It’s Saturday morning and I’m lying across my bed trying to get some sleep before I have to go to the crisis center. I can’t sleep, though. I’ve closed my eyes about a hundred times, but I can’t relax. Besides worrying about what I have to do tonight, another major problem popped up yesterday. For most teenagers, it would be a really big event, but for me it’s going to be a disaster, I just know it.
Okay. My 16th birthday is next Saturday. Normally, Mom bakes me a cake, usually chocolate since it’s my favorite. She buys butter pecan ice cream because it’s my favorite. Then after dinner while eating cake and ice cream, they’ll give me my gift. Last year it was a video game I wanted real bad. After playing it several times, it became boring and I haven’t played it since.
Anyway, my birthday is next Saturday, and for some reason Cory remembered it. I’m born on October 30th, the day before Halloween. When we were in elementary school some of my teachers used my birthday as an excuse to have a Halloween party. So he asked me what I was going to do special for my birthday since I would be turning 16. I was too embarrassed to tell him I’d probably be doing nothing special, but then Beverly interrupted and said that she was going to have a Halloween party next Saturday and she was going to invite everyone. So then she came up with this stupid idea that we could celebrate my 16th birthday too. Everyone started getting all excited about it and Elizabeth jumped in and said she’d be happy to help her. When I reminded her that we had to volunteer at the crisis center, she said that she’d talk to Mrs. Armstrong and make sure that she could get someone else to cover for her, Caryn and me. Then I tried to make an excuse that my parents had something big planned and they accepted that until Abe told them later in the day that he called my mother at her school. She told him that she thought a birthday party for me was an excellent idea and she would be happy to pay for a birthday cake and ice cream. So now I’m out of excuses, and unless it floods our town next week, I’m stuck having a birthday party that I would rather have my fingernails pulled out with a pair of pliers than attend. By the end of the day the whole class knew about it. Beverly thought it would be a good idea to combine my birthday and a Halloween party, so now we have to wear a costume too. Get out the pliers and pull my toenails. I think I’m going to go to the mall and get up into anybody’s face who even remotely looks like they are sick with the flu. Maybe I’ll get sick and then I won’t have to go to my own birthday party. I know it sounds stupid to not want a 16th birthday party. Most kids can’t wait until that special day. But not me. I just wanted to spend it quietly at home and then beg Dad into letting me get my driver’s permit. That was MY plan. Now I have to go to a stupid party, wear a stupid costume and listen to people sing me that stupid Happy Birthday song. I’m going to try and rest again before I have to leave for the crisis center.
JUST BEFORE SOMEONE GETS NERVOUS, DO THEY EXPERIENCE COCOONS IN THEIR STOMACH?
I’m back from the crisis center. It’s after midnight and I’d go to sleep but I’m too tired to go to sleep. I tried, so I got up and decided to write a little bit to see if that helps. I’m not sure how I feel about tonight. I think I like it but I don’t really want to admit it. It’s kind of like keeping this journal. I hate doing it, but then again, it has really been like a friend to me the past couple of months. So I guess I’ll just have to wait a few more weeks to see how I really feel about volunteering.
Last Wednesday, Mrs. Armstrong told us we’d just sit next to another experienced volunteer and observe them. Elizabeth wanted me to join her, but Mrs. Armstrong paired her with Tiffany. I think she thought that since Caryn and I go to school with Elizabeth, it would be better if we worked with someone else. So anyway, she had me sit beside Mavis and observe her. Mavis is a big African American girl. She’s a senior at our school and I’ve seen her involved in some of the activities they do in the cafeteria during lunch. She’s on the pep squad and usually gets people cheering the day of a football game. I was scared at first to sit beside her because I found her rather intimidating. She has this really gruff voice and a sharp attitude. But after sitting with her for about 15 minutes, I felt I’d known her all my life. When I asked her if she knew Cory, she sat back, stared at me and said, “Get outta here.” I thought I’d upset her, so I stood to leave. She started laughing and grabbed my arm and assured me it was just an expression she uses sometime. Anyway, she’s Cory’s cousin. When I told her that Cory was one of my best friends at school, we instantly became good friends. I think I’m really going to like Mavis.
So anyway, I sit beside her and we just talk until she gets a call. The girl asked for her because she’s talked to her before. Mavis hands me a pair of earphones and whispers to me to listen to their conversation. The girl’s name is Michelle and I can tell instantly that she has very low self-esteem. She complains that no one likes her. She’s fighting with her mother and step-father, and she’s left the house and is calling the center from a pay phone at a corner convenience store. Mavis is excellent at getting information from her. I learned in the training session it is very important early on in the conversation to try and find out the location of the caller in case emergency personnel are needed later. I can tell that the girl really trusts Mavis. She tells her details of her life, none of which sounded too bad to me. Most of it was ordinary problems that teens have with their parents. Tonight she got into an argument over her curfew time. She wanted to go out with a friend and come home at midnight. Her mother insisted that she come home at 11. Mavis listened to her without interrupting and then tried to give her advice. She made her understand that since she’s only 14, she is technically too young to be out so late, and that her parents could get into serious trouble if they permit her to stay out after our town’s curfew laws. Each cubicle has a computer with information on how to handle calls. I watched as Mavis searched and found that teenagers under 16 in our city had to be under an adult’s supervision past 11 at night on a weekend. I wasn’t even aware of that. I guess it was something I just didn’t need to know. After explaining this to Michelle, Mavis made her promise to return home and to call her when she got there. Michelle agreed and thanked Mavis for being there for her. When she hung up, Mavis turned to me and asked me if I had any questions on what happened. We talked about the call and what I might have said. I felt kind of nervous because Mavis was so good at it, and I’m sure I could never be as confident as she is. Anyway, Michelle called back about 20 minutes later and told Mavis she was safe in her bedroom and that her mother didn’t fight with her for going out.
Then Mrs. Armstrong came out of her office and asked me if I had any further questions. I guess she’d been listening to the conversation also. I told her I didn’t and confessed my nervousness about taking calls. She patted me on my shoulder and assured me I’d be okay when the time came.
While I sat there, Mavis got two more calls. They were from girls just like Michelle. None of them threatened to hurt themselves, which I was glad. They just wanted someone to talk to that was their age. So I kind of liked the experience tonight. I really liked Mavis. I am feeling better about working at the center because I now see how important it can be. I still think I’m going to screw up colossally, and probably cause someone to jump off a building. However, tonight I realized it may not be as bad as I think it will be. I’m scheduled to work Wednesday night, but I’ll have to really talk my parents into letting me since it’s a school night. Mrs. Armstrong said I can leave at 9 instead of 11, so it may not be a problem.
I’m going to bed now and try to sleep. I’m still kind of excited about what happened tonight. I’ll try and write more tomorrow, but I’ll probably spend the day doing homework since I didn’t work on it today.
HECK IS FOR PEOPLE WHO DON’T BELIEVE IN GOSH
Does anybody else in the world have birthdays? Geez. You’d think I’m the only one to have one. I’m in Mrs. Griffin’s lit class. She gave us some time at the end of the period to do some silent reading, but as I look around the room, I don’t think anyone is. Cory is reading a X-Men comic book. I wonder if he’ll let me read it 6th period. Okay, back to my birthday. Everyone is talking about the party Saturday. Beverly has invited everyone in our class, and she said she’s also invited a few other people since it is a combined birthday-Halloween party. I’d try to get out of it, but if I did, no one would talk to me the rest of the year. So I guess I’m trapped. She wants everyone...hold on. Cory just put his hands inside his pants. Oh, man! It is really big! He’s looking around to see if anyone is watching, so I have to be careful. I don’t think he’d care if I saw him, though, since I’ve seen it get hard before. Hold on, let me watch for a minute.
Okay I’m back. He caught me looking at him. You should see how red my face is. I’m sure Cory is blushing too, but because of his dark complexion it’s kind of hard to tell. Anyway, he put his hand back inside his pants and I saw the head peek out over his boxers. He looked over and saw me staring at it. I couldn’t look away, so he caught me. He frowned and rolled his eyes, then he started giggling. I think he was embarrassed because I saw it. I think it went down now because he isn’t messing with it anymore. The bell is getting ready to ring in a few minutes, so I’ll wait until he gets up and see if he covers himself with his book bag. LOL.
I’m on the bus going home and I just wanted to jot this down. Ever since I wrote about Perry, I’m kind of obsessing over him now. I saw him at school in the hall and I even went the wrong way to my classroom just so I could watch him. He had a big book bag over his shoulder and he kept pulling it up because it looked really weighted down with books. I don’t know why he carries all his books with him anyway. I go to my locker 3 times a day- before 1st period so I can get my books for my first 3 classes. Then after third before I go to the cafeteria for lunch to get my books for the last 3. Then I go after school and get the books I need for homework, which usually is about ALL of them. I look like Perry after school trying to carry 100 pounds of books in a thin book bag. Anyway, he has a cute walk. He kind of bounces on his toes when he walks. It’s almost like he doesn’t put his heel down on the floor. It gives him a boyish look, although he’s taller than me. I thought about walking up beside him and saying ‘hi,’ but I decided against it. He’d probably think I was some kind of a weirdo or something. He’s noticed me looking at him on the bus, so I don’t want him to think I’m stalking him at school. He was wearing shorts, and he has a lot of hair on his legs. It was kind of sexy. Oh, God. I can’t believe I just wrote that word. Now I know what I have to do as soon as I get home. Okay, here’s my stop.
WHY DOES YOUR NOSE RUN AND YOUR FEET SMELL?
Crap. I can say crap can’t I since no one is reading this? Okay, so crap again. Mom is really excited about the birthday party. She even called Beverly this evening to get more details. Beverly, of course, had to tell her it was a costume party. I really wasn’t planning on dressing up. I have a cool Mexican sombrero and I was just going to wear it. But now Mom is going to make me a costume. I’m dead. Since she teaches in an elementary school, Halloween is like a big holiday. She plans for weeks how she’s going to decorate her room. On Halloween day she usually dresses as a witch, and since she makes her own costumes, she adds to it each year. I have to admit, she does look kind of cool. She paints her face green and puts on really dark lipstick. I bet she’s scared a few kids over the years.
So anyway, Mom is now downstairs ‘designing’ my costume. She won’t tell me what it is, probably because she knows I’ll object to anything she makes me. The party Saturday starts at 6 so she’ll probably spring it on me about 5:30, right before I have to leave and won’t be able to refuse to wear it. I’m going to try and sneak a peak at it later this week before she comes in from school. I just know I’m going to hate it.
Abe called earlier and he’s all excited about it too. He asked Anna Adler to go with him. She’s Jewish too. He said his father at first objected, but since Anna is the daughter of his mother’s best friend, he finally relented and is going to let him date her. It should be interesting because Sarah and Anna are good friends. They may end up scratching each other’s eyes out before the party. Abe also said his father almost didn’t let him go when he found out it was a Halloween party, but he was able to convince him that he was only going because it was my birthday party. He can’t dress up though. We both laughed when he said he’d wear his kippah and get his grandfather’s pipe and go as an old Jewish man. It was so funny when he started talking like him. Okay, hold on. Cory is calling me. BRB
Back. I think the whole world is excited about this party but me. Cory can’t wait for Saturday. He said he’s dressing up as a pirate. He even borrowed one of his mother’s dangling earrings to wear. She got mad when he ripped up one of his good dress shirts to make it look like a pirate shirt. He said he has an uncle who is blind in one eye and wears a patch, so he’s going to ask him if he can wear it for the party. So now I’m picturing this poor guy walking around with a hole in his face where his eye should be just so Cory can wear his patch. That’s kind of gross, actually. He also mentioned his ‘problem’ in class today, and we had a good laugh. We both admitted we get hard about a 1000 times a day. So naturally, we spent the next 10 minutes telling about our most embarrassing times. It was cool to be able to talk to another guy about something like that. I just wish Cory wasn’t so straight. I know he is because when he talked about getting hard, he always wondered if any girl in our class ever noticed it. He said a couple of times he’s stood up in front of a girl just so she could see it, but she never looked down. He seemed kind of disappointed. I was going to tell him that if he ever wanted someone to look at it, I’d be happy to volunteer, but then I realized that might be a little too gay for Cory. We’re becoming good friends and I don’t want to ruin it by him thinking I want to have sex with him- which I think I do. No. Scratch that. I didn’t mean that. I’m not even 16 yet. I don’t want to have sex with anyone. But I guess looking doesn’t hurt, does it?
Okay. I have to go. I have a big project in chemistry which is going to take me the rest of the night to finish. I’ll write more after my volunteer work at the center on Wednesday.
IF ALIENS ARE LOOKING FOR INTELLIGENT LIFE, THEN WHY ARE YOU SO SCARED?
It’s Wednesday night and I just got in bed. I’m writing with my back against the headboard, and the journal is in my lap but keeps sliding. So if you can’t read this, I’m sorry. Hold on. Mom just peeked her head in the door.
Okay, back. That was close. She noticed the journal and came over and sat down on the side of the bed. She reached for it and asked me what I was writing, but I pulled it away. She gave me a really funny look, but I told her it was kind of private. Dad knows about the journal because of what happened earlier, but I never told her, I don’t think. So I explained what it was and told her that I was writing things in it that I didn’t want anyone else to read. She said she understood, but by the way she kept looking down at it, I have a feeling she’s going to sneak in my room and try to read it. I know my parents respect my privacy and all, but I think the temptation to see what is going on in my life is just too much for her. She asked me if I’d tell her if something was really wrong, and it took about 5 minutes to convince her that nothing was bothering me and I was only keeping the journal because it was required for a grade. So now I’m going to start putting it under my mattress when I go to sleep at night. I don’t want her creeping in later and reading it.
Now back to tonight. Dad took me and he really seemed interested in what I was doing. He said that the university provides a similar service for students. He said he was proud of me for doing it. I kind of had to hold back some tears because it was the first time he really said he was proud of me. I know he is, but it was still nice to hear him actually say it.
I sat with Mavis again. Mrs. Armstrong was going to match me with another girl, Amanda, but Mavis insisted that I work with her. It made me feel good that she likes me. I guess she feels like I’m her friend since I told her that Cory is my best friend at school. She said they are more like brother and sister than cousins. She has three sisters, but no brothers, so Cory is I guess her surrogate brother. I asked her about Cory’s brother, Jayson, but she wrinkled her nose and said he’s too stuck on himself. I already knew that because Cory said the same thing once. Jayson is really athletic which Cory and Mavis aren’t. Cory could be, but I never understood why he never went out for sports. I asked him once, but he said team sports never interested him. He’d rather read a book than play basketball. I guess I can understand that because I feel the same way. But then again, I never had a brother who wanted me to play sports with him. I think I’d have a major crush on Jayson, though, if he wasn’t Cory’s older brother. He is really a hottie. God, that sounded really, really gay. But he is though. I’ve watched him in the cafeteria when he’s sitting with his friends. He’s always the center of attention. When he walks down the hall, he’s usually surrounded by other athletes or pretty girls. Sometimes both. Cory says he’s shallow though, so I probably would be disappointed if I ever did get a chance to know him. But I can still dream though.
Now where was I before I started fantasizing about Cory’s brother? Oh, right. Tonight at the crisis center. I sat with Mavis and we just talked for about the first hour. She had a homework assignment in government, so helped her do it. It was about the 4th amendment to the Constitution. I thought it was fairly easy, but she had trouble understanding it. So for a little while, I felt like I was tutoring someone rather than manning a phone at a crisis center. We also listened to Elizabeth while she talked to some girl who was having boy trouble, or I should say boys trouble. She was dating 3 guys and she was afraid they were going to find out. I kind of hoped they would because it sounded kind of deceitful. I guess I’m sort of old-fashioned, but I still think that if you’re dating one person, then you shouldn’t be interested in someone else.
Around 6:30, Mavis got a call and motioned for me to listen in. It was a boy, and it was obvious he was trying to disguise his voice. It sounded muted like he was holding his hand over the mouthpiece. I had a little trouble understanding him. Mavis motioned for Mrs. Armstrong to listen in as well. I guess they felt that it might be kind of an urgent call. He just kept saying that he was really depressed and he didn’t think he could take it much more. Mavis tried to get him to explain what his problem was, but that was all he kept saying. He sounded really sad. Mavis covered her mouthpiece and whispered for me to talk to him. I shook my head no, but she kept insisting. Finally, she told the boy that she was going to put someone else on the phone. I froze for a minute, and then said ‘hello.’ And he hung up. Mavis said that was really strange, and then Mrs. Armstrong came out of her office. She said that the boy was calling from an unlisted number, so she couldn’t return his call to see if he was all right. Mavis kept saying there was something strange about this voice, but since he was obviously covering up the mouthpiece, it was difficult to understand him. Mrs. Armstrong told me that if he called back, I was to answer the phone and see if he would talk to me. She seemed very concerned about him because he kept saying he couldn’t take it anymore. I think she thought he was going to do something to himself. So I kept hoping he wouldn’t call back because I was afraid that I might just say the wrong thing. But that isn’t the right attitude to take, is it? I mean, I’m supposed to help people, not be afraid to talk to them. So I finally managed to convince myself that I would talk to him if he called back, but he never did. Now I’m worried about him. I’m going to ask Dad if I can read his paper in the morning to see if someone killed themselves tonight. I think this crisis thing carries to much responsibility. I mean, I’m going to be 16 this weekend. I’m too young to worry about such serious things as life and death. I’m going to try and go to sleep now, but I know I won’t get any sleep.
WE CAN’T ALL BE HEROES BECAUSE SOMEONE HAS TO SIT ON THE CURB AND CLAP
Okay, it’s Thursday night and I still have about 800 words to go for this week. This won’t be hard, though, because I have so much to say. I’m still thinking about that guy that called the crisis center Wednesday. I scanned Dad’s newspaper yesterday and I didn’t see anything about someone killing themselves. I even looked at the obituary page this morning. I know that sounds sick, but I am worried. If all calls affect me like this one did, then I’m going to quit my volunteer work at the crisis center. It may mean I won’t get inducted into the National Honor Society next spring, but I don’t care. I even called Mrs. Armstrong tonight and asked her if he had called back, but she said he didn’t. She tried to assure me that it was probably just a boy who was experiencing a minor setback and he was over it by now. She said that wasn’t unusual. But I still can’t forget how sad his voice sounded. Thank goodness, I don’t have to go this Saturday.
But I wish I did have to volunteer. This party Saturday is worrying me too. I’m going to be edgy all day tomorrow at school. I’d pretend to be sick again, but I don’t think I could ever stick my finger down my throat and make myself puke again. Everybody has their costume but me. I mean, I have mine but Mom won’t show it to me. I’ve begged her several times to let me know what it is, but she just giggles and tells me, “You’ll see.” I swear, if she makes me go as a ballerina or something stupid like that, I won’t go, no matter if it is my birthday party. She went out to Walmart after school on Tuesday and returned with a bag. I know it was for my costume because she laughed as she hurried to her room to hide it. Whatever it is, she’s locking it up inside a cedar chest in her room. I looked in the closet and under the bed when I got home tonight, but I couldn’t find anything, so that’s the only place it can be. She better not do anything to embarrass me in front of my friends. I have to go to school 3 more years with them. I don’t want to listen to Cory or Abe tease me about the time I wore a tutu to my birthday party.
Cory, Abe and James are going to pick me up at 5:45, and we’re going together to the party. Cory is going to drive since Abe’s dad won’t let him borrow the car anymore. He said Anna’s mother is going to take her and a couple of other girls, so he’s supposed to meet her there. James has a late birthday like me and won’t turn 16 until January. I still haven’t talked to Dad about letting me get my driver’s permit. I mean that is the goal of every teen since the age of 10, to turn 16 and drive. I mean it’s probably about the only thing that’s really, really important right now in my life. Well, maybe finding a boyfriend, but I think driving is more important. I can always find a boyfriend. Driving a car for the first time only comes around once. My grandmother let me drive hers last year, but I was sworn to secrecy never, ever to tell Mom. We had just gotten ice cream and as we were driving home, I told her I couldn’t wait to drive. She looked over and asked me if I’d ever driven. I sadly shook my head. The next thing I know, we were heading out of town. She turned down a country road and stopped. After making sure that no one was coming, she got out and came over to the passenger’s side. I didn’t know what was going on. She told me to get out and drive. I told her no. Actually, I think I kind of screamed it. I’d never considered driving without taking a driver’s education class first. It’s totally against the law to drive without a license. However, she opened the door, grabbed my arm and pulled me from the car. As I resisted, she got in the passenger’s side and locked the door. I looked stupid standing on the side of the road looking down at her, so I walked around the car and got behind the wheel. She has a big SUV Ford Explorer, so it really felt strange to be behind the wheel. She told me to adjust the seat and rearview mirror to my height, since she’s shorter than me. After I did that, she told me to drive. My hands were shaking as I put the car into drive and slowly crept down the road. She started laughing and told me I was driving like someone’s old grandmother. We laughed, and I sped up a little bit more. It was so cool. I couldn’t believe I was actually driving a car! She let me drive down back roads for about a half hour. I think I did pretty good. At least I didn’t hit any mailboxes. She told me I did good for my first time and laughed about how slowly I drove. So I know I’m going to be a really good driver. I’m really glad she let me do it because now I won’t be too nervous the first time I have to drive with an instructor.
I’m going to go now. I probably won’t write anything more since I’ve got enough words for this week. But I’ll be back and let you know what happens at the party.
I AM WEIRD, BUT I’M SAVING UP TO BE ECCENTRIC