Friday, January 30, 2009

Chapter 3

Chapter 3 of "Four Cousins" is now available at

Monday, January 26, 2009


It’s been a little while since I wrote. I’m sorry for the absence, but last Wednesday was the first day of school and today marks the beginning of the first full week.

Bare Path in Winter

Major University was closed on Monday for Martin Luther King, Jr. Day and on Tuesday for the inauguration of Barack Obama, who I still can’t believe is the 44th President of the United States.

Everytime I hear one of the newscasters on television refer to him as “the President” or allude to some comment of his by narrating, “the President said” it gives me a happy shock of surprise. He really is our President, the most powerful person in the world, the leader of our country. It will take some time for the reality of this to set in, certainly longer than the six days he’s been in office for.

Yet already he’s pleased me beyond measure. George W. Bush was necessary to effect the rise of a dominant liberal coalition in this country, as he demonstrated with absolute clarity the outcome of the Republican ideology carried to its logical extreme. As I’ve said before and will say again, Bush’s reelection in 2004 was from a geopolitical standpoint a godsend for this nation, as it broke the long hold of the Reagan conservatives and their imitators over the electorate and ensured the ascent of a brazenly liberal Democratic majority.

I can’t quite believe how far left he is. In less than a week, he’s ordered the closing of Guantanamo Bay, enabled stem cell research to proceed uninhibited by religious dogma, capped White House staffers’ salaries, resumed funding for international aid organizations that promote family planning, disallowed torture, cleared the way for individual states to implement more rigorous environmental standards, and moved the deadline for automobile company compliance with federal efficiency standards back from 2020 to 2011.

I feel like I’ve died and gone to Heaven.

Societies are resistant to change and typically evolve slowly. Every once in a while, though, circumstances create a need for urgent alteration, and, when the forces in power resist as is their nature to do, an individual emerges to push his people forward far more rapidly than normal. Franklin D. Roosevelt was that person in the 1930’s, and I believe that Barack Obama is the catalyst for our own generation.

If the past six days is any indication, civil liberties advocates, including those lobbying equal rights for gays, will find a powerful ally in our President, whose liberalism is the natural byproduct of staunch devotion to the U.S. Constitution, which he obviously respects.

George W. Bush, a far-Right Republican, turned America blue. After years of shallow victories, all of them more short-lived than their perpetrators ever could have imagined, the Democrats are firmly in control of the United States, and, barring a truly catastrophic presidency on the part of Barack Obama, at a decided demographic advantage that extends into the foreseeable future.

My elation with the political world notwithstanding, the dominant emotion I feel regarding my personal life right now is one of frustration on several fronts. I am not, mindful of my New Year’s pledges, complaining about nothing. There are just some things I’m not quite pleased with.

The first of these regards school and my career options following graduation, which will come in either May of 2010 or May of 2011, depending on how my newly-added Journalism minor affects my credit requirements.

Simply put, I’m not sure anymore what I want to do after I graduate. I came to this realization following my internship at the Western City Newspaper, which gave me some insight into the lives of young reporters several years out of college. During my short time at this publication, I wrote stories about a dog park and a fourth-place beauty pageant contestant, all while working alongside underpaid people in a grim place of business.

“God,” I thought to myself, looking at the long hours the reporters put in. “What if I graduated, and this was what I had to look forward to every day?”

This led to the alarming discovery that my career goal had suddenly gone out the window, because now, halfway through my Junior Year, I’m not sure what I’m aiming for. I know what I want to do, what I would do in an ideal world: I want to be a writer, not simply a newspaper correspondent, but a writer in the mold of my cousin, who pens books for a living. The most important component of this, of course, is to write, and I’ve been doing that regularly. In fact, as of last night, when I finished five new pages of material, “Four Cousins” was 111 pages long, a number that will continue to grow. When I think that this time a year ago I had fewer than forty pages done, I’m enormously encouraged. I’ve made so much progress, and as I get farther into the book the plot, which came out in awkward chunks at first, flows much more easily and has become far more intricate in my mind. Transferring it to paper is enjoyable, and watching my characters grow and develop like children is also something to experience. It’s almost like it’s not me doing it, though of course I’ve had basic ideas of their personalities since I made them.

It’s so odd, writing a book, like creating a universe that you alone control. Their fates, though fictional, hang upon my whims. If I say they die, they die. If I say they live, they live. If I say that they rule immense kingdoms, then they shall come to possess extravagant wealth and power. It’s pretty cool.

I should probably take this opportunity to thank the few of you who have gone over to and left your comments. I understand that reading someone else’s book is not for everyone, but I greatly appreciate the feedback from those of you who are following along with William, Amelia, James, and Beatrice. Please feel free to be honest; if you don’t like something, don’t refrain from telling me because we’re friends. Constructive criticism is how we grow.

Unfortunately, however, “Four Cousins” cannot provide me with an income until it is picked up by a major publishing house, something that would be remarkable in any case but all the more so at this point given that the project is not finished and is nowhere close to being completed.

If there’s one thing I’ve realized over the last few months, it’s that this book is going to be very long. Right now, the cousins are on the first of several worlds they must visit, aren’t even leaving yet, and the book is over a hundred pages in length. I may wind up breaking it into two or even more installments, perhaps wrapping up the first part halfway through their journey. All of this is very precarious, dependent upon the will of agents and publishers who don’t even know of my existence yet, but I believe, very firmly, that this novel has vast potential. In my heart of hearts, and as a writer, I think that the story is superb and would delight countless children, and to that belief I will hold. Many people my age set out to write fantasy novels, but few produce any that have substance or broad-based appeal. I believe that I can and am doing that.

In any case, Semi-Famous Cousin has said that, despite his ongoing national book tour, he will take the time out of his hectic schedule to review the first chapter of the book and give me some feedback. I’m happy for it.

In the meantime, I’m a twenty-year-old college student with no clue what he’s going to do when he graduates in a year and a half to two and a half years. It’s scary, which is why I’m going to seek out the advice of one of the Journalism professors at Major University, who, for some reason, appears to have taken a liking to me. Go figure, right?

I think that I could be a political journalism given my obsession with such matters, or that I could possibly have a job with a publishing house, but I’m just not sure. There’s so much uncertainty.

Hoping for Snow

There’s even uncertainty about what my schedule will look like tomorrow; we’re expecting the first snowstorm of the season here tomorrow (I’m sure my Northern readers are astounded by this), and while the area around Major University will surely get no more than an inch of accumulation, my town in the mountains, the slanted roads around which quickly become dangerous when covered in ice, is due to receive nearly four.

Pie and I both wore our pajamas inside out and backwards to help bring on the snow.

Wearing My Pajamas Inside Out and Backwards

If this county is closed tomorrow, I’ll be staying home, but otherwise I’m headed off to school.

I really hope Mountain County is closed, though, that way I could avoid this crowded commute home in snowy weather:

The Commute Home

School is the reason for another bit of discontent. Let me say now, unequivocally, that if at all humanly possible I will be living on campus next year. I enjoy being at home, love the good food and the privacy and seeing my family, but the social isolation is killing me. I long for the social life that, given the number of friends I have at Major University, I would have if only I lived on campus.

Take today, for example. I met up with Dread-Locked Boy, a black Sophomore from one of my Communications courses, to discuss an assignment that we are to present jointly to our class tomorrow. The two of us instantly hit it off, discussing my moves between Native State, Deep South State, and Southern State, the trip I took this summer to Movie State (he’s never been but it dying to go), and how he has spent his whole life in College Town, Southern State, several hours south of Major University. His life seemed as strange and fascinating to me (imagine—people actually move somewhere and then stay there for twenty or thirty years, never once leaving!) as I’m sure mine did to him.

During the course of our conversation, which shifted within five minutes from school work to our personal lives, we were interrupted twice by acquaintances of mine, the first of whom was Finnish Boy.

Finnish Boy is half Finnish and half Filipino, his pseudonym made all the more nonsensical by the fact that I regularly refer to him as “damn Asian.” He’s several years older than me, and we met the first semester of my Freshman and his Junior Year when we had a Communications class together. The two girls we’d hung out with then drifted away once the course was over, but Finnish Boy and I have remained friends. He’s kind, funny, irreverent without being rude, very attractive (though not my type), and a Christian. I’ve often wondered if he’s gay (the girls of Major University would be devastated if he were), but it may be that his religious convictions really are just very strong.

Hair Let Down

He came up to us and, by way of a greeting, seized a handful of my long blonde curls and said, “What’s this? You need a haircut and I’m gonna give it to you.”

I laughed and introduced him to Dread-Locked Boy, with whom he entered into an easy exchange right away. After some banter about politics and my joy for President Obama, Finnish Boy ran off, to be succeeded just minutes later by Black-Haired Boy, who I met last year in a gym class and have since become friends with. He’s so nice to hang around, and his girlfriend is also great fun, but I have few opportunities beyond meet-ups for lunch to spend any time with anyone.

Dread-Locked Boy and I got on so well that I’m adding him on Facebook, and he, like many others, wishes to “hang out.”

“Do you smoke?” he asked me.

“Everybody asks me that!” I exclaimed, not sure whether or not to be insulted. “Do I look like it?”

“Yeah,” he admitted.

“It must be my teeth,” I said, alluding to the slightly-yellow tint given them by a childhood medication, which thankfully is usually not very noticeable.

“Oh, no,” he said slowly. “I meant, do you smoke marijuana?”

“Oh,” I said, laughing at my own obliviousness. “No. I mean, I’ve tried it, but I don’t do it regularly or anything.”

“It’s the hair,” he said with a smile, gesturing to the shoulder-length locks that Finish Boy had so recently threatened to sever.

This is one of the things I genuinely like about college; marijuana use is widespread, yet there’s no overt pressure to smoke. When I said no, my new friend had no problem with or judgement to pass on my decision. Drinking is somewhat different, though, as essential to most university as air is to other people, and I’m comfortable with a few beers now and again. You wouldn’t believe the doors it opens, the barriers broken down. To be twenty years old and not drink is like not listening to music or not liking clothes—it eliminates a whole slew of acquaintances, activities, and social events from your repertoire. My low tolerance won’t allow me to consume more than three beers at a time with several months in between (trust me, I’ve tested this limit), but to eliminate drinking altogether would be social suicide, which I’m not willing to commit.

Now, onto my last bit of frustration. Several posts back, I came out to the blogging world as at least bisexual and very possibly fully homosexual, though several events throughout my life lead me to apply this second label with great caution if at all. For now at least, I’d say that bisexuality with a preference for males best characterizes where I am in life.

That being said, I have suddenly become very aware of the males around me, and it’s driving me absolutely crazy. I’m on a college campus, surrounded every day by young men of dizzying beauty and potent sexuality, some of whom are so stunning they literally catch my breath. It’s like everywhere I look I see someone I want, someone I desire, and the urges are tearing me up.

I was remarkably docile during my teenage years, content to lead a quiet life sitting at home. Now, at the age when most young men’s hormones are said to have peaked, I feel like mine are surging into hyperdrive. I never felt any particularly powerful sexual attractions in high school, but now I’m agitated all the time, provoked into near fits by the boys around me who I want, want, want, so much. Their skin, their hair, their eyes, and their lips, it’s shameful what their lips can do to me. And then I get to thinking about what might be beneath their clothes, and I just want to punch a whole in a wall.

What am I supposed to do? I was never like this before. There’s just so much of this beauty, splayed out everywhere, and I have yet to taste even a drop of it. At twenty years old I am a virgin, and I’ve never felt so eager, not because I worry that I’m getting too old or because I feel behind my peers, to put that to an end.

What gives, anyway? Before I admitted this to myself I was hit on by guys constantly, almost as if some malicious controller of the fates were sending all the disconcerting suitors my way to satisfy his own cruel sense of humor. I was so often the object of other young men’s attentions that it made me uncomfortable, and now that I’m actually open, even if no one knows that (not that it ever stopped them before), I get nothing.

There’s an old adage among women that all of the really cute guys turn out to be gay, and I’d like to know where this comes from, because it seems like every male who makes me sweat is straight as an arrow. It’s so unfair.

And then when there is a guy who seems like he’d probably be up for it, he looks right through me. When did that start?

There is a boy who I had a class with last year who is quite pretty, and if he’s not gay then my name’s George (and it isn’t). Yet any time I’ve been around him, I’ve gotten nothing but curt nods and cold shoulders.


Am I just unattractive or something?

Somebody please explain that.

Okay, maybe I’m overthinking this. Maybe he’s taken. Maybe other guys don’t think I’m gay or bi or whatever and don’t want to make me feel uneasy, not that this prevented anyone from coming onto me before.

It’s maddening.

Eventually, I know, I will have to publicly come out, and for my sake sooner rather than later. I can’t even begin to imagine how that will be, though. My mother knows, Anne knows, and that’s it. I can tell you that it’s not a conversation I look forward to having with my father.

It’s not that I think he wouldn’t love me or that he’d be angry, because I know that’s not the case. He’s come a long way from the construction worker who guzzled beers and talked about how disgusting he thought “faggots” were, and the years of our social rise have greatly moderated his sentiments. He sees and understands things now that I don’t think he ever could have when Powell and I were younger, when he was less mature. As a human being, he’s made more progress than most people ever do.

It’s just that he comes from a different school of thought, and I’m sure that a part of him will have a hard time rationalizing how his own son could be whatever it is I am. He’ll love me all the more, he’ll probably hug me and kiss me on the forehead, but the actual telling will be difficult. On one level, what I’m anxious of is pure embarrassment; who wants to talk to their father about things like that, regardless of persuasion?

Speaking with my mother has been much easier, but more than two other people have to know about this if I’m ever to lead a happy and fulfilling life. When, and how? Soon.

Lord, give me strength. I feel guilty asking that, because of the nature of what I’m doing. I have to convince myself that He doesn’t see this as a sin, and, if He does, I have to figure out how to be forgiven. Living a life of celibacy and denial is beyond my threshold, though. I won’t do it. I can’t. I need love and companionship and intimacy as much as anyone else. Living without it would kill me or any other human being with a heart and mind.

I love Him. I want to do right. I’m a very confused person right now.

Well, this is quite a post.

I’ll let you know if I’m going to school tomorrow, and if I’m not, you can bank on pictures.

Bundled Up Against the Cold

Friday, January 23, 2009

Chapter 2

For those of you interested, Chapter 2 of my book is now available on

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

A New President

Snow on Our Street

Like many other Americans and millions around the world, I was overjoyed to watch Barack Obama take the oath of office this afternoon and become the 44th President of the United States. The following is my journal entry for January 19, 2009, taken from my personal diary:

Today is the last full day of the Bush presidency, a fact that seems incredibly surreal. President Bush has been in office since I was twelve years old, an age so tender I can’t even fathom it now.

I was in seventh grade when he was elected, and the controversial 2000 election is one of the first concrete memories of a political event that I have, the intrigues of the Clinton Administration coming at a time when I was too young to pay attention or understand (my father explained the Monica Lewinsky scandal to Powell and I by saying that Clinton was a “good president” but a bad person).

I can clearly remember sitting at my kitchen table in Dirty Town, Native State, one cold early morning in late November of 2000, listening to two men on the radio discuss the unresolved presidential election as I prepared to leave for school.

“We should be telling our children to pay attention,” one of them was saying. “This truly is such a unique moment in our history.”

It was, and it led to incredible hardship. I have often wondered, but particularly of late, whether the Supreme Court, had it been able to see the future and know what the eight years of the Bush Administration would entail, would still have voted to stop the Florida recount. In truth, I don’t think the hardline Republicans would have cared anyway. I think that, even with the foreknowledge of all to come, they would have done the exact same thing.

It is that reticence and that ideological rigidity that caused them to be rejected with such force by our electorate at all levels of government, and I hope for the country’s sake that none like them ever rise again. Maybe, as a nation, we are now beyond the point where unscrupulous ideologues can capture our attention with showmanship and meaningless catchphrases. Maybe the well of hatred in this land has sunk so low and become so shallow that no future politician will be able to plumb its depths for the fuel needed to divide us, as the GOP has so shrewdly done for the last decade. Maybe, as a nation, we are beyond that point.

I don’t think so, though.

I think the more honest answer is that the current financial crisis has nearly coerced Americans into for once voting with their minds rather than with their prejudices. The widespread poverty and suffering tat have fanned like an epidemic in the last year forced an honest evaluation, for the sake of self preservation, of the national situation and who was best equipped to handle it.

Under other circumstances, Barack Obama may have lost to John McCain. In any kind of normal political environment, Obama would never have won the nomination. Bush’s legacy, however, pushed our worst tendencies away, and now Barack Obama will take the oath of office tomorrow as the 44th President of the United States and its first African-American Commander-in-Chief. Incredible.
Yet the battle is far from won. Some day, hopefully many years from now, a new generation will emerge with no memory of the hurricanes, the terrorist attacks, the religious bigotry, the intolerance, the electoral fraud, the devastated economy, the lies, the wars, the manipulation. One day there shall come a people lulled into docility, as Americans under Clinton were, by peace and prosperity, left unequipped to handle or even recognize a threat when it approaches.

George W. Bush seemed perfectly harmless in 2000, and “moral values” appeared to be an acceptable forum of debate to a people who had no real problems. They forgot that Bill Clinton’s tireless fiscal prudence and international diplomatic efforts were what had allowed them to lead such a carefree existence, and so they elected an idiot who plunged the nation into disaster.

For a long time, we won’t have to worry about a recurrence of this. Current issues are too pressing and serious to allow the kind of nonsense that Bush campaigned on during the 2000 election to have any resonance, but in ten or twenty years, once Obama and his successors have fixed the ruinous legacy of George W. Bush, vigilance will be needed again.

There is a positive side to this, though: for immediate political purposes, the GOP has been destroyed. In January of 2001, the Right was beginning an ascendancy of theocracy, hostility, and bare-majority rule that was to reach the zenith of its power with the narrow reelection of George W. Bush in 2004. At the time, I wept and bemoaned John Kerry’s loss, but had he been in office the last four years, Bush’s time-bomb would have exploded anyway, and we would have been blamed for this mess. The world and the country needed to see what a total failure the Republican doctrine was so it could be completely repudiated. Now it has been, and tomorrow at noon a new political era in this nation’s history will begin.

On a personal note, it’s hard to believe that the Bush presidency is ending. It’s hard for me to conceive of the White House with anyone but George W. Bush in it, as he was for my entire adolescence, throughout all four of my high school years and my first three years in college.

I was twelve when Bush took office, a child, and am now a twenty-year-old young man.

I cannot wait for Obama’s presidency to begin. It is a cold and snowy night here, with the first real snowfall of the season. I like to think that Heaven is glad for this agonizing and shameful period to be coming to an end.

It is fitting that we receive our first measurable snowfall on this day, as if we’re being purified of the many sins committed by this country in the last eight years.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

An Announcement About Four Cousins

First of all, let me say thank you to everyone for all the very nice comments on the last post. I've enjoyed reading them, as always.

Several posts back, I mentioned a book that I'm currently writing, with the working title of "Four Cousins."

I have decided that I'd like to share this with you and get feedback, so now every Friday you can head over to for a new chapter. Between Friday chapters and Monday Journals Sections (which haven't been posted for a few months or so), there's quite a bit going on here.

I started this project in November of 2003, when I was fifteen years old, and then left it alone with thirty some pages done as other events in 2004 turned my life into whirlwind of adventure, friendship, and some loss. I'd been meaning to get back to the idea, which I adored, for years, but had never set aside the time.

Finally, during my Sophomore Year of college, I made a resolution. The story in my head was too wonderful not to write, so I vowed that during the week of Thanksgiving, which I spent at my grandmother's house in Native State, I would edit what I had completed so far and have no changes left to make when I returned home to Southern State.

Fixing all the kinks in the writing had bedeviled me for four years, but that November week in 2007 I buckled down and finally did it.

Over Christmas Break the same year, I began to write new material. It was hard, at first, to revive something that had lain so long dormant, but with time it's become much easier.

Events within my family have perhaps pushed me into wishing to complete this project even more; Semi-Famous Cousin, currently in Bison City, Northern State (far from his home in Sprawling State), is preparing to begin a national book tour this month promoting his debut novel, which goes on sale across the country in late January.

I read the book in 2004, when it was still a manuscript, and have yet to see the final copy, which I'm eager to get my hands on.

While I'm happy for his success, it also makes me feel as if I'm falling behind; he's already receiving acclaim for his tale, while mine is nowhere near finished. Then again, he is in his thirties, so maybe I'm not trailing quite as badly as I imagine.

Anyway, I wish for reponses of all kinds. Plot predictions, character analyses, favorite personalities, likes and dislikes, and any other opinion about "Four Cousins" are all welcome.

I've posted the Introduction and Chapter 1 at

I hope you enjoy.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

BB's New Year's Resolutions

Occasionally, a person reaches a point in his life when multiple possibilities intersect, when he must choose from several roads, any one of which will take him in a vastly different direction than any other one would.

As 2009 begins, I can see that I have been something of a bad person for the last several years. A severe trauma was dealt to me when I was eighteen years old, and I will admit that it was the most difficult thing that I have ever faced, something that left me legitimately incapacitated, traumatized to the point of total emotional paralysis, for nearly a year.

I was an ungodly mess, not in any way in control of myself. The pain was so strong, so sharp, so vivid. It took the air, the life, the love, right out of me.

Then, though, it ended. It ended, and it left behind an emptiness. I was confused, because the worst had passed, but good times still seemed unwilling to reappear. I was left on an awkward plain, halfway between destruction and bliss, exactly at bland nothing.

That state was too boring, too hard to deal with, and so, not knowing who I was without it, I clung to the hurt. When I started this blog in March of 2008, did I not, after all, name myself BlackenedBoy?

I held fast to the aura of brokenness, of ash, of something damaged. The transformative agony became my identity, even after it was gone and replaced by numbness. Once the roaring fires had long ceased, I continued to stoke their cinders, occasionally causing some sparks to fly into the air.

Why did I do this?

If I view it objectively, I think that dealing with life outside of that prism of vulnerability made me too accountable. It was easy to be rude to people, to be self-absorbed, to be despairing and bitter and seek a rescuer, if I had the delightful excuse of being an emotional invalid, someone on the brink, at risk.

What a horridly selfish and cowardly thing to do, no?

That’s not to say that I don’t have some honest issues, because I do. I really should see a therapist, but to help me figure some things out about myself, not pull me away from the jaws of death.

And speaking of me, I seem to be the main focus of this blog. I go on about myself quite a bit, don’t I? Please don’t feel the need to console me, because this isn’t the sympathy-seeking self-criticism that I may have leveled at one point. I’m simply stating a fact.

To this site’s readers, in particular the regular commenters, I want to give a heartfelt thank-you. It probably hasn’t always been easy to listen to my random flares of negativity, to hear the same story, in different forms, over and over again, and for that I’m sorry.

On those occasions, you’ve been politely discreet in your feedback. And when I’ve posted something genuine, when I’ve had a true problem, you’ve been sympathetic, and, in truth, abashed. Sometimes you seem unsure of what to say, which is alright.

I’m not including the genuine crisis posts in my apology, by the way. Those have probably left many of you flummoxed, but truly bad things often do. What can you possibly say to someone who is suicidal, or as lonely as a forgotten island in the farthest corner of the ocean? What words are appropriate other than, “I’m sorry. Get better. Make friends.”?

I don’t expect anything more of anyone. I think I secretly wanted someone to write, “It’s okay, BB. I’m coming.”

That would never happen, though, making such cries for help frustrating and unfulfilling, because they cannot bring what I want. And even if you all lived near me, what were you to do, drop all that you were doing and confront my problems? Why?

In accordance with my policy of being as honest as possible (which I do think makes for better reading), I don’t regret not hiding the actual bad things. I regret the wallowing, though, and the pointless diversions into melancholy.

So, for tolerating me in my moments of melodrama and understanding me in my moments of distress, I want to convey my gratitude. It’s been quite a job.

In particular, I’d like to say thank you to Jo(e), someone who almost everyone here has come to admire.

I’d read her blog for several months when I first wrote her in March of 2008, telling her how much I enjoyed reading her entries.

Somehow, an exchange that began with me expressing the pleasure I took from her blog turned into a soul-baring exercise, and before long I’d unloaded my whole life into the e-mail inbox of someone I’d never met.

Any sane woman, upon being contacted out of the blue by a frightened and slightly unstable nineteen-year-old with serious emotional issues and a very sad back story, would have immediately edged out of the correspondence. One minute she was minding her own happy business, going about being a wife, mother, and professor, and the next minute a teenage boy was pouring his doubts and pain into her lap.

Instead of telling me to go away, though, her instinct was to comfort, listen, and respond. For the next several months we wrote back and forth, she always understanding and, by the mere fact of her, making me feel better.

When, several weeks ago, I changed my URL address, there was an immediate e-mail in my inbox.

“Are you okay?” was the simple message. She hadn’t been able to find my blog and was worried about someone she’d never talked to in person.

She actually motivated me to start this blog, making her indirectly the reason behind all of this. None of you would know me had she not given me the encouragement to begin writing here.

Thank you, Jo(e). I don’t think I’ve ever expressed how much your actions meant to me during that period, or how honestly inspiring I find your example to be. Even if we had never spoken, I would deeply admire you as a parent, teacher, and generous individual. As it is, I think the world of you. The model you provide, I’m sure unknowingly, is something I will consciously try to live up to as I get older, and God willing, have children of my own one day.

You’re the kind of person I want to be when I grow up.

Okay, now I feel embarrassed, but I’m not taking that part out. Everybody can know what a dork I am.

So, onto the New Year’s resolutions:

I will be a better person. I will seek to spread kindness and be the kind of young man I would like. If I can make even one person’s day slightly better, I am doing a great job. There is, believe it or not, a fairly deep well of goodness in me. I should abandon myself to that. I will cause as little pain as possible.

I will stop being so selfish. In keeping with being a better person, I will be more considerate of those around me. I will not force my interests, opinions, or presence on others. I will be respectful and will go with the flow.

I will not be a pushover. While I will seek to be as brightening an influence as possible, I will not allow myself to be taken advantage of, or tolerate slights against my character. I will not let my size deter me from standing up for my rights and dignity. One component of this may be taking jujitsu classes at Major University.

I will let go of the appalling vanity I’ve allowed myself to indulge in. Life is not meant to be lived in front of a mirror. I will not look perfect every day, and I need to learn to feel good about myself even when that is true. On the days when my appearance is great, I should love that feeling of confidence and beauty without giving in to my ego.

I will see the good in life. There’s a lot, even if there’s also a lot of bad. I will stop seeking out the black in everything.

I will fight obsessive compulsive disorder with every ounce of resolve I have in me.

I will try to make more friends.

I will recognize my own blessings.

I will stop blaming God for all that’s happened, and stop taking my anger and sadness out on Him. He’s done a lot for me. It’s time to recognize that again.

I will stop refer to myself as “recovering” and call myself “recovered.”

I will abandon my neurosis.

I will give my best to everything I do.

I will try new things, even if they scare me (like, for example, a new job).

I will try to overcome my fear of approaching members of either sex (that one may take more effort than the rest).

I will be less self-centered.

I will not let the small failures I am bound to encounter give me an excuse to be bitter again.

Watch me as I try. Keep me honest.

I began here as BlackenedBoy, as someone downcast and wounded. It is my hope that one day, that pseudonym could be transformed to BrightenedBoy. I'd still be BB.

Oh, and by the way, I just finished typing up March of 2003 for the Journals Section, and you are all going to hate me. I know you will. It is so long. You don’t have to read it, but for my sake it’s being posted. I’ll recommend any date that stands out.

So, that’s it. My internship is over, I don’t have to work until the weekend, and school starts on Monday. I’m going to enjoy the next few days.

Friday, January 9, 2009

The Monster

A monster comes across the mountains
Driving here to slay
It uproots trees and darkens fountains
It wants to kill today

The sky grows dark at its approach
Hear the clouds go silent?
When thunder cracks to pierce the storm
You will know where to find it

The heavens are the deepest black
It won't be too long now
The thing has reared up from the earth
Though we do not know how

They say it was a person once
A person pushed too far
A person whose whole soul became
A single unhealed scar

A high shriek violates the night
And shatters even stone
Don't try to run, it's seen us here
Our hiding place is known

It's on its way in mindless wrath
Death for death's violent sake
We will be slaughtered in quick time
Make no hopeful mistake

I see it now in its true form
It's soaring past the hills
The foul thing senses human life
It rages and it kills

Don't cry my son, the end is near
The horrid beast bears down
With bladed arms and acid spit
And teeth with razor crowns

Why does the thing attack, you ask?
In truth, I could not say
But sometime in the ancient past
Its heart was torn away

It's standing right in front of us
No son, it cannot see
It's too far gone into its hate
To know humanity

It knows only that what we have
No one will have with it
Now that we're dead it will move on
Its fury's always lit

Monday, January 5, 2009

In the New Year

BB in the Window

Wow, it’s been a long time since my last post (not counting the placeholder I left up on New Year’s Day). First of all, let me say that I sincerely hope everyone had a very happy holiday season, both for Christmas and New Year’s. I have quite a bit of catch-up to do in reading everyone else’s posts and responding to comments.

On the day after Christmas, Powell, Thomas, and I piled into my Oldsmobile and drove four hours to our grandmother’s house in Native State. Our destination was not four hours, away, though; following the directions I printed off of Google to the letter, I continued going straight onto a certain highway that the Internet told me would turn into another, when in fact I should have merged left to get onto the second road.

We’d driven a considerable distance in the wrong direction before we’d uncovered the error, and of course Powell took the occasion to deride my driving skills. He refused to concede that the mistake hadn’t been my fault, preferring to blame our detour on my incompetence rather than the obviously flawed directions.

“Powell,” I said exasperatedly. “Read the directions out loud, as they’re written.”

He did, managing to voice aloud the words “go straight on Route Whatever until it turns into Native State 100,” while maintaining his ludicrous argument that the directions were accurate because had I been in the left-hand lane, the two highways would have come together, and that driving onto a separate ramp technically did not constitute “merging.”

It made me irritated that he was so determined to place the entire situation on my poor capabilities as a driver.

When we finally did arrive at our grandmother’s house, well after dark (we’d delayed our trip until the day after Christmas specifically to avoid driving at night), she had a turkey-and-mashed-potato-dinner waiting for us.

Crowded Round for Dinner

It was delicious.

Dinner at Grand Ma's

After several days there, I was glad I’d come but ready to leave. We had a good visit, seeing “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” and hosting Tall Cousin for a night (I can’t believe that he’s fifteen now), but I find as I get older that I don’t do well for any extended period of time around my grandmother.

She is too bitter, too mean, too hardened by the years of emotionally-damaging feuds and disownments that she had a larger role in provoking than I ever realized when I was a child.

She clings to arguments, harsh words long-dead to those who spoke them, and all the miseries of the past. Any mention of my parents, with whom she currently does not speak, and especially of my mother’s family, can provoke some savage remembrance of something far gone.

During my childhood, my mother’s relations, who thought her insane for marrying a man ten years her senior with two children, were not fair to Powell and I. In typical white trash fashion, they took out their frustrations on a three- and five-year-old.

That ended, though.

Aunt Ostentatious, who visited here for Christmas, has been on good terms with us for years, and I’ve become downright fond of her. She may, after all, be living in our house soon (something that Blonde Cousin and Pretty Hair were finally informed of over New Year’s).

Yet, while my aunt’s conduct has changed, my grandmother’s hostility toward her has continued. The group of people she is able to forgive seems small. I count myself, Powell, Aunt Crazy, and Anne among its number, but very few others.

In a pleasant surprise, I visited with Peruvian Girl, who I haven’t seen in forever, the day before New Year’s Eve. We were both very happy at the reunion, which crowded schedules have delayed for so long.

Peruvian Girl

This girl, now nearing nineteen, was fifteen years old when I met her in February of 2006, shortly after moving to Mountain Town. She’d been Powell’s acquaintance first, but soon became much closer with me and Gangster Boy, now eighteen. The three of us formed an exclusive group deemed The Best Friends’ Club and spent almost every night of the summer of 2006 out until three o’clock in the morning.

Then Gangster Boy went to live in Native State, and the three of us were split. Peruvian Girl and I remain good friends, though, so were both quite glad to see each other again.

We hope to go out together soon, but that will depend on how our other obligations match up.

I’m almost as busy now as I am during the school year. First of all, there’s work: I resumed my position at Western City Movie Theater yesterday, after taking a two-week absence to allow for my surgery and visiting Native State. I’m slated for two days a week at the theater, and then another two days a week at the Western City Newspaper. It’s still better than during the semester.

I expected to spend New Year’s Eve by myself, but those plans were changed when Powell and Blonde Boy, his best friend, returned early from a botched party they’d been attending. The three of us watched the ball drop on CNN while sipping off of White Russians that my brother had made.

“Don’t put too much liquor into mine, Powell,” I cautioned as he was preparing them. “You know how I get.”

“Don’t worry,” he said. “I won’t.”
He kept his word, but I only had about a quarter of a glass anyway.

Such is a lightweight.

As confetti exploded over New York City and the shimmering sign below the lowered ball sparkled “2009” in enormous numbers, the three of us toasted to the New Year.

Powell tried to make a joke of it, but Blonde Boy insisted that he be serious. I was grateful for this; some things should have meaning.

“To 2009,” he said.

“To 2009,” I agreed, clinking my glass against his. “To the New Year.”

Blonde Boy

I like Blonde Boy a bit better than my actual brother, if truth be known. He has all of the playfulness and sensitivity of my sibling with none of the bullying.

Contemplating the coming year, I feel a curious sense of dread and excitement. Something is coming.

“Where do you think we’ll be a year from now, in 2010?” I asked, staggered by the thought.

“I don’t know,” Blonde Boy answered. “I think it’ll be a good year.”

“I think it will be a good year for us personally and a terrible year for the country as a whole,” I said. The recession has had only the mildest of effects on my family and none whatsoever on Blonde Boy’s family thus far, but we’re certainly aware of the difficult conditions outside of our circle.

My mother, the next morning, responded to the question as though it was an unusual one.

“You’ll probably still be here,” she said. “And Powell will be, too. It’ll probably be pretty much the same.”

Maybe. I just can’t shake the feeling that some kind of change is coming. Possibly because the idea of living in one place for so long boggles my mind (we’ve been here three years now), I feel like we’re due for something different. Whether it pertains to our location or not, I believe very firmly that something new is on its way. I don’t see how the current mode of life can go on.

The day after New Year’s, on January 2nd, I began my internship. I’ll be frank; I found the dank newsroom and dull, low-paid reporters to be both boring and depressing. It is a step, though, in the right direction. The experience is good for me.

I was going to say that I wished I hadn’t taken the spot at the paper, seeing as I won’t get any college credit for it, but if I weren’t doing that I’d probably be whining about being too inactive, so it’s good.

Dear God, how is it 2009? That’s amazing.

I’ll write more about the personalities at Western City Newspaper later. I’ve met a few people, and they all seem friendly, but I’ve not gotten to know any of them yet.

On January 3rd, I had to take an eight-hour driving improvement course because of a ticket I received in October. I enjoyed this more than I would ever confess to another person face-to-face, far more than I should have.

Get ready, because this is pathetic: being in a classroom again, with people near me in age, and actually being monitored by an instructor, felt so good. An unsatisfying present inevitably makes the past a refuge. I find dwelling on prior years to be an unhealthy exercise, so it is something I make a conscious effort to avoid doing while awake. I’d prefer to work with what I have in front of me.

No one can control their dreams, though, and those very often take me back.

Being in that course felt like being in high school again. The snickering, the laughter, the jokes, the youthful jocularity and ambivalence, and the familiarity that the teacher soon assumed with us, were wonderful.

Driving away when it was done stung more sharply than anything has in a long time. These days, it’s usually a dull ache. But, for one day, I saw into a happy world that I can never be a part of again. Only two of the seven participants were actually in high school, the rest of us being college students, but the atmosphere was the same that I remembered. Ah, memory.

There are times when I’d like to bash myself in the head and forget the last two years.

The momentary flash of pain did give me some terrific inspiration, though, leading to the creation of a new monster for the book I’m writing.

Much as I enjoyed the time off of work, I was very happy to see everyone again yesterday.

Much of the commentary centered on my hair.

“Your hair got a lot longer,” Black Dress Girl said. “All of a sudden it got really, really long.”

Later on in the night, Blunt Girl, upon catching sight of me, tackled me to a wall and exclaimed, “BB!”

After taking me down as if she were a linebacker, she looked at my head and noted evenly, “Your hair got longer.”


It’s something that I’ve noticed, too. A few days ago, I realized with a happy shock that it now reaches my shoulders, meaning that the growth really has sped up a lot. I wear it down much of the time, so it kind of flows everywhere and the rapid increase in length has made me much more conscious of it. I sometimes pull absentmindedly at the blonde locks while typing or reading, and there’s a whole lot more for my hands to wrap around now than there was even a month ago.

Many of you will remember what I looked like in August, when my head had the appearance of a large mushroom and my hair could not even touch my collar. Now, it has begun to spill onto my shoulders, and before long it will drench them.

My Hair

I welcome this development.

Today I had to drive out the Heir to the Throne County to turn in the certificate stating that I’d successfully completed the driving improvement course. All charges should now be dismissed, leaving my record unaffected.

Tomorrow I will be at Western City Newspaper again, but I’m hoping they’ll let me off the day after that.

Once again, I’ve sat down intending to write a little and have blabbered on for several pages.

I’ll bring up just one more thing: I mentioned earlier that I’m writing a book. It is, in fact, a fantasy novel, with the working title of “Four Cousins,” and I’ve been toying with the idea of posting sections of it on this site to get feedback, and, more importantly, to entertain my readers.

If I do it, it will probably be a chapter a week. Speaking of special postings, I really do need to get on March of 2003.

Anyway, that’s all for tonight.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Happy New Year

Entry coming soon. Happy New Year everyone.