Monday, March 28, 2011


Last night, I found for the first time in my journalism career that my speech was being suppressed.

This all began on Friday afternoon, when I received a telephone call from the editor-in-chief of Major University's Student Newspaper.

"BB!" she chirped when I answered my phone. "This is Editor-in-Chief!"

"Hey, Chief," I said in surprise.

Given that I'd ceased working under her a year ago (I now write and edit for Student News Site), I was a bit unsure why she was calling me.

"Do you remember last year when we did an April Fools' Day issue?" she asked.

I immediately broke into a smile.

Last spring I'd relished the opportunity to contribute to an Onion-style printing of Student Newspaper.

"Of course I remember," I answered. "Gosh, that was so much fun."

"Well, we're doing it again, and I wanted to know if you'd like to write us some articles," she said. "The stuff you gave us last year was easily the best material from anyone on staff."

Flattered at her praise and thrilled with the opportunity to compose more satire pieces, I told her I'd send a few things along that weekend.

On Sunday evening my cell phone rang again.

"BB," said Editor-in-Chief when I picked up my phone. Her voice was shaking with laughter. "BB, I just read your articles. We just finished the one about the serial killer. This is fucking hilarious but there's no way I can print it as it is. The part about...holy shit, 'sodomizing with a broom handle?'"

For a moment she was overcome with giggles.

"Yeah, they'd kill me if I ran that story. It's freaking amazing, though."

Editor-in-Chief gave me the option to revise two of the pieces I'd submitted, but I told her I couldn't in good conscience set about intentionally degrading the quality of my own work. This morning, de-clawed versions of the faux news stories debuted in Student Newspaper, and I grimaced at the damage the alterations did.

There is one place, however, where I can post whatever I wish. Here, without further adieu, are the articles that Student Newspaper considered too controversial for publication:

BOA Members Burst Into Laughter After Raising Tuition

All 20 members of the Major University Board of Administrators burst into raucous and sustained laughter on March 7 after voting to raise tuition for the 2011-2012 year, meeting attendees reported.

“This $700 tuition hike constitutes an increase of eight percent!” howled Rector Emile Vinitz as tears of mirth poured down his face. “And the students are powerless to stop us! Utterly, utterly powerless!”

Vinitz then exclaimed, “My ribs!” before falling into a puddle of his own urine and shrieking at the top of his voice.

Other BOA officials were similarly overcome by the underlying hilarity of their shamelessly gouging the students whose interests they are appointed to look after.

“This decision is one that we made only after careful and considered debate,” board member Teresa Berne gasped while visibly fighting the urge to claw her silk blouse and cackle maniacally at the ceiling. “Aw, who the hell am I kidding? We just jacked tuition up by more than four times the rate of inflation! Fuck the students!”

Some BOA members, such as Daniel Carter, were particularly tickled by the fact that, while tuition jumped nearly 10 percent, the amount of financial aid awarded remained unchanged.

“Their Stafford loans aren’t even enough to cover their housing costs!” cried Carter as fellow board member Drusilla King tore off her clothing and drenched her naked body in champagne. “If we keep going, we’ll soon make Major University completely unaffordable. And this is a state school!”

Major University president Aaron Miller praised the BOA’s move, saying that it upheld the proud Major University tradition of “building a world-class university that nobody can attend.”

The meeting thereupon degenerated into a drunken fracas in which board members threw chairs through windows, defaced a wall with profane graffiti, and sexually violated both of the board’s student representatives.

“I am the supreme maharajah of India!” proclaimed a stupendously trashed Emile Vinitz as he mounted Danica Mitchell, one of the students.

When reached for comment on the incident, Vinitz said that he felt his conquest of Mitchell was “only appropriate.”

“Given that Ms. Mitchell is a student representative, I actually thought it was quite fitting,” Vinitz mused. “After all, we’re essentially doing the same thing to all of her classmates.”

As of press time, the BOA had voted to increase its members’ salaries by 25 percent.

Serial Killer a Really Nice Guy

Goldlands resident and computer technician Thomas Lanney, 42, is a totally nice guy despite his carnal taste for human blood, friends and acquaintances reported Monday.

“Tom is just really decent,” reported neighbor Eli Quinn, 37, who is unaware that Lanney ritualistically dismembered 24-year-old jogger Stephanie D’Alino after brutally raping her in the alley between his and Quinn’s townhouses last weekend. “Very easy to get along with.”

Others echoed Quinn’s sentiments, praising Lanney’s courtesy, respectful nature, and unusual devotion to cleanliness.

“Some of the residents are really bad about maintaining a neat appearance for their property,” said neighborhood denizen and homeowners association president Laurie Baker, 52. “Not Tom, though. It seems like he can never do enough to keep his house and yard in impeccable condition. Sometimes I’ll even see him in the driveway frantically scrubbing the insides of his trashcans in the middle of the night.”

Neighbors were not alone in mistaking Lanney’s sociopathic isolation for politeness.

“Tom is really quiet, but that’s just because he’s such a gentleman,” said co-worker Melinda Harris, 30, whom Lanney regularly fantasizes about sodomizing with a broom handle and beheading.

Added Harris, to whose imagined shrieks for mercy Lanney has achieved sexual release on 17 separate occasions, “I think he’s just lonely. He doesn’t have a lot of friends, but he’s honestly a sweetheart.”

Upon hearing of his friends’ kind words, Lanney displayed the indicators of happiness that he has learned to accurately mimic.

“It’s so wonderful to be trusted,” Lanney said with a rigid smile. “I mean, liked. It’s so wonderful to be liked.”

Friday, March 25, 2011

Selected Entries: December, 2003

A note: Those readers who are sensitive or easily upset should avoid reading this post. In December of 2003 I was fifteen years old and halfway through my Sophomore Year of high school. The abuse I'd suffered for years at my parents' hands continued to play out, and, in a traumatizing incident early in the month, escalated.

Towards the end of December it would turn out that not even Christmas was safe from my father's misguided notions of "discipline."

True to the sunny and childlike nature I maintained in the face of this emotional and physical violence, I sought to downplay the injustices visited upon me and emphasize those things that made me happy. It would be several years before I learned to reject the falsehood of forced optimism.

When I shared with my roommate, who is a psychology major, some of the events told here, he said he could not believe I hadn't developed a serious mental illness.

December 3, 2003

The news that Lacross Boy greeted me with this morning shocked and saddened me. His sister’s friend, Megan, died yesterday afternoon in a car crash in Beautiful Town. Her twin brother was driving the car that they were in when a man tried to pass about five cars. He hit the car in front of them, which flew into their vehicle, in turn sending the siblings into oncoming traffic. A mini-van rammed straight into the passenger’s side, killing seventeen-year-old Megan instantly. She’s in Heaven now. Ours was a school in mourning, tears streaking in every hallway, hugs shared in every room. I don’t want to think about that, though.

December 4, 2003

Snow! It’s snowing!

December 7, 2003

Note: This journal entry is deliberately vague, namely because I could not bring myself at the time to recount in writing the awful events that had transpired the day before. What you are about to read is the immediate aftermath of an explosive and deeply unsettling incident wherein my father, touched off by an inconsequential non-offense that I can no longer remember, verbally berated and physically attacked me.

At one point he tackled me, pinned me to my bed, and spat in my face while screaming homosexual slurs.

My parents effectively made it unacceptable for me to be gay and then, as I strove to deny my natural instincts, used my latent sexuality as a constant weapon. Because being homosexual terrified me, the prospect of homosexuality was invoked whenever my mother and father hoped to inflict real damage. They were successful.

Today is the anniversary of Pearl Harbor, but for me December 6th will forever be the day of infamy. Yesterday has been scarred, burned into my mind. Yesterday my very soul was shaken to its foundations and I begged God for death. Every view that I had of myself was shattered and I was left to pick up the pieces, left to engineer the reconstruction of my disoriented spirit.

The one responsible for this (Dad, of course) has my forgiveness, but now matter how hard I try, I cannot forget. Last night I lay down in my bed, the same bed where earlier that morning the monster pinned me down as I screamed my hatred, and I tried to numb the pain through prayer and blissful unconsciousness.

And then I woke. And it all came back.

The fighting, the screaming, the physical attacks. But most of all, what he said. That struck deeper and will have more severe repercussions than any of the physical blows. When it ended, I was a complete, hysterical wreck. My brother, Powell, consoled me and helped me, though he couldn’t stay long. Meanwhile, I took all of the money from my hat (roughly $90.00), put it into a wallet, and put the wallet into my pocket. I grabbed a bank statement, my school I.D., and a duffel bag. I shoved some random clothes into the bag and prepared to leave.

I knew where I was going [my father had threatened to send me to live in squalor with Anne, who at the time was effectively homeless], and it wasn’t pretty. And then, I never went. Rather, for five hours (excepting once to eat), I remained imprisoned in my own bedroom, far too frightened to come out.

December 9, 2003

The following poem was written about my sister, who was then six months old.

When I stare into her eyes light emerald
The world unfurls without a care
The forests, hills, thick life, abundance, all are nestled in her hair
When she smiles, the globe explodes, a symphony of sensation

Her joy encloses all the Earth, euphoria not needing reason
And when she sings, when that voice rings, there ends all pain and suffering
Angelically high, her song underlines, her innocence and purity
And as I see her face alight, I see all nature without plight

And as I probe her endless soul, I find a heart that’s made of gold
And Lord I love her, beyond words
The hope of all the Universe

December 12, 2003

Today was Powell’s fourteenth birthday. A pleasant day. I’m going to read my Bible and pray.

December 14, 2003

The news that my mother woke me with this morning is still surreal, and Powell and I both agree that even now, after four o’clock in the afternoon, we still can’t believe it. Saddam Hussein was captured alive today. We’ve all assumed him dead for so long that the astonishment at learning this was quadrupled. Seeing the video of his body inspection was indescribably weird. There he was, this dangerous tyrant, now exposed as nothing more than a short, pudgy, elderly man. He just stood there submissively as they looked at his arms, under his beard, even as they took a saliva sample. This was the same man who vowed that every last Iraqi would fight to the death rather than be taken. Well, I guess not.

December 25, 2003
Christmas, 2003

This has been one of the worst Christmases that I can remember. I have neither the energy nor the lighting to go into it now, though. I’ll write more tomorrow.

December 27, 2003

The reason that Christmas was so terrible had nothing to do with presents. I got a video game that I actually liked! A video game! Can you imagine? It’s rather hard, though, and I don’t play it too much.

No, the trouble this Christmas involved my parents, in particular my father. My mother, you see, has a fake laugh that she often uses. It sounds a bit like “her, her!” or “hur, hur!” So when she did it, I said, in an exaggerated voice, “Oh, that was funny, hur, hur!”

Although we children found it perfectly funny, my mother wasn’t quite as amused. So she sent me to my room. Well, that was fine. But then my father found out. It was just the excuse he needed.

“You can go to your room and go to bed,” he said at 7:30p.m. Despite my mother’s pleas that I get out (after all, she reasoned, it was Christmas), my father was immoveable. And it wasn’t even to him that it happened. He just needed a reason. The very next morning (after I endured four hours of the torture that comes from inactive isolation) he awoke sick as a dog with the flu. It’s particularly potent this year. I think that perhaps his sickness is reprisal for his actions on Christmas.

He began to get better today, but the mindless punishments have continued. Mom unplugged my computer on Christmas and has yet to restore my access to it. We went to bed at nine o’clock last night. Tonight we will go to bed again at nine o’clock, for the reason that we have to leave at ten o’clock tomorrow. This is, of course, not a real reason, and it now doesn’t appear that she’ll follow through on it.

They’ve now stopped. Still, the leverage that they hold is frightening. They have the ultimate weapon. We are very excited about going with Anne. I know that she bought me a video camera. She told me that the people next door to her are Egyptians, but that they’re also Russian Orthodox.

December 31, 2003

Today is the last day of the year. Tomorrow will be 2004. It’s really hard to believe.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Problems With Powell

As it seems is always the case, there have been issues lately with my brother Powell. Many of you will remember that the sibling who is closest to me in age has also had the most troubled personal history.

This twenty-one-year-old's checkered relationship with my parents entered a new chapter last month when he reached the end of a probation that was imposed upon him for an underage drinking incident that happened on Christmas Day, 2009.

Powell, who graduated high school nearly three years ago and hasn't done much of anything since, had been promising my parents for months that as soon as his probationary period concluded he would join either the Navy or the Coast Guard.

When he first completed high school without gaining admission to a four-year university, I was opposed to his signing up for the military. At the time I told him that he should make that commitment only out of sincere zeal to serve and not because he felt he had nowhere else to go.

Powell has since shown little inclination to utilize other options, however, and with his life stuck in an aimless limbo I advised him recently to enlist.

He reiterated that he would once his probation had ended.

In the meantime, he used his impending induction as an excuse to do absolutely nothing.

"I just don't see the point in getting a job," he repeated all winter. "When I'm going to sign up for the Navy in February anyway."

February came, though, and with it a series of reasons why Powell could not, at that moment, take action that would advance his life in any meaningful way.

"Here's the thing," he told me recently. "I have to get all of the paper work together saying I completed my probation and paid a few tickets I had. Plus, I still have THC in my system."

For those who don't know, THC is shorthand for tetrahydrocannobinol, the main chemical component of marijuana and the one most frequently searched for in drug tests. That, of course, brings me to another important fact: Powell is no longer living with us.

My mother, in large part to prevent Thomas from following the same path Powell went down, recently instituted regular drug tests for my fifteen-year-old sibling and has generally tried to maintain a home environment that is rigorously free of substance abuse.

One element of this program has been a requirement that Powell remain clean.

When he told our mother that he was "not smoking" but probably still had cannabis residue in his system, she kicked him out.

I don't blame her.

Powell, of course, as breathtakingly arrogant as he is averse to accepting responsibility, absolutely blames her, and on this issue as on others I find I cannot agree with him.

Take, for instance, his reasoning as regards marijuana.

Powell has smoked since he was about Thomas's age, and that habit has not abated even in the face of academic failure, court sentences, unemployment, repeated ejections from the house, and, now, the need to pass a drug test for the purposes of entering the armed forces.

"You don't get it, BB," he told me. "If you fail a drug test one time, you are kicked out of the military and you can't ever re-enlist. I can't take that risk. I just have to wait until the THC is gone."

"But Powell," I asked. "If you knew that you had this deadline coming up, why wouldn't you have quit doing weed far enough ahead of time to be able to pass a drug test now?"

As always, he had no satisfactory answer.

In the years since childhood's protective shield was withdrawn from him, Powell has increasingly come to resemble a member of my birth-mother's family: lazy, unemployed, entitled, full of flimsy excuses, and perennially low on cash.

His monetary deficit comes from a mind-blowing ability to plough through whatever funds he's given, another trait that I believe he inherited from Weird Family, a group of people whose financial misadventures are today confined to shady drug deals and unpaid bills but who once had both the resources and the ineptness to make a major dent in the world's largest economy.

Powell hasn't managed to squander monies on quite as epic a scale as some of his forebears (our great-grandfather was particularly infamous for an incident in which he lost in excess of $100 million), but proportionally speaking he's done a pretty good job of mucking things up for himself.

Last week, for example, after a long stretch without any real infusion of cash, Powell received $400.00 from the sale of a car he'd purchased with my father. Seven days later Beautiful Cousin and I were taking him bags of food because he'd spent every last penny he had and was left with no way to feed himself.

The friends with whom he's living apparently did not feel compelled to help him.

"Powell," I questioned him in exasperation. "What could you have possibly spent $400.00 on in less than two weeks?"

"Some of it was groceries," he said, then perhaps realized how implausible an explanation that was given the purpose of our visit. "I'll be honest, some of it was for beer. We went out to dinner a couple of times, too. Plus, I bought concert tickets."

"Powell, why would you buy concert tickets when you have no job?"

My brother, even when he goes months without a paycheck, always manages to find money for partying.

On top of that, he has an uncanny ability to take already awful situations and make them demonstrably worse, often on the basis of hideously flawed logic.

"Mom and Dad have made it so that I can't join the military," he informed me recently. "They've put me in the financial situation where I literally can't."

"Powell, that makes no sense," I said. "You get a bonus when you sign up."

"Yeah, but you don't get it right away," he objected. "Mom and Dad have made it so that my only option is to sell drugs or get a job."

"Powell, why the hell wouldn't you get a job?" I asked in frustration. "Why in the world would you think you needed to sell drugs?"

"BB, I have no money," he answered.

"Couldn't you enlist and then work in the meantime?" I questioned.

"Oh, I don't know," was his mumbled reply.

His outlook also embraces wild conspiracy theories (his favorite topics of discussion in that area are the Illuminati and the unconstitutionality of the federal government levying taxes) and a sense of superiority that his circumstances render unspeakably pitiful.

I can't help but thinking he might be mentally ill.

With each day I see him becoming more and more like Anne, throwing away every opportunity put in front of him and always having a perfect reason for why he must do so.

I don't know what will happen to Powell, but if he fails (and I earnestly hope he doesn't), it won't be because he lacks talent or intelligence. That, too, sadly, is a hallmark of Anne's family: wasted potential.

In any case, the experience of Powell has completely recalibrated the attitude of the adults in our family toward the youth.

My grandmother perfectly illustrates how this has played out.

When Powell was eighteen and I twenty, my father's mother gave us access to multiple bank accounts, saved for us since our births, that in total provided us with about $14,000.00 each.

Within a year, the entirety of his money was gone, whereas three years later I've managed to save a large portion of mine. For the rest of the grandchildren, saving or splurging will not be an option; when Rowdy Cousin and Tall Cousin, both seventeen, graduate high school this June, they will receive not account numbers but checks made out to their respective universities.

"I just don't even know who Powell is anymore," I told my father today. He'd walked into the kitchen when I was halfway through writing this post to tell me how worried he was about my brother.

As a teenager, Powell was funny, strong, charismatic, and confident. He was the good-looking athlete who got all the girls, who had big plans for his life and was going to follow them with a gladiator's stride. The sad, pathetic man I see today is a decrepit shadow of that vibrant adolescent.

I just don't know how it happened.

I wonder, quite often, what Powell's fourteen-year-old self would think if he could see what he would become by age twenty-one, and invariably I imagine him filled with revulsion.

I wonder equally often if anything could have been done to prevent all of this, and if so, what it might have been.

Still more do I wonder if Powell might yet set things right.

I hope so. I really do.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Why Is This My Life?

It's been two weeks since I've written, which is probably my longest lag in the entire time I've been blogging.

It's midterms right now, though, and midterms are always a distressed time for any college student.

I'll have plenty of topics to write about during my nine-day Spring Break, which starts on Friday.

Until then, though, you'll just have to take it on good faith that I'm still alive.