A paper zine for people who hate people.

The first assignment we received was not open to interpretation. We were told, in no uncertain terms, that we were to write about our childhood, in the first person, talking about what we could remember. This kind of bummed me out because I had planned on getting wacky. The more I was grounded in the reality of this exercise, the less I wanted to do it. I figured I could finally write down as much as I could recall and then never write about it again.

I also had great difficulty choosing a name for my autobiography. Usually, I think of a parody first, and in this case, at the same time we were writing autobios, we were reading some. I thought it would be funny and ironically pretentious to call mine, "Portrait of the Young Man as an Artist," or perhaps "Down and Out in New York and San Francisco" (after James Joyce's "Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man" and George Orwell's "Down and Out in Paris and London," respectively). I chose "Yours Truly" because I was finally going to write about me, honestly, realistically and as objectively as possible. In effect, I was saying to the reader, "this is me and it's all true." Naturally, I had a second meaning in that when someone says they're talking about "yours truly" they're referring to themselves, which I also liked. I picked the Walt Whitman quote because it was appropriate for the piece and because Walt Whitman lived in one of the places where I grew up. In fact, thinking about it now, I realize that I think it was meant as a joke because my autobiography was intended to end with me as a teenager, with the final story being about how I went shopping for a word processor so I could start to really write and the mall where I was caught fire and we had to leave without buying anything. And what was the name of that mall? That's right, the Walt Whitman Mall, on Long Island, NY. Bwa hahaha.

Yours Truly: The Early Years



Written by Jøsh Saitz, August 15-25, 1992 “Behold, I do not give lectures or a little charity, when I give I give myself.” Walt Whitman

I read a quote once that said, “The older a man is, the faster he could run as a boy.” I can still run pretty fast, and I’m thinking about making a videotape, so I will have some kind of proof when I am old. I am not really sure why it is that I remember certain events in my life and that many times I find that the other people who may have been witnesses with me don’t remember it at all or remember it differently than I do. In many cases, the many accounts are melded into one coherent memory, to be told over and over.

The first day of my life on the outside was Thanksgiving day in 1969. I had an older brother who was a little over a year old, but he remembers nothing of my first day. According to the story, the entire extended family was at my grandmother’s house for the traditional dinner in Queens, New York. About ten minutes before the turkey was ready my mother announced that I was ready to be born. Dinner was abruptly postponed so that I could be accommodated. At this point in the story I am reminded to admit that this was not the last time that everything had to be postponed to accommodate my needs. After a labor of about four hours I was born and sent home with my mother. Since I had no teeth and my family had not yet been informed of my strange tastes in food, I was given a bowlfull of potato chips and I quietly sucked the salt off of them.

The earliest memory that I can call my own is of me sitting in diapers on a dock somewhere near my home with my brother, my father and a friend of my father’s. They were fishing and I was sitting in the center of the dock, aware of the water, but content not to see it. Somehow the pliers that were near me fell into the water and my father’s friend jumped into the water to get them. He stood up and jumped off the edge of the world as far as I was concerned. He hit the water and splashed me and when I opened my eyes again I saw him standing the water which came up to his waist. Suddenly everything didn’t seem so foreign, or as menacing.

I don’t remember my sister being born two years after me, and there are many things that I do remember from my early childhood, but there are some that mysteriously omit my sister, and many others that omit my brother.

In my mind I became an adult by saying something that I never thought I would even think. It was Halloween, about four years ago. "When I was a kid, this used to be fun, now the kids today have just made it too scary. It’s so sad." In an instant I turned into the parent, the adult, the cynic longing for a world where everything was safe and clean and friendly. Of course it never existed. When I was eleven three girls who were probably sixteen years old cornered me on Halloween and ripped my bag to shreds and stole all of my candy. I ran home crying. I had been working the neighborhood slowly, enjoying the delicious anticipation of filling a bag until I could barely carry it. In an instant it was over.
I also seemed to have forgotten that I was never allowed to eat any of my loot until I was home and my mother had checked over each and every piece. I was also not allowed to accept anything that was even remotely homemade. Only processed sugar in plastic shrinkwrap. And she was only looking out for me. So perhaps in my mother’s day children didn’t disobey their parents, but they got diseases that I’ve never even heard of. Perhaps families stayed together forever, but maybe no one there was really happy. Perhaps everyone had their role and they played it as they should. In their time everything was just lovely, but their time was past, now it was my time.

When I was in Kindergarten I remember how I was first taught the letters of the alphabet in a way that made me understand that words were just collections of letters, and every word had a correct pronunciation. About once a week my teacher, Mrs. Caimano, would have an inflated doll that was a letter with a face, set up in the middle of the room. She would put a record on, with a song about the character. For some reason all of the consonants were boys and all of the vowel were girls. There was Mr. M, with a munchy mouth, Mr. F, with a funny face and Ms. O. though I don’t remember what her outstanding characteristic was. We would all sing the songs and learn the letters. By the end of the week, we knew the letter and how to write it, in both upper and lower cases.

The only specific event I remember from Kindergarten is being chased around the room by my friend Doug on these small wooden scooters, which were basically a square piece of wood with four wheels on the bottom. Once he caught me, I was to chase him. I chased him around, knocking things over and coming close to catching him a few times before he crashed into Mrs. Caimano. She fell over and taught us some new words in the process. The next day we found out that she had broken her leg and we were going to have a substitute teacher for the rest of the year. This was in a town called Dix Hills, on Long Island. I think the school was called Forest Park elementary school. I sort of remembered this story, but in my mind I wasn’t sure if it had really happened. When I was fifteen I moved back to Dix Hills and on my first day of school I sat behind a kid named Doug. When my name was read out loud, most of the class turned and looked at me. Doug leaned back and asked me if I was the same Joshua Saitz that had had Mrs. Caimano. I said that I was and he jumped up and started telling the whole class that it wasn’t his fault that Mrs. Caimano broke her leg, it was my fault. I had been chasing him. Apparently the school had notified his parents that their little Doug had mangled the teacher and he was punished. A few weeks later I went to his house and accepted the blame and told his parents that it wasn’t really Doug’s fault. They had forgiven him a long time ago, but they thought that it was very funny that Doug had obviously spent so much time feeling guilty and was so glad to finally be exonerated. It also gave me a bit of name-recognition which was very helpful in a new school.
After speaking to my mother and attempting to make sure that all of my facts are correct she suggested that I mention that Doug’s mother represented my mother when she was divorced from my father. They stayed friends for a few years after that until we moved away from Long Island and my mother began the ’adult phase’ of her life. She also told me about a time when I was in Kindergarten when she was called in to speak with Mrs. Caimano. Apparently I had written some kind of sex manual complete with pictures and terminology and had been passing it around the class. I really cannot imagine what kind of sex information that I could have had at five years old, but my mother assures me that I knew plenty. I had never seen an adult magazine, my brother hadn’t told me anything, so I have no idea where I learned it.

I think I can safely say that first grade was where I first became competitive in school. My parents always encouraged me and helped me with my homework, but I found it really gratifying to be noticed by my teachers. In class we were supposed to work with plastic coated grammar and math cards separated into different colored sections. They were laid out like Roy G. Biv, the way my father taught me the colors of the rainbow. Red orange yellow Green Blue indigo Violet. Roy G. Biv. Obviously I still remember it quite well. The red ones were really easy, but they became harder as you progressed. I remember the teacher told us that I was ahead of the class and that the others were going to have to work harder if they wanted to finish first. Up until that point I had been doing them for fun, there was a certain intense energy in filling them out and handing them in. The teacher, (I don’t remember his name, so my memory is sexist, but against both sexes) would take out the magical teachers edition, which was just as colorful as the cards. He would quickly grade it, hand it back to me, then tell me how smart I was. I was like a seal performing for fish. It was easy to do the trick, I liked the fish, and so I spent most of my free time doing the cards. I didn’t realize that everyone else was doing them too, much less doing them against me. After his announcement, I started to worry that maybe someone actually would beat me in finishing them.

I didn’t know then, but have since learned that we weren’t supposed to finish the Indigo and Violet, those were the second grade colors. I remember one spring day when my teacher told me that two people had caught up to me and that we could finish at any minute. I ran over to the cards and started spewing them out at a faster and faster pace, finishing in about thirty minutes. The whole class had gathered around me and the other two boys (I can personally testify to the sexism that teachers were practicing, and I am sure still practice in situations like this) as we worked feverishly to 'win.' I didn’t think that there was any prize, and now using my excellent hindsight and amateur psychoanalysis I think it’s fair to say that I was fighting for the attention of my teacher, trying desperately not to lose favor in his eyes. I won and my teacher called my parents to tell them how smart I was. I was very happy.
I am sure that at this time my parents were fighting, but I think that I must be blocking it out. I only clearly remember one fight that my parents had. My father had come from work and I went downstairs to say hello while my mom was making dinner. I think my brother was there and my father asked what was for dinner. My mom told him and said we would be eating soon. My father flashed me a bag of Clark bars behind my mother’s back and my brother and I started laughing. My mom wanted to know what was so funny, so I told her that my dad had a bag of Clark bars. My mom told my dad that we could have some, but only if we ate all of our dinners, something I never did. My dad said that he would wait and then ran. To my brother and me it was a cue to go and chase him and see if we could get them for ourselves.

We chased him up the stairs that were divided into two perpendicular segments and to the flat square that joined the two halves. He pretended to fall down and my brother and me jumped on him and he ripped the bag open. We quickly grabbed a few handfuls each and climbed up the rest of the stairs to sit and eat. We were laughing and stuffing our faces when my mom came to the stairs and saw us covered in chocolate and throwing wrappers on the floor. She just looked at my dad and he stood up and went to go talk to her. They yelled at each other for about half an hour before we were finally called to dinner and my sister was woken up from her nap. If I remember correctly we had meatloaf, something that I have never eaten, so I just pushed it around my plate before both of my parents got tired of fighting with me to eat and they let me go. I was glad that I had had the candy first, but now I feel bad about getting away with something so weasely.

I have always been very difficult to feed, and even though I have seen pictures of myself eating scrambled eggs I don’t think that I ever did. Since I can remember I have eaten a very short list of foods and refused to try anything else. Some people think it’s cute, most people find it annoying and closed-minded. I eat, in order of preference, pizza, burgers (I stopped eating beef for good in 1993) and fries, plain bread, plain cereal, plain pasta, chicken, plain chips, potatoes (yes, Mr. Quayle, with an ‘e’ when plural) and corn, but only if it is on the cob. I don’t eat anything that swims. I don’t eat anything that has a face. I don’t eat any sauces, flavorings, dressings or toppings. I eat bread, but hate butter. I love cereal, but hate milk. I love pasta, but hate the sauce. I don’t like Mexican, Italian (except plain spaghetti with salt), French, Russian, well you get the idea. I don’t eat eggs, or barbecue flavored anything. For about eleven years in every restaurant I ever went to I ordered a burger plain with fries and a Sprite with no ice. Now I drink Diet Coke like a fish because I love soda, but normal Coke makes me really hyperactive and difficult. I do like Jolt cola, but I only drink it rarely.

When I was a kid my family would try to get me to try new things but I refused. They told me that no normal adult ate like I did and that I could not get what I wanted everywhere I went. Eventually I would have to try these things, and they were willing to bet that I would like them right now. I always refused and now I am an adult and while I have learned to eat salad, I eat only iceberg lettuce or spinach and only plain with croutons. No dressing, no purple things or red things or things I can’t pronounce.

In the second grade I had my first asthma attack and ended up in the hospital for a night. I vaguely remember it, but afterwards I was glad, because as long as I can remember I have had trouble breathing when I am near leaves and dust and stuff, and after that I started getting medicine. I went to an allergist who tested me and found that I was allergic to almost everything that they had a test for. I still think that it is funny. I was allergic to: dust, pollen, mites, all animals, leaves, dander, sawdust, chocolate, tomatoes, most green vegetables, and twenty other things that I can no longer remember. I am still allergic to most of it, but many of the foods I have just never developed a taste for. For me it is very similar to how I feel about coffee.

When I first went to college everyone that lived in my suite drank coffee. The rule was whoever woke up first had to turn on the machine and make enough coffee for everyone. After lunch we would all come home and have some more coffee. At night when we would all sit around and talk, everyone would drink coffee. I never liked coffee and couldn’t understand why anyone would drink it. All the people that I knew who drank it were unable to function every morning until they had their coffee. They were always griping about it being so expensive. Once when the machine broke, I went to stay over with a friend of mine because they were all incredibly difficult and moody. They all told me that after the sixth or seventh cup, it was delicious. I couldn’t see the point in forcing myself to get addicted to something that was expensive and unnecessary. They were always bothering me that I should at least try it. I never did.

Oh, back to the shots. I went every week for three shots in each arm and then I was allowed to pick a prize at random from a cheap looking cardboard treasure chest. I actually didn’t mind getting shots. I also used to take medication, some of which I still take. In fact for the year before I moved to San Francisco I had been going to an allergist for two shots every week. I had a cat that I was very allergic too and after getting shots for about three months I was able to completely deal with her. I was worried about coming out here and ending the shots, but my doctor said that if I had a problem I could find a new allergist and she would send out my complete medical records. For me all of this has always seemed perfectly normal. I can very easily tolerate most medical procedures except anything that goes near my eyes. That makes me a bit jumpy.

The only incident I remember from school when I was in the second grade involves baseball cards. Where I lived little boys were fascinated by them, but more fascinated by a kiddie form of gambling. We would flip baseball cards, which basically meant that there would be two kids who would agree to ’flip’ cards. They would sit down and put one card down each, on top of the other. If the color in a certain section, say by the player’s name or something, matched the card put down by the other person, you took the whole pile. Usually we played this until one of us had no cards left. The cards themselves had no value, except as a street currency in the playground casinos. Anyway one day at school there was a big contest involving like five or six kids at once all flipping, and whoever got the pile was going to be very rich. We had a pile of probably a hundred or so cards, ridiculously high stakes for all of us and we were all nervous and shaking.

Our teacher, Mrs. Hazen, caught us and even though it wasn’t against school rules and no one really understood what we were doing she took the cards away from everyone. She said that she had been calling us for some time and we had been ignoring her, but we were all very busy.

We had to follow her back to class and she took all of our cards, which was more than any of us had seen at one time and put them in a drawer in her desk. All during the class all of us sat there and stared at the drawer as if it had some kind of magical power or something. At the end of the class we all asked if we could have our cards back and she said that we couldn’t. She said she was going to throw them all away. I remember that I said something smartass about that being illegal and theft and destruction of other people’s property and probably I said that my dad was a lawyer, which he wasn’t. She told me to have my father call her if he wanted to discuss it. She had me, but I realize now that she didn’t know my father wasn’t a lawyer, but she knew that if she told my dad why she did it, I would get in trouble. I just shut up because she had called my bluff. After school we had about ten minutes to gather our belongings and head for the bus.

After everyone left I went back into the classroom and told a janitor that I needed my jacket out of the room and it was locked. He let me in and I took all the cards and put them in my bag. On the bus I divided them up and kept the most for myself. For about a week I was a hero, but for me the funny thing was that I only did it because I wanted My cards back. It was only when I saw all my friends that I felt like I had stolen them without actually winning them, so I gave them back. I think that it was probably around this time that I became obsessed with the concept of fair. It probably started with wanting to stay up as late as my brother, because that was fair. I tried in every way that I could to make sure that things were always fair. I hated it when I would be treated better than anyone else, because I believed so strongly that everything should be fair. Even if I was disadvantaged by it. At the time that I stole back the baseball cards I never thought I could get caught, even then I thought I was smarter than everyone, especially the teachers. I was able to get away with it simply because no one expected it from me, something that changed as I got older, much to my surprise.

Doing the math now I realize that at some time around the second grade my parents were divorced. I really don’t remember how I was told, but I don’t remember throwing a fit or anything. I know my mom was upset, but I have a feeling that it was all for the best. They didn’t seem happy anymore, and now that I am an adult I have trouble remembering my parents being together and happy. Ever since I can remember they have not liked each other, and since I didn’t know any better I thought that it was kind of normal. For me it was normal. Now seeing someone’s parents together for like fifty years strikes me as a little bizarre, though I know that it is possible, just for me it isn’t the norm.

We lived with my mom and we moved to town called Medford where we lived in a condominium and for the first time I had to share a room with my brother, which was fine, because mostly we had fun together. I missed having a pool and a dog. Oh, I should mention the dog. When we all lived together we always had a dog. When I was really young we had a Saint-Bernard, but he used to sit in the bathroom and eat all of the tile off of the floor. Then we got a dachshund, but he bit my brother a few too many times, so we got a big German Shepherd named Sam. Now I think it might have been a girl, as in Samantha, but I used to think it was just Sam, like the butcher on the Brady Bunch (I spoke to my mom and she tells me that Sam was a boy). The dog loved all of us and would play with us and protect us and when my parents didn’t know I would go in the pool with him and swim around. The big story with the dog was once when my parents had a guy come over to measure something (I think it may have been for the pool) Sam went nuts thinking that the guy was going to hurt us. I was at school, but apparently Sam broke through the back windows of my house and went after the guy and chased him away. By doing this he cut up his nose pretty badly and when I got home from school with my mom we found a trail of blood all over the house. Of course I panicked and ran all over looking for him. He was fine, but we took him to the vet and he got nine stitches in his nose. He also looked really silly with bandages on his nose and he didn’t like the way they felt either.

When my parents got divorced my father told me that Sam went to a farm in upstate New York. For obvious reasons, I still choose to believe that it’s the truth.

The only other thing I remember with any real clarity, now that I am thinking about it is one Halloween when I must have been five or six. Well I remember once when I was four my mom dressed me and my brother like little bears in these little outfits with headthings and feet and stuff. I’m sure a year later I had decided that looking like a dork was no longer on the agenda and I stopped wearing the neat stuff my mom got for me. Anyway I remember I came home early from school complaining to anyone who would listen that they should cancel school for Halloween. They cancelled school for Thanksgiving and that was always boring. We had off for Christmas, but I didn’t even know what that was. When one of my friends told me about it I told him that I never heard of that Santa guy, and would need some hard evidence if he wanted me to believe. "How does he know I’m Jewish? He can’t know cause I never told anyone." It seemed logical at the time.

So that year I think I went as some kind of superhero, maybe Spiderman or something. I rode my bike up to my friend Stewie’s house and met him to go trick-or-treating. We went out for like four hours and then I had to go home. I had completely skipped over my own street and when I got home I realized it and was really mad. My parents said I could go back out even though it was getting dark. They decided to sit together in the back of our station wagon and pass out candy while we did our block. That way they could come outside and watch us and still give out candy to the older kids who were still allowed outside. I do remember that my parents seemed to be having fun and I was glad that I was getting my way.

I also remember two other things that happened in Dix Hills, before the divorce. I once was walking down the stairs and I stepped on a nail that went into my foot about an inch and a half and I didn’t notice. I sat next to my dad on the couch (I would also like to mention that later when I lived with my father and my step-mother my father decided that ‘couch’ was a word that inaccurately described the furniture. It just didn’t sound comfortable. We all called it a Faroom, which sounded much more comfortable.) and watched T.V. when he noticed this big nail sticking out of my foot. My dad just pulled it out and then casually took me to the hospital. He told me on the way that I should have noticed the nail sticking out of my foot, and then I felt bad. Then he said, "It’s a good thing you did, you could have gotten that nail stuck somewhere and then you would ruin one of your sister’s sweaters." Or I could have had it there forever and I would always walk funny. I know that this is not exactly what he said but it was something funny like that and it made me stop worrying about going to the hospital. He said I would have to get at least one shot, maybe more, but if I didn’t want the shot I could always put the nail back. Both of us laughed and decided that the shot would be easier.

The other thing that I remember is that I had a fish tank and my bed was against a wall just opposite the tank. I saw the movie Jaws and afterwards I was deathly afraid of sharks. For about two weeks after the movie every night when I would go to sleep I would face the window, thinking that Jaws was going to somehow get up the second floor of my house, break the windows and eat me. I heard the bubbling of the fishtank and thought that it was a shark. Then I would decide that I would rather not face the shark at all, and I would face the wall. With my back to the windows and the tank my imagination could conjure up all manner of kid eating monster, just waiting behind me until I turned around to face it. So I would quickly turn back around to face whatever was coming for me again. I would repeat this all night occasionally hiding under the blankets completely, praying that the shark wouldn’t notice the lump under the blanket. Even though at the end of the movie the shark had died, I still couldn’t be sure he wouldn’t get me.

I don’t remember moving to Medford, but I do remember a couple of things that happened while I lived there. I think perhaps the most significant was my brother sticking up for me. Usually he wouldn’t be nice to me or even talk to me when he was hanging around with his older friends. One day when I went to the bus stop to wait there were two kids from some other bus stop who had missed the bus and their mother had dropped them at my stop because the bus came there later. I went to the stop by myself because my brother was running late and I was sent ahead to make sure that the bus didn’t leave without him.

When I got there the two older kids were pulling branches off of a tree. I sat on the curb and waited for the bus. As soon as I sat down they started calling me names, but my mom always told me to ignore people if they do that. I didn’t. I told them to leave me alone, that I was just waiting for the bus. They asked me if I was going to cry if they didn’t leave me alone. I told them that I wasn’t and to just shut up. Instead they came over to me and said they were going to kick my ass. For some reason I told the two older kids that they couldn’t kick my ass even if they had their mothers with them (this was not the first time that I said or did something that later seemed incredibly stupid). They picked me up and one of them punched me in the stomach and knocked the wind out of me. When I stood up I grabbed the kid by his hair and scratched his face. His friend was screaming that I fought like a girl and that I was a fairy. I kicked him in the balls and he fell down. The kid who I scratched punched me again and then pinned me on the sidewalk. He had his knee against my neck and I could feel myself having an asthma attack. I told the kid that I had asthma and I couldn’t breathe. Just as he was telling me that he didn’t care my brother came up behind him and put him in a headlock. He picked the kid off of me and punched him in the face. "My little brother has asthma, you dick, and if you ever touch him again I’ll rip your fucking head off." I could see that the kid couldn’t breathe while my brother was choking him. I told my brother to let him go as I tasted my own blood. My brother threw the kid to the ground and went and kicked the other kid, who really hadn’t done anything, but I think my brother must have been pretty pumped up and needed something to slow him down again. Then my brother looked at me and said that he better get me home to get some medication. He helped me home and told my mom that neither one of us was going to go to school. She said fine.

Now that I remember it I don’t remember where my sister was. I think that maybe she was sick, or maybe she was in a grade that got picked up earlier. This is one of those situations where I omit my sister from the memory, and I don’t really know why.

This was in the third grade and I remember that my teacher was Mrs. Danishevski, and I remember how to spell it because on the first day of class she taught us a song that spelled her name. I really don’t remember anything that happened in the third grade except that I was friends with a black kid in my class, and he was probably the first one that I ever met. I didn’t think that it was a big deal, I really think that people have to be taught ignorance, though it sounds like a paradox. Up until then I went to school with a bunch of rich Jews like myself. We weren’t rich anymore, not by a long shot, but I only realize that now. At the time it all just seemed normal. I guess it is.

Fourth grade was when I first started switching rooms for different classes and I remember that I was always in classes with all the people that I thought were geeks. For a while I thought that I was a geek, only because that is where they put me. I had a tendency to adapt very easily and even though it was nice when I had the same friends for more than a year, I never got used to it.

I remember a number of things from fifth grade, and I think that I can pinpoint this as a period of maturity. I had a crush on my teacher and her name was Ms. Maillard. She loved our whole class and now that I’m thinking about it, it is a sad story. She got really involved with our class, starting a softball team, meeting all of us outside of school, talking to us like we were people and not just brats who had to be babysat all day.

We went on trips and really got to know the other students. She made learning fun, and I know now that I was the teacher’s pet. She picked like three kids and always gave us extra work, telling us that we should be going faster than the rest of the class. She also took time out to work with the ’burnouts’, kids who were already smoking and getting visits from truant officers. After a while even they were looking forward to class, only because the teacher and the rest of the class wouldn’t give up on them. I even helped many of them in math. I also remember that she would have these big pieces of oaktag on the wall with the speed records for finishing a sheet of problems. They went by grade and in the case of a tie they went to the faster time. She would give us sheets with 40 problems, addition, subtraction, multiplication and division. We had to do them as fast as possible and then bring them up. She would grade them and then put our names up. By the end of the year I had the records on all four as well as being the holder of the top twenty on each. I think the rest of the class was starting to dislike me, but as I said, I was trying to impress my teacher, not them.

When it came time for us to move up to sixth grade, we could all tell that Ms. Maillard was not happy about it. She would start to cry and tell us how much she was going to miss us. She proposed an idea to the principal which was that one teacher should work intensively with a group of students and move up with them. She hoped that by establishing an environment where everyone felt comfortable, we could all achieve more. They let her do it because as a group we had done better than any other group and besides I think they were afraid of what might happen if they didn’t let her keep us. I had to move to a new school and couldn’t move up with the rest of the class. They had a party for me and it was really very sad.

I kept in touch with the other kids in the class and found out that after they finished sixth grade Ms. Maillard tried to get transferred to the Junior High School so she could keep teaching them. She wanted to have the class stay exactly the same in the new school. They told her that we had to go to different classes, so they could put the smartest together and let them go faster. That was just the way that it worked. Instead of losing the class, she quit and became a librarian. I saw her like two years after I left, in the library, when I went to visit one of my friends from the class. She looked really old and I didn’t say anything to her. I think that I was really scared. She wasn’t crazy, actually I think that she may have been onto something, but either way the whole thing made me very uncomfortable.

When we moved, I was excited, because we were moving to a new house, we wouldn’t have to live in a condo anymore. Before we moved there we went to look at the house, which was owned by the parents of my Mom’s boyfriend. He was Russian, his name was Vladimir. He was usually very nice to me, and his parents were moving away. He taught Russian at SUNY Stony Brook, and the last I heard he was working for the FBI. On our last trip to visit the new house, my brother stayed at home, because my mom wanted to talk to us. I know that my brother had been secretly making phone calls to my father and telling him that my mom was moving in with her boyfriend at his parents house. He actually wasn’t going to be living with us, it was just his parents’ house. He had an apartment on campus that the school provided.

Anyway my mom told us that she couldn’t take my brother spying on her anymore and my dad wanted custody of all of us. She said since Ben had been expressing a desire to go live with father for so long, she decided to let him go. At first I was shocked. I didn’t know that my father wanted us to come live with him, and I didn’t know that my brother had wanted to go. I was also a little bit hurt that I wasn’t even asked, it was like the whole thing had been arranged in some secret meeting that I didn’t even know about. When I thought about it I decided that I was fine where I was, I liked my room and had already set my mind on the new house. It had a backyard and was in a nice neighborhood, and now that my brother was going to be leaving, I would get my own room.

I don’t remember my brother actually leaving, mostly because I was making new friends and was starting a new school. I was in the regular school for about a week, when they decided that I was in the wrong place. They called my mom and arranged for me to come in on a Saturday to take a standardized test. I thought that it was something bad, but my Mom said that they thought that I was too smart. I was still very nervous. I went in and took the test and on Monday they told me that I was going to be transferred to a different school to be a part of the Gifted and Talented Program. I didn’t think that I was gifted, and my talent was designing and testing new paper airplanes. I was only in sixth grade and I didn’t know what they could teach me in this program, but I figured I could give it a try. Just as I was starting to make friends I was going to have to start all over again.
The program was fun; we had to change classes and had periods like people in High School. I took math, English, Philosophy, Earth Science, European History, and had a period to just play with computers or do anything else we wanted. I used to make paper airplanes, trying to design one that would fly better than any I had seen.

One thing that I remember very well from this time in my life was once that Spring when it was starting to get warm outside. I had been feeling kind of sick all day and I was glad to be going to sleep early. We didn’t have air-conditioning, there was an attic fan built into the house. Since it was so warm, my mom decided to crank up the attic fan. She told us to open our windows a little and soon the whole house would be cool. We did and after about a minute I got up to sit by the window. It was really strange. It was warm outside, yet the air coming in was cooler than an air conditioner. All my windows had suddenly turned into air-conditioners. I went back to my bed and sat on top of my blanket. After about a minute I could see all kinds of dust and things flying around in the air. I wanted to tell my mom, when I suddenly collapsed. I fell in the bed, totally unable to breathe. I knew that I had always had asthma, but I took medicine every day and went to get shots. I could feel my eyes bulging and heard myself screaming. After I screamed, I couldn’t inhale any more air back in. I was lying on the floor struggling to get some air. I felt like I was drowning. My mom came in and saw me and quickly picked me up and took me to the hospital.

I waited in the emergency room about a minute while my mom filled out paperwork. They hooked me up to this cool machine that was made of clear green plastic and then put an oxygen tank next to it. They hooked the whole thing together and put me on a stretcher. They kept telling me to relax, but I was relaxed, I just couldn’t breathe. They put the mask on my face and told me to breathe as best as I could. I tried, but it was really painful. Then they gave me a shot of adrenaline and added some chemicals to the apparatus that I was breathing through. After about twenty minutes I could breathe again, and I was wired out of my head. I had always been hyper, but after the excitement of the hospital and the adrenaline injection I was bouncing off the walls.

I used to sit and think sometimes about time. When I was nine I became convinced that I was constantly doing really stupid things. In my scenario, I would do something truly irrevocable, and then ask for it not to have happened. In exchange for this miracle, I would not be allowed to remember any of it. I thought that this was happening all the time, except that I didn’t completely forget. Or at least that I was aware that these things had and then hadn’t happened. It was the same reason I had for not believing in God. You couldn’t prove to me that He existed, I never really had faith in anything except myself. It got me and my brother kicked out of Hebrew School after a few months. You couldn’t prove that I wasn’t doing this kind of thing all the time, because even if it had happened, no one else would remember it either. I don’t know if it has stopped.
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