Kerry's Journal - Keep Your Hands Off!

Kerry's Journal - Keep Your Hands Off!!

And that means you, Christopher!

I woke up this morning.

Not that I expect you to congratulate me or anything, it's just that with my terrible sleeping habits, the fact that I got out of bed this morning is actually quite an accomplishment. My dad used to call me a "moon child" you know, one of those kids who was switched at birth by the fairies, and would stay up late at night gazing at the moon. At least, I think that's where he got the term from. It's really just a poetic way of saying that I'm an incurable insomniac. I don't sleep well at night, and so I usually have to sleep during the day. Most of the time, like last night, I just lie awake in bed until four AM, staring at the ceiling and telling myself stories to pass the time.

Anyway, I woke up this morning at about seven or so, and wanted to go back to sleep but I couldn't because there's this geometry test I had to take today. So I rolled out of bed, threw on a sweatshirt and the same pair of jeans I wore yesterday (and the day before actually, I wear the same pair for about two weeks straight most of the time), ran a brush through my hair and was ready to go. That's one of the things I love about having short hair when I was a little girl my mom made me wear my hair long and up in two ponytails. I hated those ponytails. When I turned fifteen I decided I was sick of it and I had it all cut off, short, like a boy's. My dad nearly died when he saw it, but there wasn't much he could do about it, now was there? I usually don't bother too much with makeup or anything, just wash my face and stuff a tube of Chapstick in my pocket and that's it. All of this took me about five minutes. I can get ready for school faster than my brothers they spend all this time messing around with their hair and clothes and cologne and stuff, especially Christopher. He thinks he's so cool just because he's popular at school. I swear it takes him like an hour just to mousse his hair in the morning. I think my parents are disappointed that their only daughter is more masculine than their three sons.

Breakfast was the same as usual. I made two pieces of toast, spread them with margarine and Tabasco sauce, and then, because I was still hungry, I warmed up a piece of the leftover pizza we had for dinner last night. My mom started chewing me out for leaving crumbs on the counter, even though they weren't my crumbs. I don't know who set her off this morning, but she was in one of those fine funky moods where she was going to be looking for things to bawl you out for, so I left the house before I even finished my second cup of coffee. Experience has taught me that when she's on one of her rampages it's best to just move out of the way and let it blow over, you know? She'll be all smiling and happy by the time I get home from school, anyway.

I'm sixteen, but I don't have my driver's license. I don't really want one, anyway. I mean, what do I need to drive for? I live two blocks away from my school, and I've got this job that's only about a block away from there. (Welcome to Burger King. May I take your order?) It's a terrible job, because I hate people. I'm just not a people person. And for four hours every day (six on Saturdays) I have to look at people, talk to people, take money from people, serve food to people, deal with people, people, people! Ugh. I wish I could be, like, a nun or something. You know, take a vow of silence and go on some mystical, sacred hermitage where I could be alone for twenty years and never have to deal with people. But to get back to my original point (I know, I have the tendency to ramble a lot so sue me) I don't have a car and I don't need one. It takes me about fifteen minutes to walk to school in the mornings.

Now, I'm not a morning person, so usually a little walk in the morning is just what I need to wake me up before I actually get to school. However, right now it is January. In Minnesota. Which means that walking to school becomes an adventure in and of itself I'm sure that I could make a fantastic adventure novel out of those fifteen minutes, if I really tried to. The brave-hero-struggles-through-neck-deep-snowdrifts-uphill-both-ways type story would find a marvelous niche here. After tunnelling a path through the snow with my bare and bleeding hands and of course taking a detour to rescue a few poor sled dogs and an Eskimo baby who fell through the ice of a lake (never mind the fact that the only major body of water in my neighborhood is Mrs. Langdon's goldfish pond) and risking hypothermia as I struggle to light a fire with the matches that are, of course, wet from the lake water and won't burn and finally getting it lit by using my trusty penknife and a small flint that I just happen to find in one of the sled dogs' packs I manage to triumph over the elements and arrive, soaking wet, on the front steps of my high school. (It's a run-on sentence! *Gasp* Banish that girl from the halls of great literature forever!) Now it's time to face an even greater challenge geometry.

I hate geometry; and not just because I'm awful at it. I hate it because there's no room for imagination in geometry. I mean, like one of my homework problems went like this: "You are a rancher who wants to purchase a plot of land for your herds to graze. Your real estate agent presents you with a triangular piece of property, the dimensions of which are 100 by 50 by 60 yards. As a rancher you know that each of your cattle will need 2 square yards on which to graze; if you have 200 head of cattle, will this plot of land be big enough?" Okay, so the first question that pops into my mind is how the heck I know that each of my cows will eat precisely two square yards worth of grass. I mean, what if they're really super hungry, and they eat like my brother Christopher without stopping to breathe in between mouthfuls? Or what if I've got, like, anorexic cows that don't eat their fair share? And besides, grass doesn't grow overnight. So what happens when they've eaten their two square yards all up? Do they have to wait for a couple weeks before they get to eat again, or am I going to have to buy yet another triangular piece of property and move the cows around all the time? And what kind of idiot divides land into triangles, anyway? You can probably see by now why it is very difficult for me to get through my math homework.

At any rate, I got into class and Mr. Blackburn right away asked me for my homework assignment. I think he just wanted to make sure the whole class would hear when I told him I didn't do it. I never do homework; it's sort of a policy of mine. I get straight A's anyway, because I always understand everything and get most of the assignments done in class during the teachers' lectures. But I didn't have time to finish the geometry homework yesterday because Mr. Blackburn caught me doing it in class and he took it away and tore it up so I'd have to listen to him tell us about the Pythagorean theorem. So I looked Mr. Blackburn straight in the eyes and told him that I didn't do it, and of course he gets all mad and starts giving this truly inspirational dissertation on the evils of laziness and the perils of not turning one's homework in on time and so on and so forth.

I just stood there and watched him, doing my best not to laugh at him because Mr. Blackburn looks exactly like a grasshopper. This is especially true when he gets agitated; his eyes bug out of his head and he's got this long, high forehead and no hair so his head looks disproportionately small compared to the rest of him. His mouth moves from side to side when he talks so that I can almost see the little insect jaws poking out, and he always wears this ugly, ugly brown wool suitcoat that I could swear is covering up his long grasshopper wings because of the way it moves when he waves his arms. But the longer I looked at him the harder it was not to start laughing, and so I had to look away at the poster of Newton and the apple on the wall, and this made him even more upset so that he handed me my test and made me come sit out in the hall to take it. Of course Mr. Blackburn had no idea that I actually prefer sitting out here; it's so much quieter in the hallway when all the teachers and students are in the classrooms and I can be out here alone.

It didn't really take me too long to get through the test. There were only about fifteen problems, and once I decide not to let my mind wander too much while I'm doing them I can get finished much faster. I got all of the answers right I know Mr. Blackburn's going to be mad about that, since I never listen to him in class. So now there's like, another half an hour to go, and I'm going to be sitting out here with nothing to do. That's why I'm writing at the moment, actually.

See, this journal thing is part of an assignment from Mr. Gordon, my English teacher. The assignment is to 'chronicle the events of our daily lives with insight and careful contemplation.' He thinks that writing about the dumb little stuff we do during the day will make us better writers. As if I care about being a good writer. Even writers have to follow too many rules. Everything has to 'mean' something, to be symbolic and philosophical and influential on some great cosmic level nobody writes for fun anymore. Nobody just says 'here's a story the characters are completely unbelievable, and the plot is ridiculous there is no theme and it has no deep sociological or psychological value but boy is it fun to read!' Oh, no; fun stories aren't allowed anymore. They aren't considered 'real' writing. Like, I wrote this story once for my freshman English class, about this princess who had to go rescue her prince from an evil hamster, and then ended up deciding to give up her throne and roam the countryside as a gypsy in search of the meaning of life. It was a good story. My classmates all loved it. But when I got it back from the teacher, you know what she wrote? 'You show promise, but next time focus on developing your characters more. Choose a modern setting with a modern character, and don't rely so much on the plot.' Modern characters. Ugh.

I already mentioned that I'm not terribly fond of people I don't want to write about real people. I want to write about dream people you know, the ones that feel what you make them feel, say what you make them say, do what you make them do. The ones who never burden you with their problems, but let you share the glories of their victories. The ones who always win, who always have a 'happily ever after' where the story is finished and you know that it has all been tied up nicely. Real people don't do that. Real people can't skip over the boring days in their lives with a simple 'three weeks later there came a knock at the door'. They can't just get to the good parts, they have to live through the all the blah times too. Real people never get a happily ever after. Real people don't get nice, neat conclusions to their problems. I hate real people.

You know, I just remembered that I forgot to mention my name. Not that it's all that important, right? I mean, the only person who's ever going to read this is Mr. Gordon, and it's not like he doesn't know my name already. And it's not like my name isn't written all over the front of this notebook, and scribbled over there in the margins. And before you ask, yes, I was practicing my autograph. Someday when I'm rich and famous for doing absolutely nothing of any great consequence I'm going to need to have a brillant, flourishing way to sign my name. 'All my love, Kerry.' 'Follow your dreams! Kerry Mitchell.' 'Best wishes, Kerry Mitchell.' 'Stay cool'-no, wait, I don't like that. 'Carpe diem! Love, Kerry.' I'm still trying to decide whether or not to add my last name to my autograph. I mean, there are some nifty things you can do when you write a capital K, but it's really hard to find a good way to write an M. Try it sometime and you'll see what I mean.

So anyway, I think this journaling thing is a dumb idea. I just don't see how it's going to help me do anything constructive in the future. I mean, nobody is going to want to read a bunch of stuff about me. Nobody wants to know that I have brown hair and brown eyes and freckles and that my favorite book is 'Green Eggs and Ham.' I'm not conceited enough to think that those small details actually matter to anyone, or that anybody is going to want to hear all the bizarre rambling things that go on in my head. It's just not all that interesting, really. Frankly, most of the time I'm bored with myself. Dream people are so much more interesting than I am.

Well, the bell's going to ring any minute now, and Mr. Blackburn will be out here demanding to see my test. He'll go through it fast, his little red pen hovering eagerly over each problem, and when he doesn't find any mistakes he'll write some patronizing comment about how my homework grades will effect my final grade even if I do ace all the tests, and then frustratedly scribble the 100% at the top in little tiny numbers. I know he will. That's how all my teachers react when I do so well in their classes completely without their help. I wish my parents would let me home school; I'd be out of high school by May.

Next hour I have English, and I have to turn this in. Mr. Gordon, since I know you're going to be reading this, I want you to know that I strongly protest being made to write all this dumb stuff that isn't going to matter to anyone, least of all myself I think, next year, that instead of journaling you should seriously consider letting the students write stories about gypsies and hamsters. It would sure be a lot more interesting.