Tuesday, December 30, 2008

New Year's Resolutions

These are my New Year's resolutions from fifth grade. You may be unsurprised to learn that I no longer make New Year's resolutions.


New Year's Resolutions:

#1: To move into the Scarborough house.
#2: To spend more time with Baby, my guinea pig.
#3: To tame Bun-bun, my rabbit.
#4: To get a real baby-sitting job.
#5: To pass my ice-skating class.
#6: To finish my 3 stories I started.
#7: To put on the "Really Rosie" play.
#8: To take the baby-sitting class.
#9: To make improvements with the "school in the basement"
#10: To redecorate my room.


Did I effectively, uh, resolve these? Let's take it resolution by resolution and find out.

#1: To move into the Scarborough house.

My sister and I desperately wanted to move so that we could attend the same middle school as the majority of our friends. The amazing part is that our parents went for it! I particularly wanted to move into the Scarborough house because it meant I would be living just down the street from the love of my elementary school life, Sig. The hitch was that the current owners of the house were recluses and maybe even certifiably insane. However, after months upon months of negotiations (seriously, it took well over six months), we did end up getting the house.

Resolution #1: ACHIEVED! With minimal effort on my part.

#2: To spend more time with Baby, my guinea pig.

Would you care to hear a bit about Baby? I can neither confirm nor deny whether she was named after Jennifer Grey's character in Dirty Dancing. Little did we know, she was pregnant when we brought her home from the pet store—so maybe her name should have been Penny. She ended up having a three-pig litter, and we kept two of her babies, Peachy and Rosie (who was definitely named after Really Rosie; see Resolution #7).

Have you ever seen baby guinea pigs? Unlike baby rabbits, which look like squirmy hairless rats (and which we had more than our fair share of—it turned out we did NOT have two female rabbits after all), baby guinea pigs are amazingly cute! And they lived in my room! So I could play with them whenever I wanted! Well, at first I could. About a week after the babies were born, someone had to stick her big nose in.


My Mom Is Stupid!

She has resumed full responsibility of the babies. Of course it's "not to make us mad" but she has.

We cannot pick them up without her supervising. "We aren't responsible" she says.


She was even going to take my guinea pig (+ babies, of course) out of my room.


Hi, mom! There are loads of entries about the baby guinea pigs (two of them suffered through an allergen-induced bout of baldness at one point, and there was serious sibling rivalry between Rosie and Peachy), but there's also this:


I am allergic to dogs, cats, mayonaise, penicillan, raw eggs, and

[Please note: That list is WAY longer now. And no, avoiding raw eggs hasn't really been a problem.]

You can see that I made the New Year's resolution after this shocking allergy revelation, but seriously? How much time can you spend with something that gives you hives? It's too bad, because Baby was definitely the sweetest of all of our many pets. Although I realize that's not saying much.

Resolution #2: Achoo! Er, nope.

#3: To tame Bun-bun, my rabbit.

Guess what else I'm allergic to? That's right, rabbits. But we didn't know that because our rabbits rarely let us come within five feet of them. Those creatures outright loathed us.

I'm reverting to fourth grade to bring you this gem of a journal entry about Bun-bun:


I have a pet rabbit named Bun-bun. Sometimes she is sweet as honey and other times she's mad as a wet hen. [I'd say it was much more frequently the latter.] Bun-bun has been through a lot with her daughter, Runt, who was killed by a dog last year. I know that Bun-bun misses her, probably.

See, it wasn't that Bun-bun was pure evil, it's just that she was suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder.

Bun-bun is very special to me. She almost died with Runt because they were in the same cage. Bun-bun was found next door. I was so glad that Bun-bun was still alive! Once my sister said that her rabbit was her life. [!!!] I don't know if Bun-bun is that much to me or not.

Usually when a friend comes over we go in the basement to see the bunnies. We talk to Bun-bun, try to pet her
[emphasis on the "try"], give her food, and try to get her out of her cage. Sometimes I get mad at her because she knocks a bowl over. Sometimes I laugh because she acts silly. Bun-bun is important to me.

And here's a quick description of our rabbits from the fifth grade journal:

Bun [drawing of rabbit head] Bun: is my rabbit. She's boring. She doesn't let me hold her or pet her. But I won't give her up!

Cottontail [the o's are drawn as fuzzy bunny tails]: is Genie's bunny. He is like Bun-Bun, except sometimes you can pick him up. Though, he doesn't like it.

The fact that I felt I needed to "tame" a domesticated rabbit should speak volumes. Before we moved, we gave the bunnies to some friends of the family who lived in rural Ohio. Apparently Bun-bun was not my life, and I could give her up after all.

Resolution #3: Failed miserably.

#4: To get a real baby-sitting job.

I was 11, and my name is neither Mallory Pike nor Jessi Ramsey.

Resolution #4: Not this year! Thanks for nothing, Ann M. Martin.

#5: To pass my ice-skating class.

According to my journal, I did pass, but I should have flunked. I also hated my ice-skating teacher, Sue, and my woeful inability to execute a "mohawk."

Those creepy kite/stick people are achieving what I never could. And it looks like they're doing it on a tightrope! Show-offs.

Resolution #5: Technically achieved. Way to go! Though I'm pretty sure I did not pass the next class thanks to those accursed mohawks.

#6: To finish my 3 stories I started.

Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha. Hahahahahaha. Ha ha. Haaaaaaa.

Resolution #6: No way in hell.

#7: To put on the "Really Rosie" play.

I don't know if you've seen Really Rosie, but it is a musical revolving around a 10-year-old animated Brooklynite with an overactive imagination, a very high opinion of herself (sample lyric: "I can tap across the the Tappan Zee / Hey, can't you see? / I'm terrific at everything!"), and the voice of Carole King. In other words, TOTALLY AWESOME.

Really Rosie

"Really Rosie" is actually a movie. My mom rented it [...if by "rented" you mean "borrowed from the library"]. Maurice Sendak made it. The characters are: Rosie, Johnny, Alligator, Pierre, Chicken Soup, and a girl (we) named Jennifer. We wrote [ahem, transcribed] a script and the songs. It is going to be a play. The school in the basement's students [aka my four-year-old brother and his friends] can put it on for their parents.

Rosie – Sada

Jennifer – Genie
Pierre – Josh

– Will
– Luke
Chicken Soup
– "Molly" ("Molly" is a doll!)

Molly was a very large doll with a very unfortunate haircut given to her by her previous owners. My dad rescued her at a garage sale.

I was the director and I also gave myself the juiciest role. Josh, as Pierre, had only one line, repeated over and over: "I don't care."

#1: Really Rosie
#2: One Was Johnny
#3: Alligators All Around
#4: Pierre
#5: Such An Ordinary Day
#6: Chicken Soup With Rice

– Really Sada

Yes, it "really" says that. Little did I know, HarperTrophy had published a book version of Really Rosie, which would have been very, very handy to have back in 1989. For instance, turns out Jennifer's name is actually Kathy! Who knew?

We definitely slaved away in rehearsals, but our cast of four- and five-year-olds were not really committed to the full-scale production. Molly was a trooper, though.

I just asked my brother if he could remember whether we ever performed this (he could not), and this is what he had to say about Really Rosie: "Yeah, I didn't like that."

Resolution #7: Not even under duress.

#8: To take the baby-sitting class.

The baby-sitting class was offered by the Red Cross, and I believed it would help me to attain Resolution #4. My friend Jessica and I took this class together, and although I didn't snag a proper baby-sitting job for several more years, the baby-saving lessons did help spark a subplot in my (forthcoming) book Quintuple Trouble.

Resolution #8: Achieved with unexpectedly awesome side effects!

#9: To make improvements with the "school in the basement"

My sister and I were really into forcing my brother and his friends to be "students" in the fake school we held in our dungeon basement. Unfortunately, we lost most of our students after our move.

Resolution #9: Vastly unimproved.

#10: To redecorate my room.

Well, I moved in April of 1989, so I acquired an entirely new room! How's that for redecorating?

Resolution #10: Achieved and then some!

Well, what do you guys think? Four out of ten ain't bad. In fact, I think that might be a Meatloaf song. And at least I got to redecorate my room.

NEXT TIME: The guest authors are back! The first installment in Deathycat's Dear Sister trilogy features murder, sibling rivalry, and even more murder.

Happy New Year, everyone! Thanks so much for reading my little blog this year! I resolve to bring you even more embarrassment in '09.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

In the History of the World

First, the bad news: I didn't make it to Cleveland after all thanks to Snowzilla's extended beat-down on Portland. My luggage, on the other hand, moseyed there and back—too bad it couldn't smuggle me a falafel sandwich from Tommy's. So not only did I miss out on Christmas with my parents (you guys, my holiday was so makeshift that I decorated a small houseplant with ornaments, no joke), but I also couldn't get my hands on Zaggy Tales and miscellaneous other goodies I know are still boxed up in the eaves. Rats!

What's the good news? More time for blogging! Er... that is, if I can find any time in between the giant book I'm proofreading and my many, many cookie breaks. And don't worry, I'll schedule a makeup trip to the Cleve at some point. So, onward!

One of my favorite books circa fifth grade was Just as Long as We're Together. Don't even get me started. The Benjamin Moore poster? Jeremy Dragon's chartreuse jacket?
Cousin Howard's claim that burping is a compliment to the chef? The words comely and fusty? Steph's gluts? Allison's talking dog? Rachel Robinson's designer jeans and lampshade top? Steph's shirt with the little animals marching on it? Oh man, I am so jonesing for a reread right now.

Plotwise, In the History of the World bears no resemblance to Just as Long as We're Together (no Richard Gere posters named after paint cans here... or parents separating... or long-time friendships dissolving...) but I really think I was trying to imitate Judy Blume's writing style. See if you notice any Judyisms as you read. My story also features a protagonist who is not at all loathsome! I know, I know, it's kind of crazy.

In The History Of The World

If there has ever been a nicer day in the history of the world, I will be very surprised.

We got out late for winter break this year. It was the 23rd. The 5th grade got to watch a good movie, 'A Christmas Story'. I love that movie.

This is based on real life. The only movie we watched more at school parties was The Neverending Story. Oh my sweet lord, ALWAYS with The Neverending Story. Periodically they'd shake things up with, say, Flight of the Navigator or even a heartwarming faux-kidnapping film like Savannah Smiles.

I got to sit with my two best friends, Amanda Thompson and Georgia Libb. I gave them red heart-shaped pins that say, 'FRIENDS FOREVER' in black letters that go across. I have one, too. Georgia gave me a little monkey figure. I think it's a Chimpanzee. I named it Tarzan.

This is also based on real life; I know because I mentioned a stuffed monkey named Tarzan in one of the journal entries in my last post. And I hate to nitpick—especially when it involves a monkey—but technically shouldn't that chimp's name be Cheetah?

Amanda made us shirts that say, 'WILD THING' in splashy, bright pink, well, hot pink letters. On the back are our names. She gave me Georgia's and she gave Georgia mine by mistake.

OMG. Hot pink puffy-painted WILD THING shirts? Amanda, you've outdone yourself!

Then the best thing happened.
[Better than the WILD THING shirts?! Do tell!] This boy in my class, Adam Craine, came up and gave me a gift. I'm not kidding. I was so surprised.

Definitely NOT based on a real life. However, receiving a gift from someone with a Y chromosome (who was not related to me!—very important stipulation) was an event that I fervently wished would occur.

"Don't open it until Christmas." he said as he walked away. I guess he was really nervous.

Amanda and Georgia were freaking out. So was I. A boy had given me a present. I hadn't liked Adam before, but I was starting to. He was very nice and he looked all right.
[What a glowing endorsement!]

"I can't imagine what it is." squealed Georgia.

"Do you think it's perfume, Loni?" asked Amanda.

"I don't know." I answered, looking at the box. It was wrapped in holiday wrapping paper. There were little elves on it. It was like a shoe box, only shorter and higher.

Is it possible for something to be simultaneously shorter and higher? And how much does it weigh? Throw us a bone here, Loni. A bottle of perfume does not have the same heft as, say, a stuffed bunny.

"It must be a big bottle of perfume." remarked Georgia.

"I guess." I said.

Do fifth graders really wear perfume? Yikes.

"What does the card say?" asked Amanda.

The card said,
"Dear Loni,
Here's wishing you the best holiday season ever and a great new year.
"LOVE." shrieked Amanda and Georgia at the same time.

Love, schmove! No checkboxes? No poetry? No complimentary prose regarding Loni's pants? BO-RING!

"He sure does have a thing for you." teased Amanda.

"Omigod. Loni, he's looking at you right now." said Georgia.

"And he's smiling." said Amanda. "Take a look."

I looked. They were right. Adam was staring and smiling. I was going to smile back, but he looked away. I guess he was really, really nervous.

"Oh, well." said Amanda just as Georgia said, "Awww, darn."

Our class party was neat. I sat with Stacy
[who I renamed Beth Robbins after I Friendship-ified the story]. Amanda isn't in my class. Georgia isn't in my class, either. We had pizza, candy canes, all this other candy, and cake. Then Miss Kudje [yessss! The Kudje is back!] opened her presents. I gave her this thing my mom stitched. It says, 'BEHIND EVERY GREAT STUDENT IS A GREAT TEACHER'. She liked it. My mom loves to stitch. She is going to teach me how. The party was fun.

Whatever you do, don't tell Miss Kudje about your gift from a boy, unless you want her to launch into a soliloquy about what her cute, semi-delinquent boyfriend, Tim, bought her for Christmas in fifth grade. (My money's on cigarettes. You?)

I met Amanda and we walked home together. Georgia's mom picked her up. They are going to Florida for Christmas. Her grandparents live there. Georgia is really lucky. I stay home for Christmas. Last year Amanda went to California, but this year she's staying home, like me.

"You are so lucky." said Amanda as we walked. "I wish a boy gave me something. Georgia is real jealous. She told me after your class left the movie. I am too. I never guessed ADAM. I didn't really notice him. He's OK, though. I mean he's nice."

I knew what Amanda was saying. That Adam didn't look too hot. She was right, of course.

I like how so far the moral of this story is You Can Like a Boy Who Isn't Cute as Long as He Gives You Gifts.

"Just because he isn't really cute doesn't mean I can't like him. A lot of people aren't really cute. Like Michael Finnegahn." Right away I knew I could have said someone else. Amanda turned red. She likes Michael. I thought she would kill me, but she didn't say anything.

"I'm sorry." I said.

"That's OK." Amanda said after awhile. "I guess we're even." We both smiled.

WHAT? Normally that exchange would have led to a knock-down, drag-out fight in which one or both of the girls would throw her new heart-shaped FRIENDS FOREVER pin to the ground and stomp off in a huff. Instead we have... APOLOGIES and SMILING? This must be Judy's influence.

"Don't look, but here comes Lover Boy."

I wanted to strangle Amanda. Instead we just laughed.

When Adam got close I said, "Thank you."

"You didn't open it, did you? I said to wait until Christmas." Adam practically screamed.

"No." I said. I was surprised by his outburst.
[Me too! There isn't a strange ticking sound coming from that package, is there?] "I didn't open it."

"Ok" He said as he ran away. I guess he was really, really, really nervous.

"Talk about moody." Amanda said. "Shy one moment, fierce the next."

I am totally picturing Adam as Tyra Banks right now. Or maybe Jay Manuel.

"I'll say." I said.

"Call me on Christmas between 2 and 3 o'clock. Okay?" called Amanda as we approached her street.

"OK." I yelled. We waved to each other and I headed towards my street, feeling very excited.

Right when I walked through the door, Matthew threw himself at me. "Tabby had babies." he breathlessly announced.

"She did?" I shouted.

"She did. She did." repeated Danielle.

Tabby is our cat. Danielle and Matthew are my sister and brother. I also have another younger sister named Monika.

If you're truly interested, there's a little sheet of paper in the book's folder upon which is typed the following:
The Hopkins
Mr. Joseph
Mrs. Wilhemena
Loni 10½
Monika 9
Danni 6
Matt 6
Ah, old stitch-loving Wilhemina.

Tabby had had her babies..... in a pile of dirty clothes on my floor.
[I can't believe their cat isn't spayed. Bob Barker would be outraged.] "In my room." I exclaimed. "I feel so honored."

"I'll bet." said Monika.

I was about to say something really mean to her when dad burst through the door. I thought he was happy because it was his last day of work for a week.

My dad owned a diner, so my grasp of "vacation time" was loose at best.

"You'll never guess," shouted dad as we all ran downstairs. "Starting next week, I'll be the president of Straton & Co."

"Oh, Joseph." said mom and they hugged. Matt made gagging sounds and Danni laughed.

"Mr. Straton is retiring and since the vice president moved away last week, he asked me."

In 10-year-old logic, that makes total sense.

Then the phone rang. It was gramme. She wanted to take the kids in our family out to lunch on the 1st.

Then dad took us all out to celebrate with Chinese food. I almost forgot to put Adam's present under the tree. I did right as I got into bed. I tip-toed downstairs. Mom and Dad wanted to know who it was from so, I said a friend at school which wasn't a lie, but I know they checked it out when I left.

Loni neglected to mention the bow earlier. Does anyone else suspect Adam's mom had a hand in this gift?

On the 24th I woke up thinking about the dream I had the night before.

I dreamt I was walking on air to find the rainbow. I was going up and up and up. Then I fell through a cloud. I was falling, falling, falling. I saw Georgia lounging in a huge indoor swimming pool, Amanda talking to Michael Finnegahn, who looked like a sick dog
[I think that means he was showing interest in Amanda, not that he needed to hurl], Matt and Danni opening their gifts, Monika snooping in my room, Gramme out at lunch (without me). I saw the pavement below me and I screamed at it. I was going to hit the ground just as Adam caught me. He held me in his arms and whispered into my ear, "Loni, I...."

"Oh, wake up already, geek burger." yelled Monika. She never fails.

"Oh, shut up already, monkey-butt breath." I yelled.

"I don't shut up I grow up and when I look at you I throw up."

"Then you come around the corner and lick it up." We both yelled.

"JINX." screamed Monika, slamming the door.

Okay, that was pretty awesome. Geek burger and monkey-butt breath? That sounds like some sort of amazing crime-fighting duo! Except, wait, how exactly does one acquire monkey-butt breath? Never mind, I don't think I want to know.

My friends and I were huge fans of the "I don't shut up I grow up..." line, as featured in
Stand By Me. Our other favorite movie to poach insults from was Pee-wee's Big Adventure: "I know you are, but what am I?", "I don't make monkeys, I just train 'em!", "Why don't you take a picture? It'll last longer!", etc., etc.

Then I wanted to call Amanda or Georgia, but I couldn't. Amanda was having a party and said not to call, she'd be real busy.
[Yes, I believe she has you scheduled from 2:00–3:00 on the 25th.] And Georgia was in Florida. I really wanted to tell them about my dream. I think Adam was saying, "Loni, I love you." I'd smile and say, "I love you, too, Adam." Then we'd kiss. Not a long, slimy, slurpy french kiss. [Thanks for that visual.] A little peck would suit me fine.

Now she loves him?! Loni, you might want to hold off on the L-word until you find out what's in that box. It might not be the best trade-off for a bottle of Electric Youth.

I kept hoping either Amanda or Adam would call me. No one called me. I was really depressed. Matt and Danni went sledding with their friends. I was really, really depressed. I was bored.

We went from the nicest day in the history of the world to slit-your-wrists ennui in less than 24 hours!

And that was actually where I left off in fifth grade. Fortunately, I started a rewrite in sixth grade and—this has to be a Christmas miracle!—I actually added new material. Well, only about a page of new material, but let's not knock it. Also of note: I deleted all the lines about depression and left off with this:

All day I kept hoping Amanda or Adam would call me, but no one did.

My family came over for Christmas Eve dinner. Gramma
[Gramme got renamed Gramma—lame], Uncle Ward, Aunt Irma, and my cousins, Clyde, Cheryl, Ernest, Lynn, Juliann, Wade, Sheila, Roy, and Dina were all there. I know, my aunt and uncle have nine kids.

And rather eclectic taste in names.

Dad told them all about how he became president of Straton & Co. It was very boring.

In the rewrite, Mr. Hopkins was the current veep of Straton & Co., which makes his presidential rise much more plausible, albeit just as boring. What kind of business do you think Straton & Co. IS anyway? Let's Google it!

Omigod, the only one listed is an ELECTRICIAN, I shit you not. Maybe Loni can whip up some phone bugs later and find out what kind of trash Adam's talking to all the fifth grade dudes. I'll bet Rich Alzone has a thing or two to say about that present.

Then I saw Juliann and Sheila, who are eleven and thirteen, looking around under the tree.


"Do you have a boyfriend, Loni?" asked Sheila, the one who is thirteen.

"No." I said, looking at Adam's present in her hands.

"Who else would sign a card 'LOVE'?" Juliann asked. What could I say?

"This boy at my school who has a crush on me." I said finally. "Could I please have my present back?"

"Not so fast." Sheila put the gift behind her back. "Come here, Juliann." she said and whispered something in her ear. Juliann nodded. Sheila smiled smugly. I glanced at her. The present was still behind her back.

Geez, do they have nothing better to do than taunt a 10-year-old? Excuse me,

Juliann got her sisters, Cheryl and Lynn, who are fifteen [i.e., way too old for this crap!] and eight. They were all talking and giggling. Then, all four of them ran up into the bathroom with the present.

I was right behind them as they ran into the bathroom, but they managed to slam the door in my face.

This doesn't sound good.

After what seemed like two zillion hours, but was really only about fifteen minutes, they came out. They didn't have the gift with them. I ran into the bathroom, searching frantically for it.

I found it in the toilet.

The wrapping paper was on the floor and the box had been opened, but I think the present was still inside. I pulled it out
[ick!] and put it on the floor.

I sat on the edge of the tub and cried. If it was perfume
, it was definitely ruined.

AND THAT'S IT! First off, Loni's cousins are twats. Worst cousins in the history of the world. Second, I'm pretty sure that if it was perfume, it would be okay. I mean, what's a little toilet water to toilette water? A stuffed animal, on the other hand, would be pretty screwed.

Sadly, I have no memory of what the gift was going to be (probably because I hadn't decided yet), so your guess is as good as mine: Smurf figurines? Snap bracelets? The La Bamba soundtrack on tape? What did a 10-year-old boy buy a girl in 1988? That's not a rhetorical question, by the way; I really have no idea.

NEXT TIME: My New Year's resolutions from 20 years ago. Woo boy, do I feel old.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008


I'm a half-Jew, and although my family never went in for a combo holiday like the Cohens did—or like my friend Jamie, whose family celebrated Hanumas—December did mean double the holiday action, if not double the gifts.

First we would celebrate Hanukkah with my mom's family. My grandma would throw a giant party and invite all of my mom's cousins and their kids, and we'd have a gift exchange akin to a Not-So-Secret Maccabee.

[Note: I'm breaking my own rules here by including journal entries from way back in fourth grade too, but I think you'll thank me once you're knee-deep in the late '80s toy nostalgia and crazy Christmas injury drama.


Journal Topic:
A tradition I enjoy

I like going to my grandmother's house for Chanukkah. It's fun. My grandma
[gives] everyone a present. She tells us on her invitations who we are to give a gift to. My aunt and uncle give me a present, too.

When we eat there are big tables for all of the people. My grandma makes potato pancakes. Potato pancakes are just delicuous. She makes jello, too. I get stuffed.

Potato pancakes are delicuous!

We play board games. No one knows how to do the draydel, except maybe Joel. Sometimes we play hide-and-seek. Other times, Sammy chases us. Genie and I play with Courtney and sometimes her little sister, Laura.

I'm going to see Sammy next week, and I hope he doesn't chase me.

Then we have to go home. Everyone wants to stay and keep playing, the kids anyway. We have to go because gram and gramp need sleep and time to pick up wrapping paper.

Damn wrapping paper!

Journal Topic: Free Choice

On Hanukkah I got Mimi, the 'Hot Looks' doll I wanted. Mimi is a blond. Her hair is long and curly. She has blue eyes. She even has make-up on! She has 2 outfits you can mix-and-match with.

Had I joined the Hot Looks marketing team or something? Yet I neglected to mention the following very important facts: Mimi is a model, from France, and exclusively wears clothing that is either shiny or lacy.

What is going on in the outfit farthest to the left? Mimi looks like she swiped a pair of Muhammad Ali's fight trunks. And then paired it with a sweat band. And leopard print. And lace! Dear God!

You can find more Hot Looks photos than you ever needed to see

The day after Christmas my favorite far-away-living cousin, Bonnie, is coming for a visit. Bonnie likes unicorns, so we bought her some.
Jimmy [Bonnie's brother] is coming, too. I forget what we bought him. We might go to Seaworld with them.

Bonnie was in high school and she had a unicorn collection. Win! Also, yes, there used to be a SeaWorld in Aurora, OH. And no, it is nowhere near any sort of sea. If you think a trip there in the dead of the Cleveland winter sounds like a recipe for frostbite, you're much smarter than anyone in my family.

On the 28th my grandma is taking my sister and me to the movie "Three Men and a Baby". I hear it's really good. I'm looking forward to it. We were going to see it on the 21st but there was a change of plans.

My grandma told me that she heard the baby liked
Tom Selleck the best, and I've had a soft spot for him ever since.

Journal Topic: Over the holiday

On Christmas my dad dropped a razor blade on my brother's foot. He was cutting the string off of some doll clothes for my sister. The razor blade slipped and my brother was right under him. He's okay now.

Utility knives, mmm, maybe not the best Christmas gifts. My parents probably should have taken my brother in for stitches, but they didn't want to ruin the holiday. He was 3
½ at the time and he cried and cried and cried and told everyone, "I don't ever want to have Christmas again!" Even after we let him have TWO hot chocolates.

I had a good holiday. I already wrote all my thank-you letters one night when I couldn't fall asleep. I wrote a whole lot of thank-you letters. I'm glad they're done.

My cousins, Bonnie and Jimmy came for a visit. Bonnie hasn't seen our house. We had her put blue lip-stick on.

My sister and I loved the shit out of that lipstick! I think it was leftover from one of our "punk rock" costumes.

We also went to Sea World with them my toes froze. My dad, my brother, Aunt Cindy, Bonnie, and I went to see the penguins when everyone else went ice-skating. We had fun.

"My toes froze" does not come remotely close to conveying how cold it was that day. So. Miserably. Cold.

Fifth grade's holidays were less bloody and more gifty:


We, meaning my sister and I, are writing a story called Zaggy Tales. It's about my grandmother, Maxine. She used to call herself Magazine. She was nicknamed ZAGGY.

My sister, Genie, and I are making this book, containing 6 stories. We are going to give it to my gramma for Hanukkah.

It's going to take a long time to finish ZAGGY TALES!

We have to:
Write the rough draft
Find a cover
Type final draft
Get photographs
Draw pictures
Bind book

I love how serious I was. Revisions? BINDING?! I'm pretty sure we just stuck it into a folder with brads.


We have finished ZAGGY TALES. It is typed, pictures glued, and bound. I can't wait till grandma sees it tonite at the Chanuka party


I think I have a copy of Zaggy Tales back in Cleveland, where I happen to be heading next week. Let me know if you're interested in hearing Zaggy's actual tales. If I remember correctly, they involve Shirley Temple, fireplace implements, and general brattiness.

Hanukkah Party

At the Hanukkah Party I got a 'P'Jammer' which is an alarm clock and a radio with head phones, a Sylvanian family, and something else. Will
didn't come because he was sick.

My poor little brother, screwed two holiday seasons in a row!

But let's take a look at those presents, shall we?

The P'Jammer. So p'astel.
I think it matches the Hot Looks doll! And of course my Sylvanian family, the Wildwoods:

I had a rabbit collection. I know, I know, it's not nearly as cool as a unicorn collection.

The Sylvanian families had marketing material to rival the Hot Looks dolls. Like, check this out (not written by me, but by actual writing professionals):
Herb Wildwood loves to throw parties. He doesn't need a reason like someone's birthday or anniversary to invite all his family and friends around for a bit of a do!

Ginger Wildwood is a great hostess, famous for her legendary party food and especially for her spicy carrot and lettuce cake.

Rusty Wildwood is very, very musical. He can play most instruments well, but likes the trumpet and electric guitar best because they're loud and brash.

Hollie Wildwood is like her father and just loves parties, her favourite occasions being Christmas and New Year.

What. the. hell. Because all children dream of owning a party-planning rabbit named Herb?

!Christmas IS Coming!

So we got a Christmas [tree], wrapped Christmas presents (I've bought all mine already) and do Christmas-like things. EXAMPLE: We took out our Santa who plays songs, dings a bell, and is too loud*. We also put up our stocking. CHRISTMAS IS FUN!

*He is battery operated and there is no volume to use

I can't believe I found a picture of him! Keep in mind, however, that no picture can possibly capture his stilted shuffle or gratingly slurred version of "Santa Claus Is Coming to Town." He was a little creepy. And we loved him desperately.

Winter Break

I got these for Christmas:

An Indians jacket, a nightshirt, a robe, a pair of slippers, a book-holder, a bookmark, a curio house, a camera, film, and some stuff in my stocking. Best of all, I got a OUIJA (wee-gee) BOARD! I got a stuffed monkey (TARZAN) too.

Check out that jacket:

Stylin'! My dad and sister had the same one so when we went out together, we were like triplets. Really, really cool triplets. And one of us had a beard.

The Ouija board, however, was the gift that kept on giving... giving really inaccurate predictions, that is. One time in ninth grade the "spirit" even claimed to be Michael Landon, but I wasn't buying it.

Over Winter Break, I:
Saw Twins. (It was stupid. There was no plot.)


Sled down our stairs.


Started writing 3 good stories, and other things I don't remember.

I've deduced that those "good stories" were The Sabrina Story, In the History of the World (coming up next!), and My Diary (coming in the new year, I swear).

So happy holidays, everyone! Though I'm not officially celebrating Hanukkah this year, I do plan on eating bagels and going to the movies on Christmas. Both of my halves are psyched!

NEXT TIME: Christmas comes to Friendship, and it is surprisingly unobnoxious.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Only in My Dreams

Last night I dreamed about this blog.

I'm serious.

Specifically, I dreamed that I found extra pages in the Syra Cuse story (but only a couple of extra pages, because I'm realistic even when I'm unconscious) and a book about a bunch of gymnastics whizzes who also happened to be quintuplets. There were even illustrations. (I think it goes without saying, but YES, they were awesome.)

Should I be worried about this? Do I need an intervention? How much blogging is too much???

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Friendship: The Book

Once I realized I was writing a series, I knew I had to have a book that would prepare my readers for all of the boy craziness, girl bitchiness, and natural disasters that lay ahead. (All right, all right, so I never made it that far with the disasters. I still feel pretty confident that Friendship lies on a major fault line.)

I needed a Kristy's Great Idea, but by this time I had read Baby-sitters on Board! too, and I was powerless to resist the lure of the Super Special style. I mean, what better way to introduce my 100 characters than to let each of them narrate a chapter? Plus, the abundant narration might help to distract from the fact that my book had no plot. SOLD!

Actually, I'm not entirely sure what the plan was here, but I do have three chapters, each narrated by a different fifth grade girl. Bizarrely, while there are only three chapters, there are actually two drafts of the story in the folder. ?! It looks like I started a rewrite circa sixth grade. The differences between the two manuscripts are pretty negligible, put I'll be sure to point out any amusing changes.

Now, are you guys ready to start fifth grade? Again?

Friendship Books #1: Friendship Begins

Just the ten of us starring mom, dad, Toby, Syra, Gloria, Peter, Evie, Hope, Faith, and Patience Cuse. Today's show is about BBBBBBBIIIIIIIZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ.

The first edit happened right off the bat. Maybe Just the Ten of Us was passé by 1990? I don't know, but I rewrote the opening paragraph as:

I was right in the middle of a very good dream about a fairy godmother who was letting me change my name. "When I say the magic words and tap you on the head with my wand." she said. "You will have a new name." I nodded. "Abracadabra hocus pocus." she chanted. She leaned over and was just about to tap me on the head when-


Combined, the intro paragraphs let us know that nothing much has changed with our old friend Syra Cuse: She still has an embarrassingly large family, and she still has an embarrassingly sucky name.

I leaned over and pressed the button to stop my alarm. Why does that always happen to me? Then I remembered, today was the first day of fifth grade and we were starting a new school today because our old one burnt down.

Apparently the school fire was a popular child author plot device. But hey, this presents something of a problem. This is supposed to be the first book in the series (as clearly indicated by the #1), and yet the preadolescent promo material for Syra Cuse describes events that happened prior to this: the Cuses moving to town, the birth of the triplets, etc. What gives? Well, either I was going to iron out these inconsistencies at some later date (probably the same hypothetical point in time at which I was going to finish writing all 852 of these stories) or, like any true series writer, I was prepared to throw chronological caution to the wind. Time was going to pass in Friendship, and at the same time it was not going to pass at all. Fifth grade 4-eva!

I heard mom walk into the bathroom and throw Toby's cat, Kal-Kan out. One of the triplets screamed and mom grumbled. I climbed down off the bunk-bed. I shook my 8½-year-old sister, Gloria. She opened her bright blue eyes and pushed her silky blond hair out of her face. Why didn't I look more like her?

"Friendship." said Gloria. She was wide awake. Friendship is the name of our new school. "I heard your alarm go off."

"Wake up Evie." I said as Gloria bounced out of bed. Evie (Evelyn) just turned 5 and she was starting kindergarten.

I ran into the bathroom
[Dude! Mrs. Cuse must be the world's fastest pee-er!] before Toby or Gloria could. Mom was waking up Toby (13) and Peter (6). Peter is the homeless boy we adopted. [Told you so.] He was starting kindergarten too.

I heard my baby sister triplets, Hope, Faith, and Patience gurgling. They are nine months now. Well, 8½.

My mom insisted that the triplets should really be named Faith, Hope, and Charity á la 1 Corinthians 13:13. But I totally ignored her because the Guns N' Roses single "Patience" was hugely popular when I authored this. The Bible or G N' R Lies? Please! There's no contest.

It was then that I noticed that there was rain beating on the house. But there was no thunder or lightning. We get so many bad storms around here, but why today? Of all days? Who knows.

I walked out of the bathroom and mom said, "You're going to walk to school today." I gave her a look and she said, "Go get dressed." [The rewrite changed this to, "Go get dressed, Syra," which allows the next paragraph to actually make sense.]

Oh yeah, you pronounce my name Sara, but my geeky mother thinks it's cute spelling it S-Y-R-A since our last name is Cuse and I was born in Syracuse, New York. We are always moving. We moved here last year. I met Murphy McBrien last year when we were both new and my other friend is Chelsea Burroughs who has lived here almost all her life and is very rich. Some people think she is a snobbishly spoiled brat because she spends her money on clothes. She has very exotic tastes.

Huh, maybe this is why I like Chelsea's outfits. I too must have exotic tastes.

I helped dress Evie and we went down to breakfast. Gloria was long gone.

Dad was reading the newspaper. "The sewer system is clogged and they're supposed to start work tomorrow. Sure hope this rain lets up."

"Hello, my name is Foreshadowing. So nice to meet you!"

Yes, there was going to be a flood. I know this for certain because there's also a sheet of notebook paper in the folder that says:

1) There will be a flood

And that's the only idea. You can see why my stories never got very far.

"Wow." Toby said sarcastically. He is always grumpy when he wakes up. He still looks good.
[Um, ew. Thanks, V.C. Andrews. You'll be happy to know that line got the axe in the rewrite.] He used to be real shy and skinny, but over the summer he got some muscle and loosened up. He has blond hair and blue eyes like Gloria.

"TOBEE." whined Evie
[the rewrite adds: in her pathetic little voice. So much sisterly love!] "Are you gonna walk me to school?"

"No." I answered. "I am. Toby goes to the middle school."

"I can answer for myself." growled Toby. "I'm in seventh grade and I go to the junior high, but it's right down the street from your school, so I'll walk with you, but I'm going to walk with Chris too." I rolled my eyes, but it was a lie
[in the rewrite it's a total lie] because I like Chris. He's stuck-up Michelle Brewer's big brother. He is really cute and popular and started hanging with Toby this summer.

There was a knock on the door. Little Miss Muffet
[oooooh, burn!] ran to get it. She opened the door. It was Chris.

"Knocker out of order." giggled Gloria. She think it's hysterical because we don't have a knocker and our doorbell isn't working.

Little Miss Muffet is a big pain. I mean hear is great-looking Chris looking better than ever and Gloria says her stupid joke. I was so embarassed.

Chris just grinned his beautiful smile at Gloria and sat down right across the table from me.

I was dazed.

I'm in love.




Admit it, you guys have missed those asterisks.

#2: Murphy McBrien




Toby opened the door. I turned to oatmeal. No, it was worse than oatmeal. I had melted into a slush puppy!

Now you all know how crappy I am at Photoshop. Actually, I'm lying. I don't even have Photoshop, so I was forced to whip that up in Paint. That's almost as embarrassing as Little Miss Muffet's "knocker out of order" joke. (Which I'm not sure I really get, by the way. Maybe you have to be in elementary school?)

"Come in, Murphy." he muttered. Was that a hint of love I heard there? Probably not. What would a nice, adorable, and sweet seventh grade boy like Toby Cuse be doing with a frizzy headed, clumbsy, boring
[crossed out: vengeful!] 5th grade girl like me? Don't answer that.

Well, Murphy may have low self-esteem, but you can't really argue with her about the hair.

"Knocker out of order." Gloria yelled. What a stupid joke. My best friend, Syra, was sitting across the table from and staring at Toby's popular friend, Chris Brewer. He's OK.

My friend Casey recently e-mailed me the following hilarious quote from her elementary school diary, which she used to characterize one of the boys in our class: "He's not a dream boy, but he's not barf." I think this is a genius description, and one I'm going to try to employ more often. Therefore, Chris Brewer: not a dream boy, but not barf.

"Earth to Syra." I said. Syra looked up at me and turned red. She told me about her crush on Chris yesterday.

"Hi, Fee." She said. "Have a seat."

I sat down next to her and Evie and across from Gloria. I didn't want to be that obvious. I glanced at Toby.

Slush puppy, I thought to myself.

"Time to head out." said Mrs. Cuse.

Syra grabbed her backpack and umbrella. My hair was soaked and it must've looked like a frizzy mop from all the rain.

"Your parents actually let you walk over in the rain."

"Yeah." I said to Syra. "They go to work earlier now." My parents are high school teachers. I wanted to stick my frizzy mop head into her hall closet.

"Oh, yeah." said Syra. "Toby and Chris are walking with us today."

I almost fainted.

"OK." I said calmly. "I told Chelsea we'd meet her at the corner."

I can't believe I'll be walking with my dream boy.

I can't believe ANYONE is walking in this weather. What neglectful parents! Plus, who doesn't take their child—not to mention their adopted homeless orphan—to school on their first day of kindergarten? I was under the impression that was a milestone of sorts. Sandra and Carl, you are horrible parents. First the punchline name, and now this.

"Sure thing, Fee." said Syra. How could she act so uninterested?

I won't lose my cool.

The ten of us walked outside. Evie shrieked at the rain. Gloria knocked on the door and used her joke. Peter jumped into a puddle. I slipped and Toby caught me.

My hero.

I think I'm going to melt.

"TOBY AND MURPHY SITTING IN A TREE K-I-S-S-I-N-G." screamed Gloria. I was blushing furiously. Toby kicked Gloria. [What a sweet seventh grade boy!] He wasn't embarrassed.

It's hopeless.

I have no social life.

I want to sink into a puddle and die.

I really want to die.

I look at Toby.

Well, maybe death can wait!

Chelsea was at the corner, waving furiously. She was wearing a new black and hot pink jacket and a tight black mini skirt.

EXOTIC! Well, exotic dancer maybe?

She gets away with murder. She lives with her dad and he lets her do just about anything she wants. So Chelsea takes advantage of that.

I don't blame her.

We met Chelsea at the corner. She was chattering non stop until Gloria shrieked when the wind blew her dress up.

The wind was so wild now and we all had trouble walking except for Chelsea and the boys.
[I don't know what Chelsea's secret is. Her miniskirt has wind-repelling powers, perhaps? She's actually the smallest of the three girls.]

Then it blew Chelsea's hot pink umbrella so far away that it was useless to chase it. Chelsea swore under her breath.

We closed our umbrellas.

There was a sudden gust of wind. I grabbed Peter, Syra grabbed Evie, and Toby grabbed Gloria. All of us ducked under a tree as the wind blew off a large branch that almost landed on Chelsea.

Terrible, terrible parents all around.

There was rumble of thunder and jagged lightning cut through the sky.

Someone across the street screamed.

A cliffhanger!

#3: M*I*C*H*E*L*L*E B*R*E*W*E*R

"Shut up." hissed Ellen, but we were all in hysterics.

I was walking to school for the first time. I had always been bused before, but we lived closer so now I could walk to our new school, Friendship. I was walking with my two best friends, Kristin Seals and Ellen Irving.

Kris had just screamed because she saw the Cuse's, Murphy McBrien, Chelsea Burroughs, and my brother walking to school.

She probably scared the life out of them.

"I wonder," said Kris. "How Syra, Murphy, and Chelsea are actually walking to school with Toby and Chris."

"Me too." breathed Ellen. "They're so cute."

Definitely not barf!

I gagged myself. My brother? Cute?

There must be some mistake.

"You guys are really some gross-outs." I said.

"Oh, give it up, Michelle." said Ellen.

"They're hunks." shrieked Kris
[13-year-old hunks, yeow!], but I knew she wasn't too interested in them because she really likes Ryan Lorber.

"Completely." squealed Ellen.

"Gross-out." I muttered.

I glanced over at the Brady Bunch. I noticed Chesty's new outfit, complete with matching coat.

CHESTY?! Having seen the illustrations, I'm going to have to disagree.

"Check out Chesty's clothes." I said. "What a slut."

I promised you girl bitchiness, and by God, I'm going to deliver!

"I know." whispered Ellen. "She is such a spoiled brat."

"What gets on my nerves is her always showing off." said Kris.

"Tell me about it." moaned Ellen.

Crossed-out it says: Now we were tired of gossiping about the Geek-o's, Chesty mainly. That so needs to be added back in.

"Hey Ellen, your mom really let you walk when you might catch a COLD." gasped Kris, changing the subject like she always does.

We all giggled.

Ellen's mom is soooo overprotected.

It's totally grossed-out.

Just so you know, Michelle, your catchphrase is wearing awfully thin.

"Only one more block 'til school." Kris announced.

"You mean Friendship." I reminded her.

"Yeah, Friendship." Kris repeated.

"There is water squishing into my shoes and my toes are all gooey." said Ellen.

"Mine too." agreed Kris.

"You guys are complete and total GROSS-OUTS." I announced.

Okay, that time it was valid.

Ellen and Kris just giggled.

How immature.

Rain started to pour down.

"Raindrops keep falling on my head!" sang Kris.

"Will you two just shut up. You're being really immature and it's not funny." I said.

Oh, blah blah, Michelle. You're TEN! You're not supposed to be mature!

"Oh really." said Ellen. "Well, Miss Perfection, I can see how mature YOU are."

"I know you can." I told her.

"Michelle, give it up already. You're not pretty or sophisticated.
You don't even get good grades like me and Kris. You're just one big bossy thinks-she's-perfect snob. Just like Chelsea Burroughs. Maybe even worse." screamed Ellen.

Damn, Ellen! It's like an insult volcano just erupted.


Worse than Chesty?

Chesty Burroughs?

The biggests, richest, snobby, show-off, spoiled brat?
[This sentence... I don't even know. Biggests?]


That really did it.

"You are one big baby, Ellen. That's why your mom treats you like one." I said.

"DON'T TALK ABOUT MY MOTHER." hissed Ellen. I had never seen her this mad before.

Whoa. Either Ellen forgot to take her antipsychotic this morning, or she has been pissed off at Michelle for, like, years. Anyway, Michelle was clearly insulting Ellen, not her mom. It's not like she busted out with: "Yo momma's so stupid, it took her two hours to watch 60 Minutes." Or "Yo momma's so fat, she makes Shamu look like a tic-tac." Or "Yo momma's so stupid, she thought Grape Nuts was an STD."

Okay, okay, I'm stopping.

"I'll talk to you later Kristen." I said as I stomped off.

I'll never speak to her again.


I can't believe we were ever best friends.

What a brat.


And that's where it ends. Although it looks like there was going to be not only a flood, but a DANCE as well. At least that's what this drawing seems to indicate:

Either that or Murphy and Chelsea are handcuffing Syra and carting her off to a fancy-dress girls' prison.

You can see that Chelsea's sugar daddy has once again scored her the best outfit. Syra's dress kind of looks like it went through a paper shredder and got sewn back together. And look! She's still wearing her friendship anklet! But I do like how Murphy and Syra are rocking varying degrees of side pony. Yes, girls, there's totally enough side pony to go around.

And even though this gives us serious proof of Chelsea's lack of chestiness, I will admit that Chesty makes for better name-calling than Little Miss Muffet, The Brady Bunch, and The Geek-o's combined.

NEXT TIME: Holiday-themed journal entries. Because there's no reason why we can't get festive and nostalgic.

Until then, you should definitely check out Deathycat's blog, Cradle to Coffin, for plotless playwriting, poo-filled poetry, and V.C. Andrews books re-enacted by Bratz dolls. It's even awesomer than it sounds.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Syra Cuse

I think the Cuses were the first residents of Friendship, NY. I don't mean back in colonial times or anything (in fact, as you'll read, they've only recently moved to town), just that I believe Syra and her family were the first characters that I relegated to Friendship-dom. This "book" appears to have been written before the series was even a twinkle in my eye. Well, okay, it might have been a twinkle—but the story is set in Buffalo.


Chapter #1.

I always thought I had it real bad. My last name was Cuse. I was born in Syracuse, New York. So my mom thought, wouldn't it be cute if they named me "Sara". Except she had to go and make it cuter by spelling it "S-Y-R-A". So people think my name is "Seara". I wish my parents were normal. Then I wouldn't have to grow up with a dumb name like "Syra Cuse". I can't wait till I can change my name. Only 8 7 8 8 years to go.

Looks like I was having some math issues. Or deciding-on-the-age-of-the-character issues. Possibly both.

But anyway, I must admit Syra Cuse is a pretty dumb name. It may have been inspired by my discovery of the real-life naming tragedy of Ima Hogg, but I'm not sure. At any rate, it could be worse. Instead of Syra Cuse her name could be Crystal Chanda Leer, Amanda Lay, or April Schauer. And if she was a boy? Well, CRAP, it only gets worse! Dick Swett and Mike Hunt are just the tip of the iceberg. Buck up, Syra!

I once dated a Mike Hunt for, like, three weeks. I have scads of bad-name cred. Feel free to nominate your worst real-life names in the comments!]

I actually didn't know that Cuse was a real last name until I started watching LOST. Maybe Carlton Cuse is Syra's uncle! In some story, somewhere, I had a character who claimed to be related to Debbie Gibson (total lie) and another character who was related to Richard Marx (for realsies), but she didn't like to brag.

We don't live in Syracuse anymore, thank god. We just moved to Buffalo this summer. School starts in 3 weeks. I'm nervous. I hate new schools. We move around too much. It's like I never make any friends. Well, I used to when I was just a little kid. Now there doesn't seem to be any point in it. To move away and feel bad about it. NO THANK YOU.

10-year-olds, so worldly.

I live with my mom. She just quit her job in Philadelphia as a secretary for the T.E.J. paper company. Because we were moving. It was just as well, she's pregnant again. Of course. I live with dad, too. He builds cars for Pontiac.

Actual parental occupations! Nuh-uh! I am now picturing Mrs. Cuse as Pam Beesly, but with a belly full o' baby. And I'm picturing Mr. Cuse in Michigan.

I live with Toby, too. He's my brother who's 12. He's a car maniac. He has car posters all over the walls. We can just be thankful there aren't naked women draped over the cars.
[Consider me thankful.] I also have two little baby sisters, Gloria who's 7 and Evie (Evelyn) who's 4. I'm 10. Our cat, Smoky, just had babies. I guess I should take that as a good omen since kid #5 is on the way. My kitten, Paws, is white with tan on her tail, feet and nose. Toby's is Kal-Kan, Gloria, who got the pretty white one, named her's Milk, Evie's is Chocolate Bar, and Mom named the baby's Apple Sauce.

Those cats are making me hungry.

So, I didn't want to go to school. I had a nightmare Friday night. I dreamt I fell and hit my head on the way to school so I didn't remember anything, not even my name. Except the kids and teacher looked through my stuff and saw "SYRA CUSE" written all over and had a big fight over whether my name was "Seara" or "Sie-ra". I kept screaming those aren't my names, but nobody paid any attention... then I woke up.

Holy amnesia anxiety dream!

I almost fell out of bed. That doesn't sound so bad, but it is if you sleep on the top of a bunk bed. If I did fall and Gloria was asleep (she sleeps on the bottom bunk), I'd fall on Evie. Me, Evie, and Gloria share a room. There's a bunk bed. On the bottom there's this little drawer right off the floor. You pull it out and it's a bed. Well, a matress in a drawer.

I guess Evie sleeps on the mattress-in-a-drawer (or its complicated technical name, trundle bed).

There are 3 bedrooms in our house: Girls, Parents, and Toby.

Toby's room is really small. He's lucky it's his own, being a boy and all.

Yeah, enjoy it while you can, Tobe, because during the course of this book the Cuses were also going to take in a 6-year-old homeless boy who was just, you know, hanging around their house looking hungry. Homeless kids, they're kind of like stray cats!

Well, this morning when I woke up, it was dark outside. It was 8:03.
[It's supposed to be August, so I'm thinking... not possible.] So, I went downstairs wearing a long T-shirt. My parents were sitting at the table. Dad was reading the paper. Mom was drinking a cup of coffee. I patted mom's stomach. She was so big already. [Because... she's having triplets! Surprise, Cuses! Your obstetrician is a total hack!] "I can feel him/her kick." I said.

And that's where the inspiration died. But not the babies! They were totally born. The preadolescent promo material reveals a few more plot points:

Syra Cuse is sick of her name. Her whole life is a joke. They've just moved in and right away her perfect little sister
[Gloria, whose perfectness was oh-so-subtly symbolized earlier by her pristine white kitten] has wrapped everyone around her little finger. The only thing that's going for Syra are her friends, Murphy and Chelsea. But everyone else thinks that Chelsea is conceited [she's loaded] and that Murphy stole some things over at Eleanor's house. [Eleanor Jefferson! Also loaded, but for some reason deemed not conceited.] So they stick Syra right in the middle. She knows Murphy is innocent and that Chelsea is rich, but she's still nice. But how can she explain that to her whole grade? [Hopefully by using a sentence that's phrased a little less awkwardly.] On top of everything else, her mom's having triplets. Her family is just the ten of us. How will she survive?

And if you think that's going to be the last Just the Ten of Us reference in my works, you are sorely mistaken.

Anyway, don't worry! There's more Syra Cuse action in Friendship: The Book, so we may as well get to know her and her friends a little better. I know, FRIENDS! Didn't see that coming!

First we have Syra, which, by the way, I cannot stop reading as the dreaded "Seara." Sandra and Carl, what were you thinking? (Those are her parents' names. I checked the town census. OH MY HOLY GOD, you guys! Carlton Cuse isn't her uncle, he's her DAD! And he produces the mindfuck that is LOST! This is amazing! Who's loaded now, Eleanor?) Um, but yeah, the character sketches:

My mom wrote a comment on the last post asking whether I disliked drawing hands. The answer is YES, thanks for asking. In fact, I had a problem with all appendages. As you can see here, I redrew Syra's hands and yet she still ended up with a freakishly undersized left extremity. Maybe that mass of friendship bracelets is blocking the flow of blood to her fingers, resulting in a lack of growth? She also has a friendship anklet—but it doesn't seem to have prevented her feet from morphing into bricks of flesh with teeny-tiny toe fringe. If I were you, Syra, I'd put some shoes on.

Also, you'd think that someone who hates her name so much would refrain from wearing T-shirts that that advertise it (see above her left not-yet-a-breast).

Next we have Chelsea. I loooooved the named Chelsea. One of my unborn children was slated to be a Chelsea at this point in time. Chelsea Burroughs appears to have a Stacey McGill–type perm going here, but honestly, guys? I'm kinda into her cowl-neck dress and crazy sunburst belt. Yeah, I would so wear that belt. But our fashion-forward pal is busting a serious deer in the headlights look. And we may or may not have caught her in the middle of the "put your left hand in" verse of "The Hokey Pokey."

But if Chelsea looks surprised, Murphy's on the verge of tears. Which makes sense given the false thievery accusations. Or the pain it must cause her stunted neck to support her massive, massive head. Beyond that, she has a nice late-'80s layered skirt on. Man, did I love those skirts. But now I'm confused: Does Chelsea have the perm or does Murphy? I think Murphy has naturally curly hair that she brushes when dry. WHY does no one tell you as a child not to brush your hair when dry?

Wait, is Syra the only one with friendship bracelets on? Well that's plain crazy, because we know she doesn't have any other friends! Unless she's given them to Paws and Kal-Kan.

I have one more picture before I go, and this one really showcases how far I'd go to avoid drawing limbs.

Or else some accident was going to render Murphy a serious amputee. Either way, Murphy Got Her Gun looks pretty appalled. You can also see that her last name used to be McGraw. That clearly had to be changed. Though I couldn't tell you why.

NEXT TIME: An alternate first day of school in the Friendship Super Special. Chapter 1's narrator? Syra "That's Pronounced Sara, My Mom's Just a Dumbass" Cuse.