Monday, September 29, 2008

A Warning

Please don't abuse your children. Please, please, please, don't do it. There are so many different ways to mess a person up for the rest of their life, and, once they're old enough to understand, I guarantee that they will hate you.

I guarantee it.

I hate my parents. I can't stand to look at them, because all I see when faced with either one is the worthless piece of trash who had the cowardice and cruelty to do what they did to two innocent children.

We couldn't fight back. We couldn't defend ourselves. We were helpless.

It takes a pathetic person to intentionally attack a child.

Now, I just don't see how all of this will work out. I don't know how I can face my own conscience and call myself a man if I look them in the eyes, say, "It's okay," and act like everything is fine.

What type of person takes wrong after wrong after wrong, forgives every time, and then continues to facilitate their own humiliation? Someone who has no self-respect or courage does those things.

Well, I'm done forgiving.

We really had it out yesterday, as I'll shortly share with you in an upcoming post. I've just had it with the two of them, and I don't know if I can realistically see a relationship persisting into the future.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Where I Am Now

Me

I have never before felt the need to withold anything on this blog. Admittedly, I have refrained from posting certain information, but usually where it concerned other people; although I write anonymously, I still feel as if I'm betraying someone's trust when I reveal their deepest secrets, even if they're protected by pseudonymity.

If a person entrusts me with something, their soul has imparted to mine something sacred. In sharing the confidence with others, regardless of the fact that the public doesn't know the person of whom I'm speaking, I've devalued that sacredness and the relationship. So I don't do it.

I have, however, managed to be remarkably honest about myself. Some of my journal entries, as I'm sure you all know, are far from flattering. Many of the observations contained therein are infantile, stupid, petty, childish, and even vain. Vanity is actually a huge problem of mine.

Yet because I know none of you personally, and because most of you will probably never know me, I have been able to dispense with the restraint I would usually exercise. There's something very liberating about opening yourself completely to others, what's more to total strangers.

Half of the things I've said about my parents and about my family history never would have been posted had I been writing under my own name. Can you imagine if they found it? Can you imagine, with the years that have passed and the extent to which they've changed, how deeply it would hurt them to read those stinging words?

It would be terrible.

As I said, I've had no compunctions about stripping away my defenses to reveal the truth--until now.

Everyone has a line, I suppose, that they cannot cross, and concerning this topic I have reached mine. Though the majority of you, as mentioned earlier, have no personal acquaintance with me, some things are too deeply personal to submit forth to the public at large, even on a website such as this that has allowed me to interact with some truly wonderful people.

I'm still working out half of it myself, and writing about it would be cheap somehow, a wrong unto myself.

So I will instead write around it, and provide as much as I can so that you understand the gist of the situation without knowing entirely the issues behind it.

As many of you know, I have struggled now, for approximately two years, with depression. At times this depression has become severe enough to make me suicidal. From 2006 on, my life took a radical departure from where it had been, and my inability to handle the circumstances suddenly forced upon me led within a matter of months to serious emotional instability and a spiraling personal crisis.

One of the hardest parts of the entire thing, as I wrote in a post a month or so ago, was concealing it from everyone around me. Being miserable was bad enough, but I was miserable by myself. I had no shoulder to lean on, no one to prop me up when I cried and tell me everything was going to be okay. I kept it in despite the fact that I desperately wanted help, and the effort of that, of pretending to be happy when I was dying, when inside I'd become depraved enough to consider ending my life, was enormous.

I've written that, following the initial onset of these problems in 2006, I found myself unable to cry for some time. During a period that extended for well over a year, I could not weep. Occasionally I teared up, but it was nearly impossible for me to really let it out.

That has since been broken. I think that as I've recovered and the numbness of total defeat has slidden away from me, I've regained my capacity to deal with something besides pure dejection. When you're completely destroyed, when nothing's left, there's nothing to cry over. You've gone as far as you can without pulling the trigger. That's where I was.

Now, as my emotions have reawakened, a host of things have flooded in. There is pain, yes, fresh pain, pain that brings the tears surging again because now there's actually a bottom that I could fall to. There's hope, too, though. There's also, occasionally, happiness. There are times now when I smile and laugh and I'm not faking it, not play-acting the way I did for two years.

The change came earlier this month. It began really in August, when I resolved to see the good in my life and not dwell so much on the bad. That was an effort I made sincerely, but it was also one that I could not always feel committed to. When some of the most important things in your world are missing or horribly wrong, focusing on the few good ones can seem hollow and superficial.

Throughout August and early September I was sinking again. The pressure that had been building since I left for college two Augusts ago had reached a pinnacle. I knew, at least subconsciously, that I could no longer bear the weight of it all by myself without someone knowing, someone real, someone who I interacted with more than just on a computer screen.

I love blogging and I consider some of you to be good and faithful friends. I needed someone to touch me, though, and tell me they loved me, and kiss my cheek and wipe away my tears. I wanted that more badly than anything in the world.

I had been doing some work on my computer downstairs, and around midnight I went up to the kitchen, ostensibly for some snacks. I don't think that was ever the real reason I climbed the stairs that night.

I was standing in front of the open pantry, pondering what I might eat, when out of nowhere it came upon me. A mountain of grief, dumped as if by some malevolent god, fell at once on my shoulders. Without entirely understanding why, I was suddenly overcome with total anguish, and I submitted to it as the tears, like mighty rivers at last burtsing their dams, coursed down my face. I was hemorrhaging my pain.

Before long, I found myself clutching the pantry's wooden door with one hand and holding my mouth with the other, trying to keep the sounds of my weeping from other people in the house.

After a moment, I heard the floor creak upstairs, and with a small gasp I gulped in a deep breath, rubbed my hands over my face, and tried to compose myself. I didn't want them to see me.

Of course, though, I did. I did want them to see me. I had wanted to be found for ages, but had never allowed it. After years crying in the dark, moping in the shadows, dropping the mask only when alone, I needed to be rescued. I have needed that since this began.

There was a step on the hardwood as someone coming down the staircase reached the first floor. I thought that my father, with his insomnia, had come down to kill some time and maybe get a few hours of sleep. Instead, it was my mother.

I'd resolved, though, to approach one of them, and, without revealing too much, request help in a limited way.

My brother Powell, you see, has been in trouble before for underage drinking. As a consequence of this, he is now required to see a therapist, as a standard issue of court order. I figured that I would just, in a very dignified manner, tell one of my parents that I had some things I wanted to discuss with someone, and ask them if they would please set me up an appointment. There would be nothing wrong with me, of course. I'm an adult who's well comported, quite stable, and I just have some very respectable issues I need to work out.

The only problem with this was that I'd been sobbing literally minutes earlier, and from my blotched face this was very apparent. Also, I hadn't completely gained control of myself, so my voice was quivering somewhat.

I caught sight of my mother, in her pink pajama bottoms and white tee-shirt, coming into the living room from the dark foyer.

"Hey, Mom," I began.

"What, BB?" she asked, distracted by whatever it was she'd come down there for (I still don't know why she was up well past midnight when she had work the next morning).

"Can I ask you something?"

Something about my tone made her look up.

"What?"

"Um..." here I chose my words carefully, both because I didn't want to give too much away and because my voice was wavering. "You know how Powell has to see that counselor?"

"Yeah," my mother answered.

"Well, if...if our insurance covers it and...if it's not too expensive or anything...could I do something like that, too?"

"Yeah," she responded. "Why do you want to see a therapist, BB?"

"I just..." I said haltingly. "I just...have some things...I'd like to talk about, that's all."

I was taking deep breaths now, attempting to stave off the weeping that I feared were coming.

"BB, what's wrong?" she asked.

"Nothing," I said.

"BB," she said, squaring her hips. "Don't tell me nothing's wrong when you're sitting here crying."

"I'm not crying," I lied again, but her acknowledgement of it only made it harder to hold back, and about two seconds later the tears that I could no longer pretend away were coming down, blurring my vision, wetting my cheeks.

"BB, what's wrong?" she asked, her voice suddenly full of concern. "Honey, what is wrong?"

She reached forward and pulled me into a hug, not something we often do. That was really what did it. The warm touch of another human body against mine, the arms around my shoulders, stood in such sharp contrast to the cold nothingness I'd felt that I completely lost it, completely collapsed.

I heard a strange wimpering sound emit into the air. It was coming from me.

That I would not abide by, and so with a soft "No!" I pushed away from my mother, turned into the kitchen, and, my hands on my head and lungs heaving, desperately tried to regain control. It didn't work.

Soon, she'd coerced me into a chair, and over the course of about an hour, I confessed everything. There were four issues on my mind, three I discussed with her, and two that I feel I can detail to you.

I told her of my intense depression over the last two year, and some of the reasons for it.

I opened up to her about the fact that I'd actually seen a counselor on campus to manage my obsessive compulsive disorder, which the second semester of my Sophomore Year became unmanageable and started to interfere with my life. My parents hadn't even been aware I had the condition, which my counselor said often flares up during times of intense stress.

I suppose this makes sense in a way; earlier in the year I'd actually gotten shingles, something that left my doctors frankly very surprised.

After this I did one of the most difficult things I have ever done. Against my better judgement, against my instincts, and fighting a subconscious that held the words back and only let me get them out bit by bit, I told my mother that I suspected myself of having a certain mental condition.

This condition is not dangerous and does not make me hazardous to be around, but I am too ashamed to say it here. Maybe with time, I will reach the point where I feel comfortable sharing that, but not right now. It makes me feel mentally disabled.

"BB," she said. "We know. Your father and I have thought that for a long time. Your grandmother thought that when you were a baby."

"Yeah, I know," I said. "I just didn't want to admit it to you. I thought that if I kept it a secret, if no one knew, it could go away. I've gotten so much better at hiding it as I've gotten older."

Not completely, though.

Then I told her that I'd been suicidal. Powell had informed them months ago that I'd reached that brink in 2007, but none of them were aware that I'd come far nearer to it in July of this year.

"I just..." I began. "I couldn't find a job, and I had nothing to do but sit around this house all day, by myself, with no one here, completely alone. I just...I started thinking about ways that I would do it, where I would do it. I thought about just closing the garage and sitting there with the car on."

Now it was my mother's bright green eyes that filled with tears, making them sparkle.

"BB," she said. "Please, please promise me that if you ever have thoughts like that again, you'll tell me. Please promise me that."

"I promise," I said.

The truth is, I'm not better in the sense of being wholly well. I am better in the sense that my unwellness is not as bad as it once was.

Some days I am okay, even hopeful. Other days I just can't face the world. I'm trying, really I am. I resist the urge to feel like a melodramatic attention-grabber and push my problems aside.

For several days after first speaking with my mother, I felt better, optimistic, happy, relieved. I began to think, because I wasn't miserable in that exact moment, that the therapy wasn't really necessary, that it would just hamper my schedule.

Then came some bad days, and I understood that the need would not go away, at least not for some time.

I have been awfully sick since about Thursday. My chest is hollow and chilled, my head pounds, and in general I am in a state of extreme discomfort. I must periodically clear my throat, with a sound uncannily like leaves being crunched, of mucus that clogs it. Occasionally the angular substance works itself in around in such a way that my voice comes out strained and raspy.

When I wake up in the morning, I find that it has accumulated over night, so that I must cough a tunnel through it all in order to breathe.

My mother, typical to form, seems greatly irritated with me for being ill. Yet what she calls my "moping around" and "being a drama queen" actually means that I am so dizzy I can't stand up, so nauseous I can't eat, and afflicted by such a headache that I can't even turn my neck.

This has all been a few days ago, though.

I am tired of going back and forth, up and down, over and over again. I need help.

I reminded my father of this today, and he promised to call the therapist's office Monday and set me up an appointment.

I would also like for us to go to family counseling together, and, privately, would like to see my mother and father in parenting classes (especially my mother), but one battle must be fought at a time.

I really think I've come far from where I was, but to what purpose? Are things really any better?

At least I'm making an effort.

By the way, Aunt Ostentatious attempted suicide today in Humid State. She is in the hospital down there, and none of her family have informed the medical staff that she wished to take her life. They're releasing her with pain medication, and my mother, on the idiotic grounds that it's "not her place," refuses to intervene.

On a happy note, my father, currently working at a car dealership, recently went on a job interview for a much better position and is currently in the top three that the company is considering for hiring.

He would be selling pavements and pavement packages to distributors, very similar to what he did at Solar Explosion.

Next week he goes to Ugly State for another interview, and he'll likely know soon after that.

I promise I'll write again soon.

Monday, September 22, 2008

I'm Not Dead!

Me

I don't really know why I chose the picture above to prove to you that I have not, in fact, expired, but it seemed appropriate for some reason. I had meant to write a full-length post today but got up too late and as a result arrived at school only forty-five minutes before the start of class.

I resolve, here and now, to start getting up each morning at seven o'clock. There is so much more I could accomplish with that extra time, both academically and personally.

There are two posts I'm planning for the immediate future, and keep on me if I'm lax about either of them.

The first is a general update on my life and all that's happening (that will be a big one) and the second is about an honored pastime in my family called the Blanket Game.

I have to go to class now, but I promise I will be back soon (sometime this week).

Saturday, September 13, 2008

A Stand For Liberty, However Small

When I was a child, many things had to be contended with. My parents' punishments, often given out arbitrarily, without full knowledge of the incidents that had occasioned them, and in a manner grossly incommensurate with the offense commited, were a constant burden on our lives.

Social plans with friends could not be made, lest they be broken because one of us had been grounded for questioning a rule or momentarily yelling at a sibling. At the age of thirteen, I was being made to go to bed at nine o'clock on weekdays and nearly that early on weekends.

I was still, at some points, subject to the humiliation of corporal punishment. In our household, any disagreement at all ran the risk of earning an excessive response. I could not, despite having entered my teen years, have any control over my own life. My clothes; my hairstyle; the food that I ate, when and how much; were all rigidly regulated by my parents.

Repeated attempts to wrest autonomy from my mother and father were met with explicit threats of physical violence, and for a good time we lived in fear.

This post is not about the difficulty of those struggles, though, but rather how we responded to them, in a way that I regard to this day as noble.

The old way of life, which we eventually came to call the System, was showing definite signs of strain by the time I entered eighth grade. Powell and I, he on the verge of adolescence and I in its earliest stages, were beginning to think and clearly see the world around us. We became aware, acutely, that other people our age led far more liberal and happy lives, faced few of the same dangers and limitations, and were afforded much more in the way of basic respect and dignity.

Thomas was six then and Pie hadn't been born, but their lives would be radically affected by what my closest sibling and I were about to do.

In September of 2001, our home in Dirty Town sold on the early cusp of the infant housing bubble. This left us, with the new house in Beautiful Town not due to be completed until December, in the awkward position of having nowhere to live.

Thankfully, my mother's friend, Mom's Old Best Friend, stepped up to the challenge of helping us, offering our family room with hers. Mom's Old Best Friend, then married and pregnant, lived at the time with her parents and two adult siblings in a single-family home, a situation into which my own parents, two brothers, and I were soon injected.

The System very likely could have perpetuated itself for several more years had we remained in Dirty Town, but the cramped conditions soon imposed on us made that impossible. The tremendous tension that the System placed on our everyday existence already, combined with our crowded living quarters, created a poweder keg. The two things, System and living situation, were too much to endure at once.

The voiceless anger that had simmered for well over a decade among our family's children found furious articulation within a very short period of time.

When we moved in with Mom's Old Best Friend, Powell (then eleven), Thomas (then six), and I (then thirteen) were made to share a single room where before we had each slept alone. Predictably, daily fighting over sleeping positions quickly broke out, there being only two bunks and a futon between which we rotated in a semi-regular fashion.

My parents responded to these minor scuffles with punishments that can only be described as absurd. Very occasionally, the implementation of these punishments escalated into beatings, made all the more mortifying by the fact that an entire other family was in the house with us and could see it all.

During this time, I was still attending Dirty Town Middle School and being callously bullied by everyone around me. My only hope, the only thing I cared about, was December, and Christmas, when we would at last be gone.

It was my mantra and my worst fear during the three months at Mom's Old Best Friend's house, the thing I repeated to myself while getting ready each early morning before the sun had risen: soon, we'll be gone.

The move gave me optimism by allowing me to break with a very painful life, but also filled me with horror; if I were rejected in Beautiful Town as I had been in Dirty Town, there would be no escape.

My heart then was full to bursting with a curious mix of sadness, anger, hurt, and ferocious, white-hot hope.

My brothers, younger than I but living under the same conditions, were beginning to boil over with rage.

One day, Mom's Old Best Friend approached me in the foyer and said, "BB, I want to tell you something. I just want you to know that I see what happens, I see the way you get treated, and I know it's not fair. If you ever want to talk, you can talk to me."

This woman never particularly liked me, had in fact clashed with me on occasion, and her words, acknowledging the inadequacies of her best friend no less, were a comfort.

It is only in adulthood that I fully appreciate the significance behind that statement; I can now see in restrospect that I was a very difficult child, arrogant, haughty, demanding, and maddening, even if essentially right in my arguments.

The fact that a close companion of my mother's, one who had no special fondness for a boy many regarded at best as annoying, could see through her natural inclinations to underlying truths speaks powerfully to the injustices of our situation.

The punishments, threats, violence, and degradations (my father once spat at me, "You're thirteen; you don't have an opinion") piled on and on.

On November 29, 2001, a seemingly innocuous action touched off one of the greatest and far-reaching events of my childhood, one whose echoes still ring fortuitously across our family landscape.

That evening, weary from school and homework, I stripped off my clothes and got into the shower. I remember nothing about what happened earlier that day, other than that by the time my jeans and tee-shirt lay on the floor I was very tired and wanted nothing more than to feel the warm water coursing over my thin body and through my short blonde hair.

I had probably been in there between ten and fifteen minutes, and was really beginning to relax, when a fierce pounding shook the bathroom door. My mother's angry voice demanded, in a tone that carried every subversive threat one could imagine, that I get out of the shower right then.

I quickly obeyed, and then dressed myself.

When I left the bathroom, either my mother or my father, I can't remember which, informed me that for taking a "fifteen-minute shower" I would be grounded for a day.

That was the last straw. Not even bothering to wage an argument I knew would be lost, or at the very least would terminate the moment I started to get the upper hand, I returned to our shared bedroom and began to scribble lines on a sheet as my brothers played video games.

"Constitution of Rights" I wrote at the top.

I have kept this flimsy piece of paper in the seven years since then, put away in a scrap book. For about thirty minutes, I wrote out and divided what I considered to be mine and my brothers' most fundamental rights, basing the document's contents largely on my parents' most frequent and egregious violations of common decency.

"Powell, Thomas," I said. "I have to talk to you."

The conversation that followed proved that I was by no means the only one who felt a steady rage welling inside. We had reached a critical break.

Powell was looking over the paper, reading the guarantees it provided, when I wondered aloud, "But how will we enforce it?"

The Constitution forbade our parents from doing a number of things and declared that we had certain inviolate rights, but as of that moment they existed only in print.

"No chores," my brother responded.

"What?" I asked.

"No chores," he repeated. "If they break it, we won't do any chores."

I looked at him, nodding in agreement at the necessity of what he'd said. It was the only way, of course, that it could ever work.

The three of us breathed deeply, staring at one another. The chores rule, what would eventually come to be known as the Embargo Clause, was indispensable. At the same time, by placing it in the Constitution, we were putting ourselves in direct physical danger; because my parents would never willingly relinquish their iron grip on our lives (something none of us had any illusions about), there was no doubt that the Clause would be invoked.

The outright defiance that such a move would constitute, as we knew from prior experience, would very likely provoke violence on the part of both parents.

"The worst they can do is hit us," I told Powell, who looked as worried as I felt. "That's the worst they can do."

"Yeah," he nodded.

I think he'd realized what I'd already come to, that with or without this Constitution, we would live under the constant threat of physical harm. At least in this way, that harm could be incurred in the defense of our beliefs and liberties, rather than in the infliction of pure terror.

We would stand for our rights, fall before a leather belt for them if need be. And, if we tried hard enough, maybe we just might change something.

My mother's reaction to these developments was swift.

Within days of the document's passage, she had threatened us with a beating for some obscure and inconsequential action.

Resolutely, I replied, "That violates Article V--"

Before the words were even out of my mouth, she'd slapped me in the face. I didn't care. After she actually administered a beating, with a belt, my brothers and I met in what we called the "Constitutional Council."

We voted and declared an embargo. We were faced with all kinds of threats and exhortations, all sorts of nasty promises about what would happen to us.

Mom's Old Best Friend called it, albeit in a way that betrayed worry for our safety rather than condemnation of our actions, "Insane."

Yet we would not budge.

We held rigorously to the standards we'd applied, enforcing them whenever and however we could. Eventually, my father even bowed to our demands to have disputed punishments judged in a child court system.

By 2002, I was judging "cases" between parent and child on a regular basis and making my decisions based on the little piece of paper on which we'd codified our basic human liberties. Sometimes I sided with my siblings. Sometimes I sided with my parents. Powell, when he judged for me, varied likewise.

But, to my amazement, the verdicts in these trials were adhered to by all involved.

This process was not perfect. There were times when, in the face of fists, we quailed away from defense of our rights. The Courts system did not last, with my father eventually withdrawing and my mother never even considering participating. Occasionally, the System reared its ugly head and we found ourselves powerless to oppose it.

Yet we never wavered from our principles, and we pressed on with a strong belief in them through easy and difficult periods.

I can honestly say that, had it not been for that document and our commitment to it, the tyranny we'd been subjected to for over ten years would have continued in Beautiful Town.

Thomas, age six when the Constitution was signed, was to receive its full rights upon his twelfth birthday (in 2007, which seemed at the time like a distant year). By the time that date came, much of what our Constitution prohibited had faded away, in large measure because of the zeal with which we applied it.

Thomas and Pie now live in a home that is free, welcoming, happy, and devoid of fear. They will never know, will gloriously never know, the hardships that we did. Thank God.

I haven't had to think about that Constitution in a very long time. Recently, though, Thomas asked me to provide him with a copy so that he could revive it. I could only have had one reaction; while the threats necessitating the Constitution in the first place have largely evaporated, the rights therein enumerated are still sound, reasonable, and just. I immediately printed off the seven pages. There is nothing to be feared in them.

They are the opposite of that.

The Constitution mentions the creation of states to administer it, and has a clause allowing children from outside of our family to sign onto and be protected by it. Eventually, seven states would be admitted to a Constitutional Union.

Those states evolved later into something decidedly undemocratic, but what started them was a bulwark of rights, and continued to be even after the states had been perverted from their original purpose.

Today, of course, there is but one state, the one that my brother has deigned to form.

Those seven pages changed so much.

Whatever they were, they were responsible for a large amount of good that I doubt would have come about without them.

Below is the document in full, with an addendum at the top that Thomas asked me to attach. Some of the articles have been amended significantly since they were originally written, but the spirit of it is the same. Make of it what you will:


We, any and all children who shall choose to band together under this creed of liberty to which we shall abide, hereby reaffirm and reestablish the Constitution of Rights first enacted on November 29, 2001, and hold its rules and guarantees to be applicable to us and to all future adherents and signers.

Let it be known, to all Persons whom it may concern,

Article I

Section 1
That BlackenedBoy has reached his coming of age at thirteen years old. Let it be known that upon his coming of age he has reached, or has started to reach, a certain level of physical and mental maturity, and will soon begin attendance in high school. Rights that other young adults were handed as mere children he believes he has now earned over a course of seven years, through academic and social excellence.

Section 2
Some of said excellence includes:
•Achieving Honor Roll status
•Having a poem published and complimented by many worthy adults and learned persons
•Being recognized by many as passionate, intelligent, and involved in academic and extracurricular activities
•Being a young man of an age when many people have these rights

Section 3
Children seeking protection under and agreeing to the precepts of this Constitution shall be citizens of the Constitutional system.


Article II

Children shall be able to enjoy a reasonable bedtime.

Section 1
On weekdays, children shall be obliged to go to bed no earlier than ten o’clock at night unless they so choose.

Section 2
Children shall be allowed to choose their own bedtime on weekends and whenever school is not in session the next day, with no limitation placed on that choice.


Article III

Children shall be able to live in harmony and civility with no threat or actions taken in the name or in intention to enforce corporal punishment. All forms of corporal punishment are henceforth banned.


Article IV

Section 1
Children shall be obliged to perform within reason all chores of which they are physically capable. Any demand placed upon a child that does not conflict with the principles of this Constitution is the duty of the child to honor and obey.

Section 2
The rights enumerated in this Constitution, however, are not contingent on the performance of such chores, and those rights shall not be invalidated by a child’s failure to carry out household responsibilities.

Section 3
The rights deemed periphery by the Courts may be temporarily suspended by parents in the exercise of fair and legitimate punishment.

Section 4
All punishments shall be commensurate with the offenses for which they are given; no excessive punishments shall be permitted.


Article V

Upon reaching the age of twelve, a child shall have all of the rights listed in this Constitution, fully and without exception. Children who are of age may participate as judges in the Courts and may have a say in voting for Constitutional amendments and actions of the Constitutional Council.

The Courts and the Constitutional Council shall decide which rights are applicable to those children under the age of twelve.


Article VI

Section 1
All of the rights and regulation in this Constitution shall apply to all immediate family members of children who have sought protection under its precepts.

Section 2
Any adults, whether they be related to citizens or not, shall be bound by this Constitution when interacting with children governed under it.

Section 3
Only one parent or guardian in any given family need authorize this Constitution, but once authorized by one the Constitution must be obeyed by all.

Section 4
If this Constitution shall be violated in any way by a citizen’s parents or legal guardians, an Embargo of Household Duties shall immediately be declared, and all chores will come to a halt one day per each violation.

The Constitutional Council may enact other retributive measures as it sees fit.


Article VII

All of those protected by and/or signing this Constitution shall be allowed to express themselves, through their bodies or in any other way, however they may please, so long as they express nothing sexual and nothing else deemed inappropriate by the Constitutional Council and so long as they do so using a budget independent of their parents’ or legal guardian’s.

However, a child shall not be obliged to accept against their will anything pertaining to self expression (such as clothing, a haircut, or anything else) that a parent has offered to pay for.


Article VIII

Section 1
The child or children aged twelve or older in any family operating under the Constitution shall form a Constitutional Council, which will decide issues of Constitutional law. A Chief Justice should be elected to lead proceedings. This Chief Justice does not have any power exceeding that of any other Constitutional Council member, except that he or she will usually judge cases in the Courts.

Section 2
The Council shall be empowered, among other things, to declare an Embargo of Household Duties when necessary and take appropriate measures to protect the Constitution of Rights.


Article IX

In the event of a child disputing a punishment levied by a parent or guardian, the disagreement shall proceed to the Courts.

Section 1
The Courts shall be composed of the child, the parent, and a child judge, usually the Chief Justice, unless he or she is a party to the case. In families with only one minor child, or only one child eligible to serve as a judge, an impartial third party, adult or child, shall be called upon to judge. Ideally, in cases when a third party judge is needed, the same person should serve as that judge as often as possible, though this is not required.

Section 2
All persons serving as judges must familiarize themselves with this Constitution and must make their rulings based on the principles therein, even if this means deciding a case in a way that conflicts with their personal beliefs.

In order for the system to function properly, all trials must be fair, and a parent entering one must be able to know that their side will be heard and given as much consideration as the side of the child.

Upon making a judgement, a judge must cite the part of the Constitution that led to their decision. All rulings are binding upon child and adult alike.

Section 3
A judge’s power extends to upholding or overturning a punishment implemented by a parent. A judge has no authority to take punitive actions against adults.

Section 4
The Constitutional government may establish higher judicial bodies than the Courts, and if such bodies exist any child or adult may appeal to them following a ruling in the Courts.


Article X

Section 1
The government formed by this Constitution shall be known as the Constitutional Union, and shall be comprised of as many states may be deemed necessary by its citizens. The purpose of the states shall be to administer the rights of the Constitution to their residents.

Section 2
States will typically consist of a single family, and each state may establish its own Courts and Constitutional Council and may elect a Chief Justice.

Section 3
In states containing more than one family, a Chief Justice of the state may be elected, in addition to the Chief Justices of each of the individual families. The state Constitutional Council will be comprised of all eligible children in the state, meaning that the Constitutional Councils of each family will simply be combined. These states may also establish state Supreme Courts where a decision from an individual family’s Courts could be appealed.

Cases in state Supreme Court should be judged by the state’s Chief Justice, unless the Chief Justice is a party, in which case another child shall be called to judge.

Section 4
All states shall be bound by the principles of the Constitution.

Section 5
Should multiple states be admitted, they may create a national Supreme Court to which cases from the state Supreme Courts may be appealed. Citizens should elect a Chief Justice of the Constitutional Union to preside over these cases.

The national Supreme Court, if ever created, shall be comprised of the Chief Justices of each states, who shall vote on all cases. In the event that state Chief Justices live far away from one another, they should be informed by telephone or e-mail of the details of a case and should then vote.

If a state Chief Justice absolutely cannot be reached, someone else should act for them.

In the event of a tie vote, the Chief Justice of the Constitutional Union will decide the case.


Article XI

All cases in the court system shall be taken on an individual basis, and the people of one state shall not be bound by a Constitutional decision made in another.

Individual family Courts, however, should take into account the prior decisions of their state Supreme Court (if it exists) in deciding a case, as it is unlikely that, when faced with two very similar cases, a state Supreme Court will reach two different decisions.

Similarly, all Courts within the Constitutional Union should be mindful of the prior decisions of the national Supreme Court (if it exists).

While strict adherence to precedent is not legally required, the court system should be consistent in its rulings on Constitutional questions so as to maintain the legitimacy of the government for both children and adults.


Article XII

Any citizen in any state of the Constitutional Union shall have the rights stated in this Constitution and shall be protected from any unjust tyranny on the part of their parents or guardians.


Article XIII

Section 1
Any amendments made to this Constitution must be voted on by the relevant Constitutional Council. Once approved by the Council, they must be approved by at least one parent or guardian. Without this approval amendments cannot be enacted.

Section 2
Any state or national amendments must be approved by the state or national Constitutional Council and then by one parent or guardian from each family affected by the amendment.

Some amendments may be passed in one family but fail to pass in an entire state, while some amendments passed in states may not pass nationally.

All amendments passed in an individual family or in a state are valid for that family or state, even if higher bodies fail to pass them. Therefore, some amendments may apply in some states or families but not in others.


Article XIV

We hold that all children are entitled to certain rights, and will uphold them zealously with or without adult approval. Those parents who sign onto the Constitution, however, will gain a voice in the system and will have rights of their own, as has been detailed in this document.


I (child)______________, agree to these terms, and therefore witness my signature on this date of____________________________.

I (adult)_________________, agree to honor these terms, and therefore witness my signature on this date of_________________________________.

Anyone wishing to benefit from, or uphold this Constitution, please sign below:__________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Currently, the Constitutional Union consists of a single one-family state, the State of Our Family, but other states may be added.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Trip to Anne's Town

The last week of August, right before school started, I drove up to Anne's Town to see my birth-mother. I stayed there for about three days, taking in local sights and Anne's very good cooking.

I was very proud of myself for making the drive, as it was (and is) the farthest I had ever gone alone, a route that took me across four states. Here are some pictures:

Chicken Cooking

My first night there, Anne made me, upon request, some delicious chicken noodle soup (I like this wherever I go, and Anne's is particularly satisying).

Anne's Soup

Anne's Soup

The finished product was very tasty.

During my first full day there we took a walk about Anne's Town, frequenting first a coffee shop, then a candy store that sells homemade chocolate.

Browsing in the Candy Store

Following this, we went to an art gallery.

Art Gallery

The paintings were done by a woman Anne knows, and many depicted the Anne's Town area. I particularly liked these:

Painting of a Tree

Anne's Town in Winter

After a busy day, we returned to Anne's quiet house, where we relaxed for the rest of the night.

Bacon and Fried Potatoes

Anne's Kitchen

Anne's Living Room

Anne

My Car and Anne's Car

Parking Lot

Church in Twilight

The next day, I decided to embark on a perilous mission: getting a haircut. Now, I love having long hair almost more than I can say, and its growth has been a source of constant delight to me over the last year or so.

However, in deciding to completely forego any maintenance at all (my last haircut before this August was in November of 2007), I'd opted for length at the sake of quality. I had all kinds of split ends and the bottom of my hair often looked fried and unhealthy if I did not apply a considerable amount of gel.

I am a blonde, yet the hair growing at the back of my neck, suffocated beneath a thick sheaf of gold, had taken on a brown and matted aspect. I knew that I'd have to take off quite a bit, something I prepared myself for.

Not knowing exactly how much I would need to cut, I took some pictures that morning to memorialize what I knew might soon be nothing but a recollection.

Hair in the Mirror

Hair

Then we headed over to the home studio/salon of my mother's friend Stylist Man (a talented stylist), and the shearing began.

Fallen Hair Everywhere

Hair Swept Up

When it was all over, a lot of hair lay on the floor, but not enough to qualify as a disaster.

Shorn Hair

In the Hair Salon

Here is what it looks like now:

BB Gets a Haircut

For a reference point, compare these two ponytails:

Stepping onto the Threshold

Shortened Ponytail

For the record, I am aware that this looks unbelievably stupid. I know. I anticipated it happening, but made the decision to go ahead anyway as I thought that the longterm benefit would outweigh the shorterm embarrassment.

My head currently has the appearance of a large yellow mushroom, or, if I tie my hair back, of a somewhat oblong Swedish football with a blonde stump attached to the back.

However, hair does grow. I can't wait for mine to, and now when it does get long again, it will be full, healthy, golden, and easy to look at. I won't have to slather gel into it or drown it with conditioner just to make it presentable.

Today, at least so far as texture is concerned, I can get up, run a comb through it, and go. Of course, given its temporary length and shape, some other aids are required, but for entirely different reasons than before.

After my haircut, we went to see a sprawling Decaying State valley.

Me Looking Out at the Mountains

Valley

We then paid a visit to my eccentric but brilliant eighty-year-old grandmother, whose house, we like to joke, is almost as old as she is (sections of the building were constructed some three centuries ago; given her cheerful but decidedly patrician demeanor, we do not make these remarks in front of her).

Grand Ma Weird Family's House

Grand Ma Weird Family Cooking

My grandmother is old in so many different senses of that word: old in age; old in time; old in the customs and habits inherited through Scandinavian ancestors; old in the collective story built upon since the days of our ancient forebears, which she carries and to which she has now contributed; old in the wisdom and common sentiments of an age long lost; old in the magical way of the unreachable past.

Her home is littered with fragments of history, from the iron pots hung on ceiling rafters more than a century before her birth that have been left there even though their practical purpose (which I cannot even guess at) has been obsolete for over a hundred years, to the mahogony chest brought from Sweden by aristocratic ancestors, to the birth certificates of various relations, to medals won by her father in the Spanish-American War, to endless stacks of books.

My grandmother is well in touch with many dimensions of the past, present, and future.

Her own death, which she knows given her age can only be forestalled for so much longer, doesn't seem to frighten her in the least.

I will mourn her, though; with her will die a tremendous reserve of wit and knowledge.

Grand Ma Weird Family

After an hour or two there, I went back to Anne's for one more night, then drove home on Monday morning.

I will return with Powell in November, and am greatly looking forward to the trip. Anne is interesting, artistic and fun. Any excursion to see her is bound to be enriching, in one way or another.

Painted Chair

Monday, September 1, 2008

Journals Section: January, 2003

Grandparents Over

At this time I was fourteen, Powell was thirteen, and Thomas was seven.

January 1, 2003
It’s been 2003 for less than an hour now. I’ll continue my description of the manor later. Those terrorists weren’t able to ruin anything. If they even had a plan they’ve failed miserably. Although raising our alert system (to Code Red, I believe) certainly caused considerable fear and distress. During the 1999-2000 New Year’s celebrations, there were two million people in Times Square. This year, for the 2002-2003 New Year’s celebrations, there were only 500,000 people in Times Square. At least everything was safe. I am so excited to think of what 2003 might bring. New Year’s always makes me excited, although this year that excitement has been intensified. I am fourteen years old and I will be joining chorus soon, along with trying to maintain excellent grades and working harder not to put so much importance on what others think of me. I think that 2003 will bring many changes. The world will know me. In New York City, parties are coming to their end, in Nashville and the rest of the Central Time Zone 2002 has nearly ended. In Denver and the rest of the Rocky Mountains parties are in full swing, and in Los Angeles, San Francisco, and the rest of the American Pacific Coast, the festivities are beginning. All throughout Europe, in Moscow, London, Rome, Berlin, Milan, Paris, Marseilles, Madrid, and St. Petersburg, 2003 came hours ago. Spain, France, Germany, Czech Republic, Slovakia, the United Kingdom, and parts of Russia have already seen the New Year. What wouldn’t I have done to see the New Year’s celebrations in Moscow? I hope to be in Russia for the 2003-2004 New Year’s celebrations. This has been quite possibly the best New Year’s celebration ever. At home my parents are probably in bed now. They never do anything and when they do they’re both so pretentious that it’s almost physically sickening. The thought of vegetating in my living room on New Year’s Eve was truly tragic to me yesterday. Powell was trying mercilessly to get us home today, and I was becoming very angry with him, but then Mexican Aunt saved the day. I told my father the situation and he sided with Powell, naturally. He does a number of pointless and stupid things and he said, “I think [that] you can come home tomorrow.” This angered me incredibly. My father’s stupidity combined with my brother’s selfishness was overwhelming. However, as I said, Mexican Aunt saved the day by telling my father that my Uncle Mafia had already changed his plans and couldn’t take Powell and I home until New Year’s Day. Bound by his senseless etiquette, he had no choice but to let us stay; he and my mother both had to work (by the way, he’s gotten a job; I’m very proud and it will keep him out of the house longer). Powell was disheartened, which took a bit of the joy out of the victory, but now I’m sure that he’s glad that he stayed. By no stretch of the imagination would sitting at home with Mom and Dad be better than this. I am only sad that I’ll have to leave today. I’ve become accustomed to a certain routine here. Every morning we are awakened by Whining Cousin, Full Moon, and Little Man coming into our room, jumping on the bed, and talking to us about anything and everything. Today Little Man climbed up and laid on top of me. Whining Cousin will often read from her little Bible. We shower in the morning (a luxury which we don’t often have at home), eat breakfast, then play with the children until we have to go on one errand or another with Mexican Aunt. We then eat dinner after Uncle Nosehair gets home and then we play more. The family’s little dog Tini (who for some reason I’ve been calling Titi) follows the whole family around the manor. She is so little and only weighs ten pounds. Little Man is only two and says the cutest things, like “Haiyo [Hello],” and, “You shu uh [You shut up].” All you have to do is tap him, say, “Little Man” to get his attention, and then say, “Hello.” He’ll then respond, “Haiyo.” Also, if you say, “Little Man, you shut up,” he’ll reply, “No, you shu uh.” One day after we’d done it several times, I said once more, “Little Man, you shut up.” He looked down and went, “Okay.” Only he said it like, “O-kay.” Powell and I burst into laughter. I will miss this place intensely until summertime. We went through Uncle Nosehair’s yard yesterday. I hadn’t realized how huge the property was until then. As magnificent as the manor must sound, as grand as it must be portrayed through my descriptions (and I’ll have to finish them later), it is relatively small compared to the rest of the property. From the back door of the manor (well, one of them) the yard extends roughly fifty feet (possibly less) to a river. You wouldn’t even know how far back the property goes; the river would form a perfect border. However, there is a small land bridge that links a larger land mass, enclosed by a small, elbow-high (about) fencing. From the river it extends for six hundred feet at the very least) back. More than a hundred feet at the opposite end of the yard, also starting at the river, another fence extends back. The two meet at a single point, rather than angling and forming a straight line. In the front yard, the borders aren’t so defined, although they extend forward at least four hundred feet from the manor. Then the border goes at an angle to meet the river. The neighbor children, most of whom are poor, generally resent my uncle’s family for their property’s huge size (the largest in the neighborhood) and their comparative wealth. Their money and size have given them a small degree of power as well. My uncle’s property borders a public park for more than six hundred feet, and he is often the one to call the police to the park, and my Mexican Aunt has discussed the possibility of buying the land that the apartments are on. She says that if they bought the land that they would have the apartments demolished. I’m sure that if news of that consideration got out that there would be some type of vandalism in retaliation. Thousands of low-income families live there and the reaction would be fierce. The most recent event in the park has been the fact that someone has been cutting branches off of the pine trees. My uncle notified the authorities yesterday and demanded a police investigation. I really don’t care whether the offenders are caught, although I can understand my uncle’s distress. The party was nice. I probably ate too many tortillas, but this only comes once a year. Midnight approached with stunning swiftness.

Later
I peed (hee, hee, hee) for the last time in 2002, and I went outside for a few moments to see the world one last time in 2002. Brittany Murphy, a rising star, was in Times Square with the boy from “That 70’s Show,” the one with the long hair, but not the beard. 2003 came quickly.

January 2, 2003
Today is 1/2/3.

January 4, 2003
In Russian, today is: Chitirye, Yanvar, 2003. Chitirye; four, and Yanvar; January. There have been many monumental events going on in our world since when I last wrote two days ago. For one thing, the second human clone was reportedly born in Europe today. I say “reportedly” because the group claiming to have produced the clone also believes that extraterrestrials started the human race through cloning. Atheistic morons. They refuse to give the identities of the babies or their parents for fear that the authorities will take the children away. Or so that’s their claim. Genetic tests are soon to go underway to prove that the babies are indeed clones. This story has naturally received vast international attention. Also, tensions between our country, the United States, and another country, North Korea, are rapidly on the rise. Although this has been going on for more than two days, the situation deteriorates by the day. It all started (as far back as I can go specifically; I don’t know where it all started) in July, 2000, when terrorists entered our country. Then, on September 11, 2001, after more than a year of planning, they hijacked four commercial airliners, all of them large Boeing jets. They crashed two of them, American Airlines Flight 11, and United Airlines Flight 175, into the North and South Towers of the massive World Trade Center complex in New York City. Less than three hours later, both of the towers, each one one hundred ten stories tall, were gone. They both collapsed downward into New York City. The rubble and debris flew through the city, burying everything in a thick fog of smoke and ash. Things got very bad in New York. People on the top floors of the World Trade Center began jumping out of windows. I’ve seen the videos. The sight of those businessmen and women flying through the sky from so high up that they looked like ants will never leave my mind. You could hear the bodies as they hit the ground. Like breaking glass, that’s what it sounded like. A huge crash. No one who jumped survived. At least, none who jumped from that high. And when the towers came down, well, that changed everything. Everyone in those towers, almost everyone died; the floors just came crashing down on top of each other, and as one fell, all of the debris and smoke and rubble and bodies, many of which were swirling around in the clouds of dust, they all had to go somewhere. So they went out. Into buildings, into people. New York City was turned into a chaotic war zone. Just like in all of the movies, people ran. And they ran everywhere, everywhere they could to get away. There’s another thing that will stay with me forever: New Yorkers fleeing en masse, screaming, running for their lives. For those that couldn’t go quickly enough it all came to an end fairly swiftly: flying debris struck some in the head, killing them instantly, or there was always the suffocation. And then who could forget the falling bodies? From that high up, they killed quite a few firemen on the ground. When I first heard that the towers had collapsed, I couldn’t believe it. They were too big. I thought that it must be an exaggeration. While all of this was happening in New York, American Airlines Flight 77 was hijacked and crashed into the Pentagon in Arlington, Virginia.

January 5, 2003
To continue, another airplane was hijacked, United Airlines Flight 93. It, more so than the other three planes, is the one that has been immortalized. It was the only one that missed its target. It was headed for the White House, in Washington, D.C., but the heroic passengers aboard that airplane, those aboard that airplane refused to allow the hijackers to accomplish their brutal goals. Through cell phones and other communications they learned of the attacks in New York, and the Americans rose up against their captors to take control of the plane. Many say that the war started there on that plane, because that is where the first fighting broke out. The plane took off from somewhere near New York City, then flew west all the way to Ohio. It turned around over Ohio and headed southeast for Washington, D.C. After the Americans retook the plane it crashed in a field near or in a small town called Shanksville, Pennsylvania. This town is now famous all throughout our nation, and the passengers onboard are now revered as heroes. Well, four of them at least. Through telephone calls to wives and family members, we know that four men took on the hijackers, however, there have been speculations that more people aided in the fight. Anyway, we soon traced the attacks back to Osama bin Laden and his global terrorist network, al-Qaeda (I’m not entirely sure that I spelled that correctly). He was born in Saudi Arabia but they kicked him out, so he took his vast fortune to Afghanistan. The Taliban government there, which was very unstable and extremely prejudiced against women, helped Osama bin Laden and hid him. We appealed diplomatically to the Taliban for weeks to give him up, but they denied having him. In October, we invaded Afghanistan. Within a year, we had attacked the Taliban so ferociously that their militia government collapsed, and we were able to install an interim government with a democratic president (a man by the name of Karzai) at its head. Our forces are still stationed in Afghanistan. We had international help with this invasion, although it was primarily ourselves and the British who engineered the war. The British are funny. Their leader, Tony Blair, has essentially become the puppet of our President Bush, and thus our President has two groups of armed forces at his disposal: ours and the United Kingdom’s. I find this hilariously funny as at the time of the American Revolution no one ever would have dreamed that this could possibly happen. After our invasion of Afghanistan, we, I mean, our President, made a speech during which he said that the collapse of the Taliban wasn’t the end but only the beginning of the war. He labeled three countries as being an “Axis of Evil,” and they were: Iran, Iraq, and North Korea. Shortly thereafter we accused Iraq of having chemical, biological, and nuclear weapons of mass destruction. We told them to allow inspectors “unfettered” access to all sites throughout the country. So, the Iraqis let in United Nations weapons inspectors. When the inspectors couldn’t find anything, President Bush said that we’d probably have to invade anyway, and a lot of people, even within his own administration, began to turn against him, but then

January 9, 2003
Iraq has released a 12,000-page report on their weapons, which the Chief United Nations Weapons Inspector Hans Blix essentially dismissed as a monumental lie. He said that too many things were missing. Some time before that President Bush made a speech about the War on Terror. Well, as it’s become increasingly more likely that we will invade Iraq, North Korea has taken up the thought that they might be next (and they very well may be). They reactivated a major nuclear facility, and, instead of trying to hide what they’re doing like Iraq, they defiantly announced to the world (and primarily to the United States) that the facility had been reopened. President Bush isn’t quite so anxious to invade North Korea, though; North Korea has nukes, Afghanistan didn’t, and Iraq doesn’t. They can’t hit us; their missile technology isn’t sophisticated enough to successfully launch a nuclear missile at the United States, however they are within quite capable reach of South Korea, one of our closest allies and a country that we’ve had thousands of troops stationed in since the nation’s disastrous civil war in the mid 1900’s. The North is communist (although not in the extreme as the USSR was) and the South is democratic. People say that if they bomb South Korea that we’ll invade. And if we invade, communist China may aid North Korea. Could we repel a Chinese invasion or nuclear attack? I hope so. Whatever’s going to happen, peace or war, it’s bound to happen soon. The tension is so thick that you can feel it. And our economy has suffered devastating losses. I’ve heard a lot lately about Ohio, and although I don’t know what’s caused it there, thousands of people have been forced to go to food lines. It’s like another Depression. What’s going to happen to all of us? I’m very frightened. What will happen? Events like these led to two World Wars. Is this another? God protect all of us.

January 10, 2003
They say that the Lord works in mysterious ways, and I suppose they’re right, because what happened today was a far cry from the world peace that I prayed for last night. North Korea has withdrawn from a nuclear non-proliferation treaty. All that I know is that this somehow limited the production (and usage) of nuclear weapons. South Korea, alarmed, held an emergency security meeting today. As I mentioned earlier, I mean, yesterday, many people think that North Korea will likely bomb South Korea if anyone. We saw on the news this evening a short segment on a woman whose son is stationed in South Korea and she had already had five brothers stationed there during the conflict of the 1950’s. My father is convinced that all of this will be like another Vietnam, with a draft and everything. He greatly resents the government and says that if there is a draft that we’ll go to Canada so that Powell and I wouldn’t be drafted. He says that he’ll be damned if our government takes his sons. I told him that Canada has stated that if there ever is another Vietnam-like situation that Canada will close its border with the United States to prevent what happened in the 1970’s. He said that then we’d go to Mexico. I laughed and he looked at me and said, “No, I’m serious.” I think that he might mean it. My Government teacher often kids with us in class about how we’re just coming of age to join the army. There’s something that I could never see myself doing. I’m most certainly not physically fit enough to be in the army, and considering my extreme distaste for that type of thing (hence, lack of motivation) I probably wouldn’t make it through training. I would hate to kill someone and I could never deal with the extreme disciplinary structure of the military. I’m the kind of person who needs to be giving orders, not taking them. And I’m not trying to say that to sound conceited: what I mean is that I really enjoy giving out orders and being high in the chain of command (preferably at the very top) and I absolutely hate to be dictated to. I can’t imagine ever actually signing up for that, and that’s why I have great respect for anyone who does. Although I don’t mean those idiotic people with grand fantasies of glorious war battles, I mean the people committed to the defense of our homeland, the United States. And I can’t begin to fathom not going to college. My dreams and goals are so immensely dependent on that that it’s unreal. From my perspective, I feel that if I don’t go to college that my entire life will be ruined, ruined in the sense that all of my illustrious and grandiose dreams and goals would never be accomplished. When I told some people that I know that I want to go to Harvard, he said, “BB, you’re not going to go to Harvard.” Well, I’ll show him, and I’ll show them all. I’ll show all of the people who criticize me, and I will get into Harvard. Well, there aren’t that many people who criticize me, but I’ll show the ones that do. And everyone who has ever made fun of me, and I’ll show myself that I can do it. And I’ll be a successful lawyer, and I might live in Movie State. My hair has been growing for more than eight months now and is about six inches long. I love having long hair. One year ago today, on January 10, 2002, I was absolutely terrified in my Language Arts Class. Mrs. Middle School English Teacher (who would later present me with the Student Choice Award in June of that year, June 6, 2002, actually) was discussing the Bronte books and my knowledge and general love of them. She then made the comment that most girls like the Bronte books, which I believe to have been a not-so-subtle attack for misbehaving in class or something. I still accredit to God the reaction of the students, which was, amazingly enough, nothing. And then I farted, and I mean, loud, and no one did anything. I hated some of my current friends back then. Wow, it sure feels good to be writing with the Latin alphabet again; Cyrillic is far too phonetic for my liking, although when Russian grammatical rules are applied, it’s fairly challenging and fascinating. I love Cyrillic. I can’t believe that it’s been a year ago since that happened! Two years ago today (well, technically, yesterday, since it’s now after midnight)

January 11, 2003
I started Journal I on January 10, 2001. Two years have caused unfathomed changes. For example, in January of 2001 I was a social outcast and doing very unsatisfactorily academically. I had short hair, too. What a thought. We went out to dinner “last” night. Before we left (for dinner), we saw Venezuelan Boy for the first time in a long time. First Twin stopped by, too. Venezuelan Boy is my age, and he is a United States citizen from Venezuela. One thing that really doesn’t appeal to me about Venezuelan Boy (and it probably is tied in with the fact that he’s foreign) is his materialistic ways. I suppose that in Venezuela it wasn’t very nice, because he saw our ATV “yesterday” and asked, “What’s that?” That’s our only ATV left now, too, thanks to the stupid poor people in Hick State who wrecked it. Mom and Dad wouldn’t sue, and for once I wish that my mother had followed suit with her sister, my Aunt Ostentatious; Idiot Cousin’s got wrecked, too, and by the same people. Anyway, dinner was good, although not as good as I’d hoped. “Yesterday” was, all in all, a good day.

Later
Around 1:30p.m.
You know, it’s just occurred to me that I never finished describing my Uncle Nosehair’s manor. I’ll do it this summer. We actually get to see our cousins Annoyingly Perfect and Innocent this year! Although, it might not be in July. You see, although Annoyingly Perfect is only a Junior in high school, she has succeeded in maintaining academic excellence, and so she has applied to take a month’s worth of courses at the University of Country Music State. That would be wonderful for her, and I hope that she makes it. It would mean missing the Independence Day party, but we would still be able to see each other. Uncle Nosehair and Mexican Aunt are wonderfully nice, but it got quite boring after a while, and with Annoyingly Perfect and Innocent there, that won’t happen. We’ve all missed each other dreadfully, although I don’t think that Powell has craved the reunification as much as the rest of us. We’ve been through a lot together, like the July 4th incident of 1996, which left us separated for four years until 2000. Our reunion at the manor in July of 2000 was rather awkward at first in the presence of our parents, but after my father left and we were alone, things just clicked. Aunt Smugly Superior’s appearance was a bit disturbing at first; she has a muscle disease that made her lose all control over the left side of her face. I’ve heard that when she first got it that it was a lot worse, although I’m not exactly sure when this happened. All I know about it is that her acting and singing careers (she sang classical opera) were ruined instantaneously, crashing down almost as swiftly as the muscular spasms that wreaked havoc over her once-beautiful face. She does have a lot of control now, more than the doctors thought that she’d ever gain back. She can smile almost evenly now. It’s not a topic of discussion that often comes up in our family. I remember that Powell once mocked her about it (although not in front of her), and my biological mother Anne, my Aunt Heroin, and my cousin Pothead were so angered that [Pothead] nearly physically assaulted Powell. He must have a great love for Aunt Smugly Superior (my mother says that Aunt Smugly Superior raised her when their parents always had to work, something that they shouldn’t have had to do) but he doesn’t seem to like her children, particularly Annoyingly Perfect. Annoyingly Perfect is Pothead’s opposite. Pothead is in jail now, and he is a drug addict. His mother is poor, and they live deplorably. Aunt Heroin, living with my grandmother, is trying to pull her life together, an effort for which I commend her. Meanwhile, beside my Aunt Insane Woman, who has many millions (and she really doesn’t count because she isolates herself from the rest of the family) and lives in an exclusive neighborhood in Some Western City, Aunt Smugly Superior has the wealthiest family of our branch. Her house was recently added onto, a master suite and a two-level garage: a $120,000.00 move. I detected just a trace of contemptuousness in my Mexican Aunt’s tone as she told a visitor about the family’s recent buy, saying, “That’s nothing for them.” I must say, though, that even that is comparatively bourgeois with one of the other branches of our family. My great-great-uncle, my great-grandfather’s brother, through incredibly wise and calculated decisions, brought his own family through the stock market crash of 1929 and the resulting Depression with their immense fortune intact. However, there was some instability; my great-grandfather’s loss of $10,000,000.00 left an enormous power vacuum and caused severe damage, threatening the collapse of our Dynasty of wealth. Before my grandmother’s uncle could act to help, my great-grandfather had lost upward of ten estates that had been in our family for centuries. There must have been a shock, a huge shock throughout our family and the high societies of the United States. However, the shock was not total. Other members of the family had warned my great-grandfather, and the loss of the estates and the millions of dollars gone prompted an immense anger through the rest of the family, an anger so great that they refused to help him. My grandmother stopped going to fine hotels in Independence City, Largest City, and Revolutionary City. She stopped buying all of the clothing bought by the elite, the equivalent of today’s Gucci, Armani, and Versace. And so, our branch’s wealth unraveled. Great-Grand Pa’s brother stopped associating with his brother’s family, which had sunk into wretched poverty. And what about my great-grandmother Danish Woman? Well, she was furious, too. She also came from a family of ostentatious amounts of wealth and privilege. I still don’t know what became of her family. Grand Ma once told me that her mother never got used to being poor, having grown up surrounded by wealth. My own biological mother grew up poor as a result. Meanwhile, the wealth of a thousand years of privilege continued to flow to the other branches of the family, and many of my second cousins have lived many a childhood of luxury. Hopefully, one day, I can break the recent tradition of complete failure in that family, and, unlike my ancestor, I shall make wise investment and financial decisions, so that that type of thing won’t happen again. I definitely want my children to grow up in a household where money is never an issue.

Later
Around 10:15p.m.
Grand Ma and Grand Pa Normal Family came over today. Shortly after their arrival we left for Thomas’s basketball game. Although it was a team of five- to eight-year-olds (perhaps some a little bit older and younger, too), the game was incredibly exciting. Thomas was one of the better players on the team. There was one boy (who Powell and I referred to as Mr. La La, Fruity McFruitcake, among other names) who skipped and threw his arms about in the air for the duration of the game. He was so interested in his private little ballet that when someone gave him the ball he shot at his own team’s basket. Thankfully, he missed. He then proceeded to grab the leggings of his shorts, pull them outward, and do a curtsey. Powell was nearly doubled over in hysterics. We were yelling out, “Go, Thomas!” in our rustic voices. Well, anyway, it got to the point where there were fourteen seconds left on the clock, and we had the ball. We shot, missed, got it back, and it got passed to Thomas. He could’ve made the shot, he had the opportunity, but it was awfully crowded down there and Thomas isn’t incredibly tall. He missed. They lost by a point. We went home and Grand Ma and Mom went grocery shopping. We stayed home for the remainder of the day. I had to work on my book report, which consumed far too much time; I can’t wait until I’ve turned it in. Grand Ma wants to read War and Peace, the genius and inspiring novel by Leo Tolstoy. I am currently reading Tolstoy’s other great work, Anna Karenina, which, despite a rather boring beginning, is becoming vastly entertaining. As I gave an account of War and Peace, so I shall give one of Anna Karenina. Prince Oblonsky is fighting with his wife Dolly, because she has discovered that he was having an affair with their children’s French governess. Meanwhile, Oblonsky’s rustic country friend Levin has come to Moscow to propose marriage to Kitty Shcherbatsky, which he has yet to do, although he came quite close at the ice rink. I got gum in my hair today. The gum was everywhere, throughout the front of my bangs. Quite naturally, I was a bit upset by this point, although my behavior wouldn’t have led one to believe so. I calmly left the bathroom, taking care that no one should see me, and I walked swiftly up the stairs. I went into the bathroom, shut and locked the door, turned on the water, and got out a comb, some shampoo, and some conditioner. I applied the shampoo and some of the gum began to come off, but with it it ripped out many long pieces of hair, which I watched fall into the sink in their legions. I ran the comb through my shampoo-gum-infused hair, ripping out still more strands. I got shampoo bubbles over the sink, but I didn’t care. I wanted that gum out. I rinsed the shampoo and applied the conditioner. I slowly worked the rest of the gum out, and besides the fact my scalp hurt a bit where the hair had been so vigorously pulled and a little red spot (which is now gone), there was no indication that any hair was gone, no physical indication at all. I was, to make an understatement, relieved.

January 15, 2003
I’m sorry for my rather sporadic and extemporaneous writing of late, but I’ve been working on a massive book report on War and Peace for English. War and Peace is my all-time favorite book, and the report came out to fifty pages. Mom actually yelled at me for that, saying that I wasn’t the only student in the class and that when she did a book report on The Grapes of Wrath that she managed to keep it down to ten pages at the most. Although, War and Peace is a much more complex book than The Grapes of Wrath, and The Grapes of Wrath wasn’t accredited as the most significant literary feat of all time. Anyway, the report is due tomorrow, and it’s too long for Mom to print out and so I’m going to have to give the disk to Ms. Young English Teacher. Although then she’d have to print it out and use up her ink at home and I certainly don’t want that. I’ll ask the media specialists if I could use the media’s computers. They have a general rule about not doing that, however they are inclined to make occasional exceptions. Ms. Young English Teacher is going to Gambling City, Desert State, this weekend. That’s why she would have had to print it out: she told me that she’d use the five hours that she has on the plane to read my rather long book report.

January 19, 2003
We went to Washington, D.C. today. That is, Grand Ma, Aunt Crazy, Cool Cousin, and I went. Being able to enjoy Cool Cousin’s company again has been a delight. She’s my second cousin, and, in addition to being incredibly modern, liberal, Democrat, Left Wing, and cool, she is also highly intelligent. Yesterday, after school, Grand Ma and Grand Pa picked me up. We rode to their house but first we were all so hungry that we stopped at a sub shop. Grand Pa and I dropped Grand Ma off at the quaint little store to order our things while we went to Blockbuster. We got “Signs,” a new movie about an alien invasion of Earth. In the movie, crop circles began to appear all over the world. Then alien spacecraft begin appearing over Mexico City, Beijing, Honk Kong, Tokyo, and other major cities. In the end, the humans win and drive the alien invaders out. We pondered over whether anything like that could ever actually take place and what it would be like if it did. Then we all went to bed. Oh, by the way, prior to watching the movie (which was good but not as good as I thought it would be) we devoured our subs ravenously (they were delicious). Grand Ma also got me some soup, which was excellent. I’ll write more later.

January 21, 2003
The next day we woke and lazed about until Aunt Crazy came, then it was a rush to get ready. We left the house around two o’clock, after I played Civilization II for a little bit. It is a computer game that my mother bought me for Christmas, without (due to her lack of computer knowledge) having known that both of our computers were far too slow and lacked the hard drive to support the game. Well, after that, we went to Aunt Crazy’s house. It was nearly three o’clock at that time. I spent a considerable amount of time in the bathroom assuring that my hair was fixed; I had been told that the theater that we would be going to was of station and I wanted to dress and look proper for the occasion. When we first got to Washington, D.C., we drove on a bridge above a rather bad section, but we could still see the Capitol, standing bold and magnificent amidst the many other buildings in Washington, D.C. We made our way into the main part of Washington, D.C., and all of the buildings are quite striking. They all must be no more than thirteen stories tall, and so, due to the low-rise fashion of the city, they all seem to be incredibly close together. And almost all of them are white. It was very striking. We went into a parking garage, where a valet took our car. We then walked into the Willard Hotel, which Cool Cousin says is the finest in Washington, D.C. We walked through their lobby and I was amazed. Oh, and before that, Cool Cousin, at my incessant pleas, drove past the Capitol. She later described, in my presence, the occasion to her father, and she described me as having been “happy as a lark.” And I suppose that I was. Anyway, as I was saying, the Willard was absolutely fantastic. Their lobby was elaborate, ostentatious, over-the-top, and so help me I loved it. The entire place screamed of wealth, privilege, and prestige. I can remember, as a child, going to the high-rise hotels in Seaside City, staying in the suites, getting room service, and doing all sorts of things. We once even stayed in a room that was two stories, two stories inside of one suite. We were a far cry from wealthy, but we certainly lived well, despite our extremely modest home in Dirty Town, Native State, where I died every day for years. I don’t know exactly what brought it on, but we stopped traveling so. Seaside City was too expensive. Motels, most of them two stories tall at most, were what we did. In that way, I suppose that we were much luckier than Thomas; he was born into our decline, or, rather, his birth and the financial strain of it, caused our financial decline. Now, my father says that we can afford places like that; we just don’t stay in them. He feels that it isn’t wise, well, I believe that he may feel this. Anyway, after leaving the hotel, we caught a taxi cab to the restaurant. Cool Cousin got a bit upset, though, because she said that the food wasn’t exceptional but only average.

January 23, 2003
Cool Cousin is so funny. I had the yellowfin tuna, very rare, sushi style. It was excessively delicious, although the seaweed salad that accompanied it was positively revolting. Everyone said that I had the best dinner. The desserts were excellent. I had some type of apple pie, and it was absolutely sumptuous. I didn’thave time to finish eating it, though, because we had to rush to the Warner Theater, lest we should be late for the play. We hailed yet another taxi (oh, and here’s an interesting fact: an underground passageway links the White House to the Pentagon. “In case of an emergency,” our first taxicab driver said. Cool Cousin immediately and unconditionally trusted this polite Ethiopian and later confided to me that taxicab drivers often knew a lot about the city) to the theater. We emerged from the taxi amidst crowds of people waiting in line in the sub-zero temperatures to get in. Cool Cousin walked up illustriously to the door and went right in. As we had reserved tickets ahead of time, there was no need for us to have to wait. We were shown into an intricately decorated lobby. I suppose I should say that although the Warner Theater wasn’t nearly equal to the size of the Ford on Broadway, and although the Ford Theater had featured a d├ęcor of massive hanging chandeliers and magnificent artworks on the ceiling and walls, the Warner Theater was still comparable.

January 24, 2003
The very interior of the theater, not the lobby but the room housing the stage, was beautiful. Unlike in the Ford, we were sitting quite close to the stage, in Row O. The tickets cost $60.00 per seat. I, had I been an adult, would have paid it for what came next. This theatrical production certainly wasn’t the traditional (California) type. There was a row of stools lining the stage, with one on each end elevated two feet or so above the rest. The actors sat in these seats, not once moving around the stage during the entire play. There were two very famous actors there, or, I suppose that I should say, one very famous actor and one very famous actress. Mia Farrow and Brian Dennehy. Mia Farrow I’d heard of, but never this Brian Dennehy, although now I’m told that he’s quite famous. At the very beginning I turned to Cool Cousin to criticize the woman speaking; she sounded fake and forced. Quite bluntly, I turned to Cool Cousin and said in a quiet voice, “She sucks.” Cool Cousin laughed and told me not to say such a thing. However, just moments later the woman spoke again, and without a spoken word Cool Cousin and I turned to give each other a look of amused disapproval. She then became captivated in the play, though, as did I. At one point I noticed that one particular actor, a heavy elderly man sitting next to the rather untalented woman, was incredibly good. He seemed to outshine the entire cast, and I told Cool Cousin that I thought so. She said to me, “That’s Brian Dennehy.” I didn’t recognize the name save for a principal I’d had years ago. Well, he’s (not my principal) actually a very famous actor, and he played in “Romeo and Juliet,” a movie that I saw. I suppose that this just makes me an excellent judge; well, that’s me. The play, like a good book, was thoroughly engrossing. When it was over, Chad Lowe (the brother of a celebrity) told us about some things. The play was about people who waited on death row for years only to have critical evidence later prove their innocence. This man, this Chad Lowe, told us that he wanted us to know that the System had not corrected these errors, but that outside organizations, organizations like Amnesty International, did the research and were able to free these innocents. Almost the entire script is actual testimonies and interviews. This is the play that the governor of Illinois saw before making his landmark decision recently to exonerate all death row inmates. The only problem with this was that the governor said he was doing it because the system was too flawed. So they all had to be let off of death row. Including one man who it is said is known to be guilty. Grand Ma told Cool Cousin, myself, and Aunt Crazy of the brutal slayings. This man entered the home of a pregnant woman, cut open her stomach and stole from her uterus her unborn baby. He murdered both the child and its mother. He then proceeded to murder one of her already-born children. He left. The dead woman’s seven-year-old boy, mistaking (fatally) that the murderer had gone, ran outside and was caught by the man who had slain his mother. He was tortured for four days and then murdered. I told Cool Cousin that I would like to see for this man a public beating with baseball bats. Cool Cousin said that this would never happen, and I told her that although I knew that it was still a nice thought. Then the play ended and we left the theater.

January 26, 2003
As we were leaving there were people with little bowls of candy. We were only supposed to take one each. So I took one, walked forward a little more, and then took another one from another person. Aunt Crazy, however, took quite a few. We walked the several blocks back to the Willard, where I was able to rapidly traverse the stairs leading down to the garage in epiphanies of delight.


January 28, 2003
The valet went to retrieve our car, bidding us wait once again in the luxurious room through which we had first entered the Willard. There were some candies in a bowl. Aunt Crazy was ravenous and swift. She seized about eight of them and hastily shoved them into my hands. She told me to put them in my pockets. Quickly, I did, laughing all the while. As we drove back to Aunt Crazy’s from Washington, D.C., Cool Cousin spoke with me of a man that she is acquainted with who works with deciding who gets certain grants for some gifted school. Cool Cousin told him about me and he and a great many other people were very interested in me. This prospect excites me. Although, I must admit, I would find leaving my friends very difficult. However, I am still young and now is the time to prepare for the future. I have the time after that to enjoy, and I can honestly say now that I live for the future, except on rare occasions. I am constantly thinking of college and the future. One thing that I will never accept for myself or my family is a middle class existence. Our neighbors, the Neighbor Family, purchased for their daughter this Christmas a $3,000.00 laptop computer. This astounded me, and when I told my mother, she looked at me and said, “Oh, well.” Those two words masked a practical soliloquy of American middle class rhetoric about either being able or not [being] willing to finance such a gift. Our class’s mentality of always looking for the best bargain, of obsessively hunting for the best price. Our entire society would just collapse and die off in a place like France, where stores are only allowed to have sales twice a year! Can you believe that! If the government tried to do that here, people would cry socialism. It is a bit too socialist. We Americans certainly are very lucky. Anyway, this society of tightwads has inspired me to pursue great amounts of wealth through my education. And being educated at such a facility as Cool Cousin proposed would greatly increase the chances of my success.

January 29, 2003
I had to stop writing last night. Powell, Thomas, and I were wrestling in Powell’s room and Powell punched me lightly in the stomach. I had had fajitas earlier. Fajitas with guacamole, which I’m probably not spelling correctly and which I’d rather not think about. I think that that horrid green substance is what made me so sick. Just thinking about it makes me want to vomit. After that, Powell and Thomas were made to go to bed early for something that they’d done earlier that day. I went downstairs and got two red apples. As I did in 2002, I turned on the small light, which casts a tannish glow over the kitchen. I turned the other kitchen lights out and began slicing the apples. Last year I had green apples. The occasion? President Bush’s State of the Union address. My parents criticized the formal and traditional announcement of, “Mr. Speaker, I give you, the President of the United States!” My father said, “Unbelievable.” My mother said, “It’s all politics, hon.” I thought that it was a wonderful tradition. As President Bush walked down the aisle and shook hands and hugged and lightly kissed the women’s cheeks, my mother said of the men, “Why don’t you just kiss, you bunch of fags?” Considering that my mother is very educated and also a professional sales representative, I thought that this was very funny. President Bush started with a domestic tone, and I thought that he had some marvelous ideas. For example, he wants to decrease taxes, he wants to start new mentor programs, he wants to provide money for a hydro-powered car. Hydrogen and oxygen could power cars. It’s an incredible thought. We would never again be dependent on Middle Eastern oil, and the wealth of those nations would decrease significantly. Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Oman, Qatar, Bahrain, Jordan, Syria, and many other nations would lose a considerable amount of power. Then President Bush began talking about international and foreign business and issues. He wants to help prevent, well, contain and extinguish AIDS in Africa and the United States. Then, after several other thing, President Bush moved on to what was on everyone’s minds: Iraq. He presented some compelling evidence of some very frightening weapons that Iraq possesses. He told us that the Iraqi government tortures its own citizens and that Saddam Hussein has promised to kill all defectors and their families. I am now convinced that we should invade swiftly and immediately. President Bush has implied that an invasion will soon be forthcoming. That has also been made obvious due to the immense military buildup of military forces in the Persian Gulf. No mention of the draft. I stayed up to watch the Democratic rebuttal, delivered by the governor of Washington state. I had consumed two apples during the address, and by the end of the Democratic rebuttal I was feeling quite sick. I went up to my room immediately following the end of the rebuttal. I tossed my things off the bed, and, feeling positively horrible, I climbed into bed. I woke at two o’clock in the morning and knew that I would vomit. I also knew that I wouldn’t make it to the bathroom. I seized my trashcan and vomited massively into it. My heaves and the sounds of sickness that I made woke my mother, and she came into my room. She took me into the bathroom and washed my trashcan out and I rinsed with some mouthwash. Then I went to bed. My stomach felt as if a giant rock was inside of it weighing it down and it felt as if it might burst from within me and onto the bed. I drifted through a troubled semi-conscious state, half dreaming, half awake, never entirely one or the other. I “dreamt” of the Middle East, and that one country wanted to invade another country to marry that country’s princess. I thought that this was what was making me sick. I awoke around three o’clock and vomited again. I vomited on my favorite sweatshirt, on the floor, on my pillows, and on one of my blankets (the blanket thing actually happened the first time). The blanket was put in the wash, the pillows and shirt in the washroom. I hastily covered my floor with a towel. I slept for four hours, until roughly seven o’clock. I woke to see Mom cleaning my floor. I woke, well, got out of bed, and checked the television news. Beautiful County schools got a two-hour delay. Powell and Thomas thought that there was only a ninety-minute delay, and so they left the house around nine-thirty a.m. I was alone. I went upstairs to take my washed blanket out of the dryer and put the wet clothes from the washing machine into the dryer because Mom had told me to do so. I hastily made my bed. However, before I had finished putting the clothes into the dryer Powell and Thomas had come home. They had found out that we had a two-hour delay. So they stayed home for a few minutes and then they left. I walked into the kitchen, having thought of my biological mother Anne that morning. The telephone rang. It was her. She told me that after she spoke with me on Christmas that Idiot Man’s company seized their truck, an action which, as they’ve been living in this truck, left them homeless. She wept as she told me of their strife. She told me that no one in Idiot Man’s family would take them in, so a Midianite family gave them shelter for a night. Soon after, my Uncle Mafia allowed them to stay at his house. This situation is so pathetic. Now, they’re going with a different truck company. Anne, well, my biological mother, confided to me that she no longer wanted a marriage to Idiot Man and that she was tired of living in a truck. Not only is it boring, it has been taking a physical toll on her. She told me that my Uncle Nosehair had suggested to her that she pursue employment with the private investigator in Anne’s Town. She says that she’s good at breaking four-digit codes. She said that she could go to college with grants because her father, although born to American parents, was born a citizen of Panama in Cristobal. And, she says, she has enough real Spanish blood to get the grants anyway. She said that she could be making around $45,000.00 a year. She said that she will start sending us money. She said that she would send $50.00 here and $100.00 there. It’s a nice thought, but I really doubt that it will ever materialize. The conversation ended with my mother yelling frantically for Uncle Mafia to wait because she wanted a ride to the store. So typical. My mother Marie, who in every way except giving birth to me has been my actual mother, called my mother Anne “a lowlife” when she later learned of the telephone call. After I spoke with Anne on the telephone I went upstairs and got a towel. I locked myself in the bathroom with the telephone in case anyone called. I didn’t want anyone to worry, and I wanted a means of communication. I turned on the shower to a hot temperature. I didn’t bring any clean clothes, but left my pajamas on the floor beside the bathtub. I didn’t want to be clean; I just wanted a hot, relaxing shower. I pressed down the plug and I let the tub fill up. It filled within a few inches of its rim. I was in there for quite along while. I sat Indian-style in the tub as water filled it up around me. I looked at the metallic faucet that showed my reflection and I let the water drench over me, causing my hair to fall forward into my face. I felt enormously relaxed. The telephone rang in the middle of my shower, and I quickly turned off the water. I jumped out of the shower and picked up the telephone. My hair was dripping wet and heavy with retained moisture. It was Mom. We spoke briefly and then we both hung up. The telephone no longer made beeping noises when I pressed the buttons, and so I had to dry off the telephone. Then I got back into the shower. I washed my hair. I turned on the cold water because I was feeling sick again. I went downstairs and watched the television news. All of the news stations were talking about President Bush’s State of the Union address last night. They were talking about foreign reaction and I was watching a brief at the Pentagon when all of a sudden the picture flashed to Growing State, where a plastics factory had exploded. The fire was immense. The building itself, seen from an aerial view, looked comparatively small to the resulting smoke and flames. The huge pillar of smoke flowed through the air, at least fifty stories high, and absolutely enormous. A local school in the vicinity of the explosion, only half a mile away, was evacuated. The explosion was so powerful that windows in the school shattered. The students were evacuated to the local high school, which, at only two miles away from the explosion but opposite the direction from the asphyxiating cloud of smoke, had gone into lockdown. Initial reports stated that a plane had crashed into the building, and I thought, well, wouldn’t President Bush capitalize on this? Had that been the case, our invasion of Iraq would be commencing with much more rapidity than it is now. The FAA, however, said that reports of a crashed plane were false. That would’ve given President Bush perfect license to invade, and it would have left no room for Democratic criticism. I am convinced beyond a shadow of a doubt that we’ll invade Iraq, and soon.

January 30, 2003
By all accounts, what happened this afternoon and still affected us this evening should have sufficed to make today a horrible day. But, somehow, it didn’t. Not completely. I arrived back at school today for the second day of the third quarter, with four new classes. Isn’t that funny? I just realized that. I just want to say now that I will probably have to continue this entry tomorrow. Anyway, I walked into the school building and went straight to my homeroom (I usually wouldn’t do this as we have first period first). When no one was there, I went into the Media Center, turned in one book, and renewed two. Then, when the bell for first mod rang, I went back to homeroom. I conferred with my homeroom teacher, Mrs. 9th Grade Homeroom Teacher, and she gave me my schedule.