Let’s see if I remember how to do this.

[Note: This is really long. Start when you have time to finish.]

I’ve been busy, but I can’t really pretend that I’ve been too busy for two entire months to write something for you folks to digest. You must feel hopelessly deprived. Or annoyed, or possibly hostile. The real reason, I think, that I haven’t written is that I didn’t feel like it. And also I didn’t really think about it. I want to tell you that I’m going to post weekly from now on, but I hesitate because there might be some weekends when I don’t.

School has sucked this year. Ironically, on 30OCT, we got senior treats – little bags of candy that they use to make us think the school is nicer than it is. They said, “Hope you’re enjoying the best year of your life so far!” Yeah, right. For some people, I bet it is. But I’m taking five AP classes, so not for me. I also really hate college application stuff. I believe I’ve noted before that they cause me to be unable to enjoy my life. Whenever I have time free, I have to do some college thing or other, and if I put off doing it because it’s something I severely don’t want to do, such as write an essay, which it always is, I feel guilty later and I’m also one moment closer to the deadline without having done anything. That’s why I’ve decided I’m going to just get it over and done with as soon as I can. What I have left to do is get a couple of teacher recommendations and write a really good essay. I finished one today that I think is pretty good, but it could be at least twice as good if I were allowed space to write all I want. Five hundred words sounds like a lot, until you realize it’s about two thirds of a page. I can’t say anything meaningful in a presentable way in 500 words. I’ve been conditioned by years of freedom in my journal each night to write as many words as I want, and losing that freedom has really crippled me. However, condensing the essay into only the indispensable points, I was able to get it down to about 560 words, and I think I’m going to leave it at that. I doubt very much that the admissions committee will deny me entrance because I used four more sentences than I was supposed to in my application essay. The next step is to reread it at a later time such as tomorrow and make sure it’s the very best I can possibly write on that topic in that space. The topic, by the way, is that writing helps me think, and I’ve had a better life ever since I started writing in my journal each night, because I have to examine the things I’ve done each day, and through a process mildly reminiscent of natural selection, I’ve weeded out all the thing I do that are useless or simply waste time. I mentioned in there my commitment against TV. I think it’s kind of neat because, at the start of the essay just after I introduced the topic “Writing helps me think,” I said, “By the time I finish this essay, I’ll probably have had some new insight that I’ve never had before,” and I ended it saying that if I write in a journal and my life has become so much nicer because of it, I’m going to start advocating journal use amongst my peers, which is of course my insight. In following with that, I’m going to tell you right now: you ought to get a journal. A blog doesn’t count. It has to be something you can keep private if you want to, and something that’s concrete. I recommend the excellent “Leather-Look” journals from the Miquel Rius company; I use the version with 600 pages and I get them at Barnes & Noble. They’ve lasted me about two years apiece, and I write a lot. The paper is gridded, which I find terrific, but it may not be your thing, in which case you can look at the rest of the fine selection of empty books at your local bookstore. Write in it every night, about what you did, and what you think about whatever you happen to be thinking about. It really is something special. I especially like being able to flip through the pages I’ve already filled and read things and remember stuff I’d forgotten about.

Things have happened this year. The most significant was the accident. I called up my friend Aaron a few Sundays ago to ask if he wanted to come play krokay. His mom answered and said he wasn’t there but he’d have him call back. Then she said, “I presume you’re calling about the accident?” I said no, what accident? It turned out that two guys I knew well, Bryce Walters and Andy Hughes, had gotten in a car wreck. Bryce was back at home, but Andy was still in the hospital. Over the coming days, Andy stayed there. Rumors circulated. He was dead, he was braindead and on life support, they were pulling the plug at nine o’clock, he was doing a lot better, he was in critical condition. It was impossible to become any better informed than if you knew nothing. Then on November 3rd, we heard it over the PA system. Andy had passed away the previous night.

It’s the polar opposite of fair. The other car was a big black SUV, with no headlights on, and the driver was drunk. Until these things happen, you never comprehend the scope of them. Even though I’ve never met his mother, I kept imagining her sitting on her bed with her head hung down. It was a sudden calamity. There was no time to prepare. There was nothing that could be done. It was a sudden ripping out of the heart, and it shouldn’t have been, but it was. It makes me really sick.

As the saying says, though, life goes on.

I’ve recently become seduced by chess, after a sudden impulse drove me to make Mom find the book Chess for Dummies – she had previously removed it from its proper place in one of her mad cleaning sprees, and it ended up being in a garbage bag in the shed. Why does she do this? It’s only hiding the problem. What Mom does isn’t cleaning, it’s hiding. True cleaning, I’ll have to remember to emphasize to her, involves (1) throwing out stuff that needs to be thrown out – a subjective distinction that she always takes too far when it’s other people’s stuff but not nearly far enough when it’s her own – and (2) putting the rest of stuff in its proper place (Mom puts everything in my room on top of my bed, rendering it useless for sleeping, and then leaves without completing the job by putting the stuff away). But I have strayed from my topic, which was chess. There’s not really all that much to say. I’ve been reading Chess for Dummies, and it’s a very good book, and as such I’ve gotten far better than I was, but I’m not going to be in a tournament anytime soon. I can beat Mom pretty consistently. I haven’t played but one game with Dad, who’s a tournament-level player (5th place in something about twenty years ago), and that game was a tutorial rather than a competition – he told me which of my moves were bad, and told me how to make them good. I carry around Dad’s chess set at school to have something to do during lunch and the study hall bell every other day in the biology room, and on the whole I’ve probably lost more than won. These kids keep referring to chess learnings they’ve obtained that I never suspected. They know how to do it. But I’ve still won a few. I’m talking here about the kids who can actually play, not the kids who know the various ways the pieces move and nothing more (of who I’ve played, Gabby and Keith). I look forward to continuing improvement.

On the krokay front, I’ve still been playing. I found a second site in Warder, within walking distance, and I’ve played a few games there, with Keith and Xinglai. Xinglai is an exchange student, and I bet you thought she was from China, but she’s from Germany, and she’s of Chinese descent. As all the exchange students tend to be (and as I figure I might be too if I were one) she’s very nice and sort of standoffish. She was a bit idealistic about krokay the first time and wore some nice shoes, which unfortunately became wet with mudwater, but I lent her mine, cleaned off hers with what paper and such I could find, and went barefoot (I rather enjoy going barefoot actually, but I suppose to her it probably looked like a selfless sacrifice of comfort for her sake). Keith is the man who left the last comment on my previous post. DUTCHESS!! Dutchess is his pet bunny. Properly, “duchess” is spelled without a t, but Keith doesn’t let that bother him; he spells it with a t regardless. It really doesn’t matter, so I’m not going to write any more words about it. His other pet bunny is Mocha. MOCHA!! He loves to yell out DUTCHESS! and MOCHA! in school and pet people on the head as if they were his bunnies. We predict that by the end of school, everyone will know who Dutchess and Mocha are, and that’s precisely why he’s going to bring either one or both on the last day. We’re going to have fun with our last day in school. I personally plan to arrive at school barefoot. Matt suggested there might be some disciplinary measures taken, but he hadn’t really thought it through: it’ll be the last day of school, it hurts nobody, it’s against no laws (contrary to popular belief – the Health Department does not give a care whether you wear shoes, in a restaurant, in a store, or in school), and I’m a senior. Clearly, there’s nothing to stop me. Keith and I have played; the last time, he got his contact lens caught on a branch, and after fruitlessly trying to put it aright in his eye and trying to have me do it (he kept blinking) and trying again to put it aright by looking at his reflection in, among other things, my eye, he hurried over to the house of a friend who lives just across the street from Warder. That was exhilarating. I hadn’t had a class with Keith since eighth grade before this year, but now we’re in psych together, and we’re passing notes just like the old days. I make Chicklet cartoons, and he makes Chameleon Brothers cartoons, and we say odd stuff to each other, and every once in a while we write something coherent to pass on information of some sort. I love writing notes with Keith. He’s unusually forthright sometimes and will openly admit to people (friends, teachers, passing strangers) that he loves them; at first it seems strange, but then if you’re a certain type of person you realize that it’s sort of strange that that sort of thing is frowned upon in our kulcher, and so I must remark that in addition to writing notes with Keith, I also love Keith.

Katy, Katie, Kaiti – who knows how to spell it? Katy Coomer has a mad crush on me, and I think she might fancy that she’s kept it a secret, but not really. I’m not sure what she sees. I’m relentlessly attractive, of course, but I’m also a bit esoteric, and until I have a long history with a person, I’m pretty awkward in conversation. I don’t have much history with Katie, because she was in Wyoming (Wyoming, Ohio) schools for a few years and the only memories I have of her before that are (1) when she came to my bowling party on my birthday one year and I kept confusing her with [stepcousin] Leah, and (2) when she came over to my house when we were in grade school and accidentally let go a big cecropia moth Dad had captured at a McDonald’s. She called me up today and asked if I wanted to hang out, and true to my nature I was extremely ineloquent and spoke in short and clipped phrases. But we agreed to play krokay tomorrow at 1300, and I think if nothing else I’ll be less awkward in real life than on the phone. I don’t know I’m ready for romance yet – I don’t know I’m looking for it. It only feels strange. I think I’m entirely willing to have friends. It’s nothing personal: I’m simply not a romantic guy at the moment. She seems to have high hopes. I worry about dashing them. She may yet convert me, perhaps, if she surprises me and I end up with an entirely new perspective.

A lot more crazy and wild stuff has happened since my last post, but right now you’re going to have to be satisfied with this, which I daresay you will be, since it’s probably my longest post to date. The rest of the stuff, such as there is, will have to wait until the next weekly update, same bat-time, same bat-place, on Sunday at midnight, or on Saturday at 2000, or Friday at 0130, or on the following Thursday at 1622, or on Flag Day at 1159, or something like that.

File under: high school, krokay, barefooting


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Anonymous

History

Finally a new posting. Hooray! But what is krokay? Some sort of take-off on croquet? The only place I’ve heard of it is on your blog. Grandma

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Anonymous

History

My dear son,

Your post is amazing.

You say you don’t see what Katy (and young women) see in you. I see what they see, but I guess from a different POV because, well, it’s a mom’s POV…but it is not totally biased- I try to put myself in their shoes.

You’re handsome, smart, and self-aware…your feelings of empathy are astounding and you express them so eloquently.

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