The Inner Critic – Chapters 1 and 2
Dedicated to my sister, Leeann. Inspired by Holden Caulfield, the voice inside our heads.
To Anyone Curious
Okay, so when I was growing up I kept like a million journals. I don’t think I ever finished them, except for one, because I was really impatient. Whenever I sat down to write, the more interesting my thoughts were, the more impatient I felt to get it all down on paper. I could never write fast enough, and by the time I wrote it all out, it wasn’t interesting anymore. Then I started writing shorthand, in order to keep up with my thoughts. Maybe that’s why I got to become a great notetaker, always abbreviating things and all. So anyway, I can’t tell if it’s a bad thing or a good thing. It might be bad because I never put much thought into my journaling, and I kinda imagine some scholars or whatever a hundred years from now looking back at all my journals, trying to piece together what civilization was like in my time, and maybe getting really disappointed and all because they can’t tell what the heck I’m talking about. But it also might be a good thing because the reason I journal so briefly is that I’m too busy living. There’s no time to write something down unless I really, really have to write it down.
Another problem I have with journaling is that if something exciting happens, I get all nervous and try to write a sophisticated poem about it. People tend to want to write poems when something big happens. My English teacher Mr. Smith told me about that. He said the day his father died, he saw meaning in everything around him and ended up writing a poem about it. The trouble with me is that halfway through writing the poem, no matter how excited I was in the beginning, I end up hating it. You know when you draw something or write a story? You’re real proud of it at first and you feel like showing everybody, but a few days later you feel like trashing it all of a sudden. Well that change of mind happens to me about ten times as fast, so I feel like trashing a poem after I’ve written the first few lines. But like I said before, maybe it’s alright because it just means my life can’t always be put down in words. Maybe it’s alright because things mean more to you when you keep them inside. Heck, I’ll try to get more than a chapter down in here though before I trash it, I promise.
My second oldest sister is Leeann. She’s six years older than me, but we might as well be twins. The best thing about her is that there’s nothing bad to say about her, nothing at all. I’m real lucky I had her teach me lots of things when I was growing up. Something that stuck out to me was that at every family dinner, she always listened to the adults. If I poked her or pulled on her shirt or something, she’d gently motion for me to hush a minute because she wanted to hear what the adults were talking about. As a kid, I thought she was just trying to be the perfect child and all, but then I noticed she actually got their jokes and the adults started asking her what her opinion was about things. I mean if they ever asked me, I’d probably sit there and giggle awkwardly or something, then ask to be excused so I could go play the piano. That was my signature move, the awkward giggle. My cousins tormented me about it for years, but I’m alright, honestly. Anyway, Leeann never made fun of me, not even a little bit. If she said anything critical, it was always for my own good, and I could see that even as a little kid. And if she ever got impatient, I trusted her so much that I just figured she was tired or bothered by something else and didn’t really mean whatever she said. I remember this one time, she yelled at me because I was bothering her while she was doing her work. I looked down really quickly and felt that pain in my chest – that one where it feels like your heart collapses in your lungs a little bit – and I sniffled a bit. Then I went back to my room as quietly as I could, because I didn’t wanna be a spoiled brat and cry in front of her since I really was bothering her. Thank God I didn’t act spoiled in that moment. She came to my room shortly after, tears in her eyes. She stood in the doorway and said, “I’m sorry for yelling at you.” Man, that just about knocked me out. My perfect and completely justified older sister came and apologized to me for being impatient. I’m telling you, there’s not a single bad thing I can say about her, not then, not now. It kinda makes me cry still, thinking about how much I bugged her probably for all the years she lived at home. It kinda makes me hate myself, actually. But if Leeann knew that, she’d probably cry too and say I wasn’t a lousy little sister at all.
One of the hardest things for me to think about is what I would feel like if Leeann were to die in an accident or something. I can’t even really think about it without crying. It’s kind of a morbid thought, but sometimes that’s how you know you really care about someone. You wonder what you’d feel like if they were gone. One time, Leeann was leaving our house and going back to her own place in Anaheim. As she waved goodbye through the window, my mom said a real depressing thing. She said, “I always get this feeling that we’ll lose Leeann first.” Man, I almost broke down right there. But the thing is, I get the exact same feeling now and then. There’s something about the people you love the most that makes you feel like you’re gonna lose them first, especially if the people are angels. I prayed harder than ever as I watched her drive off and turn right out of our cul-de-sac. I think I’d die, honestly, if anything ever happened to her. But I’d die before anyone ever even told me the news, because right when something happened to her, it would probably happen to me too.