Tag Archives: stuff

Reasons to Despise Society, Pt. 1

It feels like last time I did a post we were still in the paleolithic age, smacking rocks with other rocks and chasing buffalo off high ledges. A whole lot of stuff has happened since last I took up the metaphorical pen to gift you with the machinations of my often idle mind, but rather than attempt to compact it all into a readable wad of text, I think I’m going to leave it all up to your imagination. You can imagine I was bundled away in the night by a mysterious band of rebels out to protest some awful new law and then became their leader, went on to conduct a completely underground (and successful) rebellion; or you can imagine I was stuck on the top of some distant mountain, barely surviving on bits of trail mix and granola while I waited for the authorities to come find me (while at the same time writing my masterpiece novel); or you can imagine that life has been kind of as it always has. Better, these days, but still not all that much different. I realize I’m hurtling, reluctantly, towards adulthood, and that at the end of this year my friends will be off to the bizarre guessed-at lands of life; and it is a bit daunting, to think that soon we’re all going to get tossed to the winds like so many discarded leaflets – but that’s life, it evolves and the people around you evolve, too. To remain static is impossible, and stupid if you try. You’ve got to kind of ride the waves, man.

I am imbued with some obscurity today, sorry. I think the happier I get, the sillier I get – and when I’m down or depressed I turn into a bad realistic fiction novel. I really do, I’ve read over my previous writings. I think I prefer my writing when it’s somewhere in the middle – not too obscure as to be difficult to enjoy, but not too raw that it starts to suggest the world sucks horribly and everything will be bad forever.

So with that out of the way, let’s look at reasons to despise society. I was inspired by one thing in particular, but I’ve realized since then that there are reasons all over the place, simply growing on the trees ready to pick off, and that I should maybe discuss them. Because as anyone who knows me knows, there are some aspects of society that I just can’t get past, that I feel it is my duty NOT to get past, so that you may understand them, too, and wield your new-found knowledge for the betterment of humanity. Or something; I’ll go with that for now.

What’s the thing, then? The thing is this:

asylum cover

Does it look fairly innocuous? A little creepy, but pretty much innocuous? Hold on to your hats. This is the cover for a book that I happened to see at the store, and when I saw it I felt a narrow look of uncertainty grow on my face, wondering if it was the new sequel to Ransom Riggs’ popular series about weird kids who live in Wales (it isn’t that good in my esteemed and glorious opinion.) But aha, the author is someone new – Madeleine Roux, to be exact – and, because my deductive skills rival that of the well-known fictional detective Sherlock Holmes, I was able to deduce that this Roux person is not in fact Ransom Riggs, and is in fact someone entirely different who just so happened to write a book that is eerily familiar to a certain other book which I didn’t find all that good. Am I overreacting? I’m not overreacting. Just look at the cover to Riggs’ Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children:

peculiar children cover

WHAT HO! Still not convinced? Take it upon my word then that both books use the quirk of including photographs en lieu of illustrations, for I guess a more realistic and avant garde feel. Yes, both novels feature photographs as a way to enhance their texts. There is no coincidence here. Why is there no coincidence here? Because, in the Goodreads summary of this “Asylum” book, it is written: “Asylum is a thrilling and creepy photo-novel perfect for fans of the New York Times bestseller Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children.”

THOUGHT YOU WERE CLEVER, DID YOU, SOCIETY? Well, you can’t get that past ME, deductive cynical intellectual that I am! Point goes to the Cellar Boy. Smirk.

This isn’t the first time this kind of thing has happened, naturally. I remember when Twilight was huge (remember those strange, dangerous times? I got through them by hiding in a closet with a pot on my head), a whole bunch of knock offs suddenly mysteriously appeared, with names like “Blue Moon” and I wish I had another example but I don’t. I didn’t really care about them because my opinion of Twilight and vampires in general was so low. But I have, in comparison only, a much higher esteem for Ransom Riggs’ kind-of-neat books, and it actually sincerely bothers me that other authors can publish books that are just obvious rip offs, and then make money off of them. The same thing happened with a book called “Gods of Manhattan”, which was clearly written straight off the fame of Rick Riordan’s Percy Jackson and the Olympians. And in film, too, we can observe this annoying practice recurring – (look up Asylum Films. That is beautiful irony right there, that it should have the same name as the Ransom Riggs ripoff novel.) Why do people feel they can do this? More than that, why do they feel they can do it and then get away with it scot-free? Sometimes leeching off of other people’s ideas and success isn’t the most terrible thing (for instance look at the humorous goodness of Pigfarts), and I suppose it’s stupidly subjective of me to forgive in some cases and not in others – but I think, just in principle, that it’s a pretty slimy thing to do. There are fan fiction websites out there for a reason. Put your rip offs on there so random internet-goers can have fun reading them. But for money? Really, for money? O, the green-eyed monster, she who pulls the strings of our desperate hearts.

Now, wait, there are more reasons. Of course there are. I would never just leave you with one. The second one is perhaps even less of a big deal, but what it is is far more prominently displayed in the public light. In fact, it’s so prominently displayed that everyone and their poodle is doing it. It is so prominent that I currently cannot turn my head in any direction without seeing it. At school, it is everywhere, like some bizarre tribal brand signifying that soon the civilized world is going to be overthrown. Even the pompous Canadian politicians in their fifties on the news channel I watch religiously are doing it. It is starting to make me sincerely unhappy, simply because no one seems able to resist it. It is, of course, this.

bad hair

No, not the guy. Well, the guy too. But more specifically his hair. Good mother of all that is holy, everyone has this haircut now. Put down summer and fall of 2014 in the record books as the “Time of the Shaved-Sides Haircut”.  It’s like we’ve crashed hair-first into some Utopian  George Orwell concoction where Big Pop Star is Watching You.

big macklemore is watching you.

I think I’m about to have a nervous breakdown. Such conformism has not been seen since the Time of the Skinny Jeans, and thank Brian that one’s mostly over. It’s not the haircut itself that I dislike, you understand; back before everyone had it I thought it was kind of neat, but since then it’s gotten unnervingly prevalent. I’ve seen fads before, and fads are weird, granted – the one with the hamster teddies on wheels was basically impossible to grasp – but this one is different. It could be because I’m older, more aware, and far more cynical and angry – or it could be that it’s just seemed to hit all at once this time, and with force. I don’t understand it at all. If I see a popular figure that I really like get an interesting new haircut, then maybe I’d consider doing the same thing – if it looks good on him or her, then why not? I can understand that, sure. But you’d think – I mean you would, wouldn’t you? – that after a certain point, you would no longer want to get that haircut, after five out of the fifteen people in your class have that hair, after the goddamn Conservative fifty-year-old guy on Power and Politics has that hair. I mean, I don’t really care, but I do care. I care but I don’t care. If you have this hair, then I think no less of you; it could very well be you weren’t aware of the extent of this fad, or that maybe you just didn’t care. BUT – if you are actively aware of the popularity of this hairstyle, and then you go out and get one yourself – I must ask you why. Why? Do not be a pop star sheep. There are too many of them already, they’re clogging up the classrooms and I don’t have anywhere to sit. I’m a pretentious idiot, aren’t I. I’m just a sheep covered in rainbow paint with a little hat on its head trying to not be the same. Well, I stand by my ethics; I will not wash my wool.

New slogan for 2014.

i will not wash my wool!

Perhaps I should separate myself from Photoshop, forthwith. How silly, why would I do that? I think that’s it for this particular wad of text and bizarre pictures. I have perhaps or perhaps not officially returned from my hiatus. We will see. Do stick around; until next we meet, I am your champion of the obscure blog, he who sits among the sheep, – The Cellar Boy

 

– FIN –

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A Story For You. Yes, For You. “Sasha”

I haven’t been able to write a blog post thing in over two months, because I’ve been busy saving the world and making out with the unbelievably cute and Scott Pilgrim-ish girl who works at the game store (in my imagination. I’m fairly sure I didn’t have to clarify that.) The point is a lot of stuff is going on, and has been going on since around the last time I wrote anything on here, when I was in the forest with those deer being called Frodo by a drunk fellow – and even now, in a moment of respite, I can’t dredge up the energy or the willingness to do a post, so I’m going to just put the beginning of the story I’ve been writing, as a stand-in. And while you’re reading that, I’ll be flying a super cool airship over the alternative Victorian version of England with the game store girl at my side while elegantly sporting the most amazing sideburns you’ve ever seen. So here you are. And it’s weird, just to let you know in advance. 

 

“SASHA” – first chapter

 

The carriage creaked away into the darkness, leaving Sasha alone in front of the gates, holding his suitcase in one hand and leaning on his cane. He reached into his pocket, letting the cane rest against his leg, and took out the small slip of paper they’d given him—and unfolding it, he read by the light of the lamp hanging from the gate, 667 Errant Street.

He looked at the plaque on the gate.

667 Errant Street.

For a while he and the letters on the plaque fought a silent battle of wills, as he tried to mentally force it to change, and the plaque simply sat there and refused. Eventually he put the paper back in his pocket, and took up his cane again. He knocked it against the bars as a very reluctant greeting. Nothing stirred; he pushed on the gate, and it swung in with a gentle creak. He stepped in slowly, and looked up the length of the house. It was tall and dark, with arched windows that stared blankly like a whole lot of unfriendly eyes. Large, ragged trees grouped around the entrance, like the triangular heads of monsters sitting beneath the ground. On the top window of the house, set into the roof, a single light glowed; Sasha wondered how many people were in there. He knew about his uncle, but were there servants? Did he have a family? He knew almost nothing.

Slowly, after pushing the gate closed, (it clanged with a note of unnerving finality, as if there could be no escaping) he made his way down the short garden path. He went up the set of creaky front stairs, and hesitantly pushed the doorbell in. It felt cold and unpleasant against his finger, and he wiped it off on his jacket, not quite sure why he felt the need. The house creaked slightly; there was a suggestion of disease and unhealthiness, and he hadn’t even gone inside yet.

He was almost afraid of what might come to the door to let him in—but when it opened, there was only a very normal-looking girl standing there, holding a candle in one hand and looking at him under a veil of messy blond hair. She wore a light white dress, maybe the kind girls slept in, and also, Sasha noticed, had a stake sticking out of her pocket.

She took him in, unhurriedly. She was in her bare feet, and Sasha wondered if she was cold; it was a chilly night, and just standing out on the step he was getting goose bumps. Or maybe that had nothing to do with the cold at all.

“We don’t take vampires,” the girl said finally, making to shut the door.

“Wait,” said Sasha.

“Sorry, I don’t wait,” she said, going to shut it again. He stuck his foot in at the last moment, and she almost broke his toes. He gasped slightly, and wincing said, “Hold on! I’m Mr. Sadness’s nephew. Sasha.”

She cocked her head slightly, and put the candle closer to his face. He blinked in the watery light. The girl studied him with strange violet-colored eyes—they were the slightly unreal and transparent color of marbles—and she said, “Hm. I was told to expect some sort of relative.”

Sasha nodded. After he was inside he was going to take off his shoe and check to see all his nails were still attached. The girl went on, after another moment of consideration, “I suppose I’ll let you in. Notice I have a stake in my pocket. Please come in.”

She stepped back, and Sasha, thanking her, stepped in. He looked around anxiously as she shut the door, cutting off the fresh air. Immediately he noticed the air in here was stifling; it smelled like dust, old wood, and something unwholesome that he couldn’t put a name to, and was sort of glad he couldn’t. The entryway was low and dark, and there was a staircase visible in the gloom, leading up into the blue. Portraits hung on the walls, which were half green and white striped wallpaper, and half wood. Stools with dead-looking plants sat here and there along them—there were two doors facing each other across the hallway, each looking more unfriendly than the other.

“Should I take off my shoes?” he asked, and his voice did a funny thing when it left his mouth—first it seemed to echo, but then suddenly it was swallowed up, as if the hallway had taken a bite out of it. He stared into the gloom, afraid. He’d been living with his aunt for years, and she was pretty horrible, but at least she hadn’t been a bizarre old house that ate his voice when he talked. He looked at the girl, who was the one normal thing, only to find that she was pulling some hair away from a pair of very real horns, which stuck out from her head, sharp and gently gnarled, a shade of olive.

“You can take off your shoes,” she said, either ignoring or not noticing the fact that his eyes had locked themselves on her horns, “but if you do the Shoething will eat them as soon as you turn around. I would leave them on.”

“Oh,” said Sasha, and he looked down.

“Do you want to see Mr. Sadness? He’s upstairs,” said the girl, and moved towards the stairs. Her candle cast a cloud of soft whiteness all around, which Sasha suddenly had a fervent desire to place himself in. He hurried to catch up with her, his cane tapping against the floor, and then followed her as she began up the stairs. The bannister was thick and ancient, and had a slightly unfriendly appearance—he would’ve liked to hold onto it for balance but something told him not to.

“Mind the stair goblins,” said the girl, vaguely, as they went up.

“The what?” said Sasha, and something grabbed his ankle.

He fell hard into the stairs, jamming his chin against the wooden edge, and lay dazed for a moment, speechless with pain and surprise. The girl turned to look down at him.

“Hm,” she said. “Saw that coming.”

“Where are they?” Sasha said, getting painfully to his feet and staring at the stairs. He realized they were the kind that didn’t have backs.

“I’ll be damned if anyone ever told me,” said the girl. “Do you want to see Mr. Sadness or not?”

“I do,” he said.

She turned around to keep going, and he followed, his eyes locked on the stairs. Two floors passed by, and then they had reached a very narrow set that rose up into pure darkness. There was no railing, and the stairs, although this time having backs, seemed distorted and uneven. Sasha stared up at them, until they were lost in the darkness, and couldn’t imagine how difficult it would be to get up those. He turned to the girl to ask for help, but she was gone out of thin air—or maybe he’d just been distracted by the stairs. The only light now came from an old light bulb flickering from the ceiling, which seemed in danger of going out. He looked side to side, and then over his shoulder, but there was nothing but darkness and stairs in every direction. Slowly he turned to face the challenge before him, and decided if he was going to go up, he was going to have to go on his hands and knees, and that meant leaving his cane and suitcase behind, or if not, then somehow dragging them along with him. Either way it was going to be strenuous and extremely difficult.

He was undoing his jacket when he noticed someone at his side, and almost jumped right out of his skin.

“I’m sorry if we scared you,” said the person, who was a very short, stumpy-looking man. He wore a dinner jacket and a pair of gardening gloves, from which dangled a pocket flashlight that was shooting dim yellow light around in the darkness. He had big features, except that his eyes were very small, and his hair stuck up in all directions.

Sasha’s heart was just settling when a second face leaned in next to the little man’s—he jumped again, and the second face said, “I’m sorry if we scared you, again.”

For a moment Sasha thought the man had two heads—but then the second head’s body appeared, which was much taller and thinner. It belonged to a scarecrow-like man in a plaid suit. They were both watching him nervously.

“That’s fine,” he said, trying to get his wits back. He was absolutely hating everything about this house so far, right down to its weird dark-hallway surprises. He said, “Where did the girl go?”

“She got us,” said the little man.

“We’re the Attic Stair Squad,” said the skinny man. “We’re here to help you get up the stairs.”

“Really?” said Sasha, impressed. “That’s very nice of you.”

“Well, it’s what we’re for,” said the little man, sounding a bit embarrassed.

“In fact it’s all we’re for,” said the skinny man.

“Yeah. Well, let’s get the ball rolling, huh? Put on your light.”

The skinny man’s hand went to his head, and he flicked on a light that was attached to his hat. It shone strongly into Sasha’s eyes, and he squinted. Then the two began to move, and somehow Sasha was being half-pulled, half-pushed up the stairs as if it was no great endeavor; even though he was lame and weighed a hundred and forty pounds last time he’d checked. The stair squad, as they were apparently called, got him up the stairs in no time at all, as it turned out—and by the time he was at the top, standing with his cane and suitcase in his hands, he was feeling giddy because he had no idea how any of it had really happened. The two strange men tipped their hats, and he thanked them, and they disappeared down the stairs again, climbing with ease. They’d given him a little flashlight, and he flicked it on to guide himself through the darkness. He was now in a low hallway, and the walls were made of old, dull wood—more portraits hung here, and Sasha shone his flashlight over them as he went down the creaky floor. None were very interesting; they were all long-dead members of the family, men and women with dark hair and eyes, wearing various expressions, though most of them carried some hint of sadness or disdain.

At the end of the hallway was a door, and from beneath this door came a soft orange light. Sasha paused, and then knocked—a long moment passed in the dark stillness, and then a muffled voice replied, “Yes?”

“It’s Sasha,” he called back, uncertainly putting his hand on the doorknob.

A deep silence; then, finally, “Enter!”

He turned the doorknob, and opened the door carefully. The orange light washed softly over him—he found himself looking into a very agreeable-looking bedroom, agreeable because it was so very normal at first glance. The ceiling was sloped upwards, meeting in the middle, and raftered with wooden beams; an arched window looked out on the nighttime world. There were books everywhere, shelves full of them, and every surface had a stack piled on—there was a comfortable bed in a corner, a few armchairs near the window, and a fireplace, from which the welcoming light glowed. Sasha liked the room; it felt cozy and good. He looked around for the source of the voice, and had to do a few look-overs before he realized that it was actually empty.

“Hello?” he said, worried.

“Hello,” the voice replied.

Slowly he limped further into the room, and took another look around, just to be sure. “Uncle… Sadness?”

“Yes, here. Behind this door.”

Sasha looked. There was a narrow, desperately unwelcoming-looking door set into a wall between two bookshelves, painted black, with a padlock. He didn’t want to get close to that; he stood on the soft rug, wondering what sort of world this was where everything had to be weird, and then the voice said, “Do not be alarmed, Sasha. I am behind this door.”

“Are you Uncle S—,”

“Yes. And you are my nephew Sasha.” A thoughtful pause. “I wonder what you look like. You see that they never put eyeholes in this door. From how you sound, I imagine you look a lot like my brother—do you look a lot like my brother?”

“My dad? I don’t know,” said Sasha. He tried to remember old pictures of his father. “We both have… black hair.”

“As I thought. And do you have black eyes?”

“No, they’re blue.”

“Blue!” Uncle Sadness took a moment to think about that. Eventually he said, “Well, I must say I don’t really know what to think about that. Nobody in the family has ever had blue eyes as far as I’m aware. Who’s your mother?”

“She’s dead.”

“Past tense, then. Who was your mother?”

“She was… just my mother. Why?” Sasha felt uncomfortable, and leaned heavily on his cane.

“Because she must be who you got your eyes from. Now we move to business. I was told that you would be coming to live with me, because I am your last living relative—either that, or you would be sent to an orphanage, and I once read Oliver Twist, so I couldn’t make you go there. No, Sasha, you’re lucky—you get to live here with us instead.”

“Us,” Sasha repeated, to himself. “Who’s the girl, if you don’t mind me asking? Is she your daughter?”

“The what? Oh, her. No, there’s no relation. Her name is Morris, and I found her in the forest one time. As well as her, there is also the dog, the bird, the cook, the thing that lives down the well, and Benny. I’m sure you will find the atmosphere most agreeable. There are certain house rules to remember—,”

“Just a moment,” Sasha said, hesitantly.

“Yes?”

“It’s just about all the stairs.”

“Oh, yes—the stair goblins are no fun at all, but we’ve learned to live with them.”

“No, not the goblins. Well—yes, that too, but anyway, the thing is I’ve got a bad leg, Uncle Sadness. I was wondering if I could have a room on the first floor, if that’s not too much trouble.”

“Well, of course you can stay on the first floor, nephew. In fact that’s where your room is already.”

“Really? Thank you very much,” said Sasha, relieved.

“Just ask Morris or Benny how to find it. Now, I’m sure it’s late and you want to get to bed, so I’ll be quick about the house rules.” There was a pause as the voice behind the door cleared its throat. “First, meals are taken three times a day, that’s breakfast, lunch, and dinner; at eight o’clock, noon, and six o’clock, respectively. Breakfast is in the dining room, lunch is in the dining room, and dinner is also in the dining room, except when it’s in the backyard. Which is always.”

“Which is—,”

“Yes. The horsemen may join us when they feel sociable. It is to be noted, and this is very important: every night, regardless of weather, you must empty half your portion down the well or we’ll all be dead by morning. Other things to note: the bird only comes back at night to sleep, and its cage, located in the old ballroom, must be cleaned once a week or he will be very mad at us. The dog, which is under Benny’s care, is an amiable sort, but she’s very sensitive to sound. In other words, refrain from yelling loudly in her ears. You must also never enter the basement—that is an undertaking meant only for Benny and Morris. Often they will bring the dog, and the pinafore. Under no circumstances, Sasha, are you permitted to go down there.”

“All right,” said Sasha, faintly.

“Not even if someone tells you to. If it is a matter of dying or going to the basement, choose the former. Also, you will want to stay on the good side of the black beetles—and if you leave your shoes lying around the Shoething will find them. I believe that is all. Do you have questions?”

Sasha had many questions, but for the moment he just wanted to go to sleep. He’d had a long day of traveling, and his leg was hurting him. He said, “Thank you for letting me stay with you, Uncle Sadness.”

“It does not trouble me at all. I’m sure we’ll see each other in a few weeks, Sasha, and when we do we can get properly acquainted. Goodbye.”

 

Sasha leaned in to look around the parlor, which seemed empty. A single, pale yellow candle sat like a solid tear of light on the mantle of the fireplace, casting ghostly shadows; the furniture here was all very old, very flowery, and very overstuffed. A bear’s head glowered on the wall—thick curtains were pulled over the arched windows. He glanced over his shoulder, and when he looked back into the room, found the girl with the horns, Morris, standing directly in front of him, a candle in her hand.

He jumped, and she said, “What is it?”

“The Stair Squad told me to go find you,” Sasha said, his voice slightly uneven as his heart tried to settle itself. It had been jumping all over the place since he’d gotten here. He went on, “They told me you’d be in the parlor. I’m just looking for my room.”

“Follow me,” said Morris, walking past him, holding her candle up to light the way. He followed after her, limping quickly to keep up.

She opened one of the unfriendly-looking doors, and Sasha found it led down a long, narrow, high corridor. Empty, dusty bottles sat in alcoves in the walls—he glanced at each one as they passed. There was a low humming in the air, like something electric; he wondered what it was, but was almost afraid to ask. Morris didn’t speak as she led him down the old, musty-smelling carpet, which occasionally breathed out whispers of dust under their feet.

“Is it lonely here?” Sasha asked her. His voice was swallowed up instantly as it left his mouth, and then he thought he heard it echo, far away down the hall.

“Not really,” Morris replied. She looked ghostly with the candle’s light spread over her white dress and pale hair.

“Who’s Benny?”

“The handyman.”

She didn’t seem very forthcoming, he realized. He was wondering about asking another question when Morris suddenly stopped, standing next to what he thought at first was a shaft of moonlight. But there were no windows here, and anyways, moonlight had never been so colorful and twitchy. As he looked closer, he saw it was like a hole in the air, about five feet tall, and not quite touching the floor—it rippled and shook and looked somehow dangerous, as if it shouldn’t be disturbed. Staring inside, Sasha could just get a glimpse of the same hallway, but cast in different light. He turned to Morris for an explanation, and found that she had one foot through the hole. She glanced at him wordlessly, her expression inviting him to follow, and disappeared straight through. He stared for a moment, suddenly alone in the corridor, and then hurriedly leaned over to check behind the strange phenomenon—but she wasn’t there. He leaned his head in close, trying to see more of what was on the other side—and then a hand reached through, got him by his collar, and nudged him impatiently. He thought about it for a long moment, and then held his breath and stepped inside.

Not a whole lot really changed, except that the corridor got somewhat brighter. Now it had windows—a line of narrow ones looking out on a dark country road, half-lit by moonlight. He looked at Morris, who looked back at him under her pale hair.

“Was that supposed to be there?” he asked.

She nodded, and silently reached out to open a door. “Here’s your room.”

Sasha looked in at a nice, spacious bedroom. It looked relatively empty, but comfortable, with a bed, a good-sized rug, a fireplace, a bookshelf, a closet, a dresser, and a nice big window with the curtains drawn across. He said, “Is this a different world?”

“It’s just a different version of the house.”

“But what’s that road?” he said, pointing at a window.

Morris looked. “A different version of the countryside. Are we good here? I’ve got to go feed the bird.”

“How do I get back to the real house?”

“You step through the convenient doorway.” She stood with her candle, looking ready to leave, but waiting half-politely for him to say the word.

“Okay,” he said, accepting it. “Thanks.”

She nodded briefly, and then stepped through the doorway, into the other, darker corridor. Sasha leaned over to watch her walk away, and then an idea struck him. He limped quickly down the hall until he got to the door that led onto the entryway; he opened it slowly, leaning around the edge, and jumped a little when he saw a man in overalls and a hat sweeping the floor with a broom, whistling to himself.

“Hi,” said the man, glancing at him.

Sasha flinched back slightly, and then, holding onto the side of the door, “Uh—are you the handyman?”

“No. I’m sweeping the floor.”

“Right… is there another Uncle Sadness and another Morris around here or something?”

“Don’t know what you mean there, buddy boy, but I can tell you the house is a hundred percent empty,” said the man, sweeping some dust into a corner.

“Well… I’m just staying in the bedroom down here now. Is that all right?”

“That’s all right by me, long as Madeleine knows. Hmm, now the house is let’s see maybe ninety-something empty. Depends how much of a percent you take up. I’ll think about that. My name’s George.”

“Hi, George,” Sasha said, holding out his hand. They shook. “I’m Sasha.”

The man got back to sweeping and Sasha closed the door, limping back to his bedroom. He was about halfway there when he stopped, and quickly limped back to the door—he opened it, and George looked up from his sweeping. Sasha said, “Sorry to bother you again. Who’s Madeleine?”

George leaned on his broom and gave Sasha a long look under the brim of his discolored baseball hat. He said after a while, “Madeleine? The Great and Powerful Landlord. …No?”

“No,” Sasha replied, worried.

“Ah, well. Doesn’t matter. Good night.” He began to whistle again, sweeping the floor with his dusty straw broom. Sasha stood for a few more moments, and then let it go, closing the door again and limping back to his bedroom.

*

Getting ready for bed was the usual tiresome sequence of chores, except this time without brushing his teeth or washing his face, since he wasn’t sure where the bathroom was and was a little nervous about going outside again unless he had to. Once he was in his pajamas and had put away his clothes in the dresser and hung his jacket in the closet, he levered himself gratefully into bed, and sank beneath the covers, resting his cheek on a cold, soft pillow that smelled faintly of must. The room was very dark except for a single candle he’d left burning on the bedside table; he watched its flame flicker and wave in the quiet air, casting shadows across the ceiling. His leg started to hurt, and he rolled onto his back, looking tiredly up at the ceiling.

He was exhausted from everything that had happened. First his grandfather’s death, and then three months stuck with his aunt before she died, too—this time of old age, not zombies. After that he’d been sure they were going to put him in a foster home or an orphanage, but it turned out there was another relative, his father’s brother, Uncle Sadness. He lived in a big old house in the countryside. He was Sasha’s other grandfather’s son, so that meant he was part vampire, too.

Sasha yawned, and turned his head to the side, finding it difficult to get comfortable. His new bedroom was a little eerie. The shifting shadows on the ceiling made it worse, but the darkness would’ve been too frightening—it was better to have the candle burning. He closed his eyes, telling himself to fall asleep, and that tomorrow would be better.

Somewhere between waking and sleeping Sasha witnessed a subtitled shadow puppet play on the bedroom ceiling.

First, a rabbit hopped into view. It was clearly just someone’s hand with two fingers sticking up, rudimentary. It turned side to side. Oh no! I think I’m lost.

Then a fox or a dog or some sort of four-legged animal slid across the ceiling, stopping next to the rabbit. Its mouth, which was just somebody’s thumb, wagged as it spoke. I can show you how to get back home. Follow me!
As the rabbit hopped after the animal, it turned into a very detailed shadow-rabbit, with two large ears, eyes, moving legs and a tail. Sasha privately thought it was pretty much a perfect recreation of the real thing. The other animal, meanwhile, became a fox—it turned its head around to check on the rabbit, its ears flicking.

Not too far now, the words read.

In that a burrow? the rabbit asked.

But that doesn’t look like MY burrow.

The fox said nothing.

They came up to the burrow, which rose from the ground, the hole yawning like a mouth. The fox turned around, its tail sliding around its back legs. It seemed almost to smile. You first.

Okay, said the rabbit.

“Oh no,” said Sasha, wishing he could tell the rabbit not to go.

Just in here, the fox prompted.

Then the rabbit’s mouth spread wide, impossibly so, and it swallowed the fox in one bite. The tail came last, twitching wildly—the rabbit paused, and then hopped away. The burrow mound disappeared.

Fin.

Sasha jerked into a sitting position, his heart beating hard, feeling sweaty and panicked. Without really thinking, he tore off the covers and swung his legs out, remembering too late that his leg couldn’t move like that. A flash of sickening pain jolted up his leg and into his stomach, and he gasped, fumbling for his cane, which he remembered putting against the bedside table. He grabbed it, more for comfort than anything, and waited for the pain to ebb away. While he was catching his breath, the image of the eaten fox vivid in his mind, there was a sharp tap at the bedroom door.

He blinked in the darkness. Fear trickled up his spine. The candle was still burning, but it had almost gone down the whole way, and was beginning to drown in its own wax. He considered who or what might be at his door—he hoped it was just Morris, coming back to tell him something. He didn’t dare call out. He waited on his bed, sweating and scared, and then the door opened and a light blinked on, momentarily blinding him.

“Morris?” he called out, his voice breaking.

There was no answer. A shadow crossed the wall—the light dimmed slightly, and it seemed George was standing there, holding a lantern, looking worriedly at Sasha from under his discolored baseball hat. He said, “You okay, buddy boy?”

“I’m fine,” Sasha rasped, but it was a bit of a stretch to say so. “What are you doing in my room?”

“Sorry for breaking in like this,” said George. He reached into his pocket, and took something small out. He shuffled forward, and held it out. “Here. You need this to sleep in old Madeleine’s house. I forgot. Sorry.”

Sasha took it, holding it up to get a closer look. It was just a card of some kind, like a playing card, except he didn’t recognize the suit and the picture was of a little boy in a white dressing gown holding a bright candle in his hand.

“Yep, you need that,” George repeated.

“What does it do?”

“Keeps the stupid shadows from doing their stuff,” he replied. “And other things. Keep it on you so you don’t lose it, or something. Okay. Well, I’d better leave you alone.” He turned around.

“Hey, do you sleep in the house?” Sasha asked.
“Yeah. Top floor,” said George. He smiled slightly, and a crooked tooth became visible. “It’s a weird place, isn’t it?”

“Oh God, yes,” Sasha agreed, feeling relief pour through him.

“Thought it was just you? Yeah, I’ve been there. Come get me if things get weird again.” He pointed upwards at the ceiling. “Top floor.”
“Great,” said Sasha. “Thank you.”

“Yeah, you’re welcome.” He waved a hand, and left the room. He closed the door quietly, and Sasha heard his footsteps going down the hall.

He sank back into the bed, and pulled the covers up over his head, stuffing the card safely under his pillow. Exhaustion grabbed him and threw him into a deep, welcome sleep.

 


In the Forest

The forest next to our condominium goes much farther in than I thought it did. It still isn’t much, and it’s surrounded on all sides by the lonely looping streets of the suburbs, but I’m pleased to have discovered that from one end to the other, it takes about twenty five minutes to walk. Today I went out to explore it again. The last time I did, I saw this:

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I was walking home from the library and decided to get there through the forest, just for fun. Then I saw the family of deer. There were five or six of them, lingering between the trees, lovely and silent – when I saw them I stopped, and crouched down on the leaves to stare. I inched closer. One deer wandered by, saw me, and raised her head to look at me – her baby, the one in the picture up there, came up to her, and gave me a look, too, seeming unbothered. The mom licked the baby’s head absently, and then after a while she drifted away, leaving the little deer standing there, about twenty feet away from me. She looked at me. I looked back, trying to be as silent and still as possible. My legs ached. The deer started to inch towards me, very slowly, ducking her head a little bit as if she was trying to get a better look at this strange forest-invader all in black. The closest she got was maybe fifteen feet – and then, figuring out I was actually pretty boring, she quietly headed off after her mom.

It was amazing. I knew that there were deer in the forest, but I didn’t think I’d ever get so close to them, or that it would make me feel like I did. There was something about the little deer, edging closer and closer to me, that really struck something emotional – I don’t know. It was pretty cool.

So today I went for a walk again, and saw no deer, but I did see an ancient Coca-Cola machine, sitting in a pool of water, completely rusted through. I kicked it with my shoe and it felt crumbly and light. The thing had a 60s feel about it; and there were other old bits of metal, what looked like a car bumper, and an unidentifiable box, and a weird thing that had curlicues like the headboard of a bed. I have no idea why people chuck large metal objects into forests. I guess it must have struck them as a good idea at the time. I also clambered through some thorny bushes, which hurt, and wandered around near the stream, which snakes through the forest, until it disappears towards the Green Belt, and probably joins up with the river. A duck flew in a circle above me – it was trying to get away, I think, when I came crashing through the trees, but it did a really unnecessary and amusing loop before it flapped away over the rooftops. I walked along at the side of the fence, which separates the forest and the new development that’s just behind our condominium – and there was a nice beat-down path, so I decided to jog along it for a little bit, with the cool hiking stick I’d found in one hand. As I ran, I heard someone shout, like a bark; looking around, I saw people on their back porch, maybe turned in my direction. I couldn’t quite tell, it was far away, and they were blurry. Anyway, I turned away and kept going, and a man shouted something else. I’m not sure, but it sounded like “HEY, FRODO!”

So that’s great. Because I didn’t have enough self esteem issues already, without random assholes on their back porches yelling at me just for running through a forest.

I hate the world. I get shitted on for doing absolutely nothing. I’m not hurting anyone, running around in a forest – in fact that’s a pretty innocuous way to spend my day, I’m just exploring, I’m not hunting or chopping down trees or planning out future housing developments – in fact you could say it’s good for me, being outside in the fresh air, getting exercise. I spent a year of my life basically unable to leave the house, I don’t need any more reasons to go back to that.

My mom is frustrated with me. I don’t exactly know why this time. I don’t really want to say I’m sorry because I have no idea what I did. I probably did something – almost definitely, I did something. I just wish she’d actually tell me, so I don’t feel like the worst person who ever lived, not knowing the true extent of it. But whatever. It’s spring, you know, and that’s supposed to be a good thing. No, it is a good thing. And if I’m Frodo, then so be it. I’m Frodo.


Graveyards, Long Dark Cloaks, and Pretty Flowers

I biked about half an hour in the misty rain today, up a hill, down a hill, and then up a hill again until I got to coast down the last slope to the old strip mall that’s just down the street from my grandparents’ house. I was feeling a great need to procure myself a long dark cloak – and I went in to the Salvation Army (ah, thrift stores, for a would-be actor, thine junk is shimmering treasure to me) and I actually found one, even though I wasn’t really expecting to. It’s great. It goes down to around my knees, and the sleeves are gigantic, and there’s a collar that can be flipped up so it juts out, vampiresque. It was just twenty dollars, and it’s really a great coat – not just good as a costume, but also for rain and stuff. It’s warm, too. When I got home, my mom was busy at her computer; I sidled up to her, waiting for her to notice my wardrobe, and eventually had to say, “Hey. Check out my Vaudeville coat.”

She glanced. Then she said there was dirt on the back, I should clean that up, and also that she wouldn’t be comfortable with me wearing it out in public because I might be mistaken for a terrorist or someone who carries around shotguns. Long dark cloaks are scary, she said. I don’t disagree, but –

Here’s where fiction is so much better than real life.

A couple of years ago, when my depression and anxiety was really bad and I wasn’t going outside, I wrote a book called Vaudeville. It’s about a mean teenage gravekeeper who smokes cigars and Gordon Lightfoot, who’s kind of his sidekick, or just his companion. The main character Vaudeville is pretty nasty indeed, and I think he’s some sort of materialization of all the issues I was having back then. In the end he gets better, and makes friends with another gravekeeper named Etta who drips water on dead people’s heads to get back at them if they were bad people while they were alive (in Vaudeville dead people can come back to life, if they so choose.) So, today when my mom and I went to get lunch, we talked about a possible Vaudeville movie. She suggested I do it in short installments and put it up on Youtube. I thought that would be cool, even though there’s a definite shortage of actors (the cast would be one teenage boy, one teenage girl, one old man who can sing and play guitar, a large number of zombies, a middle-aged man, and a woman who runs a corner store). I don’t know anybody who would want to be in a movie of mine. Nobody gets as excited by this stuff as I do. If I did somehow get the thing set up, I’d play Vaudeville – even though I’m sure there’s some guy out there who could play him way better than I ever could (even though I wrote him.) It makes sense because I’m the only person I know who comes close to what Vaudeville is supposed to be like.

So, I got that long dark cloak at the thrift store, to wear if ever I get the movie set up. (Because in the book he’s always wearing it.) And my mom says it would make me look like a terrorist. Me, though? I’d understand that more if I had a wild beard, a baseball hat pulled low over my eyes, and a big backpack slung over my shoulders – but I’m pretty innocuous-looking, I always thought. It kind of makes me feel bad because I was looking forward to wearing the coat around, and I was excited by the prospect of play-acting a character I loved writing so much. I guess I still can, but only during the movie that will probably never actually get made. I don’t know. Like, I go through life kind of not being able to stand who I am – mostly the “girl” part of it – and it’s better to not be me, sometimes. Maybe that sounds really stupid and bad. I can’t tell. I’m just looking for a way to be more comfortable, and damn, I like that cloak I found. I really like it.

It makes me wonder how much longer I’ll have to listen to my mom. I know that often she’s right about things, and I don’t really mind listening to her, because she’s my mom and that’s the way it is; but eventually I think I should get more say. Although this is different a bit because she said that she won’t be comfortable walking around with me if I’m wearing that coat, and there’s no way I would make her uncomfortable. My grandma said she liked my coat – and so did the lady at the Salvation Army. I don’t know – I don’t look at people in dark coats and think, ‘Ah yes, there goes a terrorist.’ Maybe other people do.

Maybe I’m overthinking this, and I should just hang the coat up and never wear it. But I spent twenty dollars on it. And it’s cool. This is all pretty trivial, I guess.

We also visited the graveyard today, which is what got us talking about the Vaudeville movie. For no particular reason; just because. We both agreed it was a weird thing to do, but we had fun looking at the old graves and finding the weird names. Among the weird names was this doozy of a weird name:

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And of course, Joy Oy.

 

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My mom and I were talking about how it’s a bit weird that graveyards are a thing, that when you die you get put in a box in the ground with a stone above you that says who you were. I think it’s definitely weird, but I get why it comforts people – you don’t want the world to forget about someone, and everyone’s afraid of that happening. Having your name set in stone to sit there for hundreds of years like a stubborn cry against the irrelevancy that death brings is a comfort. I understand.

Meanwhile, believe it or not, it’s actually spring. We had a lot of rain yesterday, and some today – most of the snow has disappeared, receding back into the trees, leaving wide swaths of damp, bleached grass. My grandma’s garden has a little group of snowdrops, sitting with their white heads bowed. There are iris shoots behind them, and the magnolia bush is full of buds. The little birds have returned – the twitchy brown ones are everywhere, and the other day when I was sitting out on the front step the forest was full of birdsong, probably ten or more different kinds singing discordantly. The sun stays longer and the wind has gotten warm.

On the twenty-fifth (or twenty-seventh?) of this month I’m supposed to go to a Yu-gi-oh tournament with my friends. It’ll be the first time I see them in a couple months; I talked with Josh for a little while a few days ago, and he admitted he’d been trying to call me but had been busy or shy – I told him I’d been in the same situation, (just minus the busyness.) It probably won’t be fun – a couple hours sitting stuffed into a small toy shop in the suburbs with twenty-odd other people, all unnervingly similar to me and my friends – but at least I’ll see my friends again. I really miss them. It really helps, psychologically, seeing your friends. It’s like the difference between a sunny day and a cloudy one. In the meantime, I’ll persist with this annoying transitioning business. So far, Lupron has knocked off a good deal of my girl-curves, and my voice seems to have actually lowered a tiny bit, enough so that I’m able to notice when I listen to old recordings of myself versus the new ones. I don’t know how much of that is just in my head, though. I’ve been kind of checking out those STP things (that would basically allow me to use the guys’ bathroom) but they look really finicky and I’m not sure if I’d have enough courage to try and get one to work. Never mind how I’d get one in the first place. I figure my mom, being as helpfully smart as she is, will figure out that I want one eventually – for right now I’ll just continue my lifelong tradition of avoiding all bathrooms, always.

But fuck, imagine how it would feel to walk into a bathroom and feel like you belong? Well, maybe you can’t. But if you can, then imagine it, let the wonderfulness of it sink in. You just walk in, do your stuff, and walk out again, and don’t feel any crushing anxiety or anger or fear. It’s just simple, how it’s supposed to work. Never mind that I’d be going to the bathroom with a plastic thing.

Whatever. I think I’ll probably just muddle through like always, and things will be all right. For now I’ll enjoy my graveyards, long cloaks, and pretty flowers.


Weird Mood Swing Inspires Pointless Blog Post

Sounds like a newspaper headline.

So, one o’clock in the morning is around when my brain begins to plead for mercy because it wants to sleep. One o’clock in the morning is around when I ignore my brain and continue to be awake.

Traditionally I’ve always had mood swings, but I’m wondering if I’m having worse mood swings right now thanks to the Lupron floating around in my body. Earlier today I was really anxious about changing my gender on Facebook – and right now I give so little fucks that it’s like we’ve gone into antimatter fucks here. Any fucks that collide with my antifucks are going to instantaneously cease to exist. I’m sure, though, that this feeling will wear off by tomorrow, and I’ll be sitting around anxious and extremely stressed out again. So I guess I might’ve not done it in the first place – but I think not doing it would’ve bothered me more, in the long run. And by the way, many a high five to Facebook for even having the option of changing that – they didn’t used to. Now you can even customize your gender; I tried to do “I am a fish” but they gave you a list to choose from, so.

This blog post is crap. I’m sorry. It’s the Lupron talking, I bet – it’s sitting up in my brain with a megaphone making me type stuff. (Now say I am your leader!)

Is it really doing anything, though, or am I just insane? The other day I half-convinced myself my voice was changing. Then I remembered testosterone does that. Then I tried to figure out if I was getting less curvy but I sincerely doubt that too, since it’s been about a week. The one thing I think it has done is stop the MGT (“Monthly Girl Thing”), but I’m not sure if it’s too early to know for sure. I was having cramps but nothing came of them – so perhaps my body was really trying, but Lupron just kept kicking it in the face until it gave up. Anyway, if that’s the case, and it really is never going to happen again, then thank fucking God, and Jesus, and all the non-existent holy people up in fake heaven. It’s one thing I can stop having to be dysphoric about. And besides being a boy kicking around in a girl’s body, who actually enjoys the Monthly Girl Thing? Isn’t it uncomfortable and embarrassing? I understand that children are made from it, but otherwise, what are the pros? I see many cons, very little pros. But then again I am kicking around in a girl’s body, so don’t take my word for it, I suppose.

I got my new health card, and my picture actually looks normal on it. Usually, on official documents, people look like unfortunate raving lunatics, for whatever reason – I think probably a mixture of bad lighting and not being able to smile – but this time, something went right, and it looks good. I look tremendously non-girl-like. But then there’s that little “F” stuck on, and it’s fucking stupid. You really think that person is an F, government of Ontario? Really?

Look at how normal it looks!

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Maybe this doesn’t mean much to you, but to me it’s a tiny victory in a world of always being identified constantly and never-endingly and incessantly as female. If it weren’t for the “F”, you’d never know, I hope. Because I strive constantly to be “normal”, if nothing more, and I’m fucking normal up there. Fucking normal, man. I said it. I said it, I did. I’m normal.

Except when you start to look inside my brain. Then it’s existential nonsense and paranoia and Arcade Fire lyrics all the way to next Sunday.

I’m swearing a lot. I’m sorry about that – I think it’s too much Youtube combined with not enough sleep combined with the weirdest mood swing I’ve had in a really long time. It would have to be weird, for me to take a picture of my health card, of all things, and then brag about how normal it is. I hear teenagers post a lot of selfies with their shirts off, or something.

I hate that selfie stuff. It’s fine if you’ve got something you specifically want to show off, I guess – like a new hair cut or a new t-shirt or something, but when it’s just you standing next to the mirror with your phone – well, why? What great need inspires people to do that? I’ve taken selfies in my time, certainly, but I never put them anywhere other people can see, unless there’s some valid purpose. For instance my Jake Bugg selfie, seen below. I recommend you check that out, I’m proud of it. But other kids, they post these endless pictures of themselves in various so-called attractive positions, with dozens of embarrassing hashtags that range from straight “#selfie” all the way to “#beautiful” and “#gorgeous”. Why do they do that? And especially when the person in question is very much not beautiful or gorgeous, and they use the hashtag anyway. Yuck. It screams out for attention, and it’s the wrong way to get it, if people want you for your looks. For instance, I type off posts about gender issues and health cards expecting not very many readers at all to find their way here, and I’m happy enough. The world’s constant struggle for acceptance and popularity drives me completely insane.

That’s why, when I grow up, you’ll find me sitting on a hilltop drinking iced tea in only a pair of socks, finding shapes in the clouds and listening to Arcade Fire through my headphones. You can’t come unless you’re bringing more iced tea. And this has absolutely no relevance to anything.

Will I publish this post? Mm, I’m kind of worried about what I’ll think of it in the morning.

Now I’ll begin the process of getting to bed. My brain starts to threaten me with child abuse lawsuits around this time of night – child abuse lawsuits against itself, of course.


Cellarboy the Overlander (also Jake Bugg)

I’m tearing through a series of books by Suzanne Collins about a kid who visits an underground world and has to save them a bunch of times from utter doom, because why would you want an army or a police force when you’ve got unassuming twelve year olds? It’s written for young kids (not Doctor Seuss young, although that would be terribly amusing), more for the 9-12 age-range, hence the books’ placement in the 9-12 section at Chapters. I feel a little weird picking them up, but then again, it’s sometimes equally embarrassing wandering the teen section. Have you ever looked at that shit? It’s the fastest way to completely crumple up your faith in the world’s goodness.

In these books, our inexplicably successful hero falls down every once in a while to the underground world, where he rides giant bats and fights mean creatures that want to kill him, eat him, or dismember him. (Reference to scary alive jungle vines.) One of the things I really like, though, is how he never comes out unscathed – sure he always wins, but people die, get sick, and generally are worse off than they were when they started out. His dad was missing for years, held captive by rats, and his mom, in the last book, suffered from a plague and nearly died, forcing a time limit on him to go find the cure. He also has a baby sister who is, I must admit, ridiculously adorable, and there’s also a romantic intrigue in there, (a somewhat unlikable warrior girl) although Suzanne Collins doesn’t make it cheesy or stupid, and thank God for that, because everybody knows how insufferable those 9-12 romances can be. Hey, you guessed it, Rick Riordan.

The story isn’t fantastic, but it makes me happy, and it’s hard to be happy these days. My mom has been in the hospital for the past couple of days, but she’s doing better and they’re pretty sure it’s just an awful infection – and that they can fix it. I went to see her a few hours ago and she was sitting up, and she could walk again, and she laughed at my stupidest jokes, which is a sign that either she really is doing much better or that the narcotics she’s on are really working. Either way is good.

I missed school all last week, and this week I haven’t gone, either. My anxiety has been attempting to build a spiky building of some kind inside my stomach, and any way I move, it hurts. I don’t know if it’s completely because of my mom, or a mix of several things, including her of course, but I’ve been having troubles. My obsessive compulsive stuff keeps me up an extra twenty minutes or so every night, and it’s at the stage where I dread getting up even if I have to go the bathroom, because I know I’ll get stuck doing some ritual or other. And grandma, please stop coming into my room – especially if it’s because of the unripe red bananas we got at the grocery store. I miss being at home, because there’s less people – just me and my mom, and my cat – and therefore less chance for interruptions. Not as if I mind interruptions all the time – but when I’m sunk deep in my writing, and it’s about the bananas – I just need that couple of hours where I can be on my own. To decompress, as my mom calls it.

The Suzanne Collins books are starting to get uncannily relatable, because of the fact that the main character’s parents are both having issues, and he has a little sister, and there’s, you know, jungle vines that would happily dismember him, that being a metaphor for my problems. His mom’s sick, my mom’s sick – his dad’s sick, my dad’s sick. He has to face horrible things that he hates and wish would go away. I really feel like we’re in the same place, even though he’s twelve and not real, and I’m sixteen and real. I think. Let’s not get existential again, though. I’m too tired for that, fuck.

And you know, I got ten hours of sleep last night! Funny, because I feel exhausted. The world gets a nice long middle finger for that. At least ten seconds, maybe fifteen. Why don’t you make some sense sometime, eh? I’ll buy you a chocolate bar or something.

Maybe it’s psychological. It probably is. I had to go to the hospital myself, in the endocrinology-something section, where they were finally able to set up my Lupron injections. My grandma brought me because she knows that I’m transgender now – and she was extraordinary about handling the news. A quote from Nana: “She is just ‘he’ with an ‘s’ in front of it.” Well, shit. You don’t find grandmas like that anywhere, do you? She grew up in the 50s and 60s when being gay wasn’t accepted, and she takes this news like, I don’t know, even; like an extraordinary person. My uncle knows too, after seeing a pamphlet about transgender stuff that I left by the computer, but we haven’t talked about it and besides, he’s my uncle. Find the most understanding and accepting person you know, and increase their awesomeness by 10, and you’re still several notches below my uncle. He has some sort of Asperger’s-like condition or other, so he’s different than other adults – but more wonderful than other adults, too. Nah, I don’t worry about how he’s taking it.

So, I sat in the endocrinology-something place for a few hours and was brought in to see the first doctor, a pregnant woman whose name I missed. She asked me some stock transgender questions, and was really nice and awesome; she reminded me of one of my best friends. One of her questions I found really funny – she asked me what my idea of masculinity was, and asked me to tell her what person I saw myself as; I thought that was a bit tough, because there’s nobody I really see myself as, but I said Win Butler, and so she Googled him. Then she said I looked like him. Then I died. The ultimate honor! I look like Win Butler! Holy shit! After that I told her to Google Jake Bugg because, if I look like anyone, it’s him, and frighteningly so. If my music career falls through I’m going to be a Jake Bugg impersonator, because I feel there’s money in that, or will be in the future. Anyway, the whole thing amused me greatly, and I told my mom today about it. She suggested the reason that the doctor asked me that was because they want me to have reasonable expectations for what testosterone and surgeries can do – so no Arnold Schwarzenegger body, in other words. The doctor even asked what my expectations were, and if I was thinking about rippling biceps – I said a very passionate and honest “No way, ew” and then directed her to Win Butler and Jake Bugg, who are, let’s be honest, somewhat girly men. It’s no secret I can be somewhat on the girly side – or what do you call it when it’s a boy? Flamboyant perhaps. A moment while I shake the rainbows out of my hair.

When I can joke about this stuff it becomes less stressful. However, I don’t know how I can joke about the needle they’re going to stick in my leg next week when I get the first Lupron injection – because that isn’t funny. Surrounding the idea is a cold haze of unpleasantness, similar to how I felt about my blood test a little while ago. And apparently I have low levels of calcium and vitamin D, but at least that’s a normal thing – so now I’ll just be sitting around force-feeding myself four glasses of milk a day to account for it. Or taking the supplements, which is what they actually prescribed.

Fuck my room is cold. I have this suspicion that the two outside-facing walls are just a sheet of drywall, some tissue paper, and another sheet of drywall or something. I have four blankets, count ’em, four blankets, and they actually kept me toasty last night – I felt like a caterpillar on a summer’s day. It was nice. I’ll do that again tonight.

Probably going to stay up too late again, too. Last night I was so tired I had to go to bed early, and by eleven I was out like a light, not to wake until ten thirty the next morning. But my usual thing is to stay up far too late into the strange twilit hours of the morning – I’ve shredded my way through an entire series of anime and 12 episodes of another one, plus a lot of writing and internet-messing-around. The anime series I finished was really good, I wish I could say great, but meh – a little too much inconsistency to win a wonderful mark from me. Plus it constantly felt as if it was going to turn into some kind of porno, even though, ah thank God, it never did – you have all these good-looking men standing around leaning in close to each other, and after a while you just sit and accept that if it’s going to be a porno, it’s going to be a porno. You should note that the Japanese are surprisingly and somewhat uncomfortably free with exploring the sexual aspects of things – and sometimes it gets pretty grating. In this anime (Kuroshitsuji, or Black Butler) nothing actually happened, but so much almost happened that I came away from it relieved and vaguely disappointed. What I really liked about it, though, was how they played around with gender – there’s actually a transgender character in there, even though he’s kind of stupid and ridiculous; but I appreciated it, at some level.  Not to mention whoever does the story seemed to thoroughly enjoy sticking the main character, who’s a boy, in dresses sometimes, maybe in a comedic way, or maybe not; and the other main character, the sexy butler guy, is not exactly masculine. Plus in his demon form he has high heels on, so you know. Hey, shit gets real when the sexy butler wears heels. And it’s true.

I’m looking around for another anime to watch now. I was into Sword Art Online for a while, but it’s starting to taper off and get less interesting; and I tried Attack on Titan, but I hate the main character, so I can’t watch it. I find it impossible to enjoy something when the main character is difficult to sympathize with. Unlike in Gregor the Overlander (Suzanne Collins) who I can completely sympathize with. I have the fourth and fifth books, and I look forward to being happy by reading them – I’ll take my time to appreciate them more, too. I usually just speed my way through everything and then only remember half of it, including life, I think. I should really slow stuff down a bit so it doesn’t keep passing so quickly, as I barely get my feet down in one month before the next one’s come up on me. For instance, it’s nearly March, and I’m pretty sure it was just January.

Spring’s coming, though. I can feel it a bit in the air, seeping into the dark winter chill and breathing some freshness back. It’s still cold out, but not bone-chillingly, and there’s more sunlight – I’m looking forward to the spring, for the first time in years, thanks to the magical boa constrictor I wear around my chest. And that first Lupron injection is coming, it’s almost here, and then I’ll go through menopause. Sounds really fun, doesn’t it? Sixteen years old and psychologically a boy, and I get to have menopause! But seriously, that’s what it is – my evil little girl-hormones are going to get the shit knocked out of them, for about three months, until I can procure my Magic Boy Drugs, otherwise known as testosterone, and hopefully then face the new school year in a better place, a much, much better place. But first I get to be a middle-aged woman.

I really hate that idea, and I bet the spam bot reading this thinks it sounds weird, which YES, IT DOES, I fully admit that it’s weird. Talk about your weird puberty. Go from regular female puberty to menopause and eventually to non-regular male puberty, and then fuck knows where, I guess I’ll just be a Jake Bugg impersonator.

I think that’s all I have in me today. Thank you for getting this far, as always.

– Brynn

jake bugg

photo (19)

 

(I couldn’t resist, my apologies, spam bots. Also the fact that our haircuts are exactly the same is amusing but not intentional.)


I’m Not a Happy Lizard on a Warm Rock

Tell me why tomorrow is school, please – I need a philosophical explanation, not just a “Well it’s Monday, you see.” I know that, thanks. I want to know why, after all the thousand years of human civilization, after the big bang and the slow creation of galaxies and stars and universes, after the culmination of endless decisions – tomorrow is school. I want a graph. Make me a graph that says why.

But shiiiiiit, is there anything I would possibly desire to do less than go to school tomorrow? Perhaps run across a field of hungry crocodiles. I say perhaps. Look, I sit here going through the motions of life, and somehow it all boils down to the same thing: school. Ecole. I could dress like a gypsy, buy a horse, and ride all over the American southwest doing card tricks and busking on street corners, and I think I still wouldn’t be able to escape the omnipresent whisper in my ear, “school.” Like a nagging itch – school. How about I just kick people’s shins all over the school board until they give in and hand me all the rest of my credits.

I was looking at my report card on Friday (I did well, surprisingly, in both my subjects) and was horrendously disheartened when I saw that there’s still about fifty gamillion credits to get. Fuck – I’m in grade eleven. Next year should be my last year of high school, and then I can throw my schoolbag off a cliff and hold up my middle finger to the world in general and just be OUT of there. But I can’t physically squeeze in all the credits I need by the end of next year, not even if I actually LIKED doing this crap. It’s hard enough to actually force myself out from the warm safety of my bed in the morning, they’re also asking me to toil in the agony of classrooms and social situations just to wring out the credits that I need to continue on with my life, where I’ll be expected to work somewhere just for the pleasure of staying alive until I eventually die one day. And I know some people would kill to be able to go to school, who live in countries where education isn’t guaranteed – and I’d give them my spot in a heartbeat. For sure, take my education, go ahead and go to my stupid snotty high school – you might even like it. Me, I will sit in my room typing out angry blog posts and scribbling fantasy novels while The Doors plays sadly but inspirationally in the background.

Tomorrow is school. Yes. Thanks to the fathomless workings of the universe. Why couldn’t I be a lizard sitting on a warm rock somewhere? No educational pressure or social pressure or Asperger’s or gender dysphoria or ADD or OCD or whatever the fuck when you’re a happy lizard on a warm rock. I want a graph that explains why I’m not a happy lizard on a warm rock.

Sometimes I read over what I’ve just written, and have to cringe a bit. I swear I’m not completely insane.

Jesus, though, does it ever get tiring – school five days a week, with the brief respite of the weekend, which is just a short breath you take before plunging back into the water. Really cold, nasty water, too. And the world expects you to do all that and LIKE it, too! “Look, unsuspecting five year olds, you get to go to SCHOOL now! Isn’t that great?” No! Not ten years down the road, it isn’t. Not when you’re sitting there in the classroom feeling like your stomach is going to spontaneously burst into flames from anxiety. Sorry, world – I don’t do twelve years of school without complaining about it. No one should have to! Fuck! The stress of it is unbelievable. And then they expect you to do university or college afterwards, like stuff didn’t suck enough already. Human beings, with beautiful intelligent minds, shouldn’t be stuffed into large buildings five days a week and made to sit unmoving for hours at a time forcing their brains to learn things that are, first of all, barely ever interesting, and second really only serve to get you a job later in life, not to make you think or learn anything useful. I mean, I certainly understand the need of doing Bohr-Rutherford diagrams until you want to throw up – because when one day a man is bleeding out in the middle of the street, SOMEONE’S going to have to figure out HOW MANY ELECTRONS ARE IN A HYDROGEN PARTICLE.

The work itself is bad enough. I could stomach the work, I think, if it weren’t also that I’m sitting there in stuffy rooms surrounded by kids I can’t talk to, and who don’t talk to me, and so I am therefore floating there in a state of semi-conscious agony hoping that things will just be over quickly. Fuck I hate the social part. I haven’t made any real friends this year, unless you count Borong, but she’s not even in my classes anymore. So I’ve made no friends, none at all. And I still go, because why? Because credits? Fuck credits. Patti Smith went to New York instead of credits and became a rock star. No shits are given over credits. The school board can take their pretty credits, and stick them places.

I think I’ve said it before, but here: if I can tie my shoes and navigate a grocery store and dress myself in the morning, I don’t need my credits.

Part of the reason I still go is because of my mom, and how much she cares. She thinks it’s a good idea – and yes, she’s right. It’s probably a better idea than not going, but it’s also infinitely more painful to make myself do it. It’s like purposefully stepping on hot coals.

Whatever. Fuck. How do I make friends? Is that a thing I forgot? I think I used to do it pretty well. And then girl-puberty and social circles jumped on me like a rabid animal and I can do shit all about it, at least until the stupid people at the stupid hospital set up my appointment to “talk about Lupron injections.” How about, here’s an idea, how about we skip the talking, step on the talking, and actually DO shit. I have no idea where I exist in the confusing, grotesque social circles of high school anymore – not as if I would have any pleasure in existing in those circles – I just want to not be the weird “unknown” anymore. I’m trying really hard to be happy about myself and I feel like I’m actually losing ground for some reason. Being pleased with who I am is so close I can taste it – it’s like a carrot on a string. Really not a very pretty method, but it’s there, it’s spurring me on – and I’ll keep running for it. I’m so fucking close. In the meantime, I just whine a lot about stuff to the spam bots.

So, God – God, who most probably doesn’t exist – could you fix things for me? Turn a switch up there or something. Or just adjust the dial slightly from “pretty fucking awful” to “sucks, but bearable.” I figure you must have those powers, if you exist. Which you most probably do not. That’s too bad. I wish God was real just because you’d have someone to blame – and it’s really hard to blame the universe, because the universe seems to have no consciousness, and is a big infinitesimal game of chance. So you got an awful life, eh? Well, the universe doesn’t care. It just makes stars and stuff.

In a perfect world, I’d be lying on a green lawn somewhere, on a cool summer morning, with a blue sky and clouds, and trees with inviting shadows under them. There’d be water down below, a big sparkling plate of blue, and I’d have sunlight all around me and from somewhere Arcade Fire would be playing, because you can’t have paradise without Arcade Fire. There’d be none of this silly being a girl business in this perfect world, and I’d be drinking iced tea and feeling at my awesome sideburns. I’d be barefoot but there would be no glass or rocks to worry about. And my cat wouldn’t be banging his head against the door wanting to come inside my room at ten o’clock at night. He’d just be sitting with me, enjoying the sunlight as the world rolled peacefully on, devoid of any trouble or anxiety or agony.

Woo, but unfortunately, the universe is not so kind. You need a little everyday shittiness, or you just start taking things for granted. And maybe that’s sort of a kindness – a paradise would be great, but without bad things, you wouldn’t appreciate the niceness. But I think, if I got landed in paradise right now, I’d never stop appreciating it, after the shit I’ve gone through.

Not so say my life is worse than yours. Don’t think I ever think that. But I’ve had my fair share of shit, from evil stepmothers and otherwise. I deserve at least one day on a sunny green lawn, I think.

And I feel like I ought to stop writing now, though I wish I didn’t. Every time I sit down to write, I inevitably reach a point where the inspiration starts to ebb and drain away – unfortunately. I’d love to just sit here and write until the cows come home – weird expression, now that I think about it, and that would probably take FOREVER, seeing as I don’t think cows have ever lived around here.  But I wish I could just etch out my thoughts, until there are none left and I could feel empty and satisfied and fall into bed without having to worry about anything. Of course that won’t happen, and I’ll have to touch things a million times like always, because of all the rituals I can’t help. Heating grate ritual and rug ritual and tap ritual and computer ritual and checking for monsters ritual and etc. Being a happy lizard on a warm rock would be so very nice, even for just a little while.

Hey, you know what tomorrow is? School. But as a fortune cookie once told me, ‘Your creativity will create a phenomenon’, so you know – maybe things will be all right.

Why I have to go to school tomorrow