Monday, June 28, 2010
Selected Entries: August, 2003
This Selected Entries section is longer than usual, and easily the longest I've posted since switching over to the Selected Entries format. A good deal happened in August of 2003, though, and the entries I have showcased here, often shortened from their original form, provide telling glimpses into the life of a teenage boy nearing the end of his summer. I was fifteen years old during this month, and chronicled family quarrels; a vacation to Gettysburg, Pennsylvania; anxiety regarding the coming school year; a historic power outage that plunged New York City into darkness; and attempts within the child country on whose throne my brother Powell then sat to loosen his grip on power.
August 5, 2003
We came home today, much to my pleasure. Gettysburg is certainly nice, but I missed home. And, of course, Blonde Cousin can only be tolerated for so long.
We went last night on what we thought was going to be some type of a haunted house or something (the title, which went along the lines of “Walk With the Ghosts: A Haunted Tour” was more than a little deceptive). What it turned out to be was a woman with a flagrantly fake Southern accent leading us around downtown Gettysburg and stopping in front of some buildings. We didn’t actually go in any of them, mind you, oh, no; we would just stop and she’d bore us for fifteen minutes or so before moving on.
It continued in this fashion for an hour and a half, the woman’s intonations growing more than predictable by the tour’s end. Her highly exaggerated smiles sufficed to startle, frighten, and annoy the entire crowd at the same time. Aunt Lesbian was less than thrilled when the tour ended with the woman saying dramatically, “You may not have seen any ghosts, but if you’ve learned something new that you didn’t know before, I’ve done my job.”
Some incredibly stupid man stood there with a sentimental smile on his face and said, as if in reverence, “Thank you.”
This same man then started an applause, which some joined in enthusiastically, and which others (like me) joined in only politely. It annoyed me that they were making some emotional scene over nothing more than a waste of six dollars, when the village idiot could have told me the same information for free. When we got back, Blonde Cousin and Thomas were both misbehaving.
When I got back to the cabin we roasted marshmallows and made S'mores. This was the first time that I had ever had this delicious snack, and I enjoyed it, very much so. After that (quite late at this point) we ate chicken. I went in to get some apple juice. Mom told me that Blonde Cousin and I needed to be quiet upon reentering the cabin later. Aunt Lesbian was surprisingly nice last night. She and I don’t usually get along, as she has had a tendency in the past to take liberties of authority that she doesn’t have. She was fine last night, though.
August 14, 2003
Today has been, by far, one of the most exciting and eventful days of the summer. It started out perfectly normal. We woke a bit earlier than usual today, helped out around the house, and went out to play. I had been swimming in the pool for a considerable amount of time when I became hungry. Swimming always has this effect on me. I went in and grabbed a cheeseburger and some noodles. Before heading back outside I saw on the news that a terrorist had been caught.
Then they were all of a sudden talking about how the United Nations had been evacuated along with the New York Stock Exchange. I assumed that they were closed out of fear from terrorist retaliation, as the man sounded like an important terrorist general. It was then that I found out.
The center of a North American power grid based in Niagara Falls, New York, had malfunctioned in some way. The result, within minutes, was that New York City was left entirely without electricity. Elevators and subways stopped en route. For subways deep in underground tunnels, this has presented a unique horror and a very prominent problem. The subways are about ninety-five percent evacuated. The fact that the largest city in the United States is completely without power has gone surprisingly smooth.
Then again, darkness is only now setting, and riots are expected, I mean, feared, in the pitch black of night. Imagining New York City at night without lights gives me an indescribably eerie feeling. I can only fathom what it will be like to look out over the New York City skyline and see a night full of stars. It probably hasn’t been so in decades.
The people of New York are surprisingly calm, even though thousands (maybe even millions) have been forced to walk on foot to their homes. New York City isn’t the only city without electricity, though; Detroit, Cleveland, Erie, Ottawa, Toronto, and numerous other smaller cities have been left without power, too.
I still just can’t believe that: complete electrical failure in New York City. They can’t wash or dry their clothes, take showers, microwave their food, watch television, listen to the radio, do work on the computer, turn on the lights, use the stove, turn on air conditioning or even a fan. They can’t do much of anything. They can’t even use their VCRs or DVD players, which we’ve always been able to use even when our television goes out during a storm. What happened today truly reveals how startlingly dependent we really are on electricity. The power outage affected New York, New Jersey, Ohio, Connecticut, Michigan, and parts of Canada (most notably Ontario). Oh, and also Vermont.
Powell was all in a huff today because Second Twin came back from Vast State without recruiting any subjects. Powell gave him the mission of starting a province in that state when First Twin and Second Twin went on vacation there, but for whatever reason he couldn't do it. I think Powell is more angry at the children in Vast State than he is with Second Twin, so I doubt Second Twin will get in any trouble. The Arian government is now viewing Vast State as a colony, which means that they have the right to make a province there once they find people.
I wonder if electricity is back on yet in New York (I still can’t believe that New York City lost all power). I hope that they all did get a chance to see the stars.
August 16, 2003
Surprisingly, the only city where major looting took place was Ottawa, the capital of Canada. This was a bit unexpected, as Canadians really just don’t seem like the looting type. On the Conan O’Brien Show last night they presented a parody video of the Canadian looters. They were all carrying hockey gear and yelling “Eh?” to each other. The police officer who followed them was also proclaiming “Eh?”
Blonde Friend would’ve laughed so hard; we had a Spanish teacher from Canada last year and we always found creative ways to incorporate “Eh?” into everyday class. I remember that one of the more popular methods was writing “Eh?” signs on the chalk board.
Another was asking her to repeat test answers: “I’m sorry Canadian Spanish Teacher, I didn’t get number two in section A, could you tell me what it was again?” “Why certainly…A.”
And when I once received a detention for a fart machine (that incidentally belonged to Blonde Friend) I said, “Detention today, eh?”
Blonde Friend was fairly hysterical and shortly thereafter I proceeded to run into a desk (on accident, of course). Powell and I are here by ourselves. Mom and Dad are at Thomas’s scrimmage. We have nine days left until the start of school. It certainly doesn’t seem like it. It still seems very far away, but when you think about it, nine days is only like Thanksgiving break. That’s exciting and depressing at the same time.
August 17, 2003
Only eight days left. Two days ago, Pie got into the pool for the first time. She looked genuinely confused as Mom carried her around in the water, a puzzled face looking around from beneath a little white hat. Powell and I agreed that it was one of the most adorable things that either of us had ever seen.
It thunder-stormed terribly last night. Powell and Thomas slept in my bed and I told a scary story that concluded with a serial killer standing outside of my closed door. We were all quite silent after that, and even I half expected the door to burst open. We were all terrified, and we were making all sorts of jokes to stave the horror away.
Powell continued the story, saying that Warrdell (my serial killer’s name) had entered the room to find us gone. He assumed that we were hiding in the closet, and he never guessed we might be under the bed.
“That’d never work, though,” I said.
“Why?” Powell asked, already laughing.
“Because there’s stuff under my bed.”
Powell started giggling wildly.
I continued, “And even if we could, Thomas would be like, ‘Stop pushing! Stop pushing! Did I say you could touch?’”
Powell was shaking with suppressed laughter at the thought of Thomas giving us away to a ruthless serial killer. We then fell asleep, shortly after I told an incomplete story about the three of us going to Heaven after the house gets struck by lightning. Last night’s lightning storm was unlike any that I can remember having seen before. The night was illuminated bright as day for several seconds at a time; it honestly looked just like a cloudy Saturday morning, more strikingly so than I can recall before then.
I’m nervous about school. I’m worried that Sophomore Year will be more difficult than Freshman Year. What if I can’t get straight As in Advanced United States History? I can’t wait to take World History. I want to take European History, like Annoyingly Perfect Cousin did. It sounds like fun. And I’m going to be in Spanish III!
I’ve been diverting between terrified, excited, and depressed in regards to the coming school year. I feel emotionally confused and I feel as if I have no idea who I am. I want to take a shower, but it’s about eleven o’clock in the evening. For lack of a better thing to do, I’ll probably go to bed.
August 19, 2003
After babysitting the neighborhood kids (not difficult, as they watched a Mary Kate and Ashley video the whole time) I went back home, quickly changed and got into the hot tub by myself, alone in the serene and beautiful nighttime. I was struck all at once with how breathtaking and awe-inspiring the night sky was, and how at peace I felt in my little hot tub, my large house, my home, looming above me, its secure grounds and fence all around me.
After a little while in the hot tub, I jumped into the pool, by then icy cold. And it felt so good and refreshing, and at that moment I was absolutely convinced that everything would be fine
I continued to alternate like that, between the hot tub and the pool (quite contrasting). I was eventually joined by Powell and Thomas. They first jumped in the pool, though, to cool themselves off from football practice.
Powell and Thomas went inside and I was alone once more. Powell soon called me saying that Dad had gotten sushi. I was overjoyed. We haven’t had sushi in the longest time, and Dad knows I’ve been craving it. I stepped out of the hot tub, and as I stood with my arms on the deck railing, surveying our backyard and the beautiful summer night, I thought, “We’re as wealthy as we’ll ever need to be.”
August 22, 2003
Three days. That’s no more than a long weekend. It’s truly unbelievable. Pie is much better today. She’s all cheerful and smiling and cooing. Mom and Dad, though, aren’t quite happy; they’re still a bit sour with each other after the argument that they had last night over the baby.
It was all prompted with Pie’s previously-mentioned shrieking. Mom had gone off to get a haircut, leaving Pie with our father. After trying for some time to calm her, my father, in stupid frustration, yelled, “Pie, I don’t know what’s wrong! I don’t know what the Hell is wrong!”
Thomas told Mom, and she was very angry. Really, who can blame her? Honestly, what’s the point in yelling at a crying baby? It’s not as if it will fix anything; it will only perhaps upset the child more. Mom pointed this out to Dad, saying that Pie couldn’t register what he was saying but that she could sense the difference between happy voice and angry voice.
Mom and Dad quietly fought over the issue, and although my father denies yelling, Thomas and I heard the entire thing. Just the mere thought of it angers me; he’s so used to being able to use curse words and unabashed rudeness to silence us that it’s probably inconceivable to him that he can’t discipline his youngest child in such a fashion. He’s also convinced that an infant can be spoiled (ah, my father, that ridiculously hypocritical and conservative disciplinarian). Interestingly enough, my father counts himself a Democrat (which means that his rights mean more to him than ours (conservative he is).
A crisis approaches Aria.
The Senate, dissatisfied with my brother's rule, demanded that the people be able to elect a President. Powell said that that was stupid and only the Czar can rule, but when he tried to stage a coup most of the provinces sided with the Senate and he had to agree to the elections.
Anyway, they are due to take place on August 24th, and there are only two candidates, neither of whom is qualified to rule as President. This could push Aria to the brink of instability and perhaps cause the nation to collapse.
The only suitable candidate (especially with Powell as Czar) who could bring together a broad national base would probably be First Twin, but he has thus far refused to run! The Atricians are trying hard to draft him, but as of yet he's not having it.
Most of the other kids don't seem too upset over this, but my prediction is that it could seriously jeopardize the country.
August 23, 2003
Two days. It’s only one weekend. There are two days left of summer. This is incredible.
We’re going to Aunt Ostentatious's house today (a venture that I am regarding with a mixed state of anxiousness and revulsion) for a little end-of-summer soiree. Actually, I take that back; such a crude gathering could not be described as a soiree. I am angered by my aunt’s family’s rudeness and stupidity, their simple errors and trifle failings, which, together, make them barely tolerable.
Powell is treating the occasion as a state visit to Cristalia, of which Blonde Cousin is queen. There, Powell, soon to be a constitutional Czar, will tell Blonde Cousin about how Aria will no longer be ruled by only a Czar, but also by an elected President, who will have at least equal power with the Czar.
He's not looking forward to this at all as he thinks the whole idea of shared rule is ridiculous, but under the agreement he reached with the Senate he has to inform the provincial rulers of the new arrangement. I would be the first to admit that Powell has been a lackluster ruler (I think I did a much better job), but making him run this errand himself seems just mean and humiliating.
Powell will also tell Blonde Cousin to prove her claims of nine serfs and some nobles, accounting for a total of about eleven citizens. If he finds that she has been lying to the Czar, all of Cristalia will be put under arrest and she could be stripped of her crown.
He's already fairly teed-off at her for up and invading Greece without so much as a word, so I don't think it would take much for him to go off the edge with her.
August 24, 2003
My heart leapt as I rounded the corner that brought my [old] school into visibility [during the trip to Dirty Town]. As I reached the street separating me from the building, my blood was thundering against my veins. I crossed the street and looked up at the building, butterflies wreaking hurricanes in my stomach, and I thought, “Within those walls…”
I walked to the school’s main entrance, the excitement unbearable, and the doors were locked. I tried every door at the main entrance, but they were all locked.
Disappointed, but not as terribly as I would have thought, I made my way toward the library. I walked up to the stone steps of the exterior of the library and ascended them, looking into the windows of the circular library where I had spent countless hours. I thought that it was one of the weirdest sensations that I had ever felt.
I walked back toward Blonde Cousin’s house, but met her before I would have arrived. We walked past Fat Cousin’s house together, but she wasn’t home. I experienced a feeling of complete revulsion as my eyes fell on Old Friend’s house. We passed it quickly, but his mother was only one house up with some neighbors. One of their dogs ran up to me, circling me continuously and delaying us in front of the house for about half of a minute.
And yet, Old Friend’s mother didn’t seem to recognize me. As we turned a corner for Blonde Cousin’s street, Nasty Guy, a sixteen-year-old boy who no one was all too fond of when I lived in Dirty Town, drove by us. Also not recognizing me, he tried to peel out—in his mother’s car.
I then made the decision to visit Younger and Older Twin, my two former best friends, who I’ve tried to distance myself from because they are part of what symbolizes my rejected past.
As I walked up the central road, passing so many familiar blocks, my heart began pounding with anticipation for the second time that day from the excitement of a reunion. One thing was for sure; Younger Twin and Older Twin certainly wouldn’t be expecting a visit from me. I was nervous at the prospect of knocking on their door, and then, there they were, outside, playing basketball, as if for my convenience.
Certain that they would instantly recognize their best friend of nearly a decade, I approached cautiously. As I made my way to the second house down the street, coming nearer and nearer, there was nothing, not a sliver of recognition. I was a bit stunned; my best friends since childhood didn’t, couldn’t recognize me.
I could only have been ten feet away when Younger Twin’s jaw dropped and he said, in disbelief, “BB?”
Now Older Twin turned, too. The physical changes that had occurred since my last visit were incredible, particularly with Younger Twin. Older Twin, considered fat for so long, is now 6’2”, 250lbs, dwarfing me at 5’8.5”, 121lbs. He is still large, but not quite so unashamedly obese. He looked scarily strong.
Younger Twin had grown, too. Still by far the thinner of the two, he is much taller than I am, and much stronger as well. He now weighs 140lbs (less than Powell) and has a mustache. His basketball playing abilities are nothing short of spectacular, and he looked like someone from the city. Both of them, however, to my immense shock, lag far behind me academically. Neither are in Advanced Placement classes, neither has achieved a 4.0, and their lowest GPAs of the year were 3.0, whereas mine was 3.5.
We caught up on things, and I went home feeling happy for having spoken to them.
August 25, 2003
Yesterday, Sunday, was an odd day, one that felt as if it were in the middle of summer. Today, though, the transition to school went so smoothly that it was barely noticeable.
The bus ride, like in the beginning of last year, was so crowded that we had to stand up on the ride to school. The bus was slightly less crowded than last year, when we sat on the stairs by the bus door. I wasn’t nervous at all, not after I’d actually gotten on the bus. I felt all of the anxiety drain away.
Our homeroom teacher was a comical lady with a gawky voice and wide eyes who made odd jerking motions and spontaneous giggly outbursts. And yet, still a teacher.
One girl I knew last year is in my homeroom.
I have Biology, Business Law, U.S. History (A Day), Chorus II (B Day), and Biology. I had so much homework tonight. Business Law is my favorite class.