mandag den 28. december 2009

Independence_Day.wps


This one’s a bit different from the others in that it describes something that actually happened. Considering the amount of hyperbole, exaggeration and outright lies in this, I’m not gonna say it’s Based On a True Story, like it’s ‘Gandhi’ or something. At best, it’s Inspired By Actual Events.

LA 9-4

December 9, 1996

Independence Day

I could hardly contain my excitement. It was the fourth of July and there was a box of semi-legal fireworks in my Grandparent's den. We go to my Grandparents' house on all major holidays and watch them drink themselves to death.

Ha! OK, wait, that’s mean.

I ran into the pseudo-European house from the patio, happy as a clam. I excitedly asked my grandmother when we were going to light off the fireworks. She saw that my face was covered with deviled egg, so she spit on a napkin and wiped it off.

My grandmother never spit on a napkin and wiped my face. Nobody’s grandma did that. Only grandmas in PG movies and hack stand-up comedy do that.

I re-entered my grandparent's world of the drunk elderly on the patio. There was an outside bar set up with a real bartender, who had no problem serving me and my brother liquor, in spite of the fact that we were six and eight at the time.

This is the first thing in the story that actually happened. The bartender was this cool Jamaican dude, and not only tolerated me and my brother ordering drinks but actively encouraged it, like, ‘try this rum, you’ll love it’. We were probably closer to 10 and 12 though.

My brother's blood stream must have been at least ninety proof by the time we left. My parent's were the only one's not drunk, as usual. My mom and dad's idea of a party is listening to Yanni, singing "Michael Row your Boat Ashore", and going to bed early.

I didn’t even know what Yanni was at that age. I probably thought it was a board game. I had just heard Yanni used as shorthand for ‘lame’ on Conan O’Brien and appropriated it.

They were sitting away from all my Grandparents' elderly friends, mostly due to the fact that they are all PSYCHOS. These are not the nice elderly, the ones that give little kids money just for the hell of it; these are the semi-satanic elderly, the kind that like to wait until a biker is right in front of them while they're driving and then gun it.

Before they drank, they would occasionally wander up to me and tell me how much I'd grown, or how handsome I looked. After the drinking started, however, they got a little disturbed: one of them asked my mother for a lap dance, an eighty five year-old was having delusions of Whitney Houston and was screeching "And I will Always Love You" at the top of her lungs, and some poor jerk in a wheelchair would respond to any question by yelling "Shit Happens, Laddie!" and cackling.

What a robust imagination I had! Like a little JRR Tolkien!

I joined up with my brother, who was wobbling around and trying not to puke on the tulips. He had both hands down his pants, and was scratching as if he had the chicken pox down there. I was a little disjointed myself, mostly from the vodka and tonic the bartender had given me when I'd asked for a Mountain Dew. We passed the time by singing, farting, and laughing in an innocent stupor.

The last sentence is at least in the same hemisphere as the truth. Me and my brother did actually get a buzz on at this party, and killed time til dark making each other laugh. It’s still the only time we’ve ever been drunk together.

When the time finally came for fireworks, I was rapidly coming down, but my brother had been fueling up the entire evening, and was still quite tipsy. In fact, just about everyone was pretty damn tipsy by that point, and the alzeimers-ridden whackos saw the fireworks with the glee of a five year-old.

I loved all of them (the fireworks, not the old people), and so did my brother. I was highly disappointed when we lit off the last bottle rocket out of the box that had seemed so huge before it had gotten dark.

Just as I was getting up, my grandfather got a massive firework out of the cupboard.

"Grand Finale," he said in a voice not unlike Jack Nicholson in "The Shining", and set it up on the charred ground.

Stephen King reference! I was a proud little bookworm.

It was a huge thing, standing at least two feet tall. "Over 100 fireballs!" The box read. I could not wait to see all those projectiles lighting up the sky. I was also hoping a couple would peg the neighbors' dog, who had urinated on my Christmas present a couple of years back.

By what mechanism would someone else’s dog pee on my Christmas present? Am I trying to convince the reader that our Christmas tree was an actual, living tree, in the ground, in the backyard?

My father insisted on lighting the immense firework himself, I was too young, and my grandfather and brother were way too wasted. He lit the fuse and ran behind a tree as if our esteemed grand finale was going to rape him.

Harsh, dude. Gay, closeted teenagers should generally refrain from mocking their male role models for being effeminate.

The fuse traced up to the firework and. . . nothing. It fizzled. My dad, always the outstanding citizen, just said, "Well, that was disappointing. Time for bed." He started off in the direction of the house, but my grandfather saw my dismayed look, and took pity on me. His bright idea was to light a piece of newspaper and throw it on the firework. He did it with flair and laughed like a madman when nothing happened. My father was still itching to go to bed, but Grandpa had one last great idea.

"Gasoline!" He yelled with childish delight, and ran to the woodshed. He tripped over Aunt Elga's IV drip,

Come on

but he was not to be stopped. He rummaged around the shed, laughing the night away. He finally emerged with a can properly marked, "Gasoline". My father, of course, was protesting adamantly, but Gramps just told him to shut up and pushed him down.

I would have helped the disturbed man up, but I was rooting for my Grandfather by this point. I wanted to see that dog fry. By the time my dad got up, Grandpa was already soaking the grand finale in gasoline. He searched in his pockets for a moment, and then yelled "Jackpot!" and his hand came out with a pack of matches in it. My dad tried to stop my grandfather from lighting the match, but some loving old lady had pinned him down with her walker. I now noticed why he wanted it to stop. The firework had fallen over and the six barrels of fire-lovin' fun were now aimed at the crowd.

"Grandpa, No!" I yelled, but to no avail. He lit the match and dropped it. As soon as it got within a foot of the gasoline-soaked firework, the entire setup erupted into a huge ball of flame. I was burned by the intense heat from ten feet away. It was a light almost brighter than the sun, and out of it flew a single fireball.

The crowd erupted. Don’t ever let old people play frail with you. As soon as the first fireballs started flying at the patio, the elderlies darted like dolphins for cover. They were fighting for space behind the fireplace or a rhododendron. It was a crazy scene, My brother was laughing as he watched the elderly catch fire, my father was crying, my mother had hit the deck and was being trampled by the scampering old people, I was behind the tree, yelling, "Die you bastards, Die!" and my grandfather was watching it all like a god punishing his people.

Behind my grandfather, I saw the one thing I never wanted to see again. Behind the still-spitting firework, out of harm's way, sat the neighbor's dog. He seemed to be laughing at me. I have never forgotten that sick mutt's face, and my expectation for this Christmas is to go after it with the weedwhacker.

Oddly enough, the truth-to-bullshit ratio in that section is pretty favorable. There was no dog, obviously, and no proper screaming and crying, but my grandpa really did douse a firework in gasoline that year, and it did fall over and shoot fireballs at his friends.

Furthermore, the part about old people diving dextrously out of their lawn chairs is bible truth. I still remember that, these frail veterans popping vertical and twisting like Neo to avoid fireballs.

I don’t know if it was this incident, or the me-and-my-brother-drinking thing, but that was the last time we went to my grandparent’s for Independence Day. They continued to have that party for years, and to my knowledge no one lost an eye or anything. One day, their neighbor might even have bought a dog.

torsdag den 24. december 2009

Romeo_Juliet.wps


LA 9-4

2/27/97

Journal Entry #3

Life Vs. Death

William Shakespeare's epic play, Romeo and Juliet, would not be the same without Romeo and Juliet's final decisions to kill themselves. For one, it would not be a tragedy, but it would have a quirky, happy ending as in "Sleepless in Seattle" with a lot of smiling and "I love you's" . It would also have little to do with life and death and I would not be writing a paper about it.

All I remember about this class is that I fucking hated the teacher. I always thought I hid it better than this, though.

All throughout the play, they are the epitomy of life, they talk shit, go to parties, have sex, and all the other things you do when you are a teenager and you know you have to settle down at some point so you want to get all the partying done between ages 12 and 18.

Jesus, the cursing! How did I get away with this?

I had a terrible relationship with authority all through my childhood. From parents to, eventually, law enforcement, I resented every utterance designed to get me to do something, even if it was something I wanted to do anyway. My teachers probably got the worst of it, since every class had a built-in studio audience of my peers that I could use as a laugh-track. Whenever I meet teachers now, I want to apologize on behalf of their most monstrous students’ future selves.

Romeo and his friends go to a Capulet party, just to crash it. Romeo sneaks into Juliet's house, knowing he could be killed for being there, but not caring. He is a teenager, and therefore invincible to the long arm of the law. The play gives a very large sense of life. Juliet and her beau elope, sneak into each each other's bedrooms, and have forbidden sex because they know they can.

Speaking of doing things just because you know you can, why am I mentioning sex? Did Romeo and Juliet even have sex? God, what an incredible little shit I was.

The last scene is when we are finally exposed to death. Shakespeare flirts with it in earlier scenes, (Juliet threatens to kill herself, Mercutio and Tybalt are killed), but those are subplots, footnotes if you will. We were not attached to Mercutio or Tybalt, and their deaths were just obstacles in Romeo and Juliet's being together. When Romeo sees Juliet in the tomb, dead, we feel his pain, but also want to cry out "Romeo, you stupid shit! She's just sleeping! wait a minute!"

There’s the s-word again. Utterly pointless, as usual.

My poor teacher must have felt like a Doberman being poked with a stick. I don’t even remember why I hated her so much.

But Romeo would rather take his own life than live without Juliet, and vise versa. Theirs is true love.

I’m clearly mocking her with that last part. This was the teacher who made us watch scenes from ‘Ally McBeal’ in class, and I think I caught a whiff of her approval-seeking and pounced. I never would have written ‘true love’ seriously at that age.

We are told of their deaths at the beginning of the play, which casts a shadow over the proceedings of the play. I think Shakespeare wanted us to feel their life all throughout the play, because it made the final blow that much more sad.

There I am, railing against foreshadowing again. My favourite movie at this age was ‘Ernest Goes to Camp,’ so when I critique the narrative techniques of Romeo and Juliet, you know, you best listen.

I think about 85 percent of my actions between 1994 and 2002 were primarily motivated by seeing what I could get away with. I almost never got in Official Trouble in middle and high school, but I was always on the verge of it. I got sent to the principal’s office often enough that I probably kept a toothbrush there, but I never got sent home.

My escape-hatch was usually ‘I’m sorry I’m acting out in class. I’m just not being challenged.’ Or, when taking heavy fire, ‘I think there might be something wrong with my eyes.’ I never hinted at problems at home, since that might result in a call there.

I imagine my poor teacher looking up from her desk as I re-enter the class she ejected me from 15 minutes earlier. I’m probably smirking; Hannibal emerging from the foothills. She sighs, audibly, as I take my seat.

onsdag den 23. december 2009

News_summary.wps


WH 9-3

2/14/97


Nader Targets Subsidized Stadiums

By Rachel Zimmerman


Failed presidential candidate Ralph Nader has chosen our current stadium issue for his next battle. After the owner of the Seahawks, Ken Behring, threatened to move the team to Southern California, billionaire Paul Allen stepped in and offered to buy the team if he can raise enough public money to assist him with the cost of a $402 million stadium. Nader calls this “A voracious vortex draining taxpayers’ money to subsidize super-rich owners and super-rich players at the expense of communities.”


I agree with Ralph Nader. These people have so much, and yet they are not satisfied. The reason people are not going to Seahawks games is not the stadium. People aren’t going because the Seahawks SUCK. It’s depressing to watch grown men get dragged around in the mud for three hours.


The owners and players are insanely overpaid. They don’t need a new stadium. They need a better coach and players. I don’t think we should have to pay for these guy’s little playpen. If they want it, it should come out of their pockets. If they don’t want to be here, then leave.


I am disgusted at the way we handled the Mariner’s request. After being voted down, the new stadium idea should have been shelved. Our legislators completely ignored the preference of the voters and decided to build a stadium anyway. Why did we even have the vote? So they could see how many people didn’t want a stadium before they built it?


I am sick of the overpaid players and owners asking for more. They get paid more in a week than most people get in a month. I think we should send them to California and not have a second thought about it.


I'm not even gonna mock this one. I was right fucking on, and I agree with everything I said up there. You tell 'em, kid!

Happy holidays!

Submission: 'I already am a minority in a way'


My friend Jon sent in an old letter he wrote to his parents.


I found this when I was cleaning out my old hard drive last year. I was a rebellious kid, but having preachers for parents forced me to be a bit more deliberate about it.

Mom and Dad,

As a fifteen year old high schooler, who is three years from being a legal adult, I feel that a nose-ring wouldn't be inapropriate for many reason's. First, High School is where people find out who they really are. Nose-rings' a temporary piercing are a expression of who I am at the moment, if that were to change, I would take it out. A guy who hangs around my school had his nose pierced for a long while and when he took it out, it was no more than a pore in his skin. The only way to find out who I really am is through trial and error. Also, body piercing is nat very unusual any more, and at Garfield we have about one person in each class with a nose ring.

I started out pretty reasonable. I was trying to make it seem like it wasn’t all that weird to get a metal bolt in my face.

Another point is that I would pay for the piercing, and you two would have to do nothing.

Trust me, this was a major selling point. My parents forbade me to dye my hair for years because they thought I wanted to do it at a salon, and it would cost a fortune. Once I started buying the stuff from the supermarket, they couldn’t care less.

As you probably remember from when you were in high school that there were things that your generation did that upset the elders, until they got used to it. You just aren't used to it, and this society today is about helping any sort of minority make it.

No one should have taught upper middle-class kids from the suburbs what minorities were.

I already am a minority in a way, I already am singled out as every person is.

Exactly. Being a minority means you’re treated just like everyone else.

Remember, this isn't a permenant thing. If your "Christian" freinds are so concerned about superficial things, I think they should remember Mary, the hooker, and the multitudes of lepers that Jesus loved no matter what. In our religion we are taught to love the "outcasts", so that takes care of your freinds.

I couldn’t keep up the diplomatic tone up for very long. I remember having a bad temper at this age, but I didn’t think it came out in print.

As for teachers, they are used to this; the 90's are full of crazy stuff. LET ME GET THE NOSE RING, I'll pay, I'll take the responsibility, I won't be singled out any more than I already am, and without some sort of output of my rage in a legal manner, there are many things I could do instead like vandalism, or all kinds of ways I can vent my frustration, or I can get a nosering, a little piece of metal through my nose that that doesn't kill people, or worship the devil, Acceptance is the answer, Remember I'm 15 now. Please, please, please, please, please, please, please please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please please, please, please, please, please, please let me get the nosering.

I couldn’t even hold it together for six paragraphs. I just devolve into threats (If I don’t get a nose ring I’ll be a vandal! Arrrr!) and pathetic begging. I also threw in ‘acceptance is the answer’, as a kind of homage to the kind of biblical messages I thought would work on my parents. I might as well have written ‘I beseech thee!’

I don’t know if I ever actually gave them this. I never got a nose ring, though.


Thanks Jon!

tirsdag den 22. december 2009

Abortion.wps


LA 9-4

4-2-97

Persuasive essay:

Abortion

Abortion is a topic that has sparked controversy for years. It seems there is no one who doesn't have a strong feeling one way or another. That controversy has been the cause of thousands of debates, countless persuasive essays, letters to the president, and even deaths. In this persuasive essay, I hope to present my opinion and also the facts.

Ha! The ‘even deaths’ part reads like a satire of this kind of essay. The entire abortion debate hinges on whether abortions are morally equivalent to deaths. That’s the whole point.

There are thousands of experts on the topic of abortion, but the one I thought was most interesting was Polly Rothstein, a columnist for the Miami Herald. She attacks right-to-lifers by saying "Stop confusing embryos with children", and "A woman's right to have an abortion does not infringe on your right not to."

This is clearly the entirely of the research I did for this essay. A column in the Miami Herald. That was probably printed in the Seattle newspaper like two days before this essay was due.

I agree with her. No one is asking any Pro-Lifer to have an abortion, we just think there should be a choice. If you think abortions are immoral, then don't get one.

Ahhh, if only life was that uncomplicated, kiddo.

There are thousands of rapes across this great country every day.

Should I maybe have saved the phrase ‘great country’ for a sentence that didn’t also include the phrase ‘thousands of rapes’?

Some of them, obviously, result in pregnancy. Imagine if you were carrying the baby of the jerk that raped you and had no way to get rid of it.

Ha!: ‘no way to get rid of it’.

Imagine raising a child that had some of the physical traits of someone who violated the most sacred part of you. Imagine if every time you looked into the eyes of your child, you were reminded of the attack that you were a victim of.

‘The most sacred part of you’ just oozes empathy, no?

Every 31 seconds in this country, a teenager gets pregnant. What if all of them had to keep their babies? That would mean every 31 seconds, a teenager would have to drop out of school to raise their child. The sound of a baby crying would symbolize a promising future being flushed down the toilet. Every dollar spent on diapers and baby food would have to come from a dead-end job flipping burgers or sweeping floors.

And now that we’ve resolved rape, we’re on to teen pregnancy.

I like the economic analysis at the end there. I was a bagboy at Safeway the year I wrote this, and it was my first extended experience with service-economy lifers. The moral wounds of this were clearly still fresh.

It would be easy to say that a fetus is a valuable life life, and that killing it is murder. It's also easy to say that a spider is a valuable life and stepping on it is murder. Where do we draw the line?

Somewhere closer to fetus than spider, I hope.

It all comes down to whether something immoral should be illegal.

Um, no it doesn’t. Abortion comes down to a lot of principled issues, but that’s not one of them.

But would illegalizing abortions solve anything? Prohibiting alchohol didn't make people stop drinking. All it did was make alchohol sleezier, dirtier, and more dangerous. That is what it would do to abortions. People would do it to themselves with coathangers, or get one illegally, and not get the care they need. That would result in infections, deaths, and a sense of helplessness for would-be mothers.

And here we are at the ‘prohibition doesn’t work’ argument! It’s the Abortion Debate Greatest Hits Tour in less than 300 words.

Where did I get the coathangers thing? Are normal 15-year-olds familiar with black-market abortion methodologies?

It is my humble opinion that abortions should be legal. If something is immoral, it should not necessarily become illegal. Cheating on a girlfriend or spouse is immoral, but should that be illegal? Some people consider birth control immoral, should that be illegal? The great thing about this country is the fact that we have the freedom to chose our own actions and beliefs. Illegalizing abortion would take that freedom away.

God bless America!

mandag den 21. december 2009

I_Make_an_Entrance.wps


I was born on March 6, 1982 around noon. The labor started at about 10:00 the previous night. My parents arrived at Northwest Hospital at about 2:00. My Godmother, [Godmother], stayed at the house to watch my brother, [Brother].

The file was last modified January 4, 1994. I was almost 12 , and it looks I’m dispatching an autobiography assignment.

I’m probably making up those details. I never took these assignments seriously enough to fact-check.

In my birth year, the book Schindler's List was published, Disney World in Florida opened EPCOT, lethal injection was first used, the 49ers won the Super Bowl, and the film "E.T." came out.

I was a mellow baby. I loved sitting on my mother's lap. I kept this up until I was seven. [Brother] pretty much ignored me, he was only two. I sucked my thumb with one hand and held either my mom's hand or my dad's ear with the other.

By the time I was 10 1/2 months I was walking. The first movie I ever saw was "Chariots of Fire" and I am still a rabid movie-goer. My mother heard me say "hot" when I was around one. I never had hair until I was two.

God, I can’t believe my first word was ‘hot’. I hope I’m making this up at this point.

When I was little, I was a plump, blond curly haired boy with blue eyes. I was very attached to my mother. I sat on her lap constantly and she took me everywhere with her.

When I was three, our family took a one-year trip to Sweden, because my dad had to do some research there. We left for Sweden in July 1985 and got back in June of 1986. We stayed in a town called Linkoping. I went to a day care/preschool for half the day. When in Sweden we traveled a lot. We went to Denmark, Norway, and England. I learned the language very well and I still have a slight Swedish accent. While in Sweden, my Grandparents and my favorite baby-sitter, [Favorite Babysiter], came to visit us.

That part about the Swedish accent is a bald-faced lie. I was three when we lived there. Apart from apparently chirping ‘hot!’ every third word like a gay teenager, I wasn’t saying much of anything, much less Swedish.

When I got back, I went to preschool for one more year, and I met Daniel, who later gave us the cat which we still have. It was his mother who taught me which shoe goes on which foot.

Having already established myself as truth-challenged, I have now moved on to fully developmentally disabled. Did other children have to be taught to put on their shoes?

My life was not all fun and games. I moved when I was eight, and I hated it. Not that I hated the new neighborhood, I loved it, but moving was, for some reason, upsetting and annoying. I think the worst part was leaving my first girlfriend, Claire. I have seen her twice since.

Jesus, stop it. What am I talking about? Who is Claire? What does ‘first girlfriend’ mean at age eleven? I genuinely don’t remember anyone named Claire in my childhood. I can’t decide which is more appalling: that I made up an entire person just to add filler to a two-page assignment in the sixth grade, or that I may have genuinely believed this.

When I was in kindergarten and other low grades, I would pretend I was a transformer and I turned into cars and other assorted vehicles.

After I found a BB gun bullet hole in our house, I decided it would be fun to be a vandal. I wanted to be one until third grade.

I was a disgustingly healthy child until I got chicken pox in fourth grade. I get sick about 1 time a month now. I got really mad when I got chicken pox because I almost missed a school camping trip.

My brother has been cruel to me ever since I was born. He harasses me constantly. Personally, I don't think he will ever stop.

I used to have a great fear that someone would invade my house, and make me bungee jump. It is funny to remember that, because now I want to bungee jump.

And … This is now officially the rantings of a madman. I’m amazed this wasn’t flagged by social services.

I remember getting the chicken pox, actually. My mom made me take an oatmeal bath, and I hated the creamy, granular feeling on my skin. I think I played anti-hookie and pretended to be well so I wouldn’t have to do it again. I hated camping, though, so I don’t know why I’m acting disappointed that I almost missed a trip.

I don’t know what to say about the thing with my brother. As well as being a lying, girlfriend fabricating shoe-tard, I also have a persecution complex. I would love to see the copy of this I got back from my teacher, all doodled with red pen. I wonder if she circled that paragraph and noted ‘CFH*’ (*Cry for Help) in the margins.

For the record, I no longer have any desire to bungee jump, though the idea of being forced to do so in the middle of the night remains mortifying.

I have won a few awards in my short life. I won an "Outstanding Student" award in first grade. I won a spelling bee in my first grade class but did not get an award.

Ahhh, there you are, Bitterness. I was wondering when you’d arrive.

In first grade we had a spelling bee, but we didn’t keep score. By the end, I was the only kid in the class who didn’t spell a word wrong. I spent the rest of the year lobbying for an award for my achievement like a little Berlusconi. Classy kid, I know.

I can play tennis quite well for my age, especially considering how much I've played.

Lie.

I used to think I played soccer well, but I came to my senses and now I know it's not my best sport.

True.

I do okay academically. I got into Horizon math, language arts, and social studies, even though I don't particularly want to be. My mother made me be in it.

Lie.

I get pretty good grades anyway, though, and I don't think my teachers hate me.

CFH.

I've read tons of big books, like The Stand, Needful Things, and The Mammoth Hunters.

Lie. The Mammoth Hunters doesn’t even sound like a legitimate book. I’m probably thinking of an episode of ‘Dino Riders’ or something.

I am a pessimist/realist. I either look at the situation as bad, or as what it is, depending on my mood. I can be an optimist when I want to, though.

Pointless, pointless lie.

I am very imaginative, but I have trouble talking about it. I like to write, but I don't like actually putting it on paper.

Lie. What am I saying here? My writing is great, just not on paper?

I do magic. I have a magic business with a friend of mine. We have done only one magic show but we could get a lot more business if we really tried.

Lie. We sucked violently. We only ever performed one show, at a nursing home. About four people showed up. Our performance was literally less enticing than sitting in an empty room and waiting to die.

My family is like other families in the sense that everyone is sane and not in jail or something like that. We are different from other families because we are dysfunctional. My brother and I are always bickering and my mom is always screaming at us to stop. My dad is rarely home for these little "episodes," as we like to call them.

This is a lie too, but just the last sentence. My dad was around plenty. He biked home from work every day, uphill, arriving just in time to sit down and drip sweat onto his dinner. I only had a fixation with having an absentee father because that was the plot of like 65 percent of children’s movies in the early ‘90s.

The ‘dysfunctional’ thing I got from my parents. We had a lot of ‘family meetings’ around this time, most of which revolved around the question ‘why are we so dysfunctional’? I could spell that word before I could kick a football. Or put my shoes on correctly more than 50 percent of the time, apparently.

It’s amazing that, at 11, I was able to project a sorority worth of insufferable, calculated self-loathing. My hormones hadn’t even kicked in yet. If it’s this dire now, how’s it gonna be when I discover sexual attraction, popularity, and body image?

lørdag den 19. december 2009

Dear_Stephen_King.wps



Seattle, WA 98125
March 6, 1994


Mr. Stephen King
23407 108 th St.
Bangor, Maine 08104


Dear Mr. King,


I have just finished Christine and I think it was your best book that I've read. It was interesting, funny, and immensely gory, I like that.


Oh my god it's a fucking fan letter.


For about six years, somewhere between the Hardy Boys and Graham Greene, Stephen King constituted the entirety of my extracurricular activities. I didn't play sports, didn't have hobbies and was only allowed an hour of TV per day. This left me about six hours of free time between school and bedtime, and I can't remember doing much other than reading.


Stephen King was the first 'proper' writer I read, and I constructed my entire understanding of the adult world around his. Beyond the werewolves and demonic possessions and post-apocadultery, I remember being most shocked at the sheer volume of sin in his stories. Under the premises of my Christian (albeit West Coast) upbringing, lying, premarital sex, cursing and drinking were major transgressions, and everything I had been told about them gave the impression that they were 1) rare and 2) exclusively perpetrated by the world's villains.


I remember a small scene in It where a female character contemplates the genitalia of the man sitting next to her on an airplane, and considers screwing him in the bathroom. At 14, I was utterly scandalized by this, and further scandalized by the fact that she wasn't the story's villain. 'What?! Genitalia and goodness?!' I imagine myself screaming at the chapter break, furiously flipping ahead to see if she got her moral comeuppance in the third act.


The characters were amazingly life-like, but mysterious in a way. Characters like Rollie LeBay were awfully strange and scary. I found myself almost shivering when I found out what was happening to Arnie, like when his handwriting changed to LeBay's.


Later in the book I found myself wondering "who will Christine kill next" and I was very surprised when Arnie died at the end. I thought it would be fine and he'd be the same old Arnie in the end. I was shocked when I found out he was dead and I was surprised when I found LeBay killed him.


I was a fastidious little youngster. Say what you want about that paragraph, but it is impeccably punctuated. At 12, I managed to capitalize that 'b' in 'LeBay' every fucking time. Suck it, 10th grade language arts teacher who called me sloppy.


You can see the pinprick-narrowness of my moral universe here. Even in a story about a vintage Plymouth possessed by Satan (no, that's seriously what the book is about), 12-year-old-Me is expecting the good guys to win and for everything to go back to normal at the end. I had clearly been spending my daily TV hour on Growing Pains.

I must admit, although I loved the book, I did not like how you said that "it ended that night." I've noticed that you do that a lot, give away what will happen. How long does it take you to write a book like this?


From an avid reader,

[Me]


I love how I ended my piercing literary analysis by coming out strongly against the concept of foreshadowing. Way to establish your precociousness, kiddo.


And the question at the end: I know Google didn't exist, but surely that information was available if I'd really wanted it. I feel like I would have gotten a response if I'd asked him about the It genitalia-flight.

USA Today Teen Panelist Essay


I am a sophomore at Nathan Hale High School in Seattle, Washington. I have friends from all walks of life and believe that I would be perfect for your panel. I do not play any sports, although I had a brief stint with the lacrosse team my freshman year. I am a big fan of the entertainment industry. I have very diverse tastes in TV, movies, books, theater, and music. I cannot say no to quality entertainment, whatever the genre. I am obsessed and fascinated by pop culture, and I love reading the newspaper and magazines.

That's the beginning of an essay I wrote in 1997. I was 15, and applying to be one of USA Today's 'teen panelists'.
The world of teenagers is very different from how it was in the fifties and sixties. Most males are concerned only with sex and drugs. Females seem mostly concerned about how to avoid them. Of course, there are the few lonely souls who dare to be different, but they are labeled as 'weirdos' or 'faggots' and are generally ignored. To be popular and successful as a teenager, one must be willing to conform to what the media and their peers tell them.
It's utterly horrific, obviously, and the most surprising thing about it is that I got the panelist position. Based solely on the 'strength' of this essay. I was one of USA Today's go-to teens for like two years outta this. Shit's still on my resume.

Looking back on my panelistship (complete with overly artsy photo shoot), I sort of built up my essay in my head. Like, it must have been good for the journallati at USA Today to send me from Pacific Northwest obscurity to their gossamer pages, right? I must have expressed something incisive, or creative, or clever. Or at least grammatically fucking correct.
In this age of single parents and families in which both parents are working, the role of mother and father begin to mean less and less. Oftentimes parents would like to be home with their kids, but can't, because they have to work a double shift so the aforementioned children can keep ordering pizzas and watching cable.
It's genuinely terrible, and it only gets worse from there.

Maybe the scariest thing about modern technology isn't the triviality, or the ubiquitousness. Maybe it's the permanence. If this essay wasn't saved on a 12-year-old hard drive, I never would have read it again. It could have remained, in vague worthwhileness, in my head and my nostalgia.

We forget the extent to which we construct our childhood from input far more diverse than its actual events. History, movies, other people's recollections, aborted friendships, it all gets folded in. The pictures and texts from my childhood seem like some sort of alternate reality to the upbringing I keep in my head. It's easy to forget that it's the other way around.
My goals for this year are pretty simple. I want to get my licence (drivers) and get the heck out of this hell-hole we fondly call Nathan Hale, and the dungeon we fondly call High School. I am sick of all the b.s. politics, the pandering, the social ladder, and assignments intimately describing myself to someone I hardly know.

Accomplishing these goals will involve drivers-ed and Running Start [that's the early college acceptance program I left high school to go do the following year]. The only thing that will make this year any different from last year is that there will hopefully be less creeking. [I got thrown in the creek behind our school. A lot.]
That's from another essay I found, another 'describe yourself' exercise that I was apparently getting sick of. I've only made it through about three of the files--bad writing is so much worse when it's you--and the main thing that strikes me isn't the thudding cliches or the inorganic metaphors, it's the deafening bitterness. I had completely edited this trenchcoat-mafia shit out of my adolescence.

Looking back, I had it pretty great. I had friends who liked me, teachers who challenged me and parents who went to bed way before my curfew. Why was I so eager to get away?

I liked it better when 'youth is wasted on the young' was just a cute saying, and not a conclusion supported by 48 megabytes of Word Perfect files. I don't know if I'll make it all the way through them, but the only thing I keep thinking is, 'Thank God I didn't keep a diary.'

First post: Who am I? Why am I here?


Last week my parents sent me a DVD with 198 files they excavated from my first computer. 'Thought you'd get a kick out of these!' they wrote on the Post-It Note.

Most of them are high school writing assignments from 1996-2000. Short stories, book reports, debate texts and even for the love of God poetry.

I'm making myself go through them, and this blog is where I'll be pasting them and writing about what makes each one uniquely appalling.