Monday, July 30, 2012

Selected Entries: October 2004

In October 2004 I was sixteen years old and awaiting the final result of the presidential campaign whose progress I'd followed obsessively since the summer. As the month drew to a close my father smuggled me into a voting booth to cast an underage ballot for John Kerry and our family experienced the passing of Grand Ma Hick Family, the second death we'd endured since August. 

October 1, 2004

John Kerry was brilliant last night, doing better than even I would have thought. President Bush seemed irritable and immature, while John Kerry was calm, as if he was so far above petty bickering that Bush’s truthless rhetoric meant nothing to him. As numerous reporters (including some Republicans) remarked, Senator Kerry looked and acted very presidential, but President Bush did neither. 

The CNN and Gallup polls this morning showed that Kerry won the debate by 50%-60%. Bush, on the other hand, was thought by fewer than 40% of the people to have been the victor. Powell's American History teacher said that the final polls showed 70% believing that Kerry did better compared with roughly 30% for Bush. I don’t know if I believe that the numbers were quite that high, but one thing is indisputable: John Kerry emerged the champion. I only hope that he can win the election. 

October 6, 2004

I saw Michael Moore (a liberal civil liberties activist) give a speech last Saturday in which he offered Ramen noodles or underwear to anyone who would register to vote. It was so crazy and I was really glad Dad took me. 

October 7, 2004

My biological clock is hopelessly out of sync. Fall just doesn't happen here. I wake up every morning and vainly await the sight of golden leaves and the dash of chilling winds, the smell of timber and pine. Alas, fall, that glorious precursor to winter, journeys not into the tropical regions. It was about 80F today, and my whole soul ached. My mind ached, too, as I was pulled out of first period so that I could waste the entire day taking the state exam we must pass to graduate from high school here. It wasn’t challenging, just…stupid.

October 14, 2004

Today is our family's birthday! Anne and Grand Ma told me. Our family was founded in 1066 because of something that happened with a knight and a king, and people have marked the day ever since then. Apparently they're going to have some kind of celebration up in Independence City, but we're not doing anything here because that's Anne's family and Dad doesn't care. I think it's kind of cool, though. 

I subtracted 1066 from 2004 and saw that it makes 938 years. That's a long time for a family to be around. I wonder if someone 938 years ago looked like me?

October 15, 2004

I went to Alice’s house tonight and a bunch of people came over, among them Leia, Nichole, Kyle, Powell, Jack, and others. We were daring each other to make prank phone calls.

I made a first-rate prank phone call from Alice’s cell phone in which I stated, “I’m from Sears Electric. Is your refrigerator running?” 


“Well, you had better go catch it.” 

I went on to ask the man if the power outages had led him to have genital warts, at which point he hung up. 

I tried to prank call Perfect Cousin as a member of the Kerry Campaign since she LOVES politics, but she recognized me straightaway and then everyone started laughing and the whole thing fell to pieces. Perfect and I talked about a lot, especially her transition into college and the election. She said that college is very difficult but that she loves the independence. She advised me not to live at home while I go to school.  I agree. 

At the end of the conversation she said, “Happy 938th,” which I thought was funny.

October 17, 2004

I have to find a map of Germany in the 1400s or 1500s for AP European History. And it's impossible to find one. So random. 

October 23, 2004

Last night we all ambled about, finally going to the park. I opted to walk home alone in the rain, and I wound up stopping at the security guard’s little booth. Well, it’s not really a booth, more like a small building. She let me in, and I remarked that she had a cozy little arrangement. There’s a computer, a screen showing various images from security cameras, and a television with VCR, where she was watching It, appropriately enough. 

The girl on duty was a bubbly, twenty-year-old girl with long red hair, bright eyes, and a glowing face. I was just saying how scared I would be of someone sneaking up from the back of the booth when Alice did just that. I screamed like a little girl and they laughed so hard. I spoke a bit more with the guard (who turned out to be a pagan--who knew?) and then hurried home to watch the movie that we rented, The Day After Tomorrow.

October 26, 2004

["I Voted" sticker posted in journal]

It’s true, weirdly enough. I went with Dad to the polls today, and, after waiting in line for about an hour and a half, it was our turn. Dad told the election monitors that he couldn’t see well and needed my assistance, and so I got to go with him into the voting booth itself. 

And then I got to mark the ballot to select John Kerry as the next president of the United States. It was so awesome. 

I talked to Innocent Cousin and she said she's been praying for John Kerry to win. I have been, too. I just don’t understand how anyone can think of voting for President Bush after his blunders. His recent mistakes show dangerous incompetency, ineptitude so profound that it borders on truly life-threatening to the people of America. This man cannot be Commander-in-Chief.

October 29, 2004

My grandmother Hick Family has been diagnosed with terminal cancer and is going to die within two to four weeks. My mother came home today more emotional than I have ever seen her, crying all over the place. 

I hugged and her and asked what was wrong and she just cried more. She dug her hands into my shoulders and my shirt actually got wet from the tears. My father walked through the front door at that moment and I called out, “Dad!” He entered the kitchen, mouthing “What’s wrong?” 

I shrugged and he took hold of my mother. 

“What’s the matter?” he asked. 

“The cancer went from the size of a tennis ball to the size of two basketballs, and she has two weeks to live!” my mother screamed. She flung herself into my father’s embrace and her whole body convulsed. I wish I could do something to comfort her, something that would alleviate this terrible weight of despair.

October 30, 2004

Grand Ma Hick Family died today.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Quotes of the Week

In Black Dress Girl's car:

Black Dress Girl: "I'm so hot for her." 

Me: "I thought you weren't into chicks anymore."

Black Dress Girl: "I mean, there's nothing I want in my life more than an Asian with rainbow hair."

At my house:

Thomas: "Dude, you know you're like batshit crazy, right?"

Me: "I am not!"

Thomas: "BB, you run around the house screaming, 'My dick is on fire. Someone put out my man-torch.'"

Me: "Point conceded."

Thursday, July 26, 2012

When Bros Talk About Their Feelings

A good number of you commented on my last post wanting to know if I'd survived Friday night in my house of the undead. The answer is yes, but it was no thanks to Black Boy, who flaked and left me only my dogs to stand by my side while I faced the legions of the Underworld. 

As you can imagine I was rather peeved, even if I did come out of the thing alive the next morning. My irritation only increased the following day, when Black Boy blew off me and our friend Stocky Guy ahead of a planned bar excursion.

“Have you heard from Black Boy?” I asked when Stocky Guy answered his cell phone.

“I was actually just about to call and ask you that,” Stocky Guy answered. “I’ve tried him like three times and he won’t pick up.”

So Friday night was haunted and Saturday night was shot.

Men. So unreliable.

In light of all this I was in no mood for conversation on Monday morning when I strolled into the grocery store where Black Boy works.

“Hey,” he called out, friendly as a butterfly.

“Hey,” I regarded him coolly and walked past.

A quick glance at his confused face told me all I needed to know.

He really doesn’t get what he did, I thought. Otherwise he wouldn’t be looking at me like I just sprouted two heads.

The guilt then was pretty instant, but the check-out line wasn’t the place to deal with it. Instead I called him up after he got off of work.

“Hey,” I said.

“Hey, man, what’s up?”

“I’m sorry that I blew you off today.”

“It’s okay.”

“Do you get why?”


Okay. He’s a guy. You’re going to really have to lay it out.

“I was pissed off about this weekend.”

“Yeah, I know, man. I’m sorry. I just didn’t even have my phone on me.”

“But you knew that we were supposed to do stuff.”

“True. I mean, my girlfriend just wanted to hang out, you know?”

“And that’s fine. I’m not that friend who needs you to hang out with him all the time, and neither is Stocky Guy. It wouldn’t have bothered me that you couldn’t make it, but you just left both of us hanging. All you needed to do was call and say, ‘Hey, I can’t make it.’ That made me feel pretty shitty.”

“You’re right. I really am sorry.”

“It’s good. But, hey, I have to run.”

“Alright, man. I’ll talk to you soon.”


Black Boy turned to Thomas, who was with him when I called.

“Well,” he told my brother. “I might have fucked up.”

Friday, July 20, 2012

A House of Spectres?

We'd heard stories about the house long before we ever imagined we might one day live there. It was natural that people would talk. The place was dark, mysterious, situated on an isolated patch of land that local lore insisted had been a Civil War battlefield, and curiously empty for all its attributes. The first time I saw it it stood like a ghostly ruin, a black hunk of rock in the dead of night. No wonder they said it was haunted.

I dismissed all of this out of hand, naturally, but several events after we moved in made me wonder. First, on the very night we took up residence, our reclusive cat Heidi disappeared for a period of two days.

"She's gone," my mother declared. "She's just gone."

We'd searched every nook and cranny, even going so far as to look in the yard despite Heidi's known aversion to the outdoors.

"Something had to happen to her," I insisted. "Mom, you know Heidi. She'd never have run off."

When the feline in question resurfaced she chose a fittingly bizarre way to do so; my mother walked into the laundry room to retrieve a load of clothes and there was Heidi, falling through the air from nowhere in particular.

After that the groundskeepers came in with their stories. The last family, they said, had left because of the commotion made by the otherworldly residents. Objects were rumored to rearrange themselves at night of their own accord. At one point, allegedly, a priest had been brought in to calm things down.

Other than my cat vanishing (and, evidently, developing the ability to fly), however, nothing particularly odd had happened to us, so it seemed to me that either our haunted house had taken a serious chill pill since we moved in or the staff were having some fun at our expense. I put it out of mind.

The postwoman looked apologetic when she knocked on the door yesterday afternoon.

"Hi," I said uncertainly as I stepped outside.

"How are you?" she asked.

"I'm fine."

"I'm really sorry to bother you, but I was wondering if you'd seen a package," she explained. "We delivered it here on July 3 but it was meant for the previous resident."

I imagined she was sorry; we've lived here since February.

"No," I said. "And my mother's at work, but I can ask her when she gets home."

"Alright," she said. She cast a glance at the front-facing second-floor windows. "It's nice to see someone living here again."

I smiled.

"What do you mean?"

"There's been a different family here pretty much every year," she said. "It seems like no one ever wants to stay. Someone from Marble City was using it as a summer home a few years back but they just stopped coming. Then there was the last couple."

I laughed.

"Our groundskeepers keep telling us that they left because it was too haunted. I think they're trying to scare us."

Her face was blank.

"I hadn't heard that."

"I'm sorry..." I began, confused.

"He died," she said. "The husband, he died in a car accident on the road just outside of town. A little while after it happened the wife was out in the field and she got attacked by some kind of animal. She was just injured but she left, too."


The postwoman smiled.

"I don't think your house is haunted," she said. "It just has a colorful history."

"Knock on wood," I answered with a nervous smile.

She nodded.

"Have your mother call if she remembers anything about the package."

"I will."

I'm not one to get too shaken up over a spooky story and my encounter with the postwoman was nothing more than a funny anecdote minutes after it happened. I'm also not one to take chances, though, so when my parents announced that they'd be leaving this evening for an overnight trip to Native State I called in my insurance policy.

"Yo, ho," I said when Black Boy picked up his phone.

"What up, nigga?"

"Listen, my parents are going to Native State and I'm going to be here all by my lonesome tonight. No homo, but do you want to have a slumber party?"

"I am definitely down for a slumber party."

Popcorn and movies should keep any possible spirits at bay. Provided, of course, that we don't pick horror movies.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

A Week of Surprises

The last week has been one of unexpected developments, most of them good, one bad, and one just sort of bewildering.

The first of these surprises came when I returned from my grandmother's house on Thursday, June 28, with Powell following close behind.

"Now, listen," I told my 22-year-old brother, whose tendency for hard partying in other people's residences has caused issues in the past. "I don't mind you staying since Mom and Dad are on vacation, but it has to be just us."

"And Jewfro," my brother said.

"Yeah, that's fine," I replied. Thomas's seventeen-year-old best friend, a talented producer and, with me, devout Game of Thrones nerd, has become like a family member in the last year. "But that has to be it."

"No problem," he smirked. "We'll get down on some Game of Thrones. It'll be awesome."

Three hours later my front door opened to admit Ghetto Boy, fresh out of jail; Black Boy, fresh from a party at his own house; Jewfro, the only welcome guest; and, at last, my brother, who strode through the threshold wearing a massive sombrero.

"Powell, what the hell!?" I exclaimed.

"BB, just calm down," he said. He drew a bottle of flavored vodka from his backpack and grinned. "It's going to be okay."

"Holy shit."

Several shots in this all seemed much less objectionable to me, and I joined in with zest as the young men around our table engaged in an impromptu freestyle rap battle.

"My name is Powell Guy," I sang. "I wear a giant hat/Gonna join the Marines/Nah, nigga, fuck all that."

The backyard exploded in laughter and Black Boy actually shook.

"Nigga, BB just fried the shit out of you!" he cried.

When no one could think of anything sufficiently insulting for me, I jumped in on myself.

"My name is BB Kid/And I am lookin' twelve/And I'm a big old fag/So I'm gon' go to Hell."

All in all it was great fun, even if Powell saddled me with the cleanup, but I was not feeling nearly so exuberant the following evening when a demonic force of nature left me alone and without power in a 200-year-old house in the middle of nowhere.

I held my dogs close to me as the lightning raged and objects hit the house, then drove to a friend's home once conditions had calmed down. I would have done better to stay put. Trees blocked the roads, power lines were down, and the greater part of Mountain Town was enveloped in a darkness that some people in this region have yet to find relief from.

Morning's light revealed the damage.

You may have noticed that the outdoor patio set in the above picture is missing its umbrella. That's because the winds took it off. I found it, after a bit of exploring, in a cow field a quarter mile away. This thrashing was followed by a heatwave more savage than any I can remember, with temperatures here staying at 100 degrees or higher for a week and reaching 105 yesterday afternoon. We in the South are accustomed to searing summers but this is extreme even by our standards.

The weathermen predict relief this week, thank God.

Another and much more welcome surprise came on Friday, July 6, when my grandmother gave me control over one of my trust funds. This wasn't entirely unexpected, as she'd told me she was going to do it about two weeks beforehand, but the reality of it didn't really dawn on me until I was on my way to the bank Friday morning.

This is a bit of money, I thought to myself as I rolled through Mountain Town. What am I going to do with all this money?

I smiled.

I'll get a smoothie.

It is not so much that all of my woes are wiped away, but it is enough that I could pay all of my expenses for the next year without working and have a good amount left. I view it as a cushion, not a crutch, a boon that, if managed wisely, could make my transition from college student to young professional go much more easily.

It comes in the nick of time, too; my parents have been relentless in demanding rent and were unmoved by the fact that the $400 they wanted by the start of the month was more than I had in the bank.

Now I could pay them for years (not that that's the goal) and still be fine.

I did indulge a little bit.

On Friday afternoon I filled up my gas tank without the slightest care. Both yesterday and today I went out to lunch. Earlier I went so far as to buy myself two CDs from iTunes. But already, a mere two days after receiving these funds, the voice of worry has entered my head.

You can't go crazy, BB. You have to handle this well. Once it goes away it's not coming back. This has to last until you find a real job.

As if Christina Aguilera records and cheeseburgers were going to bankrupt me. But that's how I am. I stretched the last fund over four years, though, and that was while I was in college and with a smaller amount in hand, so hopefully I'll be alright.

Another nice surprise: it would seem that my voice is back. It's been running away from me since February or so and now, hopefully, has returned to stay. More on that later, though. I've babbled enough as it is.