time the three of us cooperated on one major mission. Here was the plan: at 8:30p.m. we would clear a path to the stairs, turn out our bedroom lights, and pull down our covers. I decided that at 8:58p.m. we would have all upstairs light off. We would then stand at stations near light switches. At exactly nine o’clock, we would turn off all of the lights.

February 9, 2003

Then, at exactly 9:01p.m., we’d me in a kind of emergency mode. This emergency status would last until we were all in bed. At 9:01p.m. we would all go to the living room and watch the television with the volume low. As soon as we heard the garage, I would turn the television off, and, in the dark, Powell and Thomas would run through the kitchen and through the dining and sitting rooms coming around the long way to the entrance hall and the staircase. I would go straight through the hallway and to the entrance hall. This was to prevent what I thought would be certain collision, confusion, and therefore, delay and punishment that would ensue if we all took the same route. We were never to enact this plan, though, as Mom got home around 8:40p.m., much earlier than we had expected. We now have the plan for the rare event that an occasion like that should come up again. It really was a rare opportunity. The next Saturday, two days after our incident, the shuttle Columbia exploded. It was coming to Florida. The telephone rang. I didn’t answer. I dialed *69, and it was my father. He told me that the Challenger had blown up. He didn’t even realize his mistake; I told him several days later. I turned on the news, called Powell, and told him to turn on the news. He said, “Where?” I said, “It doesn’t matter, it’s on every station.” And I watched the Columbia blow up over and over and over. The first ever Israeli astronaut was killed. So was an Indian woman. The debris rained over Texas and Louisiana for hours, and it’s still being found. President Bush cried. NASA warned people not to go near the debris, because it could be radioactive. Nothing very eventful happened this week, except for the snow. We had no school on Friday. I was so happy. Dad offered me $15.00 to shovel the driveway, sidewalk, and walkway. It took me six hours. Everyone thought that this was hilarious. My dad paid me $20.00. I was so jealous of the other kids sledding. I only took a few short breaks. I met with many people. First Twin, Second Twin, Short Boy, and Lanky Girl, among others, were out. I didn’t finish until dark. Last night was so fun. In the afternoon Mom’s Old Best Friend and Jolly Woman [Mom’s Old Best Friend’s sister], along with Mom’s Old Best Friend’s incredibly cute baby daughter, came to our house. We soon left for my father’s workplace, a Tate Chevrolet dealership in German Kaiser City. The baby screamed terribly on the way there. Before she started wailing, though, we stopped at Starbucks and I bought a frapuccino (I know I did not spell that correctly; I’m going to ask Cool Cousin tomorrow to tell me the proper way if we have school; I’ve been e-mailing her in the mornings) with some of the twenty dollars that I made yesterday. The vocal coach, the one with the doctorate, has yet to call me back. That frustrates me. People who promise to call and never do greatly annoy me. I’m going to call there tomorrow to see if he teaches at his home, which is not far from here. That’s the only way that I’ll be allowed to take lessons from him. Jolly Woman bought a P.T. Cruiser from my father. I was amazed that she could buy the car. Although I didn’t say it aloud, I thought that living with her parents must save her a lot of money. I didn’t even mean it in a cruel way, but in a practical fashion. I wanted to ask, but did not inquire, as to when Jolly Woman would move out on her own. She took out a loan to finish her room in the basement, and it’s really like a little apartment. I instinctively believe that Mom’s Old Best Friend is more sensitive than Jolly Woman about still living with their parents. This is because Mom’s Old Best Friend has a husband and a child. It must be more embarrassing for Military Man to be living in a room in his bride’s parents’ house. It’s a sort of safe haven for them, I suppose, to stay there and accumulate money, although they don’t seem to be doing much of that. I worry for their baby. I wouldn’t want her to have to grow up in her grandparents’ house. Although, that would be quite a unique experience. I get the feeling that Jolly Woman will be there for a while, so she’d have her grandparents, aunt, and parents in one house. And, unlike my own mother’s rude and nearly intolerable siblings, Jolly Woman is just cool. However, as the baby gets older, that could embarrass her. Also, I imagine that Mom’s Old Best Friend’s family would eventually be kicked out. Maybe it would be healthier, I think, for the baby to live in her own house. Then again, their current residence is quite grandiose, well, very nice, and Mom’s Old Best Friend and Military Man are poor. By no stretch of the imagination could they provide the baby with the type of life that living in that exclusive (for the area) neighborhood would supply. I just don’t know what would really be best for the baby, her parents, or their family as a whole. I pity their situation.

February 14, 2003

Valentine’s Day
El Dia de los Enamorados

In the last few days I have witnessed great changes in our nation and in my personal life. In school, I believe that I have been watching the first signs of my own social fall from grace. If my social standing was a building, its foundations have shaken, and it could fall. All week, well, out of the entire week I hit my lowest point when four people made fun of me in one day. The Building’s concrete supports began crumbling. However, through prayer and a little bit of harshness on my part, I have been able (with divine intervention) to stabilize (to an extent) my situation and each day that has passed has brought progressively better social standings. However, those gains are being made slowly and could still fall through. I firmly believe that my entire high school social experience hangs in the balance. These next few days and weeks are absolutely critical and crucial to my social situation, which could tip over the edge to school-wide unpopularity or stabilize and eventually rise. A huge benefit to me is the long weekend. These breaks are always beneficial to social positions, unless you’re already in the most popular clique, in which case it doesn’t matter because you’re secure forever, or, unless you’re in the absolute lowest group, the dorkiest dorks. I am not there yet. It’s like quicksand: you can step into it from outside and get caught, and once you do get caught, except for extremely rare cases, it’s almost impossible to get out. Also in rare occasions, it is possible to fall from the popular clique down, although you almost never fall into the dorkiest group on your own. Right now I would call myself middle high school social class. Ironically enough, the high society of high school often becomes the low society of the adult world, and the low society and middle class of high school tend to have a greater rate of people who move on to the high societies of the world. Although it can be sometimes frustrating and aggravating, I suppose I should consider myself blessed by my rather boring social situation. No, I don’t “suppose,” I know! I am blessed. God has given me a gift: instead of going out and getting drunk, I have time to focus on my studies, secure myself a good career and a good financial situation. In gym today we played badminton. I, well, my team (a girl named Freaky Eyes and I) came second closest to succeeding in defeating the best badminton team in the entire gym, Huge Boy and Random Boy. I think. Maybe. Regardless, I had a lot of fun. And, with great satisfaction, I beat Blonde Whigger Girl and her partner, despite the fact that Blonde Whigger Girl cheated monstrously. Her partner was quite nice. In Algebra I confronted a boy who said he wanted to fight me, except he said it to another person. I asked him why he couldn’t address me about it. He said that now he had and I said that he never would have brought it up if I hadn’t said anything. He said that he wanted to fight me but that he wouldn’t do it in school, and I know as does he that in all probability we will never encounter one another outside of school. This boy is relatively popular and I’ve now ruled him out as a threat; he doesn’t pose any harm. Algebra was the only class that I was given homework in, and I certainly got enough to make up for my other three classes: fifteen complicated (relatively) multi-step problems. I plan to start them tonight. In Spanish II it was the same old, same old. Pretty Girl had a bouquet that we jokingly accused her of having sent to herself. Pretty Girl, laughing and acting in a very self-incriminatory manner, said, “Who would be that desperate?” “You,” someone said. She probably did, I believe, send it to herself, but Pretty Girl is pretty and intelligent and charismatic and relatively popular, so she really can’t be too desperate. I hope. Today, of course, is Valentine’s Day. I don’t know how to say that in Russian yet, although I can say it in Spanish: “El Dia de los Enamorados,” literally, “The Day of the Lovers.” It’s named after St. Valentine, who was executed in Rome (or somewhere within the Roman Empire, I believe) on this date thousands of years ago. You see, the Emperor of Rome thought that married men didn’t make good soldiers because they didn’t want to go to war and leave home. So, he forbade marriage. I, personally, cannot believe the horrid tyrant that would do this. So, people went to Valentine to be secretly married. The Emperor found out, and brought Valentine to him. The Emperor tried to convert Valentine to essential atheism, and, Valentine, in turn, tried to convert the Emperor to Christianity. He was condemned to death. He fell in love with the blind daughter of the man who guarded the dungeon (or someone associated with the dungeon was her father) and on the day of his execution (I think) he left her a note describing himself as “your Valentine.” Hence, “Will you be my Valentine?” He was made a saint some time after his death and somewhere along the way people started celebrating St. Valentine’s Day, now more commonly referred to as “Valentine’s Day.” It is not officially celebrated in only six countries: the United Kingdom, Norway, Canada, two others that I can’t recall, and, of course, the United States. Now, the changes that have been going on in that nation, the United States, where I live, have been mostly precautionary of late. However, although precautionary, they are disturbing; in Washington, D.C., missiles surround the Capitol, Supreme Court, and White House. They are on the roof of the White House as well, and they have amassed in the streets. Patriot, surface-to-air, anti-aircraft, and probably other types of missiles as well surround all major areas, including the Washington Monument. In Arlington, Virginia, the Pentagon is guarded. All of this came the day after I told my father that I thought that our nation was in store for another major tragedy, and soon. The very next day it was declassified that the North Koreans now have a ballistic missile that could hit our West Coast. I was a bit surprised by this; up until now we’ve been told that the farthest that the North Korean reach could go would be Japan. Now they have a number of potential targets: San Diego, Sacramento, Olympia, Seattle, San Francisco, and Los Angeles, just to name some western American cities. My father said that they’ll never do it unless they wanted to be bombed back into the Dark Ages. However, what if they could do it and make it look as if someone else was responsible? Or even if they did do it, it probably wouldn’t be safe to launch our nuclear weapons at them; North Korea is a very small country, and in its vicinity are four innocent nations. If we bombed Pyongyang, we would risk radioactive poisons drifting through the air to China, Japan, South Korea, and Russia. Tokyo, Beijing, Seoul, and Vladivostok would be seriously jeopardized. I don’t think that this would be good for us, as it might provoke wars with China, Japan, and Russia. In Chemistry today I got to do what I’ve wanted to do since third grade: mix chemicals (colored water) using test tubes and things. I felt very scientific. I had to make very accurate measurements using a graduated cylinder, and I got to use a test tube rack and a beaker and a pipet [spelling?] and the waters changed colors. It was awesome. By the way, Osama bin Laden has released another videotape saying that he’ll die in a suicide attack of some sort against the United States this year. He’s so stupid. Whenever he’s about to try and do something, he goes ahead and gives us the heads up. Although it could be a diversion; after all, there were no warnings (that our incompetent intelligence agencies could piece together) before September 11th. After school I went outside for a little while, because we’re scheduled for a blizzard this weekend, and as I remember it, we’re supposed to receive more than 1 ½’ of snow by Wednesday. I briefly visited First Cousin and Second Cousin’s house, because I wanted to see if Lacrosse Boy was there and if they could come outside. First Twin answered and said that he and Second Twin were going to their father’s house at four o’clock, but Lacrosse Boy, a mutual friend of First Twin, Second Twin, Marijuana Boy, and I, came outside. First Twin’s hair gets longer every day. If there’s one thing I envy about First Twin (and, not to be insulting, but it’s probably the only thing) it’s that his hair grows incredibly quickly. My hair is barely over seven inches long, and it took me forever to get it that long. First Twin says, “Hey, BB, I’m thinking about growing my hair out,” and then all of a sudden it’s down past his eyes. In that aspect, First Twin is certainly very lucky. A year ago today I was at Beautiful Town Middle without a Valentine. Two years ago I was at Dirty Town Middle without a Valentine. I believe that you get the idea. However, I suppose that you’re not meant to find your soul mate at my age, at least not most of the time. My parents are definitely very in love. Seeing them makes me very happy.

February 16, 2003

The blizzard rages outside, and here I sit, cozily on my toilet. It’s been snowing four hours, since before I got out of bed this morning, and, from what I can tell, the storm shows no signs of stopping. Our mailbox protrudes triumphantly from the snow, standing up in all of its plastic and metal glory to the storm. For just a little while, as we’re trapped inside of our home, the declining state of outside affairs invades only through our television. Already this weekend there have been, I know for sure, massive anti-war protests in London, Paris, Rome, Berlin, Athens, Mexico City, New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, San Diego, and Baghdad just to name some. That’s protests in the United Kingdom, France, Italy, Germany, Iraq, Mexico, and Greece. Along with the Mexican and Greek protests (which surprised me) were protests in Sydney, Australia, and protests in at least fifteen different cities in Brazil. There was even a protest in Colorado Springs, one of our major military bases. The world doesn’t want this war. I don’t know what to do or think anymore. Since our terror alert level was raised to High, from Elevated, everyone’s been going out and buying duct tape and plastic sheeting. This is because we have been told to seal our windows in the event of a chemical, biological, or radiological attack. You have no idea how often I’ve heard the world “radiological” in the last few days. People actually believe that by duct taping the plastic sheeting to their doors and windows that they’ll prevent the radioactive poisons from getting in. I doubt that this would work, but at least it might give you some sort of a chance. Although I highly disbelieve that it will work, it’s probably one of the only defenses that we civilians have. Excepting, of course, bomb shelters. Here in Beautiful Town we have a certified bomb shelter in the downtown area. It is inside of a postal office. I’ve tried not to tell too many people about it in case the need ever comes to use it; I’m sure it can only accommodate so many people, and I’d like my entire family to be included. I’m going sledding.

February 17, 2003

I wasn’t able to go sledding. The reason is, as I was going out, Powell and Thomas were coming back in. Well, it was horrendously cold outside. Powell’s snow boots were filled with snow, and I couldn’t get them to come off. Thomas came into the garage crying, which I thought understandable; I remember the majority of my football team crying on the sidelines of a practice because of cold like that when I was around Thomas’s age. I removed his gloves and hat and began helping him to remove his boots. The entire time (or a lot of it) he was screaming at me to do it or possibly to do it faster. I certainly remember him screaming. My father flung the door open and seized Thomas with a rapidity and brutality that stunned Powell and I. He yelled all sorts of things at Thomas, general profanities, but specifically homosexual slurs. Powell and I are both convinced that my father is a homophobe. We have concocted a scheme to “come out of the closet” on April Fool’s Day. I thought that this would be hilarious. So do some of our relatives. Of course, we’d tell him at the end of the day that we were only kidding. Anyway, when he got done with Thomas, he screamed at us (at me particularly) to “Get the fuck in here!” I confronted him about why he was yelling at me. He said that I woke him up and that I had a big mouth. I know that this was true, but these cited reasons were obviously not the principal ones for his rage. Powell went to his room to change. I found him there, so infuriated by my father’s treatment of us that he was crying. I did not cry, although I was angry enough to do so, had I released my restraint and let collapse my repose. This anger that I felt was not being wrought forth necessarily from my own mistreatment, but from Thomas’s. Granted, he was being an absolute, ungrateful little brat, he still didn’t deserve to be reprimanded so harshly. I felt for Thomas. I was enraged that my father had taken his own masculine and authoritative insecurities out on my little brother. In my mind, he’s letting his own inner turmoil affect his children. I worry that my father’s own obvious homophobia and cruel demeanor will do psychological harm to Thomas. They certainly had negative repercussions on my childhood.

Nearly four o’clock in the afternoon
There is so much snow! Powell and I went out in it today to try to shovel the walk of the crazy old fat guy who lives one street down, and also to clear snow away from his vent outside, as it was preventing his house from receiving any heat. I had to crawl into the small space between his and his wife’s deck and the neighboring townhouse, a space of about one foot. Actually, getting there was fairly difficult, too.

Nearly eleven o’clock in the evening
So, anyway, the snow in that tiny little area was about waist high. I couldn’t get into the corner. So I dug my way through the feet of snow to look under the deck. I saw barely any snow under there. It was like a little haven in the midst of the remnants of the blizzard. I crawled under there. A claustrophobic would have gone absolutely crazy, livid with hysteria, but it was more spacious than the space from whence I had come. The old man’s wife (he was not actually there) continually asked me if I was alright, probably fearful lest I should fall and bury myself, becoming trapped in the snow. I concur with what I assume to be her notion that this would have been most disastrous. I believe that anyone could easily get caught an die in the snow.

February 19, 2003

I was able to clear the vent. I was paid twenty dollars, which Powell tried to rob me of by telling Dad that he did more work than I, and therefore he should get some of my money. As can be imagined, I was outraged. Luckily for me, she gave us two twenty-dollar bills, otherwise Powell would have plundered my earnings on the spot. He handed me the bill, and now I have it secured. On the night of the seventeenth, we watched the two-hour finale of Joe Millionaire. It was very romantic. He chose Zora, although it appeared for a while as though he might choose Sarah. I thought, and the others agreed with me, that if he chose Sarah that he was really only concerned with looks. But no, he chose Zora. Unlike the previous occasions, he took the girls in private separately and informed them of his decision. He told Zora first. For a few painful moments he seemed to be about to list Sarah as his choice. But then he said to Zora, “I have chosen you.” Zora smiled delightedly (and delightfully) and said, “Really? That’s so cool.” Then he told her that he hadn’t actually inherited fifty million dollars. Zora’s smile faded as she sank into deep thought. Evan told her to meet him in the ballroom with her decision that evening. He then told Sarah. He said to her, “What I’m about to tell you might come as a shock: I did not inherit fifty million dollars.” Then, “I don’t have fifty million dollars, I don’t have fifty thousand dollars.” I thought that the blunt way in which he broke this bit of news to her was fitting, given Sarah’s incredibly fake and rigidly-maintained smile throughout the deliverance of this information. Then, though, almost directly afterward, he said, “I did not choose you.” They hugged and then Sarah was told by the butler to pack her things and prepare to leave France. I felt a bit sorry for Sarah, because even after she knew that Evan didn’t have fifty million dollars, her face became downcast and she still seemed heartbroken. Mom called my assessment of Sarah’s emotions “naïve,” but, as President Bush said recently, “I respectfully disagree.” We unexpectedly got off of school today, and we have off tomorrow, too. How cool is this? I can’t believe it myself. I thought that at the most we’d have off today. Mom thinks that we’ll have off all week. That would extend our four-day weekend to a nine-day weekend. All of this after the snow has stopped. This has been just the break that I needed, and I believe that I referenced my concerns about my perpetual social decline earlier, on Valentine’s Day, if I am correct. Really, I don’t know why I’ve been so distraught. I have my faith, and I know with that that everything will be alright. I have thought of the possibility that the last few days of school before our rather unexpected extended break might have been a test of my faith, but faith and God will surely prevail. I have probably invented some of my fears, or fabricated on smaller things; I still obviously have raging insecurities from Dirty Town. I have deceived myself in a covert fashion in the last few months into believing that I conquered these insecurities, or that they somehow went away. However, the events of those all-too-recent days brought the old traumas, fears, and paranoia back with startling clarity. As far as I know I haven’t let on to anyone that I may be experiencing social difficulties. I have been hoping (and it appears as if) these disturbing social shifts are temporary. Even so, I still don’t want it to be made common knowledge that I thought that I might once again be going through alienation and isolation. I don’t want people feeling sorry for me, and, as I have said, it appears to be a passing social phase. I don’t ever expect to be popular-popular (although if I went to wild parties, became a raging alcoholic, and permanently damaged my body with life-threatening drugs and other illegal substances, I could), but I do expect to be in one of the many cliques just beneath, which is where I have resided socially for months. I don’t know why I care so much what they think of me, but I do. Although, if looked at from a logical point of view, I shouldn’t.

February 21, 2003

They’re just children. They’re immature, idiotic children. These harsh, damaging social societies and cliques should never be allowed to form. The ideal school is a place of education, and nothing more. Yet every day that public school commences is turned into a convening of scrawny, selfish brats trying to claim the glory and promote themselves (thereby expanding their already highly-bloated egos) in any and every way possible. Although I don’t agree that all social activity should be prohibited, I do firmly believe that our nation’s children (in particular our adolescents) have been allowed to become incredibly egotistical, hurtful, often physically hostile, and, concentrating less on studies and more on their insignificant social lives. I think that, despite the psychological depravity of the school system, it is quite a feat of accomplishment to have established such a system for teenagers who supposedly “don’t care” about being smart of performing well. As in the French court of Versailles during the reign of King Louis XVI and Queen Marie Antoinette, a complicated [etiquette] dominates their public lives. “Public” in terms of suburban America meaning school. These children, who pretend to care nothing for rules or intelligence, memorize the many complex and unwritten rules of child social etiquette to the point that they can easily and instantly call up their extensive etiquette knowledge in almost any situation. Even I have (to a great extent) mastered these rules through years of criticism and hurt, and there are probably few social situations where I wouldn’t know what is appropriate. I believe, really I truly believe that all of this nonsense is the price (well, one of them) that we have to pay for living in such a free nation; the citizens of free nations tend to become idle. Although that freedom seems to be rapidly declining. The Patriot Act II, sequel to the infamous civil rights violation, the Patriot Act, was recently introduced to Congress. I read about it in the newspaper, and I was absolutely horrified. The act allows for the essential institutionalization of a secret police. It allows for people to be held in secret, without access to attorneys. It allows for secret military tribunals, it allows for the government to revoke citizenship and deport you instantaneously, among other things. I realized, with a terrible pang of horror, that the United States, the democratic superpower, the Land of the Free, is slowly (but with ever increasing rapidity) turning into a socialist state. I found it compelling and disturbing that we fought communism all throughout our Cold War with the Russians, in terror that we might become as they were. I now find it amazing that, after the 1991 collapse of the USSR, and the consequent elimination of the Russians as a threat, which we fought so hard and waited so long for, we now voluntarily bring socialism upon ourselves. I can’t believe that there isn’t a national outrage over this. My father has compared President Bush to classic Stalinists throughout the ages, portraying him as a “Nazi clone.” I believe that he is most certainly leading us into fascism. My father has also said that if this totalitarian trend continues that there would be either a Second American Revolution or a coup d’etat. I would usually denounce this as a flight of fancy, but my father has been mostly correct with his political predictions so far, including one made some time ago that the United States was headed down a socialist path. This is all very scary and frightening, and I think that our nation desperately needs Democratic leadership. I can only hope that one will be elected to the White House next year (although if you want to be technical, one was elected to the White House in 2000), because I believe (or at least I desperately hope) that if the Democrats are able, through the people, to assume power, these socialists and their tactics will be halted in their tracks.

February 23, 2003

Mom (who, as I established in the end of Journal 6, is pregnant) went to get her sonogram, I remember, earlier this week. Well, as you know (or, as, had you read Journal 6, you would have known), I’ve been hoping (even praying) desperately for a sister. So, when Mom went to get her sonogram and find out the sex of the baby, I was a bit anticipatory. So when Mom called me and she seemed hesitant about revealing the sex of the child, I thought for sure that it must be a boy. But she said that they hadn’t been able to tell yet; the baby was lying on its stomach, covering its genitals. It absolutely wouldn’t move. So the doctor (or someone there) told Mom to go get something to eat. Well, she did, and the baby moved just enough for the doctors to say that they hadn’t seen any boy parts. Now, before I learned of this, Mom was out eating. She called me to tell me that she was going out to eat, and then she went. I’m really happy. I decided tonight while watching Saturday Night Live to eat some cereal. I went to the kitchen, and, as quietly as possible, I removed the box containing two Cinnamon Toast Crunch, I mean, oh yes, it was Cinnamon Toast Crunch bags. We’re not supposed to be eating these yet, but I really wanted to. So, causing so much commotion that it was a wonder that neither of my parents came down to investigate it (or so it seemed to me, what with my trying so much to be quiet) I wrenched, well, pulled one of the bags free from the box. I put a bowl on the table and I poured the cereal into it. I took from the refrigerator the gallon of milk and used the last of it, curing my conscience by reminding myself that I knew that my mother was going grocery shopping the next day. After I ate this cereal (and drank all of the milk) I rinsed out the bowl and I put it in the dishwasher. I then got on the couch, assembled various pillows around me, put a pillow on the table in front of me, propped my feet and covered my legs, feet, and lap with a blanket. Then, leaning back on the pillows and couch, which offer

February 24, 2003

A cushioned, sheltered comfort, I relaxed and watched a television movie. In the movie (well, in the beginning) there was a conference in East Berlin going on between the Americans and the Soviets to negotiate a peace treaty. I pretended that I was participating in this treaty through teleconferencing. I pretended to be a hated world leader who is physically weak but commands great world power. I was having a lot of fun with this pretense, although I felt a bit like a child.

February 26, 2003

I’ve decided to go volunteer at Beautiful Town Food House for three hours on Saturday. I mean, that is if Mom or Dad will take me. I have to sign off for my service learning hours anyway. The next weekend that I go will make six. I have to hope that one of my parents will take me, and that it’s not cancelled because of weather, and that we have school either tomorrow or Friday so that I can pick up the proper forms. I can’t believe that I’m actually hoping for school; that’s so stupid, I should have just done it today! You know, I actually considered doing something at a farm. Can you believe that? Me doing farm work. Whoever allowed me to volunteer probably would’ve gone out of their minds; I can barely plow a driveway (and not well at that). If I absolutely have to go to school again this week (I’m becoming accustomed to this delightful trend of missing at least two days a week), I hope that we have a two-hour delay tomorrow and then no school on Friday. I wonder what year the most school days were cancelled due to weather? This winter has been absolutely fantastic so far as snow and school cancellations have gone. Compared to recent winters (particularly last winter, when, in the height of my depressive period (excepting the fifth grade), when I really needed the vacation, we had, to my great annoyance, not one snow day) there have been immense amounts of each. Plus, the school board voted recently that we wouldn’t have to make up the three days we used for our little mini-vacation because the governor had declared a state of emergency. Isn’t it great? I love all of this snow anyway. Although I’ve never actually been there, it makes me think of Russia. And besides, it makes for such a crazy scene. We rent movies and make soup and it’s very fun. Today was just an excellent day in general. This morning I woke up, quickly dressed, ate (Cinnamon Toast Crunch; magnificently my mother discovered the open box, even though I turned the open end around, and now we’re eating that cereal in the morning, and I have received no blame or complaint for it, nor, as far as I know, have any of us) while Dad watched the news, and took great joy that Beautiful County was under a Winter Weather Advisory. Our county, along with others that span Central Native State, were emboldened in red against the green, blue, and white of the rest of the state. I went upstairs; stuck my head under the bath faucet; whipped my hair into a towel; dried, combed, brushed, and gelled it before brushing my teeth. I then got on my hat, holding my hair in place and preventing it from falling over my face, ears, etc. However, I do this mainly to keep it from freezing into place, which damages it. I am probably skipping a few details, but I went to the bus stop. Only Lacrosse Boy, myself, and a rather chubby boy were there. Lacrosse Boy said that he thought we’d get off school by noon because of this. 12:25, actually, but he was fairly close.

February 28, 2003

It must be odd to have your birthday on February 29th. I imagine it would be a bit difficult securing a day to celebrate each year. However, that would also be kind of cool. When you were twenty-four you’d only technically be three. [An example of my spectacular math skills] Today is the twenty-eighth. I love the way that “eighth” is spelled. The first two letters are the only thing even remotely phonetic about it. Also, I suppose that if you wanted to be really precise, the “e” is the only phonetic part. After the “i,” the gh is obviously silent, and hen the th, rather than making a heavy t sound, makes our “th.” I absolutely love our language’s spelling and its grammatical rules. It’s much more complicated than Spanish. For example: Mi papa piensa que nosotros vamos a atacar Iraq en la semana menos de hoy. Translation: My father thinks that we are going to attack Iraq next week. I don’t know about next week (to specify, my father said early next week) but it does seem to me that the time for an invasion seems to be drawing ever nearer, and President Bush has made it quite evident that he plans to invade no matter what the Iraqis do; Iraq recently announced that they have agreed to destroy certain missiles that we have deemed particularly catastrophic.

Friday, November 14, 2008

The Week From Hell

I have not posted since the presidential election, nearly two weeks ago, not because I haven't wanted to but because my schedule has been so hectic as to completely prohibit it.

On the night of Tuesday, November 4th, I jumped up and down screaming with Thomas in our kitchen as my mother and father attempted to sleep upstairs. The rest of the week was spent in a kind of oblivious high brought about by the election results and the knowledge that my countrymen are, in fact, intelligent enough to select a qualified and progressive leader.

Who would've thought, even four years ago, that a liberal black Democrat from the North would campaign on a platform of universal healthcare, tax increases, and multilaterialist foreign policy, and then win the presidency by carrying states like Indiana, Virginia, and North Carolina?

It's still incredible to think about.

The last seven days, unfortunately, have not been quite so celebratory as the seven that preceded them. By sheer, awful coincidence, I had four major deadlines for my four-day school week.

Monday night I spent feverishly studying for two exams, alternating between dense textbooks that, after some cursory efforts at thorough probing, I resolved were simply too thick to fully read and so skimmed.

I didn't have adequate time to prepare as well as I should for either test, but I did manage a brisk and informative overview of the two subjects.

On Tuesday, I took midterms for my Anthropology and World Music classes, which are literally fifteen minutes apart.

On Tuesday night I dove into my Judicial Process texts and wrote in a matter of several hours the paper topic I'd been given a month ago, making my argument in favor of the Supreme Court's DeShaney v. Winnebago County decision.

I'm actually a bit proud of this piece (though I don't know that my professor will reciprocate my optimism about it) and may post it here soon.

I e-mailed the paper in on Tuesday night to "stop the clock" on the late penalty, as I wasn't in class on Wednesday to turn in the required hard copy. My Judicial Process professor, Lawyer Woman, is firm but very understanding, and accepts e-mails en-lieu of the actual thing until we are able to give her a tangible version.

Were I to show up on Monday without the paper, then I'd start to lose points.

On Wednesday I drove from my home to Western County Community College and spent six hours gathering sources for the Foreign Policy paper that my professor, Annoying Asian Man, had said should be "between ten and fifteen pages in length."

After an exhaustive day retrieving statistics and quotes to use, I spend all of yesterday actually typing out my narrative of U.S.-Russia relations in the Bush/Putin era.

We had originally been told to turn in the assignment on November 16th, but when Annoying Asian Man realized that this was in fact a Sunday he thoughtfully moved the deadline up by three days to the previous Thursday instead of the following Tuesday.

"You just don't do that," Journalist Girl replied in shock when I told her of the dilemma. "You can move a paper back, but you never move it...up."

My professor had instructed us to turn late papers into the Government Department, with assurances that they'd be dated by the secretaries there. When I called that office, however, I was met with an irritated response.

"No," the woman on the other end of the phone said in clear annoyance. "We've told him numerous times that we do not do that. He's been informed of this before."

I'm beginning to detect a trend.

On the night of the 13th, the day that the paper was actually supposed to be in by, I e-mailed the paper to both the TA and the professor, explaining in an accompanying letter what had happened.

The reply I received read, "You know full well I do not open student's attachments [the grammatical error is not mine, but I felt that preserving it would reflect more accurately on the character of the man who originally made the mistake]."

Anyway, he takes five points off a day for late papers, a policy that, given his track record, presumably includes the weekends when submission is physically impossible.

I have a third, much shorter paper due Monday for Sociology on a book that I haven't and am not going to try to read.

So, that's been my week. I will post more within the coming days, including the first Journals Section in a very long time. February of 2003 here we come!

I really cannot wait for Thanksgiving Break. That reminds me: I still haven't officially added my Journalism minor or signed up for next semester's classes! Ah! I have to e-mail Western City Newspaper and remind them of my winter internship there, which I'll need to coordinate with working, visiting family, and having my wisdom teeth taken out (the surgery for which is tentatively scheduled for December 17th).

This is a fun time in my life.

On the other hand, I am euphoric (and in disbelief) that the two papers I've been distressed over for so long are finally done!

I will try to post more throughout the holidays. We're going up to Decaying State for Thanksgiving and will certainly visit both there and Native State for Christmas.

How will all of this fit in to my month-long Christmas holiday?

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

The Election

One Nation, One Voice

I am overjoyed today to the point of wanting to burst.

Word has recently come in, after last night's astounding electoral victory, that Indiana, which in 2004 gave George W. Bush one of his broadest victories, has delivered its 11 electoral votes to Barack Obama.

Ohio, the crucial swing state that narrowly robbed John Kerry of victory four years ago, handed its 20 votes to the Illinois Senator early in the night, while a slew of states once thought lost to the Red tide have returned home.

New Mexico, Colorado, Nevada, and Iowa, all deep within the Heartland so sanctimoniously claimed by Bush's GOP, defected dramatically from the Republican bloc. Florida, a blessed state as much representative of a radically changing America as it is of America's eternal promise of freedom and opportunity, placed its 27 electoral votes squarely behind Obama by a 51%-49% majority.

And, in perhaps the most stunning reversal of the entire election, Virginia, capital of the Confederacy, birthplace of American slavery, practitioner of racism and discrimination, cast its allegiance with a black man who it will now call President.

How many ropes swung from tree branches in that state? How many of her beautiful valleys were stained with the blood of dark-skinned bodies dumped late in the night? How many tears fell from brown eyes, how many parched lips asked why?

How many whites, trying to do the right thing, simply disappeared into the darkness there during the civil rights movement four decades ago?

How many people ever would have said that a man named Barack Obama would have won the loyalty and robust support of the Old Dominion?

That single event, the seizing of Virginia's 13 electoral votes by Barack Obama, presages not only a monumental political realignment in this country but a cultural one as well.

For decades now, conservatives have relished in demographics showing the rise of the South and concurrent fall of the North, predicting that the Southern states' elevated stature would provide the Republican Party with a built-in electoral advantage that would erase the Democrats' ability to compete nationally.

What they failed to realize, though, was that the skyrocketing population numbers south of the Mason-Dixon Line were as much the result of heavy Northern immigration as of the Southern birthrate.

People born outside of this region who come here bring with them the politics and ideals of another place, a whole ideology that taken on its face is anathema to the traditional Southern ethos. Yet those Northern migrants eventually marry and have children of their own, children who are born in the sweltering climates Georgia, North Carolina, Virginia, and Texas, children who call themselves Southerners and to whom Floridian oaks are as familiar and intuitive a sight as New England frost was to their parents.

These young men and women, coming now to maturity, are Southerners and will balk at any suggestion to the contrary. Yet from their mothers and fathers they have inherited Northern sensibilities that they reinforce in their own peers. A new generation sired from the old Confederacy has infused the South with electoral power at the same time that it is changing Dixie's political norms.

Barack Obama has broken across the Potomac into the Land of Cotton, and lines of Democratic dominance will only continue to advance, south from Virginia (or, depending on what happens this afternoon, North Carolina) and north from Florida.

In 2012, when President Obama is up for reelection, the electoral map will look somewhat different than it does today; the decennial census, set for 2010, is predicted to strip the North of at least eight electoral votes and awards the South with four.

Florida will jump from 27 to 29, Texas from 34 to 37, and Georgia from 15 to 16. North Carolina could potentially move from 15 to 17, and Virginia may go up from 13 to 14.

Simultaneously, Pennsylvania will fall from 21 to 20, New York from 31 to 29 (tying with Florida), Massachusetts from 12 to 11, Ohio from 20 to 18, Illinois from 21 to 20, and Iowa from 7 to 6. Michigan could also lose as many as two electoral votes, possibly going from 17 to 15.

All of this, however, bodes well for Obama as the North remains loyal and the South shifts.

I just want to say how immensely proud I am of my country at this moment. What it means to be a Southerner, and what it means to be an American, has changed.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Never Again

Never Again
Originally uploaded by BlackenedBoy

I was so excited when I actually figured out how to do this that I knew I had to post it right away.

It is a video of me singing Kelly Clarkson's new song, "Never Again." It's not my best, but it is the inaugural singing video.

My upper register is my strong point and my lower register is not very well developed, so the chorus is in my opinion better than the first verse.

I actually moved the key significantly higher to start with.

Anyway, a full post will be coming very, very soon, so enjoy this!