Thursday, February 24, 2011


Anne's family apparently has a more widespread (and more nefarious) reputation than I realized.

I should probably explain.

My birth-mother and her relations, for all their current squalor, come from an extravagantly aristocratic background and until a fairly short time ago, historically speaking, were major players on the international stage.

Because I was raised apart from Anne, this is a heritage that I've only discovered recently, and my feelings toward it are somewhat conflicted.

To make a long story short, Anne's line is the product of two major royal houses, several prominent noble dynasties, and a smorgasbord of the upper echelon of American society.

Beyond scholars of obscure naval and colonial history, I've encountered few Americans who have appreciated the import of my mother's family or even recognized her surname. Evidently, however, we had a rather more pronounced impact on the other side of the Atlantic.

I came to this realization by way of Major University's dining hall manager, who is an immigrant from Ireland.

Yesterday while standing in line to enter the cafeteria, I heard the girl in front of me discussing a certain Irish city with him.

"Oh, yes, I've been there!" Irish Man exclaimed with gusto. "It's a beautiful place. A beautiful place indeed!"

He was still chuckling when I got to him, and so I thought I'd bring up my own connection to Ireland.

"Hey," I began. "Do you know where Anne's Ancestral Seat is?"

His face clouded.

"Well, of course I do," he said. "Yes, I know it."

"That's my family's,"

Calling the castle fortress and surrounding region our "place" seemed the most polite way of putting it; Anne's family were actually English aristocrats with no Irish blood at all, and their relationship with the Emerald Isle was fraught.

Towards the end of the 17th Century a branch of the dynasty just hopped across the Irish Sea, carved out a piece of Ireland, declared their ownership over it, and stayed there for a few hundred years.

We were like house guests. With guns.

It was only after I'd said the town's name that the inadvisability of so identifying myself to a native Irishman occurred to me.

"Oh," he said. "You're one of them."

He called out to the other students in line.

"We have one of Them right here!"

The students smiled uncertainly, none of them having recognized the name.

"Well," he said to me. "You must be a very wealthy young man. A multi-millionaire."

"No," I answered. "No, no, no."

What's especially funny about this is that Anne and most of the people related to her are now in advanced states of destitution. People tend to remember history, though.

"Are you kidding?" he asked. "You people owned half of Ireland!"

I felt a vague sense of guilt.

For all the good that Anne's family has undeniably done, they've also had a series of rather unpleasant incidents that has included leading entire nations to war (more than once, though mostly in Europe), establishing monolithic and exploitative corporate entities (mostly in this country), helping to perpetuate the institution of slavery (also mostly in this country), and, on one truly regrettable occasion in Jamaica, committing a crime against humanity.

In perspective, our comparatively brief conquest of just one part of Ireland wasn't that bad. But still.

"I don't think it was quite half," I mumbled awkwardly.

Irish Man smiled at me. He'd only been teasing.

"Enjoy your meal," he said with a laugh.

I took my ticket, waited until Laquesha had passed through the line, and then went to find a table.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Selected Entries: November, 2003

It's been since December that I last did one of these.

In November of 2003 I was fifteen years old and a bit closer to the childhood side of the child/adult continuum that is adolescence.

That month I ruminated over what it meant to stop Trick-or-Treating, wrote a poem inspired by domestic violence, and chronicled the spectacular implosion of Aria, the child nation, founded in October of 2001, that has figured prominently in my journals from this period.

November 2, 2003

This Halloween was very fun. Since I’ve stopped Trick-or-Treating, the holiday has taken on an entire new meaning for me. Before, the excitement circling the occasion involved finding the right costume and the most fruitful collection of homes from which to collect. Now it involves thrilling the Trick-or-Treaters and scaring myself and my family and friends.

On Friday afternoon Blonde Cousin and Thomas were carving pumpkins. I went with Dad to pick up Pie and to get a movie. We got Wrong Turn.

I came home and called Blonde Friend [a girl] on the telephone. We talked about Rich Boy’s party (Rich Boy is a wealthy boy who goes to our school). Blonde Friend said that she really wanted to go to this party but that she hadn’t been invited. I told her that barely anyone going had actually been invited, so she needn’t worry herself with it.

Rich Boy has a large home within a forest, and his parties are known as breeding grounds for intoxication. It’s common knowledge that scarcely anybody likes Rich Boy at all, but they use him for the extravagant (well, okay, not extravagant)—scratch extravagant—large, alcohol- and drug-oriented parties that his parents’ money can provide. This is, in my mind, pathetic of him.

Blonde Friend then told me that was going with her mother, brother, and her brother’s girlfriend to see the new version of The Texas Chainsaw Massacres. One of the scariest things about that movie is that it’s based on a true story.

While I was talking to Blonde Friend on the phone, Thomas was at the hospital with Dad. While we were gone he tried to show off with the knife and he cut his finger. He quickly stopped trying to act like a teenager as he was too busy screaming and crying.

He asked me to guess how many stitches he had to get and I said “Three,” which actually turned out to be right.

In Geometry earlier that day I had guessed the answer to a complicated coordinate graph question.

November 4, 2003

On November 4th, my father and I had an argument that concluded with his hurling a football at me. He threw it across the living room and into the kitchen with so much force that it shattered the glass I'd been holding in my hand. Unfortunately, these types of incidents were quite common. I wrote the following poem immediately afterward.

What is it?
Who is it?
Where is it from?
Should I suppress it, or let it go on?

Is this thing healthy?
Was I right all along?
Or have I been
Terribly, terribly wrong?

Their words pierce like knives
Their fists, supreme, reign
My soul screams through the night
My heart, fiery, flames

My mind burns with anguish
My being with the blows
Harboring anger
That nobody knows

I must keep it inside
I must not let it show
Though it hurts me down deep
Though it scars me so

I must maintain the silence
Taciturnly alert
Or worse will rain down
The torrent of hurt

I can’t let it be
Can’t let it be seen
Can’t reveal the horror
Befalling me

Resistance is death
A shot with a rose
A soul being murdered
Amidst hails of their words

Just take it, accept it
Your killers ordained it
For eternity

Let them hack you to pieces
Strike you down with the sword
And they all say nothing
It goes as a norm

But why take it this way?
Why not try to fight?
Well, those orthodox bastards
Would get quite a fright

An outcast you’d be
For daring defy
Ostracized, isolated
By all despised

But no
Might it just not be so?

To Hell with their thoughts
To the gutter their wishes
To ashes acceptance
For their attacks vicious

I will cry from the hills
I will scream out my pain
I will proclaim against it,
“My heart will not be maimed!”

I will fight it with fire
With a passion untouched
They can never erase
My loving to love

November 9, 2003

Much happened this weekend. First of all, I failed another Geometry test on Friday. This is becoming a serious and disturbing problem for me. I received my report card on Friday, and, to my delight, it was my best-case scenario that played out. I already knew this, but seeing it on the report card made it so much better. The teachers’ comments did not print, though.

You see, our school’s computer system crashes periodically throughout the school week, going down on average probably about three times a week. Last week there was a particularly bad malfunction (“Attention teachers,” an administrator had announced dramatically. “We have a critical situation in the Network.”), and, as a result, teachers’ comments did not print on report cards.

Friday was great. First of all, five minutes before we were to be dismissed to go home, the fire alarm rang. Someone came over the announcements and said that we would have to evacuate.

Despite having been explicitly told on former occasions to leave our things in the event of evacuation, we all took them anyway. On the way down the stairs, many people reported having seen and smelled smoke. I thought that I had smelled it, although I did not see any of it.

So, we had been standing there for less than a minute when we were told to return to our classrooms. For me that meant a trek up three floors. I had not even reached my classroom (I was just outside of it) when the bell rang and we were told to dismiss.

My father was delighted with my report card, as was my mother. So, I convinced my parents to take us to Pizza Hut. My father wouldn’t go, though, saying that he felt too sick.

Mom quarreled with him because of this, saying that the medications that he is taking are making him depressed and withdrawn. She says that he hates everyone (including his family) because he wants to be young again and can’t take the pressures of running a family.

Powell wanted to stay home and play football, so just Thomas, Mom, Pie, and I ventured out to Pizza Hut. We had several appetizers, and the pizza itself was good. We drove home, full and content. We stopped ay Blockbuster on the way home and rented Eight Crazy Nights, which I didn’t see, Legally Blonde II, which was very stupid (much less appealing than its predecessor), and Spongebob Squarepants Season I, which, of course, Thomas loved.

I spoke briefly with Greg, a peer of mine who works there.

When we got home there was a package for me. I assumed that it was from Grand Ma Weird Family but wondered why it was so small; it bounced around its outer box every time that I picked it up. I tore open the larger box and there was a ring case. I said aloud, “Well, that’s odd, why would Grand Ma send me a…”

I knew what it was before I finished the sentence. I quickly opened the case and screamed my delight. My class ring was here. It was even more beautiful than I thought it would be. It’s silver all over, with my name and graduation date on the side (2006). The ACADEMIC and GOVERNMENT symbols also affixed to both sides look magnificent, and the large faux diamond on the ring’s top sparkles wondrously. Around the faux diamond wind the words: “Beautiful Town High School.” Dad loved my ring, as did Mom. I went outside and got into the hot tub. That was nice. I came back inside and Mom went to bed shortly thereafter.

My alarm clock went off at 5:30a.m. on Saturday morning. Pie woke a little while later, honoring me with her presence a little bit after six. She’s such a cheerful little baby, and especially in the mornings. I got ready, and around nine o’clock I rode through downtown Beautiful Town with Mom to the building that houses Charity Grocery Store.

There was a rather uncertain woman there who didn’t seem to know too well what she was doing; she goes once a month, and she hasn’t been able to make it since March or so. Much to my embarrassment, a woman who came in thought I was a girl! I didn’t correct her, but another person (a man) thought so, too (he, however, recovered from his mistake quickly). I managed to contain my mortification and I went on as if it hadn’t happened.

At noon Dad was waiting for me outside in the van, quite contrary to last week, when he didn’t come at all and tried to force me to walk home. Blonde Friend’s mother came to the rescue, though, answering my phone call from downtown and quite willingly coming to get me. Not all parents would do that. We went home, me with a “Dr. Bob” (cherry soda). When I got home I made some soup for lunch, and then Anne called and I spoke with her. I’m going to go to bed and pray now.

November 13, 2003

Snow!!! Glorious, pure, white snow! The Heavens opened up and rained it over us today. I’ll write more about it tomorrow.

November 27, 2003

My hair is getting long.

November 29, 2003

Truly shocking news out of [the child nation of] Aria.

First Twin, [the President of Aria] said today that he will not run for a third term next month, even though practically everyone loves him and in the last election he won more than 90% of the vote. Even the children in Andrea voted for him! [First Twin was from Atricia, with which Andrea had a long and bitter rivalry]

With First Twin not running I really have no idea who will be president and neither does anyone else. I guess Short Boy might run again.

Powell [the constitutional monarch of Aria] is really worried about it. A lot of people don’t really like him but they do like First Twin, so having First Twin as president makes Powell easier for people to deal with.

Some people have even said that Powell should abdicate but he says he won’t and for once I agree with him. Powell might be a bad Czar (okay, a really bad Czar) but if he gives up the throne then Thomas is next in line and Thomas is only eight. That would be crazy. Plus, Thomas is kind of bratty.

The Constitution was signed two years ago today. That's strange.

November 30, 2003

Everything is moving so fast that I can’t believe it. First Twin resigned as president this afternoon and Powell called an emergency meeting of his cabinet.

My parents wanted to know why so many children were crammed into our basement but we told them they were playing video games.

Nobody was sure what to do. Some people (like Lacrosse Boy) were saying that we should have a new presidential election right away, but other people thought we just shouldn’t have a president anymore and the Czar should rule on his own like back in the old days.

Everyone in the provinces was going crazy and the phone was ringing every few seconds. Thank goodness Mom and Dad went to the store. That would have been hard to explain. A lot of the people calling were kings and queens from the provinces asking what was going to happen, and many of them said they were dealing with unrest.

Andrea was completely berserk the whole day. We could hear them cheering and chanting from inside our house. A couple of kids even came up to the door wanting to talk to Powell but we didn’t let them in.

Short Boy [the king of Andrea] walked over to help Powell figure out what they would do next, but then they got into a huge argument. They made up, though.

Finally around 7:30p.m. Powell decided that he would abdicate.

Since Thomas is so young, Powell just granted independence to all of the provinces rather than pass the whole empire to our youngest brother. So now there are seven separate countries where this morning there was just one, and Powell isn’t Czar anymore. I guess there is no Czar, actually. Wow. That’s such a wild thought.

I’m relieved by it.

I’m very tired and am going to bed.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

An Update

This seemed like an appropriate time for a general update given all that's been going on in my life. Isn't that always the way with me, though?

Crises and golden moments abound, although most of what's happened lately has been on the good side of things.

To start with, my place of residence has changed.

At the commencement of the spring semester I started commuting five days a week from Mountain Town to Major University. That drive, an hour and a half each way, is an arduous one, and before the first week was out I was wondering how I'd done it all of Junior Year.

Up until last Wednesday, my entire schedule revolved around a ridiculous daily hike.

In order to make a nine o'clock morning class on Mondays and Wednesdays I had to rise by seven (at the latest), which in turn entailed going to bed at ten or eleven the night before. Any college student will tell you that retiring early is difficult (staying up is literally ingrained into our neurological makeup), and, unable to make myself turn in before my tenth-grade brother, I soon began suffering sleep deprivation and found myself constantly tired.

Coming home each night was also ponderous; the Goldlands, known for its hellish traffic, turns into a gridlocked nexus of metal around five in the evening and stays that way for hours. Rather than sit in the mess, I would withdraw to the computer lab each day after class and stay there until seven, at which point I would leave school (with the roads still moderately full) and arrive home at around nine.

All of this was taking its toll on me, so you can imagine my relief when, two Fridays ago, I was offered a spot on campus.

It was with glee that I packed my things and moved back into the Student Town complex last Wednesday.

The young man sharing my room, Short Roommate, has thus far proven himself amiable, and has further worked himself into my good graces by undertaking a certain athletic venture with me. That, of course, brings me to the next development.

The above picture, by the way, is (likely) the closest that I will ever come to participating in anything resembling Jo(e)'s naked photo sessions, so enjoy.

The photograph is a representation of what I look like right now; tall and thin but with no muscle definition nor anything to keep me from looking, as Thomas recently said, like "a twig with a mane."

To remedy that situation, I've signed up with Short Roommate for the Major University Running Team. I did so for several reasons.

To begin with, I've been of the opinion for quite some time that the track and cross country athletes at my school are some of the most beautiful male specimens on campus. Furthermore I'm not sure, given my build, of a sport that I could possibly be better suited to than track, so track it is.

"With running you don't really want to bulk up a lot," one of the team coaches (who are also students) told me. "The goal is to build lean muscle."

Since lean muscle is the only type I'm ever likely to acquire, this seems like a good deal to me, and after an abortive attempt at athletic running this summer I'm eager to embrace the structure the team will provide.

The club, a recreational group that is separate from the official Major University track team, only meets twice a week for now, so to supplement Short Roommate (who did track in high school) and I are tacking on an additional three days a week.

I'll have to let you know how this goes.

Though I've not yet actually started, I think I'm doing the best thing for my body type.

In another bit of news, Beautiful Cousin has returned to us.

"Whore Bag!" I exclaimed happily as I climbed the stairs for breakfast on Sunday morning.

This girl, who turned twenty yesterday, moved back in with us on Friday after three months of living with her boyfriend. Her commute proved a bit too much for her, so she's returned, to my approbation (if not Thomas's).

It's just nice to have another person around my own age living under our roof. There are now seven of us in the Our Family house: my father, who is 47; my mother, who is 37; Powell, who is 21; Beautiful Cousin, who is 20; Thomas, who is 15; Pie, who is 7; and me, age 22.

A full house is much more fun.

This weekend, though, an empty house promises more in the way of pleasurable diversions; my parents are headed with Thomas and Pie to Mountain Resort, and I'm thinking about going home to enjoy their absence.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

The Beautiful Boy (Is Not Me)

Every time I see you
Is a spark of light
Illuminating my inadequacy
Showing me, in starkest glare
All that I can never be

That is why I love to look upon your face
Yet why my eyes burn to do it
Stung as they are by the radiant vision
Of a beauty
Greater than what I even hope

For myself

It's unfair
To you
To project the burden of my pain
And my abounding tragedy
Onto your shoulders

It's not your fault
Nor your concern
For all you ever did was shine
Like a lily in morning sunlight, like a shimmering green sky in florid July
Like the realization of every mournful dream that's ever been tied to the moon or yearned for in the stars

You are everything I could ever wish
But never actually inhabit
The embodiment of what
Even at my height
I was but a crude shadow of

A blazing bright day with
Dirt under bare feet
And heat on
Shirtless arms

You will continue to beam
A pendant of virtue--real virtue, virtue that needs no declaration--and loveliness that in distress is still undimmed
While I will continue to wake
Each day
To the terror that is me

I love you
Or at least love what you are
I hate you
Or at least hate what I am
And I don't know what any of it will come to

Sunday, February 6, 2011


My seven-year-old sister and I were sitting on the kitchen floor this morning, watching as our three dogs horsed around.

Raven, the seven-month-old German shepherd, now dwarfs the two Dachshunds, and her conduct with three-year-old Minnie was growing a little rougher than I liked.

"Raven!" I called. "Raven, stop!"

Our newest pet completely ignored me.

"Raven!" I repeated.

Before I could issue another command, our six-year-old Dachshund, Millie, rose to her feet and brought the larger dog to the ground with a single bark.

I laughed.

"I can't believe Raven listens to Millie," I said to my sister.

"That's because Millie is the queen," Pie remarked, then clarified, "Only of the dogs, though, not of the family."

She smiled confidently.

"Dad is the queen of the family."