Chapter 0:

"It'll Be Over by Christmas"

Your Daily Trip in the Life of a Young Man Who Has Nothing to Offer

"The 4th of December, 1999...I guess you can call it a special day--I mean that was the day I was born--" Standing in front of my classroom, I began to feel nonchalant about sharing my personal information with a bunch of random people who I only share age and location with. The context behind my actions is that I am sharing a journal entry in front of my English class. Some might be nervous, some might be excited, however I always feel like an outlier to this medium. 

As I was apathetically verbalizing the words on my paper, I heard a familiar sound echo from the column of seats that is stationed in front of me. The voice has shouted, at quite an uncomfortable volume, "Johnny...that is the most cliché shit you could've chosen as a writing topic for today. I don't even know what you are saying." That voice spouted towards me in unjustified frustration. Those words belong to one of my 'frenemies' if you feel so inclined to call her that. She was always a little critical and sometimes even quite cocky in reference to me.

"Then why don't you get your lazy ass off your chair and share whatever you wrote. I didn't even get to hear Johnny finish, but if you are so inclined how about we look at your shit and we interrupt and criticize it just like you seem to enjoy doing." That voice entered through my right ear, its genesis is my teacher, Mr. Redwood. 

Mr. Redwood never cared about the use of language within his classroom, hell he was cussing out a student just right now. Just before he spoke I noticed him scrolling on his phone appearing to be half-asleep. I assume that man has had his typical three cups of coffee with minimal sugar and creamy yet he still remains dead. 

"Fine!" A quick and violent snap in agreement on her end. She arose from her seat just as I lowered myself into my own, and immediately I closed my fucking eyes to be as rude as possible. She then aggressively opened her composition notebook, she took a quick glance around the room, then began, "I wrote about the day that I--"

I interrupt her with a violent fake snore, I know surely this would begin to piss her off. My goal is to get back at her for putting a dead stop on my presentation, although honestly I don't even care about sharing. Making her angry is truly the purest form of entertainment in this classroom. 

After my interruption she began to repeat what she was able to blurt out earlier, this time her volume control ignited and the speed at which her high speed and high volume shout came at me could nearly break the sound barrier, "I wrote about the day that I--"

Once again, despite the increase in volume I am undeterred. I rupture out a violent fucking snore and I dart my eyes to my left to see Mr. Redwood hold in an enormous fit of laughter. After a few seconds of him trying to maintain his composure he switches his voice to his normal depressed self and butts into our little feud, "Alright you two, let's not get into this again, we'll just skip having both of you share..." I begin to drown out his words and I believe after he finished talking he just returned to his half-slumber. 

I am starting to think to myself the interesting situations that have introduced me to high school. As I start thinking I notice that she storms out of the classroom. Oh well, it doesn't matter what she does or not, I've known this girl since middle school and she hasn't changed a bit.

Middle school...high school...what's next in the chain of life? I'm merely just a freshman at a random high school in the middle of a large city where there are hundreds of schools with thousands of students. That realization can make someone feel insignificant, however it strangely makes me feel comfortable. Who am I at this moment right now? Having a comedic and almost unrealistic moment in an English class which one day will be a faint memory and to many is already a faint memory. The students who have sat in my seat prior, the students who have stood in front of the class just like me. The students who felt either the same, slightly different, or the complete opposite of how I feel now. 

There is history engrained in this poorly maintained room, I wonder my eyes above me, move my head to follow their path, and the ceiling tells me a dangerous story. The panels on the ceiling are old, many are missing, and many students say that the panels fall occasionally. The white panels filled with hundreds of dots, most likely made of some cheap drywall and glued on with whatever glue carpenters use. Our desks tell a story too, they feel unsettling, they wobble from being off-balance, and they have seated many students before me. 

My class schedule goes as following; I have a homeroom, my geometry class, my English class, then it is nutrition, then my music theory class, my health class, then it is lunch, finally we have my jazz band class, and last of the day is my biology class. A good collection of classes surprisingly, going into my freshman year I was worried about the difference between middle school and high school classes. So far these past few weeks I've adjusted well to my classes and I actually can enjoy some of them, other classes are simply boring such as English. However, as you may witness, some interesting events can take place within each classroom. 

It is now lunchtime, I pretty much sat through my other classes and hung around for fifteen minutes during nutrition, nothing of interest ever happens in the first half of the day. My music theory class is always interesting, and my health class was an absolute bore. Health class is a bore because it's so easy to pass, there is little challenge to it, you do not even have to pay attention. 

It can be difficult to comprehend that some students are capable of failing the easiest possible courses. Hell, there even is a senior in my health class because he failed freshman year. We are all different though, maybe it's harsh of me to judge. Unfortunately, although I'm adapting well to this school year, I haven't adapted to the weather yet. 

It's a hot September day here in Los Angeles, summer of 2014, hopefully it will begin to cool down, but knowing this place it won't be until late October before the temperature settles down mildly. 

Being that it is lunch, I have my prepacked bag of food, I eat the same thing everyday; peanut butter and jelly sandwich, some tangerine slices, and yogurt raisins. I have a water bottle in my backpack to keep me going through the day as well. The question that arises next is where to take a seat? Quite fortunately I do have a friend group that I've already assembled and we claimed a location for us to hang out. I've known these people since middle school and they are fun people to be around, unfortunately not all my close friends go to the same high school as me. I head toward the table which my friends have already occupied. 

Freshman year for me seems to be off to a great start, I enjoy my classes, I have friends to hang out with and talk with, and I have good hope that the rest of the year will continue to be as enjoyable. Though maybe I should not speak so soon. Ultimately, the year is what I make it, although I haven't joined any clubs and the only extra-curricular activity I am apart of is jazz band. I don't really have many special gifts or talents--not that I know of at least--that would make me a proper candidate for many of the school's clubs. The school doesn't offer too many clubs though, there are many of the basic ones such as debate and literature, and there are some oddballs like the anime club, the most important group to be in at this point seems to be the student government, but I don't even know the guys who are apart of it, so how prestigious can it really be?

I enter the domain of my friend group, I barge in the middle of a basic conversation they've been having, something about drugs or sex, you know...typical high school stuff I would assume. 

My friend Miles was leading the conversation, "I shit you not, we were about to get passionate, but then her dad came home..." Miles was explaining a rather frightening predicament, however I had a gut feeling he was full of shit. 

Miles is the sexual one of the group, constantly talking about hot girls and going on dates--sometimes I wonder if the stories he tells are real--he's also very political. His 'passionate' political speeches can take up the other half of his available conversation.

"Miles, that story seems a little preposterous, we are freshmen, there is no way you were about to do it with some random girl when we've only been in school for a few weeks. If the dad had caught you he would have killed you because both you and the girl are way too young to be doing anything crazy." Those words came from my friend Daniel, now Daniel is calmer, logically based, and an intellectual. 

He's very wise and responsible with himself and isn't afraid to tell you when you are doing wrong. He has a large love for military history, and he is stupidly musically inclined--which honestly makes me jealous--.

"With the amount of times you've almost had sex, it seems to me you will be a virgin forever...just like me...hey, welcome to the club." Nathan said those words in an upbeat yet saddened voice. 

Nathan is the one in the group who has the lowest self-esteem, he constantly throws insulting jokes at himself and uncomfortably laughs probably to mask the actual pain of the subject matter. He's insecure about his looks, compared to someone who is tall, has quite well made hair, and has some muscle tone like Miles, or compared to someone who is tall, has beautifully medium length hair, and quite a nice face structure like Daniel, Nathan is considerably short, skinny, and doesn't believe he is the best looking. He hates himself and probably hates all of us. 

I turn out to be similar to Nathan, I'm only an inch taller than him sitting at a whopping five foot four inches or about one-hundred sixty three centimeters. Me and Nathan are also quite underweight, I only weigh about one-hundred four pounds, and I believe Nathan has been stuck at ninety-three for the past couple years. In this city it's not all that uncommon to be short, though it's another thing if you also struggle with weight gain.

Continue on what Miles was explaining, another character enters the fray, "You never make it far with girls because you never take it slow Miles, girls are sensitive and at this age they want things to be romantic and comfortable." That's Ashley, the female member of the group who gives desperately needed female perspective to us clueless males. 

I don't believe that any of us could speak to a girl without some of her advice. However, she herself is quite sensitive and it's like walking on a minefield when you speak to her about a controversial or emotional topic, you never know when you could say the wrong thing. 

Next in line to introduce was the other female perspective of the group, "The only reason that your depressing ass can't get with a girl is because those balls of yours are practically non-existent. You are all bark not bite, girls hate a shallow piece of shit such as yourself." Jennifer...not much to explain about her. 

She's always on her phone, she contributes with depressing insults, and never tries to see things in a positive light. Some of the shit she does say hurts, such as calling me a--'worthless mistake who can't even make it far as a shoe shiner...' Christ that kind of hurts.

As each of the friend group took turns responding to Miles' story I decided to add my part into the conversation, "Miles you try to hard, you need to relax trying to lose your virginity so soon. We are in high school now, things will come eventually, you can't force it on another person." I tried to talk to him in a convincing way, but his face told me that it wasn't working.

"Johnny, you never even had a girlfriend, you never had a first kiss, I don't believe you ever held hands with a girl." Miles threw back a pretty effective card to shut me down. I am now in slight emotional distress but I keep my fake little grin. 

"Ugly guys are not as lucky." I say to Miles projecting my obvious mental pain and deep-rooted insecurity. 

I am not usually insecure, but I just have this kind of jealousy or envy that lives in my heart. Although over the years I either have had hope I would grow bigger, or simply came to accept my size now, I still feel like I was robbed--as selfish as it is I feel like I deserve to be taller than some shitty people out there--I can't seem to get over the fact that I may not grow. Nathan then moves his head toward me, it was like we matched wavelengths. I felt like Nathan was experiencing the same grief as me, grieving over the lost chance to become more attractive. I felt a little different though. Nathan was in deeper pain than me, I could see it in the way he exaggerated his smile and blurted his uncomfortable laughter. 

Does physical appearance truly matter? I ask myself this yet I act like the answer is yes when I feel like the answer is no. The background fades from me, I become lost within the question; 'what does it mean to be attractive and does it matter?' The answer has to be subjective, there is no way to objectively prove that attraction is important. To some, attraction means little, to others it means everything. Some may find shortness attractive, others may not care, others may find it to be repulsive. In this endless world of possibilities, it only complicates my insecurity. I have this aching urge to drop everything and cry to people about how unattractive I am just to get reassurance that I either am or that I am not. On the other hand my conscious is giving me five-hundred reasons why a scenario like that is stupid and how it would only embarrass me and make my situation worse. 

Nathan breaks my second of thought, "Thank you Johnny, finally some words here that I can relate to." 

"Do you need psychiatric help Nathan?" Daniel asked this question in a joking manner, however it had a serious undertone, a slight hint of seriousness in the flavor palette. 

Even though Daniel is more serious than the rest of us, he still has a sense of humor and plays a long with some of our less than intelligible comedy stunts even if it diminishes his perception as being an 'intellectual.'

"Nah, I'm alright." Nathan responded, however it seemed that he forcibly brushed off the possibility. He waved his hand in an exaggerated fashion and I could sense the shakiness within his voice, the discomfort within his movement. His words and actions were quick and slow at the same time.  

"No you are not alright, you goddamn closeted emo shit." There goes Jennifer, not even looking anybody in the eye, adding in her statement all while scrolling through Instagram or something.

"How am I a 'closeted emo shit?'" Nathan expressed his offense using air quotes to try and diminish the words that Jennifer has stated. He stood with slight confidence crossing his arms over his chest, acting like he would be able to claim one victory over Jennifer's ruthless yet victorious insult campaign. 

Jennifer put down the phone in a manner that made the phone feel like it had some kind of weight. As if breaking an important moment to respond to someone who is lesser than her, Jennifer begins to stare into the pupils of Nathan's eyes. Staring through the inferno of his inner self-consciousness she stares straight through it, "You listen to Braid." Her argument is short, but it has merit.

With the sense that he has been attacked and lost, Nathan drops his arms and quickly responds, "But they are a good group." 

Realizing she has to eliminate her opponent for good, Jennifer continues, "You realize that--Braid is the pioneer of the entire fucking emo genre." Her words ring with the school bell that signifies lunch is no more. Nathan utterly defeated takes the initiative to retreat to his next classroom. 

The ringing of the bell brought great commotion, the electronic pitches that vibrated the air signaled people who have been conditioned for school that they must proceed to their next classroom. As I continue on with my freshman year of high school, I take a moment to wonder when it will end. One-hundred years ago from this day, they said it would be over by Christmas, maybe all of my troubles can be over by Christmas too. I can only ever dream of it.