Well, it was my birthday today. I’m apparently sixteen. I don’t know why “apparently” – no, I’m definitely sixteen, even though it doesn’t really feel like it. Sixteen feels much too stereotypical for me. Maybe I’m nineteen. Okay.
I’ve got a migraine, I think. (So naturally I go and stare at my computer screen to help it feel better.) I want to crawl into bed in a little ball of pain, but I also want to write. I’m kind of torn. I think what I’ll do is I’ll just write until I’m physically incapable of looking at the screen anymore. All righty. Sounds like an excellent plan. So I turned sixteen – weird to think I’ve been alive for that long, and that I don’t remember most of it, actually – and now I’m a sort-of adult. I can leave school and nobody can force me to go, and I can drive a car, and you know, have romantic exchanges with other people, legally. Not as if that’s going to happen in the foreseeable future. It’s strange, a few years ago I would have given anything to be able to leave school, but now I actually sort of want to go – partly to get the stupid thing over with already, and also because the idea of staying home constantly and going insane again doesn’t really sound like that much fun.
I got some good stuff for my birthday. A real microphone to record songs with, an Arcade Fire t-shirt, a couple of books and a really neat hand-made journal from France. Apparently monks made it. It looks awesome, like it fell through a wormhole from the 17th century.
Throughout my life I’ve realized most of the fancy things come from my grandparents – the electronics, the music-related stuff, whatever. Money doesn’t matter to me and I don’t care what presents I get – although presents are always nice. They got a big balloon that looks like a jellyfish for me (it says Happy Sweet 16!), and it has ribbons attached to a weight so it won’t float away; my cat eats ribbons. There’s a problem with this, you see. My mom put the balloon up high and, using a cleverness I didn’t even know he had, he jumped up onto his little cat stand and then onto the bookshelf, and got to the ribbons to chew on them. Now the balloon’s in my room, safe from hungry, stupid ribbon-eating cats. We can’t let him eat them because he gets sick and throws them up – once he ate a string and obviously he didn’t digest it very well, so it hung out from his butt and he walked around with it for a while. There’s your gross anecdote of the day.
I don’t know how I feel about the supposedly important milestone of sixteen – actually it feels remarkably the same as yesterday felt. Now all that’s different is the knowledge that I’m sixteen. I can get a job, a driver’s license, and if I really felt like it I could put all my things in a bag, leave a note on the table, and run away to Alaska to live with bears in a cave and dance on street corners for a living. I really want to jump on a train like a hobo in an old movie someday, if that’s even something you can still do.
I think I’m getting close to not being able to stare at the screen anymore. I fixed it so it’s less bright but my head still hurts. I swallowed a huge, scary Tylenol and everything, but it came back anyway. I find headaches are the worst kind of pain, the kinds I get, at least, and they’re made even worse because sometimes you get nauseous and shaky as well. I’ll never understand people who say they can go to work and do normal things with a bad headache – when I have a bad headache, I want to curl up in a ball in the darkness and cry.
School was fairly nice. My History teacher likes me and it’s almost a little bit embarrassing – she knows I’ve got Asperger’s syndrome and that silly IEP thing, and maybe she also feels she should protect me from the mean boys in the back of the class who weren’t nice to me a few weeks ago. Even though it’s embarrassing it’s also nice to have a teacher on your side – much better than when they’re against you. I was doing a test I missed out in the hallway, and tried answering all the questions by memory alone (most of my history class memory is taken up with doodling pictures and mustaches on Mackenzie King’s face), and when I realized I couldn’t, I may have cheated and looked at my notes (which I’d conveniently taken into the hallway with me, along with my bag. I figured if anyone asked me why I had my bag I’d say I didn’t want anything to be stolen from it while I was away.) So, while sneakily checking my notes, a teacher strolled by – I looked up at him, probably with a nervous expression, and he paused and said carefully, but nicely, “Are you supposed to use your notes?”
I stared at him, and then nodded. He smiled and said “Okay”, and I smiled and made some sort of choked laughing sound. He strolled away again and I felt like a freight train had just zoomed past three inches from my face. The thing is, I’m not averse to cheating – especially when it’s acceptable cheating – like I have taken the notes in the first place, and the only reason I don’t remember them is because I never looked at them after initially writing them down. Anyway I did better on the test than one of the girls out in the hallway with me (I may have glanced at her paper when she wasn’t around), which makes me feel vaguely better about myself, even though I cheated. And what does it really matter? Why do I have to memorize exactly what the statue of Westminster was and how it affected Canada? I’m sure it was riveting when it happened, but that doesn’t come up in job interviews, I’m fairly sure.
English class is also going pretty well. Although we had to watch Mean Girls, which is a very frustrating movie – it comes very close to being actually good, and narrowly escapes being utterly stupid. They exaggerate high school and the only good characters in the whole thing (the main character’s two friends) don’t have big enough parts, and nothing satisfying happens with them. The gay guy doesn’t dance with a guy at the prom, and the girl isn’t a lesbian, which is disappointing. Although she did wear a suit for the prom, which made me happy. If the prom actually still exists in real life and I actually go to it next year, no doubt I’m going in a suit. And a top hat, maybe.
Yesterday I had my friends over and we played a board game I made up (like Dungeons and Dragons) for a couple of hours. They’re my two best friends – small, serious, black-belt karate master Josh, and awkward, goofy, smart Devin. I’m fairly sure Josh is gay and I don’t know what Devin is, exactly, just that he’s going through an anime and fairy phase right now, and it’s really funny. I support it a hundred percent though my friend Nathan is against it – Nathan was also against me coming to school for Halloween dressed as “Robert”, the British exchange student from 1920s London. Ouch my migraine is bad. Yikes. Anyway, I dressed up as Robert partly because I’ve been doing “exchange students” on Halloween since grade four (and Josh thinks it’s funny) but also to maybe slip in a hint that I’m not as much of a girl as they think I am. I’m scared of one day having to tell them I’m transgender, and part of it is that I still kind of like Nathan and I can’t imagine he’s into boys – unless he is. I dunno. He liked me in grade five, after all, and that was when I hadn’t hit puberty and could be passed off without fail as a boy.
I feel nauseous, and it’s not because a boy has (or had) a crush on me. Sorry to whine and everything, but gawd, what an awful headache – why does life have to hurt? Both physically and mentally. Life is mean sometimes. Really mean.
I want to write more, but my mom just came in, saw me curled up with my hands over my eyes, and suggested I get off the computer and take an Advil. Well, she’s probably right. In my experience, parents are often right, just like they say they are. My foot is falling asleep, and I’m shaking. I think I’m dying.
Or I’ll be fine. I’m just going to lie down for a while.
Thanks for reading, if you read it. If you didn’t read it, then you aren’t here. Okay. Makes sense. Good night.
– The Cellar Boy