IRIS

by

SANDEFUR

Disclaimer: This is fanfiction just for fun. I have no claims.

Part One, before Adam.

Excerpts from the diary of Iris…

7/3/03

Diary, tomorrow may be Independence Day, but today I received my freedom thanks to Gavin Price! Dad went to jail today after pleading guilty to one count of aggravated domestic abuse (he got a plea bargain). Two years in medium security with a year in a halfway house and two more years of probation is his sentence, plus mandatory anger management counseling (like that will do any good). I can't describe how relieved I feel knowing Mom and me are finally out of this nightmare. No more restraining orders that are ignored, no more threats and most of all, no more violence! Thank God it's over, and thank God for Mr. Price (I bet I'm the only kid at Arcadia High who has thought that) .

Price. I spent most of freshman year trying to be invisible at school, just as I did at junior high. I was careful to make no friends, to avoid drawing attention to myself and to stay away from all authority figures in case they were smart enough to figure out what was going on. I thought I was successful in fooling everyone and in keeping my secret, but Mr. Price started to notice the pattern of bruises that I sometimes had.

He had questions, and I had my stock answers about a fall, a sports accident or a fight with a kid from another school, but Price wasn't buying it. He began watching me closely, and when it got warm in the spring, I couldn't keep wearing long sleeves, turtlenecks and other such stuff to hide my bruises. Price began taking me to the school nurse everytime he saw the slightest mark, and he had Mr. Dingle the counselor talking to me all the time about my home life. I did my best to lie, to hide our family's shameful little secret, but Price was relentless. Eventually he called in the police and child protective services and gave them the documentation of a pattern of injuries that couldn't be anything other than what it was.

I thought Dad was going to kill me and Mom too, but Price arranged for domestic abuse counselors from the Oak Street Community Center to keep an eye on us, and to offer sanctuary anytime Dad tried to force his way back into our lives. Price even gave Mom his private number and offered to be there at anytime she needed help. That led to the punch-up between Dad and Price last month when we were stranded with a flat late at night—no coincidence Dad happened to show up. We were over the county line and couldn't get hold of the local cops, but Mr. Price showed up in response to Mom's S.O.S. It was just as Dad was starting to smack Mom around again, and I thought Dad would take Price out easily. We all learned very quickly that Gavin Price is a tiger in a fight, especially when he is outraged. (It may be sick, but I got a lot of pleasure seeing Dad being the one begging for mercy for a change.)

Anyway, brighter days ahead with one dark cloud exception—Uncle Billy. Just like Dad in so many ways, but at least his wife and kids were smart enough to get him out of their lives far earlier than we did. Uncle Billy whispered to Mom that he would be keeping an eye on us while his brother is in jail. You couldn't really call it a threat, but I know it scared Mom.

X X X X X

8/15/03

The double birthday event, which I always use to look forward to. I always thought it weird that Dad and Mom shared the same birth date, but two years apart. Other than Christmas and their anniversary, it was the only day of the year when Dad would make a special effort to keep his anger under control. One of only three lousy days a year when I felt reasonably safe. This year I made Mom her favorite for a change, strawberry/banana cake instead of the German chocolate Dad always insisted on. Uncle Billy stopped by with a birthday card from Dad which apparently had a "personal" note included. Mom tore it up without reading it and told Uncle Billy to get out. I was scared that he might get angry, but he only seemed sad. Unexpected.

X X X X X

9/1/03

Labor Day. I never thought I would do this, but I went to see Dad in prison today. Uncle Billy drove me since I needed an adult to sign me in and out of the place. I know it seems insane, but Dad has been writing me these pathetic letters begging me to come visit. I guess you can't erase that human nature thing to want to have a good relationship with your parents (even though most people, especially teenagers, don't). After the long drive all the way across the state, we met in a little courtyard with tables and umbrellas over them—all multi-colored and 'festive'. Families meet with their convict relatives under the watchful eye of the guards. Uncle Billy gave a report to Dad of how I had been a good girl all summer (which was surprising because I didn't know he was watching me too). He reported on Mom as well, and it was another good report of how she has been working hard and keeping to herself (I now realize Dad and Billy have been most concerned that Mom would start dating again now that she has filed for divorce—like she will ever trust another man again!). Dad has been attending counseling sessions on his "anger issues" and part of that is admitting you were wrong to the people you've harmed. (Like an "I'm sorry" makes up for ruining my childhood and most of Mom's life!) Dad explained that he is the way he is because his father use to abuse him when he was a kid. (That I knew, and I'm glad I never met my grandfather who no doubt would tell the same sad story about his old man going back thru the generations to some caveman who use to smack his wife and kids around.) I didn't forgive Dad, but I said I understood.

On the drive home Uncle Billy opened up about some of the horrible things his father use to do to his kids. He got really emotional and had to pull over for a few minutes because he was crying. I never imagined him capable of crying, and the things he described… Damn, and I thought my life was hell. Dad and Uncle Billy were literally tortured by that old freak who raised them. It's no excuse for their behavior, but I guess I can concede that as bad as they are, they at least are an improvement over the generation that preceded them. Still, having been thru it, shouldn't they have rejected any trace of the family's violent nature? (Please God, don't let that ever be a part of me.)

X X X X X

9/2/03

First day of school and I'm determined to be a different person this year! I'm going to make friends, take part in activities and who knows, maybe even get a boyfriend! Homeroom is in Mr. Wilson's class, and I looked for someone to sit next to that I might have a chance of making friends with. There was a seat open next to this girl named Glynis that I vaguely know from last year (we had Algebra together). We began talking about the usual start-of-school stuff and I think we hit it off. Mr. Wilson asked for a volunteer to be "attendance monitor", which no sane kid would ever do, but sure enough some nerdy blond guy volunteered. I was going to make fun of him to Glynis, but I noticed she had that 'look' which told me she's interested in this kid. I guess geeks are drawn to geeks.

Classes. I've got second year French with Madame Marx, Civics with Mr. Harbiston, Gym with Coach Keating, Lunch, Art with Ms Jankow, Study hall, General Science with Mr. Wyatt, and Calculus with Mr. Parker. Of course art is my favorite, and Ms Jankow mentioned three times she has a degree from Parson's (meaning: "I'm too good to be doing this."). I guess we are lucky to have someone qualified teaching us. How many real artists want to teach in high school? I did notice this very quiet, cute guy sitting off to the side of the room, but he ignored me (and everyone else). I asked around, and he's Adam Rove—a really talented artist. Too bad he's a total stoner. (Why do all of the cute ones have to be so flawed?)

X X X X X

9/5/03

End ot the first week of school, and I was all set to write that this week has been a great success. Glynis and I have met for lunch every day, and I think we are starting a real friendship (something I have avoided for so long due to...THE SECRET). I like all of my classes (except gym, which a lot of schools are phasing out - why not us?). French has one slight annoyance. There are these three gossipy girls who sit in the back and talk all the time. Madame Marx has scolded them a couple of times, but so far she has been patient. (How long before she loses her temper and starts sending them to the office for Mr. Price to deal with?) Like I wrote, a successful week until after school. I was waiting for the bus when a bunch of kids began running toward the back of the gym. I was curious and followed. There I saw that Ramsey kid, who was in so much trouble for fighting last year, at it again. Even tho he's a sophomore like me, he was beating the crap out of a junior, Brian Beaumont. Most of the kids stayed to watch and some were even encouraging the fight, but I ran away. I-was-so-scared! It was like this major flashback to when Dad use to beat me... I was shaking all the way home. I thought I was doing okay, that this was all behind me, but I was wrong. Mom noticed and has scheduled a counseling session tomorrow at the community center.

X X X X X

9/8/03

Start of another week, and I seem to be doing better. Talking with the counselor helped, and she recomended I start sessions with Mr. Dingle because the resources of the community center are stretched thin (I guess this sort of thing is all too common). I hate the idea (you can't keep this sort of thing quiet in high school), but after Friday's panic attack, I see the need. I met with Mr. Dingle this morning, and I'll be seeing him twice a week during my study hall times. On a lighter note, Glynis has admitted she has a crush on Attendance Boy (Luke Girardi by name), but she's too shy to say anything to him. If only my problems were as sweet and innocent.

X X X X X

9/11/03

This has been like a breakthrough day. TWO different guys flirted with me on the same day! (And both are really cute.) The first was Lars Closterman, who is in my General Science class. Lars is on the football team and a major player in the school's dating pool, but sadly he is also known for not taking any girl too seriously - apparently he eventually flirts with every girl in school. Word is he dates a lot, but never sticks with any girl for very long. Hey, at least my turn has come around. The other guy was Clay Fischer and I kind of flirted with him first. I saw him leaving the audio department where the school's radio station is, and I complimented him on his jazz selections over the weekend. Turns out he doesn't care for jazz himself, but takes a shift that normally one of the academic advisors uses for a jazz program. I may have started the conversation, but it wasn't long before Clay was flirting with me big time. Odd thing is, despite how cute Clay may be, he gave me a bad vibe when he started flirting. It's like he's almost too slick to be real, and that made me wonder what might the real guy be like behind the smile and the self-deprecating humor. Maybe my personal experiences have made me paranoid, but Dad always had that same sort of persona presented to the world. It was only behind closed doors that you got to see...the monster.

X X X X X

9/16/03

Matinee at the stinky old Rialto, and Glynis came along to see 'Les Jeux Son Fait' with me. I was surprised she was willing to go (old French films don't appeal to very many people) but it seems Glynis is a major film buff. Afterward, we hung out in The Unurban, that old coffee shop near the college. We talked movies and art (another topic that interests Glynis), and I came to realize that behind the geeky, shy exterior she is really smart and nice. Poor girl is still crushing on that Luke guy, but she can't work up the courage to do more than occasionally say 'Hi'. They share AP Chem, but are in different study groups. I know from experience those study teams switch around a lot, and I suggested she keep watch for a chance to be in Luke's group. (Frankly I don't see what all the reluctance is about, Luke Girardi seems to be exactly like Glynis: shy genius, but nice. Surely he would leap at a chance to be with a girl like her.) Make your move, girlfriend!

X X X X X

9/17/03

Got an 'A' on my latest assignment in art class, one of only two given by Ms Jankow (who is a surprisingly tough grader). The other 'A' went to Adam Rove who is like freakishly talented. I love art and would love to make a living at it some day, but I know that's a longshot. (Backup plan is to study Mathematics in college and maybe teach Math some day.) I'd bet anything that Adam will be a professional artist in the future. The rumors about him being a stoner still circulate, but I'm begining to wonder. He doesn't hang with the other fogheads, and they all seem to like being around each other. On the other hand, Adam is spacey like 90% of the time. Why do I keep thinking about him so much? It's not like he's noticed me or any other girl in school - except for Grace Polk. They hang out most of the time, but I remember they were friends all last year too. I'd assume they were a couple if it weren't a known fact that Grace is a major league lesbian.

X X X X X

9/20/03

Listen to your instincts! Against that little voice that was warning me about him, I accepted a date with Clay Fischer. We were hanging out at his house listening to some mixed CD's he made and having a fairly good time. I should have known better. His parents are divorced, he lives with his dad who works on Saturday, and I've been taught not to be alone with a guy I barely know. We had pizza, talked about school and music - the usual first date stuff and I thought it was going well. Then Clay began making his 'moves' on me, which I expected. We made out a little, which I enjoyed at first, but then he started getting really grabby. I tried to get him to cool it, but oh how he changed! I saw that look in Clay's eyes that I've seen so many times in my Dad's just before he gets violent. I guess that's one I owe Dad for survival instincts, because I didn't hesitate to kick Clay in his junk. I ran away with only a torn shirt to remind me of how close I came to experiencing something far worse than what Dad use to do to me. Picked up a couple of new foul language words for my vocabulary from Clay as he was rolling on the floor cursing at me. Guess I was lucky to get away without something worse happening. (Would he really have raped me? I think maybe, leaning heavily toward YES). Still, I can't prove it, so I can't report it since technically, I'm the one who 'assaulted' him. Surprisingly, I'm pretty calm about the experience - even smiling over how much I hurt the creep, which worries me. This reminds me of the time Price beat up my Dad, and how much I enjoyed that. Is my own violent streak showing?

X X X X X

9/22/03

Saw Clay in the hallway at school. He ignored me until he thought no one was watching, and then he flipped me the finger. Very mature. First bell rang and we went our separate ways, but I was stopped by a girl named Chelsea Burnett. She saw the finger thing and asked if I had gone out with Clay. I told her I had one date with the creep and it ended badly. She warned me to stay away from him because he is dangerous. (Already had that figured out.) I asked Chelsea if she has been out with Clay and she nodded. Then she said: "I went out with him because he seemed so nice. He...wasn't nice." Then she ran away crying. Someone needs to do something about this jerk, but I'm not sure what. Best I can do is warn other girls that "Cool Clay" is high risk.

X X X X X

9/24/03

Lunch again with Glynis, but this time we were joined by a friend of hers named Friedman (I didn't catch his first name). They're two-thirds of their AP Chem study group, but are disatisfied with their third member. At Glynis' urging, Friedman has been striking up a friendship with Luke Girardi, who apparently is super smart like the the two of them, in case he might be interested in forming a new study group. The two he is with now are a couple of A-V nerds, and not up to his standards. I guess this is a cream rising to the top kind of thing, and eventually the best of the best will unite in a Darwinian type occurance. If so, it will gain Glynis the access to her favorite Attendance Monitor. Friedman is kinda cute and flirted with me, but he is way too much the typical teen horndog for my tastes (one of those guys who will eagerly jump on anything with a vagina given the slightest nod). After my experience with Clay, I'm a little leery and shut the guy down firmly. I did ask Glynis later on about Friedman, to see if she might be interested in him, but she laughed at the idea. They're study buddies only. Oh, those gossipy girls in the back of French class, one of them finally got sent to the office. A girl named Joan cracked some joke that I didn't hear, and apparently it was the last straw for Madame Marx. Good. Maybe they'll finally shut up so the rest of us can study.

X X X X X

9/26/03

Freaking out! I just heard on the evening news that a junior at Arcadia High, Lindsay Mitchell, was found murdered! Poor girl was beaten and raped first. Oh God, why does the world have to be this way? I barely knew her, but knowing so much horror can strike any of us at any time makes me sick (truly - I threw up after hearing about it). Even as I write this my hand is shaking so much I can barely hold the pen. Does it make me a horrible person that this tragedy has me obsessing about the violence that's been a part of my life for so long? Crying.

X X X X X

9/29/03

Memorial service for Lindsay in the multi-purpose room during lunch break. Lots of kids brought flowers, poems and photos of the poor girl (I brought a teddy bear). Mr. Dingle spoke, and encouraged anyone who had anything to say to speak up. Several friends of Lindsay's had some nice things to say about her (made me wish I knew her better), and at the end Mr. Dingle had a sign up sheet for those who wanted grief counseling - I signed. The school brought in extra people to help with this. The only 'bright' side is that they arrested the S.O.B. who killed her (caught speeding of all things). Makes me wish there was a death penalty in Maryland.

X X X X X

10/1/03

More news from Glynis on the AP Chem front. Luke's sister joined the class, which was a surprise since the girl is known to be a mediocre student. And, this is the same girl who was sent to the office last week for mouthing off in French class. Friedman says 'Joan' was stuck with the two biggest losers in AP Chem, Grace Polk (a.k.a. "The Lezbo") and Adam Rove ("Stoner"). I said I wasn't sure Adam was a stoner, but Friedman told me Price is threatening to urine test the poor guy every day! I resisted the urge to defend Price. I may be grateful to him, but I understand how unpopular being on his side would be. I didn't say, but I guess the main reason I give Adam the benefit of the doubt is because I respect him as an artist so much. That, and he's so cute! (Not that he's ever noticed me.)

X X X X X

10/4/03

Happy birthday to me, and what a disaster! Mom's old clunker finally gave out (a cracked something in the engine) and the cost to fix it would be more than it's worth. We were barely making ends meet with Mom's pay as a secretary at the college and my baby-sitting money. We definitely can't afford a 'new' one. Now we're stuck riding the bus everywhere, and without a car, I can't take my driver's test to get my license. Of course without a car I don't really need a license, but I'd still like to have one. One bright spot on my 16th, a present from Uncle Billy. He gave me a really nice camera. I didn't even know he remembered my photography hobby. At least he sent it by post - I doubt Mom would have let him in the door. She looks at him and all she can see is Dad (and there's a lot of truth in that). Still...Uncle Billy has a car.

X X X X X

10/5/03

I can't believe it! Another horrible report on the evening news. Harry and Anna Reinneman's three year old son has been kidnapped! Oh God, I often babysit that sweet little boy. He was taken from a public park in broad daylight. What is this world coming to? I wanted to go over there to offer my sympathy and help, but Mom said no. The Reinnemans have too much to worry about without me intruding. I guess Mom is right, but I wish there was something I could do.

X X X X X

10/6/03

I waited until I got to school to call Uncle Billy to thank him for the camera. I just happen to mention, oh so casually, that because Mom's car was kaput, I couldn't go for my driver's test. He volunteered to help. I'll have to make an appointment for this coming Saturday morning since Uncle Billy works days. Big news in art class is that entries will be taken soon for the upcoming art show. I've got an idea for a painting of an angel that I've been wanting to try. Everyone in class knows that Adam Rove will be the one to beat, if he enters. I did notice he seems a little less spacey than usual. Almost as if he is finally taking an interest in life for a change.

Still no news about the Reinneman kidnapping. It's like that poor kid disappeared into thin air. Heard through a friend of a friend the family is hiring a psychic to help look for their son. Can't do any worse than the cops have done.

X X X X X

10/9/03

Finally, some good news! The Reinneman's have their little boy back, rescued by none other than the chief of police. (So much for 'psychics'.) The Girardi siblings must be so proud of their father, and speaking of Luke... All week Glynis was trying to get up the nerve to tell tall, blond and clueless that she likes his after-shave. (It must be true love because I got a whiff and P.U.!) Anyway, he stopped using it before Glynis got around to telling him. I wish she would just grow a backbone and speak out about how she feels. It's not like Luke has a girlfriend. (Although he does seem to have some sort of fascination with that gay girl, Grace. I've heard seducing a lesbian is a common male fantasy, but I can't figure out why.)

X X X X X

10/11/03

Licensed to drive! I got up early and met Uncle Billy around the corner so Mom wouldn't see. The early start was so I could get familiar with the car, a '95 Taurus sedan. Uncle Billy keeps it in good running order and after an hour I felt confident driving it. Passed my written test without missing a question and the driving test was a breeze. But I HATE the photo on my license (it's like the lady at the DMV knew the exact moment to catch me at my worse). Uncle Billy took me to lunch to celebrate - garlic cheeseburgers at Marvin's. Yum! Big thanks to Uncle Billy, but he kinda spoiled it by droning on about his legal troubles (he's still trying to get visitation rights to his kids). I refrained from commenting, but I totally understand my Aunt Ceilia's point of view. How can you ever trust a former abuser not to slip back into his old ways no matter how hard he's trying to change?

Saturday night, instead of a date I get to babysit. Oh well, I need the money and the Dahglian's little girl is a cutie. (Good pay too.)

X X X X X

10/13/03

Monday, always a strain and a weird day. There was a naval officer at school, a Lt. Commander if I have the rank right, and he was doing recruiting duty. Not unusual to see non-com recruiters, but isn't this guy too high ranking for such a job? Next weird thing, Dax Hibbing flirted with me! That's the last thing I need on my plate. Dax is captain of the wrestling team and a major league cute guy, but I've heard the rumors of what's going on. Last week some skank was throwing herself at him and he flirted back, which made his girlfriend Libby Carmichael go ballistic. I never got the skank's name, but apparently Libby threatened to tear the girl's hair out if she didn't back off. Now Dax and Libby are going through one of their famous fights, with each one flirting with as many of the opposite sex as they can in order to teach the other one a lesson. I shut Dax down as quick as I could - I so don't need to be in the middle of that freak show.

X X X X X

10/15/03

Late for school for the first time and it's my own fault for being so curious. I was rushing for school and it was near the first bell when I saw Adam Rove standing down the street with that Joan Girardi girl. They were in front of Stevie Marx's house talking to her dad. (He was polishing a really nice wooden boat.) Normally I wouldn't have thought twice, but it looked like Adam was trying to get Joan to go with him to school, but she kept talking to Mr. Marx. Okay, I'll finally admit that I'm really interested in Adam. Seeing him in art class everyday, and getting to know the quality of his work has piqued my interest (and he's so cute!). Too bad he hasn't noticed me at all. Anyway, watching Adam with Joan I realized for the first time that he must have a crush on her. The first bell rang and I continued watching, feeling kind of sad that he doesn't look at me like that. I realized I had to rush, but the second bell rang before I could get to homeroom and I had to go to the attendance office to get a late slip. (From Mrs. Girardi - how weird is that?) Saw Adam going into the office as I was leaving, but as usual he ignored me. Odd thing, Joan wasn't in French class today, nor did I see her anywhere in school, so she must have ditched. (How long could she have talked about boats?)

X X X X X

10/17/03

Big headline, they caught the guy who killed a local police detective and it was another cop! (There was a patrolman killed earlier in the week, but they caught an ex-con for that.) As people say: Only in Arcadia. Joan Girardi was back in class today. I heard the rumor that Price came down on her pretty hard. Well, that's his job and even tho I'd never stand up for him at school, I'll always be grateful to Mr. Price.

The school paper printed a photo I took of the football team during practice, one of Lars Closterman avoiding a tackler while throwing a pass. Kind of a rush seeing the credit: 'Photo by...' Thanks Uncle Billy for the new camera, it works great.

Went out with Steve Zackheim for a Friday night pizza and a movie. Not a bad date, but nothing noteworthy either. (Just a few kisses at my door when he dropped me off.) At least he understood about my not being available for Saturday night - babysitting again for the Dahglians.

X X X X X

10/20/03

Glynis is on Cloud 9. Her big crush (Luke) has finally had it with carrying his study group in AP Chem and has asked Ms Lishak if he can switch. It looks like Glynis and Friedman will be teaming up with him. With that much time being spent together, Glynis is sure Luke will finally start to notice her. I'm begining to understand how she feels. More and more I think about Adam Rove, but I too can't get myself to make a move. I'm not sure what my problem is, I've never been all that shy around guys. Maybe it's because Adam seems to have this disconnected-from-reality shell that keeps all girls away (except for the usual two, Joan and Grace).

X X X X X

10/22/03

From down the hall I saw Clay Fischer flirting with Joan Girardi right in front of Adam Rove. He looked pissed. Maybe there is an opportunity opening up? Wondering...should I warn Joan about Clay? We've never spoken and I wouldn't know how to bring up the topic. It's not like the two of them are dating (I hope).

X X X X X

10/25/03

An odd Saturday. Mom was out bright and early to hit yard sales with her friend Lucille, so I took advantage of the time to go visit Uncle Billy. He has a complete workshop in his garage and said I could use any of his tools when I wanted. I had this idea for a brooch - four wire hangers beaten into a cloverleaf pattern and soldered together. It took me three tries, but I finally got it right. Uncle Billy said he thought it looked cool. While I was there, I got a call on my cell from Mrs. Dahglian cancelling my babysitting job for tonight. (In the background I could hear Mr. Dahglian saying they can still afford to go out and Mrs. Dahglian snapped back not until he gets a new job! Do cops get fired?) Anyway, that freed up my night. I called Glynis and suggested we go to tonight's homecoming game. She agreed and it worked out well. Friedman and Luke were there and we sat with them. Glynis was able to talk with Luke (in between blushes and stammers), but I know she was pleased being in his company for a couple of hours. Unfortunately, I was stuck with Friedman. Realizing he was going to spend the whole night flirting with me, I steered him toward the subject of video games. Two hours of hearing him go on and on about some game called 'Diablo'! (I hope Glynis appreciates my sacrifice so she could talk exclusively with Luke.)

X X X X X

10/27/03

The whole school is in shock about the "Dumpster Baby" story. It's all over the news, and apparently the mother must be an Arcadia high girl because she had the baby in one of the stalls in the girl's restroom during the Homecoming Game! (To think, I was less than fifty yards away when this was happening.) Everyone is trying to figure out who it can be. There are a couple of pregnant girls in school, but everyone knows about them. Who could have kept a secret like this? Apparently the mother faces potential legal charges for not using the Safe Haven Law, which I never heard of until today.

After school I saw Joan Girardi and Clay Fischer talking. He tried to kiss her but Joan pulled away. I was feeling guilty over not warning Joan about Clay, but apparently she has figured out what a creep he is. When they split, there was no doubt that relationship is never going to happen.

X X X X X

10/28/03

I vaguely know this tall, awkward girl Penny, and I found her crying in the girl's room. For a moment I wondered if this had anything to do with the dumpster baby, but Penny is skinny and there's no way she has been hiding a pregnancy. Turns out, they had preliminary cheerleader try outs after school yesterday and Penny didn't make the cut. (Not a big surprise, Penny definitely doesn't fit the cheerleader image.) The main reason Penny was crying is that the cheerleaders 'accidentily' let her overhear their true opinion of her and they were just cruel.("Geeky, ugly, big nose girl" was the kindest comment. No wonder everyone hates the cheerleaders.)

I can't help wondering how shallow all of us are. In the midst of this on-going tragedy about the dumpster baby, we all just go on with our lives as if the usual high school dramas were important. Example, Glynis did the boo-hoo routine with me too. She asked Luke to partner with her in the science fair, and he told her he would have to think about it. No one is unaware that Glynis meant more by her invitation than just 'science'.

My own contribution to high school trivialities - Steve Zackheim invited me to the school's Halloween party and I said yes. (2nd date.)

X X X X X

10/29/03

My first trip to a police station. Small groups of randomly chosen students have been going to hear a tape recording of the 9-1-1 call, to see if they know who it might be. Today was my turn and I was relieved not to recognize the voice. I'm not sure even if I had known who it was if I would have said so. After all that poor girl has gone through, and considering the baby is safe, can't they just let it go?

Not that it matters. When we got back to school we heard that Briana Matthews was identified as the mother! I couldn't be more stunned. I only know the girl by reputation - one of the cool, popular kids with her being a cheerleader and her boyfriend Bret being on the football team. (Why didn't anyone ever ask about the father?)

X X X X X

10/30/03

Coming into school today I saw Briana sitting in her family's minivan, parked in front of the school. She was crying and looking so miserable, I just wanted to give her a hug. But, I don't know her and I thought her friends would rally around. Several of the cheerleaders walked right by her and ignored the poor girl! It made me furious, but what can you expect from cheerleaders? Glynis skipped school, still hurting from Luke's rejection.

After school were the final try outs for cheerleader (yes, they still had them). I went out of curiosity, as did about half the school. They were just going through the routine motions as if nothing had happened until Joan Girardi's turn came. It was incredible! Joan did a 'cheer' that showed everybody what a bunch of hypocrites the cheerleaders are. We all gave Joan a standing ovation while the cheerleaders retreated in shame. Go Eagles!

X X X X X

10/31/03

Everyone was still talking about Joan's cheer at the try outs yesterday. Glynis was back in school, trying to be brave, but then she heard from Friedman that Luke invited Grace Polk to be his partner in the science fair, and huge surprise - Grace gave a probable yes. Poor Glynis, she really has it bad for him. I asked her to join me and Steve at the Halloween party tonight, but she declined. Can't say I blame her. The party turned out to be more enjoyable than I expected. I know it seems silly to dress up in costumes at our age, but a little light fun is just what the school needed after this week. Steve was looser and more fun in costume than on our last date, and during our end-of-the-date makeout session...I briefly let him get to second base. (What was I thinking?)

X X X X X

11/3/03

And our world of violence continues. The news is dominated by a video of two cops savagely beating some poor man with their nightsticks. It's really horrible to watch (and is on TV constantly - I really have to stop watching the news since all violence, no matter how remote from me, leaves me shaky).

At school Steve tried to kiss me in the hallway, but I backed away and told him I wasn't cool with P.D.A.'s. He walked me to class with his arm around me, 'marking his territory'. I was afraid of this. Now Steve thinks he's my boyfriend, and I'm wondering...is he? I suppose it's time for me to have one, and there's nothing really wrong with Steve (how's that for faint praise?). It's just that I always thought I would be more excited, feel more moved by the first guy I started dating regularly, and I wouldn't have sorta backed into a relationship by accident. At lunch break, Steve and I toured the Career Day choices. Although I would love to be an artist, practicality drew me toward the table for the teaching profession. Turns out Steve is planning to be a teacher too - him for history and me for math. Maybe that means Steve and I are fated? Then why can't I stop thinking about Adam Rove? I saw him and his friends Grace and Joan also looking over the career choices. (They were blowing it off like a lot of kids, but Price made them go back and look again.) Joan's choice seemed to be airline stewardess. (LOL) But Adam...he's starting to look depressed and withdrawn again, just the way he was at the start of school.

X X X X X

11/7/03

The week just seemed to fly by - mostly due to a lot of tests this week. Lots of studying, including study dates with Steve. Mom doesn't seemed bothered by him dropping by, and I have to admit he's the kind of boy most parents are glad to see their daughter dating. (I only wish I was a little more enthusiastic about it.) We did the usual Friday night date thing - pizza and a movie followed by some making out. Thumbs up to Steve for realizing I wasn't ready to go any further than we already have (brief, above the shirt second base), but how long will that last with a teenage boy? I keep wondering if I should call this off, but I'm reluctant to go back into the pool of girls hoping to get a date from whoever feels like asking. Now if Adam Rove were available...speaking of him, he continues to look really down. I'm begining to worry about the guy. It's a shame he's never noticed me, I'd be glad to talk to him about any troubles he may be having.

Oh, the Raymond Hartsell matter was settled with the cops who beat him being arrested. (It took long enough. Wasn't their guilt obvious to anyone who watched that video?)

X X X X X

11/10/03

This is the week we have all been waiting for in art class, the annual art show! Kind of a surprise, Ms Jankow turned over the running of the show to Mrs. Girardi from the office. (Turns out, she's an artist too and very knowledgeable.) I finished my painting of an angel over the weekend - it just needed a few last touches. For a moment I worried there might be a problem since the angel (female) is nude, but with all of her 'stuff' hidden by the pose. (Do angels have 'stuff'?) Mrs. Girardi only praised what a good job I did. As expected, Adam Rove's work is the one to beat - an amazing avant garde sculpture called 'Ascension'. Adam is so skilled and visionary, there's no doubt in my mind he will win the art show.

X X X X X

11/11/03

Like an idiot, I continue to watch the TV news, and of course, more violence. This time a homeowner named Alan Burns shot and killed some career criminal who was burglarizing his home. What do the cops do? Arrest the victim! Yes, the police took Mr. Burns into custody pending the outcome of their investigation. ("Only in Arcadia.")

I went back to the art show now that it is properly set up and showed Steve my painting. His only comment: "It's nice." Grr! Steve Zackheim, you idiot! When your 'girlfriend' shows you a painting she is obviously proud of, you gush with compliments. Are all guys this dim? I also showed Adam's sculpture to Steve, telling him it was the best piece in the show. He only shrugged and said he didn't get it. (Why again am I dating this guy?) At least I can see that Adam has snapped out of his down mood from last week.

X X X X X

11/13/03

Art show, art show, art show! I actually got third place! Of course Adam won, and he even sold his sculpture for 500 dollars! (Wow.) Steve was with me when I got the third place ribbon and finally had sense enough to tell me how great he thinks my art is (better late than never). Mom was excited about my ribbon, and I called Uncle Billy to brag a little. He asked that I bring it over when the I get the painting back so he can see it. (I almost forgot why he couldn't come to the school to the art show. Aunt Ceilia has a restraining order on her ex, and with that in the system, the computer would show Uncle Billy to be a 'no admittance' at any school.)

X X X X X

11/14/03

OMG! Early this morning Joan Girardi took a chair and SMASHED Adam's beautiful sculpture! What a crazy bitch! And I thought the two of them were friends? Well, not any more. Joan's parents were called to the office, and I heard she was suspended and ordered into counseling. I saw Adam as he was leaving the school - it was like his soul had been drained out of him. I keep wondering why Joan would do such a mean thing, but can't think of a reason. The whole school is buzzing about 'Crazy Joan'.

X X X X X

11/17/03

At lunch Steve told me this funny story of how Joan Girardi was caught sleeping in history class. Mr. Driesbach dropped a wastebasket to wake her up from her SNORING. Everyone laughed at Joan - good. She deserves every bad thing that can happen to a person after what she did to Adam's sculpture. I expressed that to Steve, but he replied I talk an awful lot about Adam Rove. (Note to self, every guy is crazy jealous so don't be talking about any other guy if you want to avoid problems.) The school is getting a new paint job this week, and you would think being an artist I would be use to the smell, but it's making me a little nauseous. Glynis says she is feeling the same way and may have to miss some school until the job is done.

X X X X X

11/19/03

More trouble for Joan Girardi, and I say to karma: Pour it on. It seems C student Joan got an A plus on her history midterm and was called into the office by Price. Several students heard her refusing to take the test again to prove she didn't cheat. How else does such a mediocre student get that good of a grade? This could lead to another suspension - get three in a year and you are expelled. Fate pays back those who smash art!

X X X X X

11/20/03

People must have short memories. Less than a week ago "Crazy Joan" smashed Adam's sculpture and everyone was down on her. Now, she gets accused of cheating and a bunch of students are organizing a protest supporting the art-smasher. Grace Polk started the whole thing (no surprise there, she's the school's official radical). What amazed me is that Adam Rove was helping by handing out protest buttons! Well, I wouldn't wear one, and how lame was their slogan: No Proof, No Test. If they had proof, there wouldn't be a need for a test to show whether or not Joan cheated (which she obviously did). By the end of school Mr. Price and Principal Chadwick had a show down with the protestors. Call it off or be suspended.

X X X X X

11/21/03

Okay I was wrong, and I feel guilty for jumping to conclusions. Before the start of school Joan went to Price and retook the test (another A plus). So she didn't cheat, but why did she let this go so far and then back down? All of the students who took part in yesterday's protest were told in homeroom to go home - they were all suspended for the day, including Adam. This is so unfair.

X X X X X

11/24/03

A short week due to the Thanksgiving holiday. Glynis talked me into signing up for the upcoming Trimathalon. I said I was out of my league, but she said she would help me study. I fell for the arguement that since I'm thinking of becoming a math teacher, I should stretch my "math muscles". Hopefully I won't embarass myself too badly against the genius trio of Glynis, Luke and Friedman. Another photo in the school paper, this time of a group of students reacting to that day's cafeteria special: liver pot pie!

After school I had the biggest arguement I've ever had with Mom. I suggested that since Uncle Billy was all alone and couldn't see his kids over the holiday, why don't we ask him to Thanksgiving day dinner? Mom exploded and said that man will never be welcomed in her home. I tried the "He's family" card, but Mom said since her divorce came thru, Billy is no longer her brother-in-law and no family of hers. Besides, she has already invited a guest...Price! It seems his family lives out of state and Price also has no one to be with for the holiday. I protested that we can't have my vice principal to our home because if anyone found out, I would be ruined at school. Mom reminded me of all Mr. Price has done for us, and how could I forget that? I know, but that doesn't change the risk this represents to my chances of a normal school life and I pleaded for Mom to change her mind. No dice. We went back and forth on this getting louder and louder until I finally said I wouldn't be here for Thanksgiving. I would spend the day with family - my uncle! Mom gave me a very bitter: "Suit yourself." Both of us were in tears.

X X X X X

11/27/03

Thanksgiving and I can't believe I'm not spending the day with my Mom. I was up very early and out of the apartment before Mom was up. Uncle Billy was waiting for me, and I got to be included in his plans for the day. In his bad old days, he said he would have spent the day getting drunk and watching football. Sometimes, at his worse, he would argue with Aunt Ceilia and even smack her around. (Uncle Billy said this in a disconnected way as if when he looks back on the way he was, he can't believe he was ever that person. At least he never beat his wife with a stick like Dad did.) This morning we went straight to St. Clement's church where he started the day with an AA meeting (he is also in an anger management class twice a week). Then the day got really busy as Uncle Billy was volunteering to help feed the homeless, which meant lots of work preparing a huge amount of food for the over two hundred people who showed up. I joined in and I have never worked so hard, but it felt good to help. If it weren't for the fight I had with Mom, I would (up to that point) call it my best Thanksgiving ever.

After finishing the clean up work, the plan was for us to go back to Uncle Billy's house to watch his favorite movie, 'A Christmas Story' and to have the leftovers we were allowed to take home with us. But, I asked if it would be okay if I went home so I could settle the arguement between Mom and me. Uncle Billy thought that was a great idea, so I got back to the apartment a couple of hours earlier than Mom expected. When I entered the apartment I saw that all of the leftover food had been put in the refrigerator, but there was an empty wine bottle still on the table. I guessed Price must have brought it because Mom normally doesn't drink. I heard a soft moaning sound from Mom's bedroom, and dumb kid that I am, I thought she might have a stomachache from overeating.

"Mom, are you okay?" is what I planned to say as I entered the room, but the words never got out of my mouth. There on her bed was my mother with Gavin Price, naked and having sex! I screamed, Mom screamed, hell - even Price screamed. I ran. I had to. Out of the apartment and down the stairs as fast as I could with Mom calling after me: "Iris, wait...!" No way was I staying for any more of this sordid little drama. I caught the bus at the corner and rode it to the end of the line. Then back again and then another trip back - a good thing I have an unlimited bus pass. I rode for hours, trying to get that image out of my mind. (Oh God, I saw Price's...'thing'. Not to mention my mother having sex!)

It's not like I never considered the possibility that Mom would someday hook up with a boyfriend - she's only 35 and still attractive, but...PRICE? Mom, why him of all people? I have to see that man in school every day, but now I'll be imagining him...naked. (Oh gross, how am I not throwing up?) Mom kept sending me text mesages to please come home and I texted back I was okay but needed time. Finally, just before midnight, I returned home. This time I carefully checked to make sure Price's car wasn't parked on my street. Mom looked so sad and guilty when I entered, I almost forgave her on the spot. She wanted to talk, but I pleaded not yet. Let me process this before any discussion. Bad, bad dreams.

X X X X X

11/28/03

Up and out once again before Mom woke up. I had already made plans with Steve to hit the Black Friday sales, and even tho I wasn't in the mood for shopping, I was glad for any excuse to get away. I went thru the motions of buying Christmas presents (I got several good bargains) but it must have been like watching a zombie shop. Even Steve the clueless noticed how upset I was and started questioning me about what was wrong. Of course I didn't say - this is a secret I pray no one ever finds out about. I truthfully claimed I was having problems with my mother, and when Steve started asking about that, I distracted him (and myself) with a make-out session. Things got very heated and eventually it got to the point of going home to face the family drama or going all the way (mental coin toss). With difficulty I managed to cool Steve enough to get him to drive me home.

So, Mom and I had 'the talk'. I could have written Mom's dialogue for her. Lonely. Needs. First time. "Gavin is so kind, handsome and charming..." Okay, I'll concede Price was kind to Mom, but now I wonder about his motives. Handsome? Well, I can attest that he is physically fit...gross. But charming? I'll never buy that. My counter points were that Mom could do so much better, and I wasn't actually opposed to her 'dating', but please, please, please couldn't it be someone other than my vice-principal? (Heavy emphasis on 'vice'.) Mom gave me the: you'll understand when you are older line, but she did promise to do her best to keep her relationship with 'Gavin' a secret, and so will he. (No surprise there, isn't this some sort of ethical violation? If not, it should be.) So once again I face life at school with a dirty little secret, but if the truth on this one ever comes out, I can expect no sympathy from my fellow students.

X X X X X

12/5/03

I have spent the whole week feeling sorry for myself, mad at the world and desperately hoping no one learns THE SECRET (the new one). Price has taken my Mom out on dates twice now, and I live in terror that someone from school will see them together. In the meantime, I am once again keeping everyone away from my home because of fear they will discover what is going on. I study with Glynis at her place, and I hang out with Steve at his house, making sure I don't invite him in when he drops me off. Problem with Steve is that he is now convinced that we are inevitably heading for sex after I foolishly went much too far with him last week. Steve is a nice guy, but once a teenage boy's libido gets revved up, it's harder to cool down than a forest fire. Problem is, I don't want Steve Zackheim to be my first. I knew this problem would eventually come up if I started dating him regularly, but I was hoping for more time. Maybe if I get to know him better... No. I know Steve well enough to be sure that 'it' would be an okay experience, and he would be a loyal, semi-attentive boyfriend, but I want better than that. Time is ticking on this relationship.

Today was the Trimathalon competition and just as I feared, I was in way over my head. It wasn't that I couldn't do the work: calculus, trig and probability theorem, but the time limits were killing me. If I finish in the top ten I will be amazed. Steve took me out for a burger since I was too nervous to eat before the math contest. (Plus, I'm still avoiding home as much as possible until things get better between me and Mom.)

Super shock on the TV news. Police Chief Girardi was kidnapped today by an escaping criminal who shot his parole officer and Judge Donald Baker (the same one who sentenced Dad to jail). Judge Baker is expected to survive, but the other man died. Chief Girardi managed to escape by ramming the getaway car into a pole! The criminal died, and Chief Girardi got off with with minor injuries. The news says he is being held overnight for observation. I can't imagine how tough this must be for the Girardi family. Everyone at school likes Mrs. Girardi, and considering all that her family goes through...maybe it is time I cut Joan a little slack.

X X X X X

12-08-03

A bad start to the week. It began with the listings for how students did at the Trimathalon. Luke finished first, Glynis and Friedman tied for second, and I was 19th out of thirty. Just as I was walking away feeling lousy about my score, I saw that horrible bully Ramsey beating up Adam Rove! I wanted to do something to help, but I froze in terror. Fortunately Joan Girardi stepped between them and ended the fight long enough for Price to arrive on the scene. I wish I had Joan's courage, but once again I fell apart. Glynis was nearby and helped me to the nurse's office, who summoned Mr. Dingle the counselor. He agreed that I should be sent home. I left feeling very shaky and went instead to the Oak Street Community Center to talk to my therapist there. He squeezed me into his busy schedule, but mostly I just cried and trembled while having these horrible flashbacks of Dad beating me with that damn stick he always kept. I would have gladly stayed longer, but there are just too many kids and their mothers who need the same help. The resources of the center are just overwhelmed as they help so many people with their different problems. I wish there was some way I could be of use.

X X X X X

12-09-03

Talked with Steve at the start of the day and he wondered why I left school yesterday and didn't respond to his messages. I told him I wasn't feeling well but was much better today. (What does it say about my relationship with Steve that I can't share my secrets?) Steve asked me to the semi-formal ('The Crystal Ball'), which I had nearly forgotten about. I said yes and Steve said I could never guess who else is going...Joan Girardi asked Ramsey to take her! What the hell? The rumor is all over school and once again everyone is talking about Crazy Joan. I'm begining to seriously think it's true, that Joan really is crazy. Certainly the way she treats poor Adam Rove is bordering on the psychotic. First she seems friends with him, then smashes his artwork. Then she steps in at risk to herself to save Adam (I have no doubts Ramsey wouldn't hesitate to beat up a girl), but then she invites that monstrous boy to the biggest dance of the year! Again...what the hell?

On the lighter side, Glynis is once again quivering over the idea of asking Luke to the semi-formal. I'm begining to think she should give up with that guy. He clearly seems clueless about her interest, especially since he can't stop drooling over Grace Polk (what is the attraction there?). Luke is on the decorating committee for the dance, so he's kind of obligated to go even if he doesn't have a date. Glynis should speak up soon since Friedman is hinting he's interested in asking her out.

After school I told Mom about me and Steve going to the dance, and we went to this little consignment shop in the neighborhood to pick me out a 'new' dress. While we were shopping, Mom very awkwardly began questioning me about how serious I am about "this Zackheim boy". Next thing I know, we're having the sex talk and the need to be careful. Oh gag! I cut that short by asking if she is being 'careful' with Gavin. Yeah, my feelings are really raw on that topic, and Mom is pretty sensitive about it too. Now I'm feeling guilty about blowing a mother/daughter bonding moment.

X X X X X

12-10-03

Glynis gave into the inevitable and accepted Friedman's invitation to the semi-formal. It's not that she doesn't like the guy, but he really isn't who she wants. (Oh how well I know that feeling.) At lunch Steve and I were eating together when I saw Joan stop at Adam's table and tried to talk to him. He blew her off and right after that she went into the hallway to talk to Ramsey. Maybe Joan has a split personality? I broached the subject with Steve, but he once again got jealous that I was focused on Adam, which is not true...okay, partially true. Later in the day I heard a rumor that was even a bigger stunner than Ramsey/Joan. Grace Polk, well known lesbian and the ridiculous object of Luke's crush, actually asked Luke to the dance! Twilight zone?

X X X X X

12-11-03

Another fight with Mom. Price asked her to be one of the parent chaperones at the dance and she said yes! Has everyone gone crazy? We all agreed to keep their relationship a super-super secret, and they are going to be together at a school dance? Mom says she will just be another one of the chaperones, in the background and unnoticed. She promises no P.D.A.'s between her and 'Gavin'. How many omens do I need to know this Crystal Ball is going to be a disaster?

X X X X X

12-12-03

The big day and classes seemed unimportant as everyone is anticipating tonight's dance. Glynis, poor girl, actually got around to asking Luke to the dance even tho she has a date with Friedman. They were in the gym where Luke was helping to decorate, and it seems Glynis was the only one in school who hadn't heard the new rumor about Luke and Grace. If only she had tried earlier in the week. Another embarassing rejection.

Coldest night of the season, and I was glad the heater on Steve's car works well. But, how embarassing is it for me that Mom got a ride to the dance with us? (Obviously Price couldn't be seen driving her to the dance.) The old gym was surprisingly attractive, and Steve and I posed for pictures while Mom got her chaperone's badge. As promised, she and Price carefully remained on opposite sides of the room.

The music was good and I danced a few times with Steve before sitting out a couple of songs to drink mediocre punch and talk. I couldn't help smiling at Friedman and his rather enthusiastic dance style, but once again I felt sorry for Glynis as she was being tossed around like a rag doll. Ramsey was there with Joan, and I don't know what I was expecting, but he looked so...normal. Everyone was anticipating the arrival of Grace Polk and sure enough, she showed up in a strapless pink dress (and way too much make-up). Luke was obviously impressed, and I have to admit Grace looked a lot more feminine than I ever could have imagined. Later, to everyone's amazement, Grace gave Luke a stunningly passionate kiss! (Could all of the gossip about Grace and which choir she sings in be wrong?) Once again, poor Glynis. She was so very upset, but that's the price of unrequited love. I noticed Adam sitting alone and doodling a few sketches. He looked so lonely as he kept watching Joan with Ramsey. I don't get why he cares, but he was so sad my heart melt. I asked Steve if he would mind if I danced just once with Adam...oh yeah, he minded big time! Steve made such a big deal about it I quickly dropped the whole idea.

To distract Steve I got us back on the dance floor, and unlike a lot of guys, he enjoys dancing. All was settling down when I noticed Price dancing with my Mom! I was about to freak out, but I remembered Price had been dancing with all of the women chaperones and it would have looked odd if he excluded my mother. Still, I couldn't take my eyes off of them. I think this is the first time I've seen my Mom looking young, worry free and happy. I was so distracted by Mom and Price's weird dance moves that I missed whatever happened with Joan. Everyone started staring in another direction, and when I looked that way I saw Joan on the floor, flat on her back. Price and Mrs. Girardi rushed over to see what happened and the next thing I know, Price pulls a bottle of whiskey out from Ramsey's jacket pocket. They exchanged a few heated words and Ramsey stormed out, followed by Joan. Adam chased after them and a couple of minutes later he rushes back and speaks to Mrs. Girardi, who looked panic strickened. Mrs. Girardi made an immediate call on her cell phone and then quietly spoke to Luke in a corner. He looked almost as worried as his mother.

Rumor and speculation was flying when about ten minutes later Mrs. Girardi and Adam hurried outside. A couple of minutes after that Mrs. Girardi returned without Adam, and it didn't take long for the news to circulate that Adam was with Chief Girardi and another cop car, off in pursuit of Ramsey and Joan. Mrs. Girardi and Luke soon left and a somber tone fell upon those still at the dance. It was clear the dance was going to end early, and Steve suggested we leave. I said I wanted to stay to learn how all of this was going to turn out. Steve snarled that I really wanted to know about Adam Rove, and that he was tired of having a girlfriend who is in love with another guy! I managed to steer Steve into a quiet corner where we could argue with some privacy. I pointed out that I couldn't be in love with a guy I have never even spoken to. I said I admired Adam's talent, and that was it - anything more was in Steve's imagination. We argued back and forth for a few minutes until Steve gave me an ultimatum. Leave with him now or we are thru. Surprisngly, I didn't hesitate. "Goodbye Steve."

After Steve left I hung out with Glynis and Friedman for about an hour waiting on the news. (At Glynis' urging, I even dance once with Friedman. Not fun.) Finally Friedman got a call from Luke that all was well, but it got scary there for a minute. Ramsey was arrested for pulling a gun on the chief of police (good riddance you horrible bully), and Joan was shaken up but safe. (Dang, their family goes thru a lot of drama.) After the good news spread, the dance quickly came to an end. Mom and I got a ride home with Price, and I didn't really care about the risk of others figuring out what was going on with them. I politely thanked Price for the ride, and went upstairs to allow Mom and him some make-out time. Why no fuss? I finally realized I've been so self absorbed, I haven't considered Mom's happiness. After the miserable life she has endured, Mom deserves better, and even tho it grosses me out, Price gives her that. So, my opinons will remain unspoken from now on, and I hope Mom finds the happiness she deserves...even with Price.

X X X X X

12-14-03

I never seem to run out of things to argue about with Mom. The sermon at church was on: Honor thy father and mother. When we got home I tried to delicately raise the topic of me visiting Dad on Christmas Eve. Not that this was my idea - it's what Dad has been asking for as his Christmas present. Mom replied that she knows from the phone bill that I've been accepting collect calls from the prison (the only way Dad can call out). Then it was: How can you betray me like this? Whose side are you on? Have you forgotten what that MONSTER use to do to us?

Of course I haven't forgotten, and I have the scars to prove it. (Not to mention the x-rays of several broken bones accumulated over the years.) My case was: Uncle Billy has managed to turn his life around, and maybe Dad can too. I vividly remember all of the monstrous things Dad did to us, but if he has even a tiny amount of sincerity about wanting to change, I don't want to sabotage that by cutting him out of my life. I am also very aware that Dad gets out of prison in less than two years, and even tho he will be on probation and in a halfway house, I don't want him out in the world with the mindset of revenge.

Mom hesitated on that one as she contemplated what her life might be like with Dad free again. (I know only too well how easy it is to fall into the fantasy that he is gone from our lives forever.) She said she will think about it, and I was glad to let it go at that.

X X X X X

12-15-03

At lunch Steve asked to talk and we found a semi-private table in the corner. Steve apologized for his behavior at the dance and promised to stop being so jealous if I would take him back. I thought about it for a moment, but I felt I owed it to the guy to be honest. I told Steve I thought he was a nice, good looking guy and I was fortunate to have had him for a boyfriend, but...I didn't love him and I never would. I admitted that he was partly right about Adam, that I've had a silly crush on the guy practically since school started. But, I didn't lie to him about having never spoken to Adam, about how I truly admire his art and how I know I don't stand a chance with a guy who doesn't even know I'm alive. My crush on Adam has nothing to do with our break up. "I just know you and I are not destined to be a couple." To my relief, he took it well. Bye-bye Steve Zackheim, the nice guy who just couldn't make my heart flutter.

X X X X X

12-19-03

Last day before Christmas vacation, and I am so looking forward to a break. One more chance for Glynis to symbolically cry on my shoulder about Luke. Ever since the dance he has been drooling over Grace Polk, and even tho Grace pretends she doesn't care, Glynis swears she has been making furtive "I'm interested" glances in his direction. I wish I could give Glynis a word of encouragement, but after having seen the Luke/Grace kiss at the dance, I'd have to say anything could happen between those two. To pour salt into my own wound of loneliness, Adam Rove is back to mooning over Joan, even tho he too is pretending he isn't doing it. I can't make up my mind whether our lives are a Greek tragedy or a French farce. Oh well, put all of this on hold until we get back in January.

X X X X X

12-20-03

Mom and I had a long talk this morning about Christmas plans. Since I'm determined to see Dad on Christmas Eve, and Mom says she can understand my thinking, she says it is okay with her. But, she is uncomfortable with waiting home alone on the 24th and most of the 25th. (Due to holiday visiting hours, it would be too late for Uncle Billy and I to drive back on the 24th, so I will be back late Thursday on Christmas day.) So, she has accepted Price's invitation to go skiing. They will leave right after Uncle Billy picks me up and will return on Sunday. I hid how much this makes my stomach churn and said I didn't know Mom could ski. It seems she use to before she met Dad. In fact she did a lot of things, had a real life before she made the mistake of marrying that creature known as my father. I told her I hoped she and Price have a great time (and I mostly meant it). Now I'm worrying, could fate be so cruel as to stick me with Gavin Price as my future stepfather? (Eek!)

New babysitting clients tonight, the Kerberts. (I was recommended to them by the Reinnemans.) They are a nice couple with a growing family: Amy age 3, Jill 16 months, and Mrs Kerbert has another one on the way. Sweet kids, an easy job and hopefully a source of regular employment.

X X X X X

12-24-03

A light snow, but not a problem for our trip to the state prison. Mom and I exchanged presents last night since we won't be reunited until the 28th. (This seems so weird, but compared to previous holidays it's not so bad.) I was glad Mom had Price wait until I was gone before he showed up for her. The last thing I need is for Uncle Billy to be blabbing to Dad about Mom's new boyfriend. It's a long drive to the prison, all the way across the state, and the winter weather made the trip a little slower than usual. Uncle Billy allowed me to drive for awhile, but the snow got thicker the further east we went and he soon took over again.

We were only about an hour behind schedule when we checked into the motel and then hurried over to the prison. There were a lot of visitors today since there's no visitation on Christmas day, and check-in went longer than usual because all gifts had to be thoroughly examined. There aren't a lot of things you're allowed to give a prisoner, but fortunately Dad has always had a passion for mysteries, so Uncle Billy and I both gave him just released books.

Dad is looking a lot thinner than the last time I saw him, and he's rapidly going grey. He claims to be in good health, but I'm not sure that's so. He was glad to see me (I swear, that huge smile was genuine) and was very glad to get the books. Of course there's a prison library, but they mostly have old discards from public libraries and gifts from publishers who have extra copies of ones that didn't sell well. We had a fairly decent visit, and Dad was proud of the third place ribbon I won in the art show. We barely discussed Mom, for which I was glad. Dad says as part of his counseling, he is learning to let things go (or at least he's trying). Now that they are divorced, he says he will concentrate on a better relationship with me. He hopes that someday I can welcome him back into my life. Lying through my teeth, I said I wanted that too. (Okay, that was my real Christmas present to him, and I hope that very remote possible future is an incentive to gain self-control so he can start acting like a decent person.)

After visiting hours Uncle Billy and I had dinner at a steak house, but I just picked at my food. I told Billy I was tired, but really I was feeling depressed. (Imagine, visiting your abusive father in prison at Christmas is depressing. Who would have guessed?) I should have noticed Uncle Billy wasn't eating much either, and realized how depressed he was (brother in prison, cut off from his own family, Christmas...). We returned in silence to the motel and our connecting rooms. As I was in bed, I could hear Uncle Billy in the next room crying. I knocked on the door and he let me in - I saw he had been using his laptop.

I figured what it was, but I read the message anyway. It was an e-mail from Aunt Ceilia saying she had intercepeted the presents he tried to send his boys, tore up the Christmas cards he sent and even blocked the holiday e-cards Uncle Billy tried to e-mail. Ceilia very nastily bragged that her sons have no father, and she is making sure they think he has forgotten them. There was a wide varitey of curse words mixed into the message, and I was surprised because Ceilia was always a quiet-spoken, 'proper lady'. She swore (in both sense) that Billy will never see HER children ever again, and she closed with a cheery: Rot in hell, you mother...etc.

Wow. I've been on Ceilia's side of abuse and I totally get where she is coming from, but I've also seen how hard Uncle Billy has been working to turn his life around. Yes, what he did to his wife was unforgiveable, but doesn't she remember that as bad as it got, Billy never struck his kids? If only my Dad...but then I would have grown up watching Mom being abused and unable to step in and take the occasional beating for her the way she use to do for me. I don't know, maybe there is no forgiving possible because there's no way to forget.

Uncle Billy said he was sorry that he had disturbed me, and that he was going for a drive to cool down. I shouted: "NO!" and grabbed the keys away from him, slipping them into the waistband of my pajamas. For a moment we stared at each other and then Billy sighed and nodded. "Okay, you keep them until morning." We both knew he was headed for the liquor store a couple of miles down the road, and that kind of relapse would be a disaster. I went back to bed, but kept the connecting door open in case my uncle thought he could slip out and walk through the snow to the liquor store before it closed. Instead, he went to bed and was soon snoring away.

Middle of the night, I awoke screaming. Nightmare. Dad was beating me with his stick while Price watched and laughed. Weird. Uncle Billy came in, but neither of us had to say anything. He knows the kind of bad dreams I have and why. He just sat by my bed, held my hand and waited until I fell asleep...

X X X X X

12-28-03

Mom and Price got back from their ski trip in the late afternoon. I didn't mention to her that I had been staying with Uncle Billy since we got back because I was worried his holiday depression would lead to him drinking again. By the time he drove me home this morning, he was thru the worst of it (daily AA meetings were a big help). Mom was all smiles and blushes (eww) as she talked about what a wonderful time they had on their trip. I said I was glad and asked Mr. Price if I could have a word with him in private. As Mom went into the kitchen to start dinner, Price looked nervous, as if I was going to ask him: 'What are your intentions toward my mother?' Instead, I surprised him with a request for help - not for me but for the community center. The Oak Street facility is small and having a hard time fulfilling all of its' programs due to that space limitation. One of the programs dear to my heart is the group counseling sessions they have for abuse victims where mothers and their older kids can talk about their lives. Problem is, a lot of the mothers have young kids and there's no babysitting available (again, due to space). I asked if it were possible to start a program at Arcadia High where the little kids can be dropped off, AND get help thru art therapy!

Price didn't completely shut down my idea (after all, he is sleeping with my mother), but he did say there could be a lot of problems getting such a program started. The high school is open most evenings for night classes, and there are some on-going outreach programs (service points for those who participate), but involving small children has a whole new level of difficulties (like insurance and liability). I would need someone to sponsor the idea, which he will be glad to do, but there has to be a well developed plan, co-ordination with the community center and the school board, and then there's the matter of funding... Price promised to bring the idea up with Chadwick and to work with me and the community center to plan on scheduling, money, volunteers, etc;

I have to admit, I was surprised how supportive Price was. He can be such a mean jerk at school, but he absolutely became more and more enthusiastic the longer we dicusssed my idea. This is the Gavin Price I remember from last summer when he was our champion against the brutality of my father. Maybe...just maybe, Mom hasn't made such a bad choice for a boyfriend. (If only my skin wouldn't crawl every time I think of Price and Mom together).

X X X X X

12-31-03

New Year's Eve and me without a boyfriend to kiss at midnight (great timing on my part - dumping Steve at this time of year). Mom and Price went to a fancy party at the Wentworth. Mom looked so happy and pretty, I barely flinched when Price kissed her in front of me. Oh well, at least I had a productive night by babysitting at the Kerbert's again. With the kids asleep, I got to watch the ball drop in Times Square all by myself. New Year's resolution #1, get a boyfriend in 2004!

X X X X X

1-2-04

Price and I met with the staff of the community center today to discuss my plan for a babysitting/art therapy program at Arcadia High. They have had time to read over the proposal and agree that it is a good idea, but there are unexpected complications. The center gets part of its' funding thru the city, but a lot of it comes from contributions from various houses of worship. For instance, representing St. Mary's is a new, part time counselor who is an ex-nun who also works for the diocese's outreach programs. She, ex-sister Lily Waters, pointed out that any funding for the program from the Catholic church would have to meet church standards. That brings up the issue of church/state separation. (Same with those from other denominations.) Stupid laws - here everyone is agreed this is a good idea that will help kids, and everyone wants to do it, but it may fail because of a technicality! Price said he would work on a set of standards that will meet the requirements of the government and the various churches without anyone's toes being stepped on (which apparently is a Herculean task). All were glad to hand that potential hot potato to anyone brave enough to tackle it. (Once again, Price surprises me. I'm begining to understand that Gavin Price the vice-principal and Gavin Price the man have very different personas.)

X X X X X

1-5-04

Back to school and I'm actually glad to be back in the old routine. Had a brief morning meeting with Chadwick and Price, along with our local councilman, Max Daugherty. I'm amazed, but my little idea is gathering support. Councilman Daugherty agreed to take a proposal for money from the city's discretionary fund to pay for the new program to the full council later this week. Wow, this looks like it will really happen!

Caught up with Glynis and told her about my idea, and dropping the hint that volunteers will be needed soon. I may as well have been talking to a brick wall because she and Friedman are totally focused on this Friday's science fair. A lot of kids are into the science fair, mostly nerds, but also those trying to earn extra credit for their various science classes. I'll have to talk to Glynis another time when she isn't so distracted.

When I got home I watched the evening news and was stunned by the report our city's charter has been revoked by the state. Okay, this shouldn't have been that much of a surprise. All during the holiday season a near endless stream of scandals about local government had been coming out. So Arcadia is corrupt - that's about as newsworthy as sunrise in the east. Still, we are now being called on the national news: "The most corrupt city in America." Oh wait, no more city council means no funding for the art therapy idea. Oh crap!

X X X X X

1-6-04

More news on the scandal rocking the city. The county will be taking over the running of the city until this mess can be straightened out. A lot of local political leaders are being arrested, and surprise, surprise - the man who brought down all of these crooks, Chief Girardi, is now out of a job. (Only in Arcadia.) No more city cops means no more police chief. Sheriff Rakowski was on TV assuring the public that all will be well, and he promises a smooth transition as the county takes over policing Arcadia.

Maybe I'm too obsessed with the news because none of the kids at school seemed concerned or even aware of the on-going scandal. Or maybe it's just because this has touched me personally. What happens now to the art therapy idea? I managed to have a brief word with Price and he had to admit he can't answer my questions. The school is already run by the county, so that hasn't changed but as to all extra-curricular programs (exisiting or new), he isn't sure. The city use to fund a lot of those programs and now...?

X X X X X

1-7-04

No new info on how the government change will affect the chance of my project. To distract myself, I visited where they are setting up the science fair to get a look at Glynis and Friedman's project. Luke was there helping them, and he explained that he probably won't be in the science fair because the F.B.I. confiscated it! It was all on his computer, and as part of the scandal the crooked politicos are making false accqusations against his father. So, all of the Girardi's computers have been temporarily seized. While I watched the three science geeks tinker with the project, Glynis tried to explain what they were doing, but I didn't get it. (Outside of math, I really have no interest in science.) After Luke left, Glynis told me she thinks Luke must be regretting his decision to ask Grace Polk to be his partner. She (Grace) wants the two of them to build something called a 'rail gun'. Glynis says it is impossible with the time left.

X X X X X

1-9-04

Okay, there's only one thing I want to remember about this day, and that's the science fair (like I could ever forget what happened). I got to the multi-purpose room right after classes, and there was already a large crowd gathering. I went first to Glynis' project and watched the demonstration...something about the sound of an air horn being converted into light which then powers the gizmo that creates the bubbles in a tank of some fluid...? Anyway, it was impressive even if I didn't understand all of it. I wandered around looking at the insides of a dinosaur, a demonstration about air pressure, the way weights are acurately measured... (Here's a fun fact, an ounce of feathers weighs more than an ounce of gold. Precious metals use a different measuring system called 'troy ounces'.) I also got to see Luke and Grace's project, the rail gun that Glynis said was impossible.

There were a lot of technical details as Luke explained to the crowd what the 'gun' is supposed to do. An electro-magnetic charge is suppose to make the 'slug' (a car motor) move along the rail it is riding on. Luke tried to downplay expectations, saying the best they could hope for is that the motor will travel all the way to the end of the rail. (I got the impression he wasn't sure it would move at all.) As the judges went from project to project (Glynis and Friedman eventually won), I continued to drift around...until I saw THEM.

Adam Rove and Joan Girardi smiling, laughing and holding hands! What's the word...flabbergasted. I will never understand that relationship. How many times does Joan have to hurt Adam before he stops obsessing about her? (Yes, I know my own crush is becoming a little obsessive too.) Before I could turn and leave, the lights began to flicker, I heard a shout of: "Down!" and then saw the rail gun trembling and rattling as the motor began to move. Everything happened so fast, but it was like slow motion in my mind. I was vaguely aware out of the corner of my eye that Ms Lishak was running as the motor suddenly went flying across the room, right for Glynis and Friedman! He managed to duck aside but Glynis froze. I was sure I was about to watch my best friend die before my eyes when Lishak made a diving tackle that knocked Glynis out of the way just in the nick of time.

The motor crashed thru the tank of liquid, splashing Glynis and Lishak, banged into the mock dinosaur, knocking it over into the weight demonstration, upsetting a big box of feathers, which got caught up in the air pressure project. Feathers floated everywhere and for a moment I wasn't sure how bad things had turned out. Fortunately no one was hurt, Glynis and Lishak looked hilarious covered in that gooey liquid, and people began to breathe a sigh of relief when they realized the danger was over. That's when I saw Adam and Joan sharing an incredibly romantic kiss. I guess that settles it. There's no way Adam can't be in love with Joan if he can kiss her like that after all she has done to him.

It is so time for me to put away my crush and get on with my life. Adam loves Joan no matter how emotionally abusive she is to him. Fine, I wouldn't want to be involved with a guy like that anyway, no matter how cute he is. BTW, Luke and Grace got into major trouble for the disaster they caused.

X X X X X

1-14-04

Wednesday homeroom cancelled for an anti-drug lecture in the multi-purpose room. (All of the damage caused by the rail gun incident has been repaired). Some science guy named Dr. Hallowell spoke about how illegal drugs affect the brain, but then he diverged onto the topic of hormones and how they affect you. At the topic of sex Price quickly shut things down. (Hypocrite. That's not patty-cake you're playing with my mother... Okay, sorry. The secret is still safe, Mom is happy and I'm sorta adjusting to the situation. Mostly I'm edgy because Price still has no word on how my art therapy idea is doing as it travels thru county bureaucracy.)

After the lecture I saw Joan talking to Dr. Hallowell out in the hall. I wonder which matter grabbed her interest, drugs or sex? Considering how Adam can't stop drooling over her, I'm guessing sex. And once again, I'm thinking about Adam Rove. I really need to get a boyfriend! Of course if I get really desperate, there's always Friedman...(LOL).

X X X X X

1-16-04

The rumor is confirmed, huge party at the Girardi house tomorrow night. Glynis says there will be a keg, possibly two, and lots of guys - including seniors! Well...I have no babysitting job tomorrow, and I have been looking for a chance to meet some guys (the boyfriend hunt is on). Okay, even tho it's Joan Girardi's house, I'm going. Hopefully I can avoid seeing Adam slobber and grope with Joan.

X X X X X

1-17-04

Saturday night and fortunately no last minute calls for a babysitter. Walked to the Girardi house over on Euclid for the big party. Glynis and Friedman were already there and I hung out with them for awhile. Joan and Luke looked like they were freaking out about how their home was suffering from over a hundred kids being crowded into the place. What did they expect? Still, they should have been better prepared - like a strong lock on the liquor cabinet. (Someone spiked the punch, no big surprise. After one taste, I stuck with the canned drinks.) I saw the sad sight of Adam Rove following Joan around again looking like a neglected puppy. I know this is none of my business, but that relationship seems so sick. Joan seems so determined to keep Adam in her orbit, but whenever he comes closer she does something to shove him away. (?)

My party experience was actually pretty good. Several guys asked me to dance, I followed Friedman's example and rode a rail chair up and down the stairs, I got in a few hands of penny ante poker (won 12 bucks), and this senior named Katie showed me how to skateboard thru a crowd of people with a minimum number of collisons. I hung with Katie for a bit, impressed that a senior would bother with me, until she asked if I wanted to go upstairs with her for a little "fun". (The back stairs were unguarded and apparently I have no 'gaydar'.) Invitation politely declined and I moved on. Ran into Brian Beaumont and we began to talk about the school paper and the upcoming yearbook. I've had a couple of photos printed by the paper and Brian wanted to know if I would be interested in joining the yearbook staff (which he will be editing). I told him I would think about it. For most of the party I hung out with Brian who was trying to flirt (not very good at it), and me being subtly supporting of his efforts. (Any other guy would have eventually got around to hinting we go upstairs even if the odds were huge against it, but Brian didn't come within a light year of being that bold.) It's not that I'm all that interested in Brian, but I am on the 'prowl' for a new boyfriend, and a guy this shy and slow with girls makes for good raw material to mold into something worth having. (First suggestion would be to loose the argyle.)

The party didn't get too wild, but a few of the kids were hitting the spiked punch without being aware they were drinking weak booze. Luke Girardi really loosened up and danced with a few girls, including Glynis. (Finally!) Too bad he didn't stick with her, and I saw Grace Polk move in closer to watch and run interference on any girl who tried to get too up close and personal with Luke. (It was subtle, but anyone paying attention could see she has territorial issues there.) Once again, poor Adam. Joan wouldn't dance with him, but as soon as Adam's back was turned, she was dancing with this really cute guy in a corduroy jacket. (Does he go to our school? For some reason he seems familiar, but I can't place him.)

Right after that the party broke up when the cops arrived on a noise complaint. Joan seemed relieved her party-from-hell was over, and I left with Brian. I let him walk me home, and by lingering at my front door long enough for it to get awkward, he finally realized it was okay to kiss me goodnight. It wasn't a bad kiss, and maybe I will encourage Brian to ask me out soon - having a junior as a boyfriend wouldn't be bad for my social resume. All in all, a good night.

X X X X X

1-19-04

Good news, Price informed me today that the kids' art therapy project is a tentative go. (A brief, pilot program that if it works well could become permanent.) My biggest obstacle before me is to get volunteers. To that end, I talked to the editor of the school paper, and she agreed to do a story - interview done by none other than Brian Beaumont (how's that for fate?). I did my best to explain, without getting too graphic, the kind of lives these kids have endured and how I was hoping that instead of just babysitting while their mothers and older siblings were in counseling, we would be helping by getting the kids to draw pictures about their lives. Brian took a lot of notes and said he would get back to me if he had any other questions.

I'm also approaching some of the girls at school to see if they would be interested in volunteering to help kids. I got several positive responses, but a definite 'no' from Glynis. She is of course super busy taking so many AP classes, and she already volunteers a couple of times a week teaching a health class to middle school kids at the Y.W.C.A. Still, it looks like a very good start.

X X X X X

1-22-04

The weekly school paper came out today and it had Brian's article on the art therapy for abused kids project. What a disaster. The story was all about an easy way to earn service points by babysitting 'underprivledged' kids here at school. There was no mention of abuse, or art therapy or how you have to be alert to, and sensitive about, what these kids are going thru. I tracked down Brian and started to give him a piece of my mind, but he immediately apologized for how the article turned out. It seems his editor heavily "sanitized" the article because she considered it too disturbing as written for high schoolers.

I checked with Price, and he said the sign up sheet for volunteers was filling quickly, but when he explained the true nature of the project, most of the volunteers backed out. I guess I can understand that - it's a really hard subject for most people to even think about, and most of the volunteers would be afraid of saying or doing the wrong thing and making matters worse for the kids. Even so, with me volunteering three nights a week, we have enough girls to start the program on schedule next week.

X X X X X

1-26-04

Monday night and our first art therapy/babysitting effort. Penny Mohler was with me, and one of the Oak Street counselors was there to monitor our first effort to evaluate how things were going. All went well with the kids, but we lost Penny as a volunteer. As she went about encouraging the kids with their art, Penny saw the disturbing images the kids were drawing and couldn't help but ask questions. The blunt answers coming from those innocent little faces of all of the horrors they have been thru was too much for Penny. By the end ot the night she was out in the hallway crying her eyes out. Can't blame her. I've been thru what the kids have endured and it was all that I could do to hold it together. Even with Penny quitting, it was a good start. The counselor was encouraging and said she would be sharing the kids' pictures with her colleagues.

X X X X X

1-27-04

Tuesday night and I had to take an extra shift because I had to break in the next volunteer, Chelsea Burnett. This went worse than last night. At least Penny stuck it out until the night was over. Chelsea fell apart and left crying halfway thru the night. (From how strongly she reacted, I wondered what Chelsea's life experience might include...then I remembered, she once told me about a date with the odious Clay Fischer that didn't go well.) I'm scheduled again for tomorrow, and another new girl to train. Hoping this goes better soon.

X X X X X

1-30-04

What a terrible week. I'm four for five on girls 'un-volunteering' after only one night of art therapy with the kids - only Denise from art class agreed to stick it out, but no more than one shift per week. (She doesn't think she can handle any more than that.) I guess I didn't really consider how hard it is for the average teen to endure the sad, brutual lifestories that these kids have experienced. I'm now out of new volunteers, and Mom and Price have made it clear, I can't do this without more help. I have to come up with at least one more girl to help or the project will be cancelled. I have a couple of 'maybes' from earlier, and I'll be pushing them to join up. Fingers crossed.

X X X X X

2-2-04

Groundhog Day, and I'm ready for any sign of spring. Over the weekend I called and begged my list of girls who might be willing to volunteer and explained the desperate need. Unfortunately, I was also brutally honest about the nature of the work. All of them backed out except for Stevie Marx. She agreed to take a shift, so the art therapy project is still on (big plus, Stevie only lives a block away from the high school).

Big changes at school today. The new security procedures began, and what a mess! It took forever to get thru the security checkpoint, and everyone was late for classes. There was a lot of grumbling from students and staff about turning Arcadia High into a virtual prison, but not from me. I feel a lot safer with the added security, and I don't care if the guards look thru my stuff - I have nothing to hide. Still, I seem to be in the minority on this. Maybe so, but when I think of all of those rumors about Ramsey bringing a GUN into the school, I'll gladly put up with metal detectors and guards.

One bad thing, Ms Jankow quit as our art teacher. I knew she had been unhappy for a while now, and apparently the new security measures were the last straw. Even tho she wasn't the most popular of teachers, at least Ms Jankow was competent. What are the odds we will get another qualified artist who wants to teach high school?

X X X X X

2-3-04

Glynis gave me a laugh today when she told me about Joan Girardi joining the debate team. (For some reason Joan joins lots of groups for brief periods and then drops out - sort of like her relationship with Adam.) Joan appeared clueless about debate and how it works (she didn't even know 'Pro' meant you are supporting a position). She was teamed up with that nice kid Scott...? Anyway, Scott has a stuttering problem, and he and Joan will be taking on the stars of the debate team, Glynis and Friedman. What a slaughter that will be. I plan to be there for the debate just to see Joan lose. (Am I being mean?) The topic of the debate will be on the school's new security measures, which I support, but too bad, Joan has to defend them. (I wonder how her radical buddy Grace will take that news?)

Now for the truly bad news. Our youth pastor at church, Rev. Yardley, was savagely beaten by someone late yesterday. It's all over the news, and for some reason the S.O.B. who did it wrote 'Sinner' on the reverend's car with his own blood. (Let he who is without sin cast the first stone.) Reverend Yardley is in the hospital and there's no word yet on whether he will recover. As usual, any type of violence freaks me out, but I keep reminding myself I have to stay strong. I can't afford to fall apart and let those kids down.

X X X X X

2-4-04

Stevie Marx's first night at the art therapy class, and I'm relieved to say she did really well. I could see she was sad and a little shocked by what she heard the kids saying about there home lives, but she stayed with it and didn't let the kids see that she was upset. Stevie really seemed to get what we are doing here and even said she would ask her parents if she can take an extra shift! Finally, I've struck gold with a great volunteer. One wrinkle, a couple of kids came up with the idea of making a pinata, but I shut that down right away. The thought of bringing in a stick to strike something 'hits' too close to home.

X X X X X

2-5-04

Bad day, bad day. The news on Reverend Yardley is that he will have a partial recovery, but he will never be the same. Shock - Danny Schuller, from the youth group at church, his father was the one who assaulted our youth pastor, apparently because the man is gay. (I don't think Rev. Yardley is gay, but even if he is, so what? He's really great with us kids, and a devout man of faith.) The next shocker - Mr. Schuller claims he beat up the reverend because he molested Danny! (Absolutely, no freakin' way!)

More bad news. When Stevie told her parents about how her night went with the kids, including the details of what the little guys go thru, Mr. & Mrs. Marx were so appalled, they told Stevie she can't volunteer any more. Stevie was very apologetic, and I could see she was truly sad about having to give up the art therapy class, but it seems her parents are over protective to the max. Damn it! I had to go to Price and tell him the news. Now I'm back in the same boat. If I can't get a least one more volunteer for next week, the project will be cancelled. Price did agree to let me set up a table in the halls to try to scare up another girl. Desperate.

X X X X X

2-6-04

The week ends with no progress on getting another girl to volunteer. (Problem is, there's a limited number of people in this school who are volunteered minded, and I may have exhausted the supply.) I went to the big debate on school security measures, but it didn't go as I expected. Joan spoke first, but she got heckled by Grace Polk so badly, the debate came to an end. Joan (very nervous) was making some good points, but fell apart after Grace's attack. Then Joan went off script and began talking about how violence, especially gun violence, affects her life. As the daughter of a cop, it is all too real to her because she never knows if her dad might be involved. (I remember, Ransey pulled a gun on Joan's dad, and he was kidnapped at gunpoint last year.) I guess she and I have more in common than I supposed. Joan ran out in tears and Grace followed her a minute later.

Mr. Enfield, the debate club counselor, called off the rest of the debate. Friedman complained bitterly about that since he was sure he was going to cream Joan with his arguements. Glynis got me alone and gave me some good news for a change - Luke kissed her! (Hooray! About time. I guess patience does pay off.) Glynis was so happy and excited as she gave me the glorious details. I'm so happy for her, especially knowing what a huge, never-ending crush she has had on the guy. They still have a lot of details to work out about their "relationship" (Oh how Glynis loved using that word), but everything is finally looking up for my B.F.F. Yea!

I guess miracles do come true. Hey God, I'm not kidding about needing help. If you're handing out miracles, please send me someone. The kids need it, and I'll gladly accept anyone you send my way.

To Be Continued. Please review.