Wednesday, October 29, 2008


I followed Alice over, and I could tell she was nervous from how quickly she was walking. I was glad to have her next to me though. That was the real reason I went with her to college, pure protection. Once I came out, I felt like my skin was peeled back, and I was exposed. Alice made me comfortable, gave me a shield. I was trying to be more outgoing, though, but I knew we would still be tight like always. Honestly, she was almost entertaining enough to not need other people, but my therapist told me to remember to branch out. So I was trying.
“Hey Blanche.” Alice said loudly, over the noise. She was wearing some sort of ridiculous outfit that I could tell Alice was admiring.
“Hey! Hey guys! Oh, come here, meet everyone!” she promptly introduced me to a number of people I knew I wouldn’t remember. First, they all kind of looked the same to me, shaggy hair and cigarettes, and second, I was horrible with names.
“So you’re the dope freshman.” This girl said in a deadpan.
“You know it.” I threw up my gang sign.
“Kate I told you not to do that in public. I apologize for my thug friend here; she doesn’t know how to act in polite company.” Alice explained. Everyone laughed appreciatively.
“Oh my god, where did you find them?” the same girl asked.
“They just fell into our laps, pretty much. I told you I found the best ones.” Blanche looked smug. She put an arm around me and steered us inside.
“See, it’s important to meet your friends early in freshman year, upperclassmen who can introduce you to the right people and so forth. Otherwise you get stuck with all confused freshman. I didn’t meet Marcus until halfway through the year, and I spent the first half stuck at a capella concerts with my lame roomie. Then I met Marcus and all these people and started having actual fun. You guys are starting off right.” I felt pride surge in my chest. Al and I had spent three years of high school alone til we met our cool artsy friends, so I knew what she meant. We wouldn’t have to wait this time, we had already found them.
“Hey!” Ellen ran over and grabbed my arm. She was so fucking cute. I was still hung up on straight girls, because I had no real lesbian experience. My only girlfriend from high school was this preppy girl named Taylor who hid our relationship then dumped me for a boy. She got scared about being gay, I guess. Whatever, it still stung. But Ellen, she was something. Big pouty lips and bigger wide eyes. She was smaller than me, and thinner, which is how I liked my girls.
“I’m so glad you came. What can I get you?”
“Uh, what are you drinking?”
“Red Stripe, it’s so good.” She pulled me over and handed me one. Alice was talking to Marcus, who was a few inches shorter than her, and I could tell from how she was slumping that he thought he was cute. She was trying to be shorter. Her red hair looked pretty cool, I had to admit. She looked like Claire Danes from My So Called Life. It was easy for Al to look great though. She was tall and model thin, which was only not intimidating because of how she held herself. If she were elegant it’d be a different story, but she wore her lankiness awkwardly, making her look more endearing, less hate-able. I turned back to Ellen, attempting to make non-weird conversation.
“So who are all these people?”
“Well, that group is Marcus’ art friends, and the ones by the records are my friends from the radio station. I have a radio show. It’s on at twelve to two Thursday night, but still.” She looked proud of herself.
“What do you play?”
“Live sets. That’s my thing. I have live recordings of band sets, or campus bands come in and do one.”
“Oh that’s cool. I have a David Bowie live album if you want to borrow it.” I was glad I had something to offer her.
“Yeah definitely. I love Bowie.” She excused herself to go talk to some friends, so I sat back and surveyed the scene. I gulped some beer down, glad to be drinking so I could look busy. I was oddly comfortable just observing parties until I was drunk enough to talk to random people. In high school I was known to be the one pulling stupid shit all night, pranks and the like, starting impromptu water balloon fights and smashing bottles. Everyone called me Hurricane Kate after one such incident. I thought that would be a good super-villain name, incidentally. I got the reckless feeling in my stomach after one beer where I knew I needed another to keep it going. I chugged a can I got from some guy, and started to feel like my old self. Alice kept going on about College Us, but I wanted to go back to who I was in high school: celebrated prankster and Alice’s partner in crime. I was comfortable with that. But I decided to talk to Marcus, since Alice had left him alone. He seemed nice enough, and I could plant some seeds about Al.
“Sup, dude?” I greeted him.
“You are so strange, Kate.” He half-smiled at me, his eyes warm.
“That’s what they tell me. 'They' being my parents.” I was drunk now, and I could feel my words coming out heavy and awkward. He laughed though, so I continued.
"Everyone spends so much time telling me how weird I am, but I don’t believe them." He nodded, still smiling. I wondered why he was looking at me like that.
"That's a good thing, Kate. I think you're pretty rad."
"Me too. Alice and I are awesome." There we go, I thought to myself, plant the seed of Alice.
"Yeah, she seems cool. You're just…fun, I think."
"Yeah we are. I want to smoke. Want to smoke?" I was talking fast, I could tell. He was looking at me like I looked at pot roast: hungry. I didn’t want to overstep our new friendship-type thing and tell him I was gay, in case he just looked at everyone like that.
"Nah I just had a cigarette." he shrugged.
"I mean pot, buddy." I pulled out a dime bag. I knew I was kind of wasting our stash, smoking him up, since we didn’t have a dealer yet, but I betted we would soon enough.
"Oh word, yeah." I looked around for Alice, and didn’t see her. Oh well, I thought. I followed Marcus outside to roll a joint.

Alice and Kate Go To College


“Now what are we supposed to do?” Kate asked. We were sitting on our new dorm rooms beds, fully unpacked. The shrieks of kids playing a game of capture the flag on the quad pierced the air.
“I guess meet some new people.” I proposed halfheartedly.
“Please, that’s why I went to the same college as you. To not meet new people.” I rolled my eyes. Yes, we decided to go to the same school, but frankly the amount of colleges that would let lackluster students such as ourselves in was narrow enough that it barely mattered. We got into most of the same schools, and felt apathetic enough we tried to “rock paper scissors” a selection. We chose the University of Massachusetts because it was cheap, big enough to lose ourselves in, and the dining hall was ok compared to the others we tested.
“Let’s at least meet our neighbors.” I coaxed Kate up off her bed, pulling her hands and dragging her to the door. We walked next door, where the door was propped open and some mainstream hip hop was bumping.
“Oh jesus.” Kate did not look pleased.
“Kate, shut up.”
“Hey girls!” An extremely peppy and small Asian girl greeted us. She was standing on her bed, hanging a poster. “I’m Melanie!”
“I’m Alice, this is Kate.”
“Nice! Where are you from?”
“Uhm, West Harlow, Massachusetts.”
“Nice! Come on in and chat.” Kate looked at me, seething. She hated peppy people, naturally.
“Actually, we’re….going to explore campus.” I ad libbed. I really didn’t want to be subjected to Young G Moneyz or whatever was playing. I also hated “get to know you” questions, but I figured those were unavoidable until everyone learned to leave us alone.
“Ok.” Melanie looked disappointed. “But stop by whenever!”
As we went back into our room, closing the door, Kate shook her head slowly.
“We are not cut out for college life, Alice.” “I know. Let’s do something to take the edge off.”
“Oh great, now we’re going to get written up before classes even start.” Kate flopped onto her bed. I considered her remark briefly.
“Better than sitting in Melanie’s room, hanging Angelina Jolie posters for her.”
I packed a bowl, as Kate opened the window, struggling with the screen. We had a window seat, which was nice. It added slight hominess to our otherwise prison-issued cinderblock walls. We sat like bookends, our feet crossing the middle. We passed the bowl back and forth, blowing smoke out the window carefully.
“What’s your major going to be?” Kate asked out of the blue.
“Fucking…No idea.”
“Me either.”
“We’re off to a great start.”
“Want to get dinner?”
“Alice, it’s 5 o’clock. That’s a little geriatric even for us.”
“What else are we going to do?”
“Point taken. Let’s go get that blue light special.”
We grabbed our new skateboards and headed down the dorm stairs. We bought new decks for school, because our dorm was far away from some things on campus, like the dining hall and gym. We might never use the gym, but the dining hall was a necessity, naturally. I pushed off on the walkway, weaving adeptly through clumps of lost freshman carrying maps. My new cherry red hair whipped into my face, strands sticking from the autumn breeze. Kate and I had dyed it with “Fire Engine Red” hair dye in my bathtub, which looked like that scene from “Psycho”. We bleached a few strands of Kate’s tangled tresses, which had turned into almost-dreads. I called them, affectionately, shit-locks. We both felt like we had needed change after she came out and I lost my virginity. We were new people, new versions of ourselves, the College Kate and Alice. I kick-flipped over a curb, coming to a stop on the patio in front of the dining hall.
“Show off.” Kate grumbled, as she hit her shin with her botched attempt. A few people looked at us oddly, since girls on skateboards are typically unusual, I guess. Plus my lanky, nearly six foot frame attracted stares most places. And Kate, of course, just looked strange. Her wild locks topping a face with a few new piercings in her facial region terrified most parents, and I guessed some sheltered incoming freshman shared that sentiment. And how we dressed didn’t help. My tight jeans and combat boots and her Chuck Taylors and Bad Brains shirt made us look like hooligans, as my mother said. But we needed to make a statement, on this first day of our next four years. We wanted to attract the right kind of people, not the Melanies of the campus. We wanted to find our fellow freaks who liked weird shit like we did.
Kate pushed opened the double doors as I trailed behind her. We fell into line, looking around at the enormous dining hall. As we inched closer to the buffet, I grabbed Kate’s shoulders and shook her slightly.
“Our fist college meal!” I ignored the boy snickering behind me.
“What a Kodak moment. Take my picture by the juice machine.”
“I’m trying to be enthusiastic.”
“Well, you’re starting to remind me of Dolly.” Dolly was her golden retriever.
“Ass.” We both picked up some mac and cheese, tucking our decks under our arms awkwardly as we balanced our trays. We stopped and faced the dining hall, Kate’s mouth opened slightly.
“Where should we….” I trailed off.
“We should find someone to sit with.” I turned to her, surprised.
“That’s surprisingly friendly coming from you.”
“I’m getting sick of you already.” She chuckled.
“Ok, who?” we scanned the room, as people pushed by us, giving us looks. I saw a bunch of nervous freshman interspersed with self-confident groups I assumed were upperclassmen. My eyes caught on a group of the coolest looking people I had ever seen. They didn’t make them like that in West Harlow. The group was centered on a pretty girl with heavy blonde bangs and even heavier black eye makeup. To her left was a boy with a short Mohawk and a leather jacket. Sitting across from them was a girl with long, jet-black hair and almond eyes. She was gesticulating elegantly as she talked, her hands moving easily.
“Dude, we need those friends.” I pointed with a nod of my chin.
“Yeah we do.”
“Want to…?” I stopped myself. Talking to people was not our forte. We usually just kept to ourselves, but I reminded myself that I was now College Alice, who probably did this sort of thing all the time.
“Let’s go and try this “meet new people” business.” Kate sighed.
We edged through the crowded room, banging into people’s chairs and apologizing. We stopped in front of their table and I cleared my throat.
“Can we sit here?” I felt my face flush, which I new was not an attractive look for my freckles.
“Sure, grab a seat.” The blonde girl smiled. As we sat down she continued.
“I’m Blanche, this is Marcus and Ellen.” They both waved.
“I’m Kate, and this is Alice.” Kate pointed at me, as if there was another person who could possibly be Alice in the vicinity.
“You guys freshman?” Marcus asked in a deep, gravely voice. I immediately thought he was cute, and immediately chastised myself for being such a boy crazy little girl.
“Yep.” He watched Kate stuff her face with admiration, and I smiled.
“What’re your majors?” The girl named Ellen had a high voice, babyish and breathy and pouty lips.
“Well, you see,” I started, “We have no fucking clue.” She laughed.
“Me either and I’m a sophomore. So don’t worry.”
“It’s not that we don’t have any interests, we just lack any sort of ambition.” Kate explained further. They all burst out laughing.
“I’m an English literature major, and Marcus does studio art. We’re all kind of art fags, in our own way.” Blanche smiled.
“I’m thinking psychology, so I can diagnose myself.” I offered.
“And I’m thinking…. Where’s dessert?” Kate looked around. I hit my forehead in mock desperation.
“Who are you two, Laurel and Hardy?” Marcus looked bewildered.
“We just spend too much time together. We’ve been practicing our routine for fifteen years.” Kate said in pretend seriousness.
“And you came to the same college? Wow, impressive.”
“I’m not half as funny without her.” I shrugged.
“You guys should come over after dinner to Ellen and my room; we’re having some friends over. And we just found the best freshman to introduce, I think.” She looked at the other two for their agreement. Marcus nodded emphatically, watching Kate intently. I wanted to tell him he was barking up the wrong tree, as it were, but I thought that a little forward. Kate was still shy about telling people she was gay.
“Where’s your dorm?” Kate pulled out a pen to write the name on her arm.
“In the quad, it’s easy to find. Just take my number and call me when you want to come over.” Kate copied it down on her forarm.
“Kate, the idea is to be able to read this.” I chided.
“Fuck offfff…” she drawled.
“You two might be crazy.” Marcus still seemed charmed by us.
“You know, we hear that a lot.” I looked at Kate, “Don’t we?”
“My therapist tells me that every week.” She picked up her deck, and stood to leave.
“Ok, come by around eight.” Ellen gave us the full effect of her smile, and I could tell Kate was crushing on her by the way she looked at Ellen’s generous mouth.
“You even skateboard?” Blanche’s eyes sparkled, “We so got the best freshman.”
“So see you later?” I looked from face to face, still surprised by how easy that was.
After a slightly more dangerous nighttime skate home, I sat on my bed, panting from the exertion.
“Did we just make cool friends?” I flopped backwards onto my pillows.
Kate was laying facedown on her black bedspread, and picked her head up.
“You act like we’re lepers.”
“Aren’t we?”
“Not literally.” She rolled onto her back.
“I meant figuratively.”
“Well, maybe we just found a leper colony.”
“Good point. What are you wearing?” I sat up suddenly.
“I can’t wear this?”
“No, my little brother’s sweatshirt is not appropriate.”
“They liked us; we don’t need to dress up.”
“What about their cool friends?”
“Oh, right. Fine, I’ll put on a normal shirt and some makeup.”
“Thank you.” I was satisfied.
I wore a flannel shirt I stole from Aaron, my high school boyfriend and v-card taker, back when we were still dating. He was at school on the west coast, so thus, we were not dating. It was big enough that I paired it with just a pair of tights and some short denim cut offs. Kate was wearing a pair of men’s work pants and a men’s undershirt.
“We look like lumberjacks.” She noted.
“It’ll be our thing?” I suggested.
“We look like Kurt Cobain does lumberjack.” She maintained.
“Grunge is cool, Kate, stop making me feel like a freak.”
“Freak on a leash, more like it.”
“That’s a Goth song.” I rolled my eyes.
“It’s the right era, I get points.” She maintained
We left then, talking about the relative weirdness of Marilyn Manson over the years. I smoked a cigarette as we walked over to the dorm, feeling anxious. I wished I had a drink in me to settle my nerves. My pot buzz had worn off and I was startlingly sober. I felt like I was on a first date, except with a whole bunch of people instead of just one. We walked up to the dorm, and saw a cloud of smoke framing Blanche and some of her friends. She was holding a cigarette like a garnish, topping her crazy outfit. Patterned tights with a tiny retro dress over them, with her blonde hair flowing wild down over her shoulders. Her friends were, oddly, dressed kind of like Kate and I, in an array of flannel shirts and tight pants.
“Guess the nineties are back,” Kate noted.
“Looks like it. Smells like Teen Spirit around here.”
“No more jokes like that; we actually want them to like us.”I took a deep breathe, and walked towards the group, nerves of anticipation fizzing in my stomach.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Olive Five

You told me today that you wouldn’t tell on any of us. Thanks for that, Ms. Bloch. Anyway, people talked to me today. Mimi said hi to me in the hall, and Mike nodded at me. I didn’t respond to either of them, I was just kind of confused, you know? One beer and I exist?
Do you think this is helping my writing? I feel like I just say all the wrong things. You never told me what I was supposed to be writing about, so I just write this stuff all over the page.
Anyway, Jonas walked me to English today, did you see him? He held my hand, which was weird, because we never talked about anything like that. But I guess he figures I’m so desperate, I don’t care. I do though. I don’t like him, but what was I supposed to do? Grab my hand away. He wants me to come over after school and I said yes.
But back to my field guide. I have more favorite people to tell you about. These girls in my psychology class, Alice and Kate, are my heroes. They’re a year older than me, seniors, and I want to be just like them. They are always sharing some private joke. Alice is tall, really tall, and kind of skinny. She has long messy brown hair and nice freckles. She is really sarcastic too, sometimes I can hear her and Kate making jokes. Kate is shorter, with this long messy hair. Really messy. It’s not dreadlocks or anything, but it’s kind of close. She has these big lips and a nose ring. She always sleeps in class. They don’t care about anything. I used to watch them smoke cigarettes on the corner from my Math classroom window last year. They’re like the queens of people like me and Mark. They don’t care about anything, they just make fun of the people who try to tease them. And they’re kind of mean when they do, but the people always deserve it. Kate gave Mike Healy a wedgie on the bus a few years ago. Anyway, their friend, Stacy Cartwright is having a party tonight, and Jonas invited me to go with him. Well, he told me I was going with him.
This party was different from the last one. This was all upper-classmen, seniors mostly, and they were all the weird kids. It’s in these woods by my house, and I like being outside. I’m sitting behind the shed thing now, writing this here. I never thought I’d like my journal so much, Ms. Bloch. Stacy ended up being this short, plump hippie girl, and she said she knew Jonas from art class. Jonas bought me a beer, and then I saw Mark come up the path with Alice, Kate, and some boy. How did he know Alice and Kate? What right did he have to make cool friends, right? He was like me. He wasn’t supposed to have any friends. But I guess I had Jonas now. But I wish I had Mark and Alice and Kate as friends. Someone is coming.
Mark was coming, Ms. Bloch. I’m home now, writing this in my bed. I’m not drunk or anything, I didn’t drink. Mark walked around the corner, he wasn;t even looking for me. He seemed surprised to find me there.
“You came with Jonas?”
“You came with Alice and Kate?”
“Not with with them. Just in the same car.”
“So you’re dating him.”
“I think so.”
“What do you mean?”
“He never asked me, and I never said yes.”
“Do you like him?”
“No.” And I didn’t.
“So tell him.”
“Olive, you never tell people anything. You have to tell him you’re not his girlfriend. Don’t pretend to be just because you don’t want to say no. you never say no.”
“I do too.”
“Can I borrow you science notes?”
“Just say no to something.”
“Like what?”
“Can I kiss you?”
“You’re supposed to say no.”
“No what?”
“No I won’t say no.”
“Why not?”
“I don’t know.”
“Fine. Fine. Because I want you to kiss me.”
“Finally.” He pulled my face to his, and his kissing was nice. I didn’t want to check the time once.
I’m not acting it out with Astor and our dolls. It’s too private.
But I’m going to have to make a Mark doll to hold hands with my doll now.

Alice part 6

“Fuck, Fuck, FUCK.”
“This is becoming a motif in our life.” She tossed a shirt at me. “Wear this one.”
“This one? This one is ugly.”
“You’re ugly.”
“Not helping.”
“I wasn’t trying to. It’s nine twenty, hurry the fuck up…” She drawled and swigged from a water bottle of vodka.
“I have no idea how you can do that. Just drink it straight, ugh.” I tugged a shirt over my head, checking myself out in the mirror.
“I’m part Russian.”
“And part alcoholic.”
“Touché.” She took another gulp.
“Pass that shit, yo.”
“Liquid courage, my friend.”
“I need it. Tell me again what I’m supposed to do?”
“Make out with Aaron.”
“Right. How do I do that?”
“Well, I don’t know, move your mouth around and stick your tongue out is usually what I do but…”
“I mean, get him to kiss me, not how do I literally kiss.”
“Oh right. Well I suppose it should be easy enough: get him drunk and then bend over and shove your tits in his face.”
“You are the least helpful friend imaginable.”
“I know, I really don’t know why you put up with me. I heard a honk, let’s get your slutty little butt downstairs.”
“Bye Mom!”
“Bye girls, tell Mrs. Cartwright hello from me.”
“Yeah, bye.”
“Hello, boys.” Kate said as we crammed in the backseat.
“Sup, beezys.” Mark piped up.
“What does that even mean?” I asked
“Uhm, Hi Girls, loosely translated.” Aaron joked.
“The impenetrable language of hip-hop.” Mark shook his head sadly. “No one understands.”
“Good to see you haven’t gotten normal Mark.” Kate raised her eyebrows at me.
“No, I think it’s safe to say he hasn’t” Aaron laughed.
“Stacy planned a cake-fight for later on tonight, we’re all weird.” I pointed out.
“A cake-fight?” Mark looked awed. This was his first party with the burnouts, stoners, freaks and weirdos.
“And you’re goin’ down, suckaaaa.” Kate threw up a gang sign.
“Who on earth taught you that?”
“My cousin from New York.”
“You cousin is from Long Island.”
“Whatever, I’m badass.”
The boys were cracking up at us, and I was glad someone was there to witness our rapport for once. Usually it was just my brother, and he was too busy being thirteen to care. We pulled up to the party then, and it looked like everyone had come out for the first party of the year. We trekked through the woods next to Stacy's house to “The Camp”, her old garage which we had turned into a party room. It was an old farmhouse deal, so there was a loft upstairs, and plenty of space downstairs.
“Hey guys!” Stacy was wearing a voluminous peasant dress, and looked like she was stoned out of her mind.
Kate and I both hugged her, and then she shook Mark’s hand.
“He’s a junior, and he’s totally weird.” Kate offered.
“Nice! Hey another junior is here, some chick named Olive, you know her?” she looked at Mark.
“Yeah,” he muttered, “I do.” He had a weird look on his face, like he wanted to gag. I guess he didn’t like her or something.
“What do you want? Booze or Drugs or both?” Stacy was always a most accommodating hostess.
“Both.” Kate said.
“How ‘bout that beer, Alice?” Aaron pointed to the case of beer sitting on a table. He passed a kid five bucks, and took two, handing me one. I cracked it open, the foam bubbling up through the hole slightly. I drank it, and felt myself starting to get faded. I liked beer a lot, which sometimes got me in trouble.
“So, Al.” Aaron looked at me. My mind raced frantically for something to say or do.
“Want to make a bet?” I blurted.
“Loser of the cake fight has to…” I paused, “Streak naked in the woods.”
“You’re on.”
“You’ll regret. You’re too skinny to be naked in public.” I joked.
“No, I’ll win and I get to see you…” He coughed, cutting himself off, and I blushed.
We chatted with everyone else then, keeping a distance because of what he just said. My heart was pounding in my ears. He wanted me. So why couldn’t I just do it? Just practice, right? Even though he was cute and good at skating and kind of smart. And hot. And really hot. And he wanted to see me naked. I pulled Kate aside and recapped.
“Oh man, he wants to see your tits.”
“I know. Do I show him them or just run away naked?”
“You might win the fight.”
“Please, I don’t want to see his pale, skinny butt running around.”
“You want him to see your pale butt?”
“You’ve got quite the pickle. And I bet he does too.”
“Sick, Kate, sick.”
“I thought it was funny. Anyway, there’s something I want to talk to you about.”
“Kate focus, I need a plan.” She sighed at me.
“Ok, uhm, just kiss him and he’ll forget about the bet.”
“Sould I kiss him?”
“Alice. You like him. Admit it. He’s not a practice boy, this is for real.”
“Jesus fucking Christ. You are so right. He’s perfect. I am going to fuck this up so badly.”
“Just go over there and kiss him.” She gave me a little shove in his direction where he was in deep conversation with some skater kid named Travis, but he excused himself when he saw me coming.
“Uhm, where’d Mark go?”
“You know, I have no idea.”
“So about this bet…” I paused
“Yeah it’s stupid.”
“Well.” I smiled, “I’m stupid. I do stupid shit all day long.”
“I think you’re funny.”
“Because you’re not…you don’t take yourself too seriously. You’re easy going. You’re like hanging out with my guy friends.” I groaned when he said that.
“That’s the worst. I always, always get told that by guys. Which just means ‘you act too much like a dude for us to think of you as a girl.’”
“I think of you as a girl.”
Just then the cake fight started. A piece of frosting flew into his face, landing right below his nose. I laughed, and pointed it out to him. He stepped closer to me, his voice growing slightly deeper.
“So get it off.”
I leaned forward and kissed him softly, closemouthed. He pulled me into him, kissing me rougher, opening my lips. I grabbed a piece of cake from the table next to us, and smooshed it on his head. He broke off our kiss, laughing. He looked me in the eyes, frosting clinging to his eyelashes.
“You are so fucking awesome, Alice.”

Alice Part 5

Friday during school, he turned around in psych to talk to me.
“Do you need a ride to the party?”
“Yeah, she does.” Kate answered for me.
“Uh, yeah that’d be sweet.” That’d be sweet? What was I thinking? And I didn’t need a ride, she lived two streets away. But I guess this was Kate’s plan. The big make-out with Aaron? Maybe. He was a good practice boy, because college was looming and I was going to be the Creepy Virgin on Campus.
“What time?” he raised his eyebrows.
“Uh, nine thirty?” I wondered how Kate would get there now. Her lazy ass was not going to walk, I was sure.
“Okay.” He smiled. “I’m driving Mark too, so I can give you a ride too, Kate.”
Looked like I was still going to be Creepy Virgin after all.

“Fuck, Fuck, FUCK.”
“This is becoming a motif in our life.” She tossed a shirt at me. “Wear this one.”
“This one? This one is ugly.”
“You’re ugly.”
“Not helping.”
“I wasn’t trying to. It’s nine twenty, hurry the fuck up…” She drawled and swigged from a water bottle of vodka.
“I have no idea how you can do that. Just drink it straight, ugh.” I tugged a shirt over my head, checking myself out in the mirror.
“I’m part Russian.”
“And part alcoholic.”
“Touché.” She took another gulp.
“Pass that shit, yo.”
“Liquid courage, my friend.”
“I need it. Tell me again what I’m supposed to do?”
“Make out with Aaron.”
“Right. How do I do that?”
“Well, I don’t know, move your mouth around and stick your tongue out is usually what I do but…”
“I mean, get him to kiss me, not how do I literally kiss.”
“Oh right. Well I suppose it should be easy enough: get him drunk and then bend over and shove your tits in his face.”
“You are the least helpful friend imaginable.”
“I know, I really don’t know why you put up with me. I heard a honk, let’s get your slutty little butt downstairs.”
“Bye Mom!”
“Bye girls, tell Mrs. Cartwright hello from me.”
“Yeah, bye.”
“Hello, boys.” Kate said as we crammed in the backseat.
“Sup, beezys.” Mark piped up.
“What does that even mean?” I asked
“Uhm, Hi Girls, loosely translated.” Aaron joked.
“The impenetrable language of hip-hop.” Mark shook his head sadly. “No one understands.”
“Good to see you haven’t gotten normal Mark.” Kate raised her eyebrows at me.
“No, I think it’s safe to say he hasn’t” Aaron laughed.
“Stacy planned a cake-fight for later on tonight, we’re all weird.” I pointed out.
“A cake-fight?” Mark looked awed. This was his first party with the burnouts, stoners, freaks and weirdos.
“And you’re goin’ down, suckaaaa.” Kate threw up a gang sign.
“Who on earth taught you that?”
“My cousin from New York.”
“You cousin is from Long Island.”
“Whatever, I’m badass.”
The boys were cracking up at us, and I was glad someone was there to witness our rapport for once. Usually it was just my brother, and he was too busy being thirteen to care. We pulled up to the party then, and it looked like everyone had come out for the first party of the year. We trekked through the woods next to Stacy's house to “The Camp”, her old garage which we had turned into a party room. It was an old farmhouse deal, so there was a loft upstairs, and plenty of space downstairs.
“Hey guys!” Stacy was wearing a voluminous peasant dress, and looked like she was stoned out of her mind.
Kate and I both hugged her, and then she shook Mark’s hand.
“He’s a junior, and he’s totally weird.” Kate offered.
“Nice! Hey another junior is here, some chick named Olive, you know her?” she looked at Mark.
“Yeah,” he muttered, “I do.” He had a weird look on his face, like he wanted to gag. I guess he didn’t like her or something.
“What do you want? Booze or Drugs or both?” Stacy was always a most accommodating hostess.
“Both.” Kate said.
“How ‘bout that beer, Alice?” Aaron pointed to the case of beer sitting on a table. He passed a kid five bucks, and took two, handing me one. I cracked it open, the foam bubbling up through the hole slightly.


1066-Battle of Hastings,
Norman Conquest, Bayeux Tapestry

Dear Alice,
I’m writing this note in history, so maybe you’ll learn something from all the notes I am taking. I’m writing you this to tell you…Fuck, how do I tell you?

I’m gay. Gay? Do I have to say a Lesbian? I’m new in Gay-ville. I probably know less than you do, because you used to watch a lot of Will and Grace and your cousin goes to Smith. You’re better qualified than me. I am the worst lesbian known to man…err…women. I have not idea what being a lesbian entails, besides liking girls. Is there some sort of manual or roadmap I can get somewhere? Turn left at the Home Depot, and go straight into a pile of flannel shirts? I have no idea where I am or how I got here, but I know that I am gay. Or a lesbian. Jesus fucking Christ.

Importance- Anglo-Norman Language.
What the fuck is Anglo-Norman? PAY MORE ATTENTION!!

Alice, I don’t have a crush on you. I know you got all boobilicious over the summer, and it’s a nice rack, don’t get me wrong, but you’re not my type. I actually have a girlfriend. Sort of. A secret one. I can’t tell you who it is, and before you flip out at me, know that I want to. I want to hold hands with her everywhere, and kiss her in public. But you know I can’t, because what would that mean? I’d be GAY gay. Like publicly gay, and I don’t even know if I’m supposed to call myself gay, or queer or a lesbian. I thought I would be done being confused once I admitted I liked girls, but now, it’s worse. I’m not sexually confused, I’m just label confused.

Domesday Book- get notes from stinky Tim Carter ASAP.

Essentially, Alice, I like girls. Just not you. I mean, obviously I like you, I just don’t like like you, like I like other girls. Get it?
but not that kind of love,
regular love,
non-gay/lesbian love,
friend love,

Monday, October 13, 2008


“Hey there, Andy baby.” Kate said as he jumped in the backseat. He adjusted his beanie and nodded at us, with his headphones on.

I pulled out of the parking circle and turned toward the park.

Kate cranked up the stereo, blaring The Violent Femmes. I eased the clutch as I went over the hill into the skatepark, my car making ungodly noises.

“Nice, Alice.” Kate laughed.

“Get your own car, loser.”

“Why? You drive me everywhere, it’s a good deal.”



“Look who it is.” She pointed.

Aaron was skating, and his tight jeans and hoodie looked good. Really good. He ollied a five foot gap, and Kate whistled appreciatively. We parked and got out. Kate and I grabbed our one deck that we shared, and Andrew took his. I handed him a juice box and walked over to the fence to watch the boys. A bunch of the littler kids waved at me, and I pulled a bag of cookies out of my backpack. They all ran over, sticking their hands in to take one each. They were like Pavlov’s skaters. Aaron manueled up to the fence, popping his board up with his foot.

“Hey guys. What’re you up to?”

“That one is my brother, we come here with him to bring him snacks and attempt to skate.” I gestured at Kate, who was rolling slowly on the mini-ramp.

“Nice.” He laughed appreciatively.

“Want a cookie and a juiced box?” I offered to him.

He shoved a cookie in his mouth, and mumbled “Thank You” spewing crumbs.

“I saw that gap you did, nice.”


“Five bucks if you can kickflip it.” I challenged.


He went back over, hopping on his board, picking up speed. He started his line, and went to pop over the ledge. He bailed midair, and fell to the ground. I laughed.

“Uhh, how bout I just buy you beer at the party?” he said sheepishly, sticking his hands in his pockets. I lit up a cigarette, smirking. This felt good.

“Let me see you skate.” He challenged me back.

“Oh jeez.” I rolled my eyes. I grabbed the deck from Kate, and hopped on, my cigarette pressed in my lips. I pushed off, and headed for a ramp. I just went up and back down, but at least I stayed on. He clapped, sarcastically, a crooked grin on his face. A little kid ran up to me and asked for another cookie.

“Yeah sure, Colin.” I skated back over to the fence and handed him one.

Kate wandered over too, and helped herself to a cookie.

“Let’s roll a j at your house?” she asked

“Sounds good, then I need to do some homework.”

“Yeah, right. Hey, Aaron, want to come?” I shot her a look.

“Come where?” he was praticing some sort of complicated flip thing.

“To Al’s house for milk and cookies and a joint. Or maybe a blunt.”


“Follow us there.”

I turned into my driveway, shutting off the ignition. I did a terrible job parking and shrugged at Kate. I got out and leaned against the door, watching Aaron park.

“He is so cute.” Kate pointed out.

“I know. What is a cute boy doing at my house?”

“You know, I have no idea.”

I let us in the house, which was empty. My mom was still at work, thankfully. My house was clean, and it smelled like laundry. I was sort of embarrassed by it though; there were little figurines and dorky stuff everywhere. We went into the basement, grabbing a bag of chips and some soda first.

My basement smells like a combo of spilled food and pot smoke, which is why my mother never goes down there. She is blissfully unaware of my substance use, because she is rarely home. She’s a single mom, a lawyer, who is married to her job. I spend most of my time looking after Andy, because she can’t, really. I even cook him dinner and stuff. Anyway, I didn’t know what to do with a boy in my basement, so I concentrated on rolling a killer blunt.

“So what did you do this summer besides grow five inches?” Kate asked him.

“I taught swim lessons, actually.”

“Like a lifeguard?” I blew a cloud of smoke into the air.

“Kind of.” He took the blunt as I passed it to him. “I just paddled around with little kids for ten bucks an hour.”

“Nice.” Kate nodded.

“So you guys did what all summer?”

“This.” We both answered in unison.

“Aha. No jobs?”

“Al here gets paid to watch her brother, and my parents give me money because they don’t love me.”

“You two are crazy.”

“That’s the word on the street.” Kate was in her element now, high and talking shit.

“It really is.” I added.

“Nah, no one thinks that. Except me.”

“Please, everyone thinks that. We’re not cool enough to be party girls, so we’re just…. Girls who offend people like Caitlin Connors and Ms McDonald, and smoke a lot of weed.” She laughed.

“This is true. But you guys are funny, I think.”

“That is also true.” Kate was still chuckling to herself.

“I’m just a guy, though. I’m not even as noticeable as you two are.”

“You will be.” I muttered. I knew it was only a matter of time before he became sexy skater boy to our whole grade.



“She means you got… different this summer.”

“How so?”

“Uh, better at skating?” she offered.

“I guess.” He looked confused.

We sat around for a while longer, watching TV and talking bullshit about people in our grade. Aaron offered to give Kate a ride home, so I went upstairs to do homework.

“I quit.” I said out loud to myself. I had done about five math problems and my brain was hurting. Then I remember Hot Teacher Guy, and pushed myself to at least finish half of the problems. The sad thing was, I was pretty good at math, I just never paid enough attention to know what was going on.

“There. Good enough” All done, almost.

Alice? Who are you talking to?” my mother called.

“No one. Uh, Myself. Uh, no one.” I answered.

“Oh I thought Kate was here.”

“Nope. How was work?”

She launched into a long description of a case she was doing. She was, ironically, a divorce lawyer. She had represented herself in my parent’s divorce almost five years ago. I heard she was the best divorce lawyer in town, whatever that means.

“Thanks for the leftovers, Alice.” She went back downstairs to eat cold chicken parmesan I had made earlier. As far as I knew, Andrew was doing his homework, but who knew. He had started bugging me to let him smoke pot, and I was relentless in saying no. I no longer trusted Kate with him, because she would probably think it was funny. She thought giving her dog beer was funny too, but then, she was kind of a sick fuck.

I realized that I smoked a lot of weed somewhere around august, but Kate and I had nothing better to do. It was beginning to be an expensive habit though. Plus some of the kids in our grade had starting doing other drugs, acid, shrooms, and I didn’t want to get caught up in that. Maybe I did. Whatever.

Kate lived 8 houses down from me, and proximity was the man reason for our natal friendship. We played kick the can as kids. We lived in a pre-fab neighborhood with tons of other kids around. There was Mark Cohen-Barnes, who I thought was rad. He was this Jewish hp-hop kid. Then there was Olive Moore, who was also cool, in a misanthropic, outcast kind of way. Stacy Cartwright lived there too, which would make the party easy to go to. And sexy Jonas lived nearby. He was this artsy boy who I had a terminal crush on, which was now eclipsed by Mr. Cooper. I was boy crazy, from a creep distance. Who likes their math teacher?

The next few days of school were weird, because of Aaron. He was super friendly to me, but I was awkward. Now that we had hung out, what was I supposed to do?

Friday during school, he turned around in psych to talk to me.

“Do you need a ride to the party?”

“Yeah, she does.” Kate answered for me.

“Uh, yeah that’d be sweet.” That’d be sweet? What was I thinking? And I didn’t need a ride, she lived two streets away. But I guess this was Kate’s plan. The big make-out with Aaron? Maybe. He was a good practice boy, because college was looming and I was going to be the Creepy Virgin on Campus.


I had math first period, a most cruel fate. I walked into Mr. Cooper’s class, and scoured the room for a seat near the back. The only one was next to Tom Adams, who smelled horrible. I sighed and sat down anyways. I leaned my head back over the headrest, yawning. My shirt crept up over my waistband and I tugged it down impatiently. I didn’t want to have Tom Adams as my practice buddy. Why was I even thinking about Kate’s stupid idea? Tue, my last make-out session was at summer camp and there were braces involved, but I could aim a little higher. Maybe.

I was in medium level math, filled with average kids who weren’t really smart enough to be in the honors classes. We had a mix of popular kids and the non-event type of people who didn’t really matter. Kate and I were ultimate non-people. She was content with that, and was too, most days. Like today. I was happy to just blend back here, in the cloud of Tom’s stink.

Mr. Cooper was a new teacher, and I had no idea what to expect. When he walked in, my breath caught in my chest. He was hot. He was probably in his late twenties, with curly brown hair and those cute plastic frame glasses. He was like the college guys I daydreamed about, intellectual and kind of geeky in a totally sexy way. I texted Kate the words “HOT TEACHER ALERT” and she texted back “?". I‘d have to fill her in over lunch.

“So how hot? Like teacher hot, or dude hot?” Kate was taking a bite of her sandwich, smearing mustard on her face.

“Man hot.”

“Nice. Maybe I’ll switch in. I have some evil old troll.”

“I think Ms.Lane is nice.”

“You would.”

“What does that even mean?”

“Dunno.” She chewed thoughtfully.

“Want to leave after this and smoke a cigarette?”

“Yeah, sure.”

We walked out to my car, which seemed like miles.

“This is really going to suck if it rains, you know.”

“You are so helpful, Kate.”

“Oh so Caitlin is in one of my classes, history. Great, right?”

“What’d she say today?”

“That it was good to see that I had lost some weight over the summer. Loudly, in front of everyone, in front of the whole class.”

“Did you lose weight?” we walked behind my car, sitting on the pavement, to hide from the monitors that patrolled to make sure we didn’t do anything like this.

“When have I ever weighed myself?”

“I don’t know, plus your clothes are so baggy who can even tell with you.”

“My doctor actually told me I’m perfect. 5’7 and one hundred and thirty five pounds.”

“That sounds about right.” I lit my cigarette.

“You probably gained some, with all that boobage.”

“I’m still the tallest girl ever.”

“I think there’s like a seven foot woman in the Netherlands somewhere. You’re only 5’11.”

“Fine, in our grade.”

“No, there’s that basketball girl. You’re mediocre even in height.”

“Do you have a joint?” I stubbed my cigarette out.


She lit it up, and we passed it back and forth. I breathed in the weed, feeling my vision get that weird, high depth perception. Psychology was going to be just wonderful after this. The bell rang and we stood up, brushing our butts off. Kate pulled her hoodie up over her hair, trying to hide her glazed eyes.

“Hey, girls, why do I suspect a little controlled substance abuse?”

“Hello, Trevor.” Kate rolled her eyes. He was a burnout bro who always pestered her for a date. He had that sort of hair color that’s between blonde and brown, and had acne scars. He hitched up his scummy looking baggy jeans, and walked by us, laughing.

“Gross.” Kate wrinkled her nose.

“What about aiming low?” I asked

“That’s a little low, even for us.”

“Thank God. You have psych now too, right?”

“Yep. As f I don’t get enough psychobabble at my parentally mandated therapy each week.”

“Let’s scope for desperate boys without major hygiene issues for us during class. It’s a lecture; there’s gotta be one out of fifty who will do one of us.”

“Don’t bet on it.”

We nabbed seats together, luckily, as the class was full. Kate was braiding strands of her long blondish hair, her feet resting on the chair in front of her.

“Can I sit here?” we both looked up.

“Sure Aaron”, she plopped her feet down onto the floor with a smacking noise.

I wrote “Got cuter” on my notebook and showed her over the aisle. He was skinny with longish brown hair and decent clothes. He was kind of a non-event, but he grew over the summer, stretching him into the type of lanky boy I like best.

“Fuck buddy?” she wrote back.

“We’ll see.” I mouthed.

“So Alice how was your summer?” he turned around in his seat to look at me.

I normally hated that question, but it sounded cute coming from him.

“Good, we just fucked around, the usual.”

“Same here.” I tried to think of something to say that wasn’t totally horrible, but by the time I had phrased something n my head, he already turned back forward.

“Nice.” Kate mouthed. I threw a pencil at her.

“Hey, Kate, Alice.” Stacy Cartwright leaned over the aisle towards us. She was a cool girl, I thought, not popular, but artsy, with big fat dreads and a nose ring.

“You guys want to come to a party this Friday at my house?”

“Yeah, sure.” Kate answered for both of us.

“How bout you Aaron?” he turned around again and smiled.

“Yeah, sounds good.”

I knew the type of party it would be. All the weird kids from our grade had started hanging out together last year, creating our own little subversive parties without any of the cool kids from school. All the people who were ignored in class were welcome, pretty much. But not Tim Adams-people. I think they had their own parties. Maybe.

“That wasn’t horrible.” I remarked.

“Not entirely. We have a party to go to on Friday, and the perfect practice boy.”


“Aaron. He was checking out them boobies and he’s taller than you.”

“Whatever. We have to go pick up Andrew at the junior high and bring him to the skatepark.”

“You sound like a mom.”

“Shut the fuck up.”


I pulled into the senior parking lot slowly, lifting my foot off the clutch too soon, causing my car to stall.

“Jesus, careful.” Jane exclaimed.

“Just a minute,” I grumbled. People honked behind me. My parents had given me an ancient sedan, and it was standard. I had been practicing, but smoking a cigarette while shifting happens to be really difficult. I pulled into my assigned spot, which, of course, was one of the farthest from the school.

“This spot sucks.”

“Shut up, Kate.” I ashed my cigarette out the window and yawned.

“Why aren’t you getting out?” she asked.

“I don’t know why aren’t you?”

“I was waiting for you.”

“Well, what if I was waiting for you? Whatever. Anyway, I’m savoring out last moments before school starts. Take ‘em in, Kate.”

“I’m taking, I’m taking, but it smells like shit in here.”

“I’ve been meaning to take out my brothers cross country stuff.”

“I suggest you do.” I flicked my cigarette out the window and unbuckled the seatbelt.

“You know what I was thinking?” Kate asked as we walked across the large lot.

“Haven’t a clue.”

“You need a practice fuck.”

“A what?”

“Some loser who you can practice with and then move on to like, HIM.” She sounded pleased with herself.

“That is retarded.”

“No, we’ll just find someone desperate.”

“Gee, thanks.” I pulled the double doors open for us.

“I’m just saying. Aim low first. This is to boost confidence and skills, not crush your cripplingly low self esteem even more than the rest of our adolescence already has. “I think you had one too many hits this morning.”

“No such thing.”


We settled into our homeroom seats, the last available ones, right at the front. Kate put her head on her desk immediately, and I pulled out a notebook and started doodling, avoiding eye contact with people, so no one asked how my summer was. Caitlin Connors, Kate arch-nemesis leaned over and mock whispered to us.

“You two smell like an ash tray.”

“You smell like my dog when it gets back from the groomers, Caitlin,” Kate said without looking up, “Golden retriever fresh?”

“You are such a bitch.” She rolled her eyes at her friends, who giggled.

“You really are, you know.” I said.

“I know,” Kate responded, picking her head up slightly, “I really am.”

Caitlin wasn’t popular or anything, she was just really self-righteous and had really shiny hair. She and Kate were friends in elementary school, but once Caitlin started campaigning for Just Say No, and Kate started just saying yes, they parted ways. Now, Caitlin tried to embarrass her wherever and whenever possible.

After roll call, we got handed our schedules and compared classes.

“Ugh Mrs. McDonald for English again.” Kate groaned

“Didn’t she call you a waste of oxygen last year?”

“I’m pretty sure it was affectionate.”

“Right. See you at lunch, I guess.”

“Yeah, whatever. Bye.” She ambled away

Alice Attempts Boys

“Fuck, fuck, fuck” I pulled my shirt over my head, and threw it on the floor.

Alice, relax, it’s just a shirt.” Kate inhaled deeply from the bong resting on her thighs, “Stop attempting to make your mid-drift baring band tee look artful and non-intentional.”

I put on a plain white one that clung, I thought, quite nicely to my chest.

“Easy for you to be relaxed,” I rolled my eyes, “one more hit and you’re going to float into homeroom. Not like it matters, anyway, I could wear any t-shirt and still be a fucking freak.” She exhaled, blowing out a cloud of smoke, and coughing.

“But, Al,” she complained, “the first day of school is an exception.”

“To what rule?”

“The no smoking before ten a.m rule.”

“You break that one a lot, Kate.”

“I never was one for rules.”

“I just want to look….fuckable. I grew these boobs this summer for a reason.”

“Trust me, if I could get you laid, I would. You’re a pain in the ass when you’re horny.”

“Here’s some Visine,” I threw the bottle at her,”why don’t you go drink it or something.”

“Shut up, and go with the Black Flag shirt. Always go with Black Flag.”

“That’s not tight enough, I want to…”

“Get laid?”

“I want to get laid because a boy likes me though. Not because of my midriff.”

“Then why the montage of tummy this morning?” She put some drops in her eyes.

“So I can distract him long enough to realize how awesome I am. Or I could drug him.”

“Dude, I don’t think date rape works on guys, but I’m a feminist, give it a try.”

“Shit. Time to go fall into the abyss of homeroom.”

“Funny, I thought we were already in it.”

“Where? Homeroom? Was that shit laced or something?”

“The abyss, dumbass. Nevermind.” She chuckled.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Chapter Four

It’s Friday and I told my mom I’m going out. She looked at me weird.
“With who?”
“Jonas Whittaker.”
“Is this a date?”
“Hey Jonas, like my doll?” Astor looked up over her spaghetti.
“Kind of.”
“Kind of like her doll, or kind of like a date?”
“Like her doll.”
“Oh. Well, good. Are his parents home?”
“Yeah.” I didn’t know.
“Alright, be home by twelve. Is twelve ok?” I didn’t have a curfew because I never left.
I showered, and looked at myself in the mirror. I’ve got boring hair, but I think I’m pretty. I have good teeth, at least. A normal nose, big green eyes. I’m at least passable.

This is how my night went, Ms. Bloch.
He pulled up in his car, a really old sedan of some sort, I don’t know a lot about cars. He was playing The Blow, I think for me. I brought one of my dad’s old records, David Bowie, who I like a lot.
“Hey, cool, Bowie rocks.” He really isn’t smart, right Ms. Bloch?
“Yeah. Uhm, what’s up?” I was trying.
“Nothing. You?” I just spent two hours getting ready, Jonas, and my little sister was acting out a date scene with your doll.
“I picked up a dime bag for us.”
“Cool.” I don’t know what a dime bag is.
He was driving fast, and he kept looking over at me. I was supposed to be talking.

We smoked in his basement, where he has his records and his art studio. His art is ok. The pot made me feel more awkward, like I was melting into the couch.
“Can I draw you?” he asked me
“Sit here.” He pointed to a big chair near his easel. It was white and comfy, and I sat, hugging my knees to my chest. He came over and pulled one side of my shirt off my shoulder, touching my skin kind of.
“You have a pretty collar bone.” He explained.
He was playing some record I had never heard, and he was quiet as he sketched. I don’t know how long it took, because I think pot makes you lost track of time, but after a while, he showed me. he made me look prettier than I am. We made out on his floor, and I let him take my shirt off. He kissed my collar bone, and traced the indent lightly with his fingers.
“You’re so pretty” he said quietly into my ear. I don’t think I like him anymore. Anyway, it was only ten, I looked over his shoulder and checked the clock. His cell phone buzzed.
“Hey Trav,” He answered, leaving me half naked on the floor.
“Uh, let me check,” He looked up at me, “Want to go to a party?”
“Okay.” I have a lot to tell Astor now, right? She’s going to get so excited by all this. I wasn’t sure if I was dressed for a party.
We got in the car and drove somewhere nearer to the school. The party was big, from the look of all the cars. Jonas held my hand as we walked in. The first person I saw was Mike Healy, he was holding a soggy looking cup of beer.
“You want a beer?” Jonas looked down at me.
“Yeah.” Why not? I still felt all disjointed from the pot, but I had never tried beer and I wanted to see what it was all about.
“Olive!” I heard a voice call out. Taylor was standing by the stereo, holding a beer too. I was disappointed she drank. She was with her friends, Mimi and Tricia, who both waved at me. I waved back and walked over with me own beer in hand.
“You came with Jonas?” Mimi raised her eyebrows
“Are you like, dating?” Tricia added.
“No, I don’t think so.”
“Oh.” They looked like they had nothing else left to say.
“It’s cool you’re here, I’ve never seen you out before.”
“I don’t really go out, I guess.”
“Oh.” I sipped my beer. It was kind of warm, but tasted carbonated, like soda. It wasn’t bad, so I drank more.
“But he’s cute.” Taylor smiled at me. She is so friendly, it’s nice.
“I guess.”
“Oh come on, you two are so dating. You both look all, dark and stuff.”
“I’m just wearing a black shirt.”
“I mean, mysterious. You know, deep?” Taylor looked like she wanted me to agree, so I did.
“Yeah, sure.” Jonas isn’t deep, he’s kind of dumb.
“Olive, come over here.” Jonas called me. He put his arm around me when I walked over to his group of friends, art kids with weird haircuts who were mostly older.
“This is Olive.”
“Hey, I’m Travis.”
“Hey Smokey, I’m Jake.”
“How come I’ve never seen you out before?”
“I don’t know.”
“She likes good music, Trav.”
“Like what?” I shrugged.
Hey Ms. Bloch, don’t get anyone in trouble for this. I know we’re not supposed to drink, so don’t tell anyone’s parents, ok?
Anyway, the rest of the night was the same. I stood, awkwardly wedged under Jonas’ arm, kind of pinned there. I answered people’s questions all night, which is a good thing. I told Jonas at eleven thirty that I had to go home. He walked me to my door, and kissed my cheek before he left.
“Hey, Olive, how was it?” My mom was still up, at the kitchen counter, waiting for me
“He looked cute.”
“So I guess now we need to talk about some things. Tomorrow we’ll talk about your curfew, drinking, safe sex.”
“Mom. Please.”
“What, Olive? These are important things.”
“Not for me.”
“Fine, Olive.” She looked disappointed in me.
“We can talk tomorrow, Mom. I’m going to bed.”
“Okay, good night, sweetheart.”
I wanted to tell her everything. I never had to lie before, but I guess I wasn’t really lying, right?
Today I played with Astor in our backyard, acting out the party with our dolls over and over.
“Do this kissing part again, Olive!”
“No, come on Astor.”
I made the Jonas doll hold hands with my doll, showing Astor. She was satisfied.

Chpater Three

When I turned in the first few entries, you said it made you laugh. This is a good thing, Ms. Bloch, except I wasn’t trying to be funny. But today Jonas stopped me in the hallway.
“Hey, Olive, what’s the homework for Bloch’s class?”
“Chapter two.”
“Thanks. What class do you have now?”
“Free period.”
“Me too. Want to go smoke?”
I don’t smoke but I went with him. I passed Mark, who waved, but looked confused. I waved back.
We walked outside, and went across the street to the corner where everyone goes to smoke. I had never been, but it seemed like Jonas knew all the burnout kids who go there. I hoped my parents wouldn’t drive by.
“Want one?”
“Sure.” I didn’t.
He lit it for me, and I inhaled, trying not to cough.
“Have you done the homework yet?”
“No. I hate reading.”
“Oh, me too.” I wasn’t sure what to say, or why I was here.
“Ms. Bloch is making me write a journal.” I hope it’s ok I told him that. You didn’t tell me not to tell anyone.
“Really? Weird. What do you write about.”
You, I thought.
“Uhm, people.”
“Oh, really?”
The cigarette was making me woozy, like my fingers were asleep.
“I saw you writing in it, I think. In class. Is it like graded?”
“I hope not.”
“That’s weird.”
“I also saw your notebook had lyrics on it. I like The Blow too.”
“Yeah.” I was feeling like I was going to throw up. He stubbed his cigarette out.
“Do you like punk?”
“You don’t talk a lot, huh?”
“I guess not.”
“Like, what bands?”
“Minor Threat.”
“I love Minor Threat.” He didn’t need to know that I had a terminal crush on Ian MacKaye, even though he’s old.
“I like Fugazi too. His other band”
“Yeah, they’re good., I have all those records. Do you like records?”
“I guess.” I threw my cigarette in the woods.
“Hey, Smokey, don’t start a forest fire.” Some burnout called to me. I blushed.
“Ignore Jake.” Jonas smiled. “Want to go back?”
“You should come over sometime, I’ll show you my records.”
“Okay.” I think I got asked out. I’ll have to tell Astor that.
“What are you doing Friday?” Big plans, playing dress up with my sister.
“Want to come over?”
“I can pick you up. Where do you live?”
“Jordan Terrace.”
“Hey, I live on Wilton. That’s close.”
“I can walk.”
“Nah, I’ll come get you.”
“Do you smoke pot?”
“Not yet.” He laughed.
“You want to?”
“Yeah.” I hoped my parents would be proud I was misbehaving.
“Awesome. We’ll get stoned and listen to records.” That sounded kind of stupid, and I realized Jonas probably isn’t very smart. But he’s pretty nice.

Chapter Two

I’m all sweaty from gym. I am not an athlete, but I bet you guessed that. I’m small and scrawny, with weird pockets of fat in places, like my stomach. I’m not ugly though.
Mark is in my gym class. He looked like this nice Jewish boy, with curly dark hair and a big smile. He wears huge headphones all the time, he loves hip-hop and rap. He’s kind of weird, too. He’s not popular, but I don’t think he cares. He’s in my gym and my English classes, and he doesn’t really seem to have friends either. He just kind of bops through the halls with his headphones and baggy jeans, occasionally saying weird stuff in class. I think I could be friends with him. He always turns around the say stuff to me, I think he gets it. gets that I need talking to every once in a while. Today in gym he passed me the ball in basketball. I turned, shielding my face, and the ball bounced away sadly.
“Olive, homie, you gotta catch it.” He laughed, not meanly though.
“I don’t want to.” I didn’t.
“Make the ball your bitch, O, show that ball who’s the boss.”
I didn’t respond. I probably should have, I think, but the bell was going to ring, and there was no point, really.
The journal isn’t bad, Ms. Bloch.
I just ate dinner with my parents, and I told them about Mark and the ball. They laughed, and seemed relieved. Astor asked if Mark was my boyfriend. She watched soap operas in the afternoon, and is starting to get all sorts of ideas about boys and girls. I guess as far as boyfriends would go, Mark would be ok. He lives in my neighborhood; we used to play Peter Pan when we were little. I was Wendy.
There’s this song I love, by this band called The Blow, called in my room. I like my room a lot. I don’t have a TV or anything, but in the songs it says:
Things do to, yeah; I’ve got them in my roomI've got it going on. The silence of the phone not ringing
Is just a present thing under my, my mind.

I wrote that in the correct form, right, Ms. Bloch? Anyway, I like to listen to that song in my room, and dance around. Sometimes Astor does it with me. She likes cool music for a little kid. I like to look online for new bands and things. Music is like math, I think. Mark is good at math too, or he used to be. That’s why he’s not cool; He’s too smart. He talks like he’s not smart, but he is. I bet he thinks music is like math too.
Anyway, one of my least favorite characters is Mike Healy. But he sure likes himself. He has a crush on Taylor, which he satisfies by making fun of her in class. He’s on the soccer team, and he goofs off in class to get attention. He makes fun of Tim Carter a lot. Tim makes me look like Ms. Popularity. He’s got acne, and he smells, but he’s ok I guess. I was on the science team til I realized that meant I had to talk at meets, and he was on it with me. He’s quiet, but really nice. I think he has a crush on me, because he always stares at the back of my neck in History class. I can smell him the whole time. He walks home from school every day, which is really uncool. You’re supposed to drive, or at least take the bus. He carries his lunch box, orange, like a purse, too. I think he cares that he’s a loser. He should stop caring, like me and Mark. But he’s worse off than me. He seems to offend Mike, and Mike acts like he deserves to be made fun of. He used to call me Olive Oil, but when no one thought it was funny he stopped.
Another one of my favorites is Jonas Whittaker. He’s this art kid who’s in my English class. He sketches all the time, and is as bad at reading as I am. He’s really beautiful, I think. I named a doll after him too. I think I have a crush on him, because I like to imagine what it’d be like to have him as my boyfriend. He’s got long blonde hair and these nice brown eyes, like a dog. That sounds weird, but it’s what I think. He wears a cool leather jacket, and I know he likes the same music as me, I can just tell. I don’t dress cool. I just wear a black t-shirt and jeans, most days. I like my black t-shirts. They’re kind of tight, which is my attempt to be sort of sexy. I like black, which is why I like Jonas’ jacket. I wish I could wear his jacket, smell the leather. Wearing black is neutral, you know, but it keeps you from blending in totally. My black is boring, but Jonas’ black is mysterious. I wish I could draw or something. Then I could be in his art class.

Olive Moore's Essential Feild Guide to Life

I’m Olive.
I’m sixteen, and I’m not stupid. I just can’t write stuff. Things. My English teacher, Ms. Bloch, told me to write this journal so i could be a better writer. I think she just feels sorry for me. She’s one of those new teachers, all gung ho about learning. She says my writing lacks style. I asked her, what style did she mean, and she just handed me this book to write in. fine. I hate English. I’m not stupid though, I’m good at math. It’s easy and it just follows rules. I can follow rules, I told her, but I just can’t make my own.
I think she feels bad because I don’t have any friends. By all accounts, I should hate high school. I don’t though. It’s this panorama of people every day. People I hate, people I wish I knew, the usual players. Everyone pretty much ignores me. Well, that’s not true. Today Mark Cohen-Barnes talked to me.
“Yo Olive, got a piece of notebook paper?” I handed him one, and he said “Thanks homie.”
I’ll tell my mom we ate lunch together.
My mom is really nice. So is my dad. And my little sister, Astor, is my best friend. She’s nine. She’s this cool little kid though. She still plays dress up and make believe, even though she’s a little old, and I love that about her. My parents are these normal, nice people, and they usually don’t know what to do with me. I feel like they wish I would act out, pierce my tongue or come home drunk. At least that’d be more normal than playing dolls all afternoon with my little sister.
Since my life is pretty pathetic, I’m going to write a field guide to West Harlow High School. I like science too, by the way. I’m starting with one of my favorite characters, Taylor Yeardsley. She’s really pretty, pretty enough that she could date anyone, you know? But she doesn’t. She’s really nice, she wears these Oxfords every day and she always looks extremely clean. Her dad is my dentist, and he always tells me what perfect teeth I have. I really do have nice teeth, I think. Pretty straight and stuff. I once saw Taylor there, at the office.
“Hey Olive!” She was hanging out in the waiting room, and I was surprised she knew my name.
“Hi Taylor.” Her dad walked in then, and she jumped up.
“Dad, this is my friend Olive from school.” I was grateful she called me her friend. We hadn’t talked since girl scouts, I don’t think, but it was a nice gesture, right?
“I know Olive, Taylor. She’s the girl with the perfect teeth.” He smiled at me. He’s a nice man, I guess, always really friendly. I think that’s where Taylor gets it. he probably brings her home cool toothbrushes and sugar free treats once in a while.
“See you in math Olive.” She looked back down at her magazine, curling her feet under her.
“Uhm, we’re not in the same math class.”
“Oh.” She looked up again.
“We’re in Bio though, right?”
“Oh yeah, that’s what I meant.”
I told you I was easy to ignore, didn’t I? That’s what I mean, anyway. That’s why this field guide will be good, like Darwin. No one notices me watching them, so I’ll be impartial.
I named one of Astor’s Barbies Taylor, the really pretty one. She’s my favorite doll, I guess.
I really don’t want to turn this in or anything. Ms. Bloch will probably call the school shrink on me. It’s not weird though. I don’t like, worship the doll. I just make her say really nice, encouraging things to all the other dolls. That’s creepy, right? Jesus. I’m going to go to bed now. It’s only nine, but I have nothing else to do. I have gym tomorrow, so I’ll tell you about Mark Cohen-Barnes then. He’s another favorite.

Monday, October 6, 2008


So that’s it. A year of my life, written down and in print. The magazine is doing well, in our target demographic, which is probably not a very large sector of the population. We did have to up our circulation, thanks to some key press, and the website has been our selling point. We’re looking into being bought by a larger publishing company, as long as we get to keep it true to ourselves. Viv is helping now, strengthened by good therapy and some prescribed pharmaceuticals, for once. Her photography has upped the standard of Lucky Bitch immensely, and she’s delving more into self-portraits for some self discovery. She did, in fact, shave a pattern into her bald spot. As for me, I spend a lot of time alone. There’s a lot of empty space without Andrew in our apartment. After a short nervous spell, I began to enjoy the solitude. Viv spends the night if I get lonely, but I’m relishing the time to myself. When he gets back from Europe in two weeks, I’m getting a studio.
I once got a drunken message from Marie at 3 a.m on a Wednesday, profanities screamed unintelligibly. To the best of my knowledge, she still goes to Wellesley. I haven’t seen her, and I doubt I will. I sometimes wonder about her, wonder if she found two new replacements to manipulate. She was like a weed, choking out our growth to her benefit. She left us damaged, bruised, and it takes a lot for me to trust now. I look back and see the collateral damage we caused; broken boys, torn friendships, literal wounds. I feel like there was so much I should have seen coming, that I could have prevented. I now take accountability for my actions, but I know it’s a little too late. But I have gained so much this year, too. I have gained a career I am proud of, the trust of my parents, new friends, and a wonderful boy I love. I have bad days, where I still wonder if I can do it, if I’m good enough. But I now have the support around me to reassure me that I can. The past year made me reexamine all parts of myself, turning who I was inside out into who I am. Ultimately what I’ve gained is a steak in my future. I am no longer floating apathetically. I messed up in the past; I’m willing to admit that fully. But now I have chosen my present.

Chapter Twenty Six

“So this is it?” we stood in the air port terminal, as far in as I could go.
“Yeah.” His voice was slower than usual.
“I am going to miss you so much.”
“I’m going to miss you too!” Dave jumped toward me, grabbing me in a hug.
“We need our Sweet Jane!” Colin added.
“Guys, we’re ruining a romantic moment.” Jason rolled his eyes.
“Whoops, sorry!” Dave headed towards the gift shop.
“I’ll call you when I land.” Andrew looked me in the eye, his brow crinkling adorably. My stomach knotted and I felt myself tear up. “Baby…” he hugged me.
“It’s ok, we’re good. We’re strong enough for this.”
“I know we are, Jane. I know that better than you know.”
“No German girls.”
“None. Just a French one.”
“I’ll kill you. Then her. You first though.”
“No brooding hipsters with accents.”
“I don’t even know any anymore, don’t worry.”
“We have to go, Andrew.” Jason called.
“Ok.” He called back. “I love you.”
“I love you tons. I’ll be ok, right?”
“You’ll be great.”

Chapter Twenty Five

“So now we wait?” I asked
“No, now we start work on the November issue.” Leo laughed. We had decided to make the magazine bi-monthly, to cut down on costs.
“Right.” I leaned back into Leo’s couch.
“I think we did good, but we’ll have to just keep checking the blogs and our site to make sure.”
“At least the party was great.”
“True. Your speech was awesome.” I groaned, shaking my head.
“I can’t believe you made me talk in front of people. I’m a backstage kinda gal.”
“Well now you’re the CEO or whatever of our magazine. The money girl, I guess.”
“ah yes, CEO of Lucky Bitch Inc.”
“Hey I thought of something yesterday. You’re technically in publishing now.” She burst out laughing.
“Oh my god, you’re right.”
“I bet your momma is proud.”
“Oh shut up. I have to go though, keep me posted on people’s feedback. I’m writing an article about old indie favorite bands that are releasing albums on major labels for the first time. I’ll send you a draft.”
“Nice, see you later, baby Jane.”
“Hey, that’s no way to speak to your technical boss.” She threw a crumpled paper at me as I walked out the door.
I walked home, enjoying the crisp fall air. I felt light and content, and I stopped walking for a moment.
“So this is what happy feels like,” I mused.
A homeless man taking bottles out of the garbage smiled a toothy grin at me. I smiled back. He then began to urinate on the sidewalk.

“Hey baby, I’m home.”
“Just in time for dinner, I’ve been slaving away.” Andrew gestured at the Chinese takeout on the coffee table.
“We are so modern. The man cooks for the lady…kind of.”
“Come eat, I’m hungry.”
Colin wandered out of the bathroom, and made a bee-line for the food.
“Oh here’s our son.” Andrew laughed.
“What?” Colin said thickly through some lo mein
“Nothing, nothing, just stuff you face, as usual.” I giggled.
“Have you asked her yet?” He looked at Andrew, swallowing.
“Asked me what?”
“We’re going on tour in Europe and I want, we want, you to come with us.”
“We need a laundry wench.” Colin added.
“Andrew! I can’t. I have the magazine.”
“I know, but its Europe. How great would it be to see Europe together?”
“I have a full time job, you know that.”
“Well, Leo and Yuki can handle it., right?”
“No, Andrew, this is what I do now. I can’t just follow you everywhere, I have a life.” I was frustrated.
“C’mon.” He smiled, doing puppy dog eyes.
“I can’t believe you think I would just leave the magazine to tag along on your tour. I’m serious about this, you know that.”
“I know, but it’s only two months.”
“Enough time for my magazine to fail.”
“Fine, whatever.”
“Not whatever! I’m finally serious about something, and you still expect me to be your loyal backup with no other plans. I’m doing this for myself, not for you.”
“But I need you too.”
“You just don’t get it, do you?” I got up and stormed out, slamming the door behind me. why did no one take me seriously?
I thought about it as I walked down the street. True, I didn’t have the greatest track record. I made my parents buy me a horse, and then I quit riding. I quit ballet when my feet started to hurt. I quit college when I panicked. But I was taking this seriously now, right?
“Oh my god. I’m a quitter.”
No wonder my parents made the ultimatum of a year. They figured I would get bored just like every other time. I turned around and headed back to the house. I had some apologizing to do.
“Jane I am so sorry.”
“No it’s me, I quit everything, I don’t blame you for thinking I would go. I always pick what seems fun at the time over what I have to do. But I’m serious about this, I want it to be my career.”
“And starting a magazine at twenty is impressive, Jane, you know that, right?” Colin cut in.
I helped myself to a Peking ravioli, and sat down.
“I want to prove this to myself, babe.” I said to Andrew.
“And I want you to succeed, I’m sorry for being selfish.”
“But I’ll be here when you get back.”
“Good. But I figured you would be.”
“You have a big head.”
“I tell him that every day.” Colin said to me, nodding knowingly.
“And all it does is make me want to hit you.” Andrew laughed.
“What will I do with you when you’re actually famous?” I shook my head, pretending to be worried.
“We’re a power couple, whatever.”
“I can’t believe you just called us that. You’re such a cocky bastard.”
“Agreed!” Colin spit crumbs everywhere.
“And you are filthy. Maybe I should go, just to clean up after you guys.”
“Thanks Mom!”

I trekked out to Long Island a few days later to see Viv in the hospital. I was nervous to see how she was doing. After getting buzzed into the rehab ward, I was told there was only an hour of visiting hours left. Since I was uncomfortable, I was a little relieved. I felt guilty, but it was awkward.
“Hey!” Viv shouted at me, from across the room. She was playing checkers with an old man in a robe.
She ran over, wearing pajamas and those non-slip hospital socks. Her hair was in a side ponytail, with the shaved part of her head on the side. It kind of looked cool.
“Nice hair.”
“I’m going to shave a design in there, and look like a hipster.”
“You nut. How are you?” I was holding her hands. She looked radiant, her skin back to it’s creamy olive, no circles under her eyes.
“I feel amazing. Waking up without a hangover is awesome! And the food here, they let you check off as many things as you want, and they just deliver it to your room. It’s like room service, except with gross hospital food.” I laughed.
“I’m so glad you’re doing well. When are you out?”
“The end of the week. Then I do outpatient.”
“Good for you. When can you work for me?” I laughed.
“I think the end of the month. I want to start doing things, so I don’t get bored.”
“I’ll be watching you, no relapses.”
“Hey, come look at this!”
She dragged me to the art therapy room, where a series of self portraits of her hung on the walls. The art therapist shook my hand.
“You’ve got a really talented friend, Jane.” He smiled.
“I’m working on a series of self portraits, to kind of figure out how I see myself. how I saw myself, what I want to see myself as, you know.”
“They’re awesome.” I walked around the room, looking at the charcoal drawings. Some were horribly sad, her figure looking distorted and broken, her face melancholy.
“Viv, I’m still sorry I didn’t help you.”
“No one could have helped me, babe. I need to fix myself. I’m on an anti-depressant now. Prozac nation or whatever.”
“How do you feel about that?”
“If it keeps me from fucking up, I’m for it.”
“I had no idea you felt like this.” I gestured to a sad-looking portrait.
“Me either, actually. I was distracting myself with the drugs and booze.”
“I was ignoring everything with self pity.” I laughed.
“OK, it’s time to go.” One of the counselors said gently to me.
“Oh no.” Viv pouted.
I hugged her tightly, not wanting to let her go.
“Thanks for visiting, Jane. It means a lot. Have you talked to Marie?”
“It’s ok, we don’t need her. We have each other.”
“Call me when you’re out, I’ll come out for dinner or something.”
“Ok. I love you!”
“I love you too!”