First Entry

Call me Jonah, Ishmael or Courtney. It's up to you. But know that I prefer Courtney as that's my actual name. And using a pseudonym in my own personal journal seems a bit silly.

"But Courtney, your name is the least masculine, biblical, and poised of the three. By far. Maybe you should rethink the pseudonym thing."

Thank you, reader. I'm twenty-five. I can assure you this piece of information hasn't gone unnoticed. So don't feel you need to say any more sentences like that one.

"I was just saying that it might be kind of cool if you had a pseudonym that is all burly."

Again, reader, thank you for your suggestions. But I'm not writing a canonical tale of seafaring adventure. Or one about atomic bombs with a great line pretty early on about turtle spines. I'm writing neither of those things. I'm writing a journal. A diary. And in this diary, I'm going to play a pretty major role, which is more than you can say about either of my burly-named rivals; Jonah and Ishmael.

Though I guess I have no real evidence of my future role in this journal, as I'm just now writing my first entry (presently commencing my journey that might spade the path that dignifies my name... or disgraces it, depending on how the story unfolds).

God, this is completely uninteresting. I think I've just hit my first literary slump. I thought I'd at least get a couple entries in. This is a little discouraging. Okay, let me move on and just tell you my point. This: I'm Courtney. And I accept my name.

I didn't accept it right away though. It took a (considerable) while. Establishing my identity during a childhood filled to the brim with junk mail precipitating my desire to be a princess ("Dear Courtney, not every girl gets the chance to be in a beauty pageant!") made for a cutting and enduring grapple with self esteem. All of this wrapped up by the ninth grade when my last vestige of self worth finished its complete erosion. Luckily that culminated into an unwavering motivation to write. And the product of that is this: these exact words you're reading right now.

Thus, Saturday, July twenty second in the year of Our Lord two thousand and six at 11:46pm, I commence the first entry into my journal.

And if I were serious about this journal, I would commence it in Latin. That's a better language. Evidence: anno domini. That's "in the year of our lord." It's incomparably cleaner and prettier. Those Latin American folks have it figured out (that was a joke). But only somewhat jokingly, the Holy See folks should be prouder. Perhaps they're proud enough. In that case, they should be trying harder to spread their seed.

Anyway, sorry... back on topic (the topic of me and my struggles with self esteem). I don't want anyone to misinterpret any of that, so I feel I should be clear about this: I'm not depressed. Depression is something altogether different. And if this coming year is anything like my last, I'm sure I'll get there. But not yet. I'm in no rush to arrive because as of this moment, life is wonderful. And wonderful is not something I'm eager to have sacrificed. But it will be. Come late August, whatever sentiments I regard as wonderful will be sacrificed quite brutally on the seedy alter of Stockton, thereafter picked at by the vulture-hands of its unruly Stocktonians.

Historical accounts suggest that the land on which this vilest of towns was erected was originally purchased by Charles Weber with a horse and a bag of groceries. I have no evidence that this is actually true, but for the sake of argument, let's say that it is. As far as I'm concerned, the value of the land has since depreciated. I'd still trade back. Gladly. And immediately. And you could even keep the horse corpse, which by now is probably just a couple femurs in the woods somewhere. I'd willingly settle with just the decomposing, fetid groceries. Actually you know what? Go ahead and keep those too. Let's just trade straight across: Stockton for nothing. This would be a bargain of immeasurable appeal for the merchant who wound up empty handed.

I assume by now you've realized the passion with which I detest this town. Even if you're just skimming, you've probably picked up on it a little. And, thank Christ Almighty, I'm not there. I'm here. Here in Salem with my fellow Salemites. And I'm sitting in the home of Fred Frank.

I feel this is an appropriate time as any to announce that Fred is my hero. I see no need in delaying it for the sake of literary flair as it's bound to come up anyway due to the magnitude of his heroism.

On the subject of magnitude, Fred is a far greater hero than whomever you've chosen to be yours. I say this with the confidence of formality, knowing full well that the official hero rankings, operating since the beginning of time, have ranked Fred at number one.

This doesn't mean you should abandon your current heroes it just puts their heroism into perspective. Especially for those of you who've selected historical figures like Jesus or Einstein. "I really like e equals m c squared" is not a passable reason for assignment of such a status. You have to make a better case than that. And "I really like what other people wrote about him years after he was dead despite there being no real evidence that any of it was actually true - far less evidence than the tales of Charles Weber even" is not a sufficient case.

Or maybe you're among the group that has adopted Ronald Reagan as your hero. If this is you, know that my mom shares the same handicap.

"Courtney, how could you say such a thing!?"

Okay, reader. You're overreacting. I'm glad that you've come to terms with my name, but your response was that of a true Reagan-lover. And loving Ronald Reagan is only okay if you love ketchup even more. If you have an immense fondness of ketchup, his heroic deed hits pretty close to home and thus I can excuse your assignment of heroism.

"I was talking about how you called your mom retarded."

I did not.

"Well you said she was handicapped."

That's not what I meant. I was talking about Ronald Reagan. But now I feel like I have to defend my mom. So... in her defense... she's not handicapped. Nor would she ever ridicule a handicapped person, like I might. That said, there's no question she's a better person than I am. She's just a little odd. She's the type of person who washes her keys. She's great. I love her. But she doesn't like ketchup.

Back to heroes.

"My hero is Jacqui Joyner Kersey!" Someone once said that to me. I didn't respond. I may have cringed.

Because this is my journal, and I can write whatever I want, I would like to take this opportunity to make something of a blanket statement on the subject of heroes.

This: nobody in life is actually required to have a hero. In no way is it an inherent duty to appoint anyone to that rank. But if you do, at least try to avoid picking people that don't know you or care about you. This just makes me think you lack the social skills necessary to make friends and are thus exceedingly likely to join things like fraternities, sororities and churches.

And know that this is not the type of hero I'm suggesting Fred is better than. That goes without being said. In fact he's so much better than these people that it would actually be demoralizing for me to have to craft the sentence that says it. When I discuss Fred's superiority as a hero, I'm ranking him relative to all tangible heroes (i.e. real heroes). And as I already said, among this group, Fred is ranked highest in the universe.

The best part is that I, unlike most of life's underlings, actually live in my hero's house. As I mentioned earlier, that's where I am right now; in Fred's house. And the ability to exert my parasitism here will probably liken this journal to the modern rendition of a Boswell piece. Except instead of calling it Jensen's Life of Frank, I'll just call it "my journal" and take credit for all of it. At least that's my plan. But I'm easily distracted. And before long I'll be back in Stockton, 600 miles south of my symbiotic host.

But I'm not there yet. I have all summer (just shy of a month) left. And this particular summer day was spent sitting on Fred's furniture. And now I'm on one of his beds. Alone; he sleeps on a different bed. He's probably on it right now, reading. But on this bed - the one I'm on right now - I'm inaugurating my phase of writing as an exercise.

And that exercise is what you're currently reading. Or rather, it's what I'm currently writing, as I don't suspect this will be read. And in order to actually write what won't be read, I had to go out and buy a computer. Before today, I didn't have one, though four years ago I decided what my first computer was going to be. And this afternoon's purchase finally brought closure to that decision.

I feel I should explain. Here's my explanation: four years ago, I was an undergraduate student at Willamette University. I was majoring in Exercise Science. Because I didn't have a computer, Stasinos Stavrienias, my Greek physiology professor loaned me his. It was a Gateway laptop. Almost immediately, I (accidentally) ran it over with my Jeep Grand Cherokee Laredo. When I realized what I'd done, I panicked. After panicking, I got out of the car, flipped open the screen and turned it on. It was fine.

My immediate instinct was to thank God (as this was obviously a miracle as great as or greater than Chanukah), but then I came to my senses regarding the futility of such an effort. I'm not convinced a god could possibly exist whose concerns for the trivial affairs of humanity run deep enough to intervene in the destruction of a laptop. If such a god does exist, then by all means, may I burn in hell for my atrocious reallocation of gratitude, but as is, thanking Gateway seemed a bit more reasonable than casting those same thanks into the cosmic void of Christianity.

That said, the peach and the fig both exist. And that's a pretty powerful argument in support of the existence of God. It's just not quite enough to win me over.

So, in my moment of appreciation, I vowed to buy my first computer from Gateway. And I also vowed to never tell anyone ever what I had done (until now). I felt the former vow was the most appropriate response and the latter, the most rewarding.

And I maintained both of them, having finally bought myself the Gateway laptop this afternoon (this journal entry is evidence of my purchase... though it's a slightly different model; they don't make the one I ran over anymore).

In the words of Fred, I seem to have reached the stage where I'm always one purchase away from happiness. While this is probably true, as long as I don't run out of money, I see no problem with it.

And other than this purchase, I accomplished nothing today. For this reason, boredom remains the prevailing motivation behind this entry - much more so than actual content. I certainly don't have a Winstonian motivation (or clandestineness) in commencing this journal. But I'm not going to drone on about a movie either.

I'm realizing this is becoming an over-referenced pile of crap (my literary slump continues). Paragraphs like the last few were boring for me and I'm the one writing them. So I obviously don't envy your struggle in reading them (I say almost smugly as if someone is actually going to read this).

And I'm also realizing that - so far - this entry (i.e. my first one) seems to suggest that I'm chock-full of self-importance. It's like when people say "you'll either love me or you'll hate me." In all my life, I've never heard any sentence that screams undeserved pomposity as loudly as that one. But I'm starting to worry that this first entry has officially belted out a shriek deafening enough to overpower it. I hope not. I hope I at least have a tiny bit of folksy charm that my imaginary readers can snuggle up to. But I doubt it. If I do, I certainly failed to show it in this entry. So I don't expect anyone to keep reading. Though even if nobody continues to read, I'm going to keep writing. I bought this new computer and if I don't write like a beast all year, I'm going to succumb to a serious bout of buyer's remorse.

So my journal continues: I woke up this morning to a nine year old boy touching me with artificial snow. It might have been Halloween webs. They're basically the same thing. Not quite, but they're similar enough to where I can't tell the difference while I'm being woken up to a boy rubbing it against my shirtless back.

The boy was Adam, Fred's eldest son. And it was more of a caress - pretty gentle - so it's hard to complain with any real sincerity. But I can still comment on the general creepiness of the whole episode.

And I can comment on the boy himself. Adam. I love him. He's a great kid. But one time I asked Jacqui (Fred's wife, Adam's mom) how he was doing. Her response paints a good portrait:

Adam you ask?
He's pretty good I suppose. A friend called him last night -
it occurred to me, no one ever calls for him. All he could do was giggle
like he was on acid and hold the phone in front of his chest where he
could see it and mumble ferociously. I'm sure Trevor will never call again :-(

Adam, like my mom, always means well. I realize you can say that about everyone - everyone but taxidermists - but Adam actually tries hard (like my mom). The major difference is that, while both get stressed out by things nobody else has ever thought of, and both use that as a springboard for well-meant intentions, Adam doesn't manage to succeed in the realm of "good deeds" as often as my mom.

And he's not a very sanitary guy either (also unlike my mom). But he tries. And every once in a while, he has a moment of brilliance. Not in the way that Fred does. Fred is ludicrously cerebral while Adam is thoughtful in a different way. Like when he described the feel of Fred's chin as the integumentary equivalent of Dots (those little gummy candies invented in the 40s and still sold at the concession booth of every movie theater in America). Granted Fred's chin does not come in green or yellow or bright orange, etc. But it does feel exactly like a Dot; all gummy and a little bit rough because of the grains of sugar and/or hair bristles.

Little profundities like this come from Adam once every two weeks (on average). The rest of the time, he's just weird. Like when he went trick-or-treating for the first time. He was four, dressed as a ghost and carrying one of those plastic pumpkin baskets to hold his candy.

Adam walked up to his first house while Fred waited at the curb. He rang the doorbell. "Trick or treat." The lady put a piece of candy in his basket. Adam walked back to his dad and said this: "can we go home now?"

Fred looked at him: "You don't want to keep going?"

Adam looked down at his basket. "No. That's enough."

That, as Fred tells the story, was the first moment he knew Adam was totally weird. Since then, it's been a daily thing, like how he wears a backpack that's completely full of sweatshirts and books about cats every time he rides in a car. He doesn't just bring it with him, he wears it. It pushes him to the very front of the seat, so he's almost dangling off. This makes it a challenge for him to wrap his seatbelt all the way around and get it buckled. But - after a little struggle - he always manages.

It might be nice if someone could a way to rope him into normality, but I love him the way he is. If he were normal, he'd be far less interesting. And I would have never been woken up this morning to a boy rubbing my back with holiday cotton.

Anyway, my point is, Salem (with Adam in it) is wonderful tonight and I'm happy to be here, basking in my hero's house.

In a month (minus two days) I'll be on my way to Stockton, the physical cesspool of hell. All of the statistics this cesspool has become known for (murder, auto theft, infant mortality, illiteracy, etc capitols of the United States - mostly per capita) are completely discernible with little to no effort spent looking. For this reason, Salem, which doesn't necessarily fare too well outside of such a relative comparison, is quite charming tonight.

My view (from the guest bedroom built on Fred's cesarean toils, probably mostly on single moms birthing bastards in North Salem - i.e. Fred is an OBGYN) is easily among the nicest in the city. It's actually not in the city; its view is of the city. It sits right above it. I'll try to be more careful with my prepositions in future entries. Anyway, I'm not looking at the view right now because it was over a hundred thousand degrees outside this afternoon and I still have the drapes pulled over the window despite it now being after midnight and probably totally temperate.

And that pretty much sums up my first day. I apologize profusely for the lack of excitement and literary panache. I have very little content to work with and worse yet, I crafted that absence of activity with a pretty inadequate use of language. So the most likely scenario is that this first entry was quite painful to read. Sorry. And I'll apologize in advance for all future segments. I don't foresee much improvement. Nonetheless, this is my new exercise and so I'll probably see you tomorrow.