Volume 11: Part 1- Moenia Prima: Sunday, January 4th, 12:41 A.M.

Sunday, January 4th, 12:41 A.M.
            There are two things that I can count on from my parents every year on my birthday.  One of them is an embarrassing party.  I don’t mean embarrassing as in “Wow, this is totally unexpected.  This is all too much.  Thank you.”  I mean embarrassing as in “What?  You mean I have to go through this again?  And you invited my friends as well?  Gee, thanks.”
            This is what I happened today.  My Mom put the blindfold on me, led me to the car, then let my Dad drive aimlessly for about an hour, all the while repeating the phrase “No peeking.”  This is all to disorient me so that I don’t know where I’m going, despite the fact that I know exactly where I’m going.  It’s the same place where we just held Sakoshi’s birthday: The Opfer Cultural Center next to the mall.
            At least my Dad gave me a good ride this year.  My Dad’s driving technique involved him taking corners unexpectedly, zipping up hills and coasting down the other side, and coming to firm fast stops.  I had fun, my Mom didn’t.  Every so often, my Mom would cry out, “Solanin, be careful.  We don’t need to get in a crash on our way to Hato’s party.”
            To which my Dad responded, “Come on, Belle, the kid’s having fun, right?”
            My Mom started curing under her breath, which caused me to say, “Dad, Mom’s cursing under her breath.”   Then my Mom hit me hard on the head.  She didn’t mean to hit me hard, Dad just happened to take a corner at the same time that Mom was trying to playfully strike me.
            We got to the Cultural Center and Mom led me into one of the ballrooms where everyone was trying to be quiet.  I know this because everyone was saying “Shhh!”, which results in people making a lot of noise to get people to stop making noise, which causes people to make a lot more noise to get people to stop making noise, and so on, and so on, untill the noise in the room is nearly deafening.  Finally my Mom took off my blindfold and the people exclaimed “Happy birthday Hato” at a volume slightly lower than the shushing.
            This year’s birthday party was about the same as last year’s birthday party.  Same music, same food, same collection of family, friends, and family.  About the only difference between this year and last year was the color of the streamers, red and gold as opposed to green and orange.  As I looked around the ballroom, my Mom planted a kiss on my cheek and said, “So, what do you think of your party?”
            I lifted my arm and said, “They misspelt the banner again.”  I was referring to the banner that hung overhead that read “Happy 18th Birthday Shurtleff”.  My parents use the same banner for every birthday celebration.  All they have to do is change the number and it fits the situation.  My Dad usually puts some comically large number on the banner for my Mom’s birthday.  The only problem with this banner is the misspelling.  We aren’t “Shurtlef’s”, we’re the “Shurtleff’s”.  People tend to forget the double F’s at the end.
            As the music started to ramp up, I began to be showered with gifts.  This varied from music and movies from my friends, gift cards, and cash from my younger relatives.  After I unwrapped every gift, I held it up and my Mom took a picture of me with it.  Several of these pictures had to be retaken because my mother caught my friends flashing what she thought were gang signs in the background.  My friends sure do like to torture me.
            The last present I opened was from my parents, and in my mind I knew what it was.  Ever since I was eight years old, my parents have given me a journal for my birthday, each titled “Journal (#)”.  This was my Dad’s idea.  I don’t know if it’s due to his work as an archivists or if it’s just something he’s always been into, but my Dad is driven to have people document their lives.  What happens, where it happens, when it happens, why it happens, and what they think about it.  Receiving a journal is the other thing I can count on from my parents every year on my birthday as a way to encourage me to document my life.  However, this year was slightly different.
            When I picked up the box the present from my parents was in, I noticed it was smaller than normal.  My first thought was that my parents had noticed that I mainly use the journals they give me for doodling or writing bad poetry.  I opened the box and saw what lay inside.  It was a Hipster.  A Hipster.  Not a knockoff, or Hipster Lite, a real, honest to God, 64GB Hipster.  I was elated.
            The Hipster came packed with music, mine and some my Dad’s been trying to get me into, as well as some programs.  There’s a radio program, a news program, some game programs, and a program simply titled “Journal”.  The Journal program is, oddly enough, a program that allows you to maintain a journal.  So my parents did get me a journal for my birthday, they just got me a different kind of journal.  This was confirmed to me when I read the inscription on the back of my Hipster.  “Volume 11”.
            After all the presents were opened and I endured having to speak with many of my older family members who I only have to endure once a year, my friends and I were permitted to bail on my parent’s party in favor of some fun of my own.  I thanked my parents for the party and sincerely thanked them for the Hipster.  My Dad suggested I listen to the Grandchester Meadows tracks that he put on my Hipster and I humored him by saying that I would.
            Sparra, Delany, Wanda, and I left the party and went to our usual hangout, downtown.  Not anywhere in particular downtown, just downtown.  We didn’t run into any problems, outside of the verbrecher we like to antagonize by standing across the street from his diner and drinking soda.  I know that’s something we shouldn’t do, but that guy shouldn’t be aggravated with us just because we’re there.  I know that the verbrecher are in the majority, not just in numbers but in what the control, but that doesn’t give them the right to stomp all over us.  What was I writing about?  Oh yeah…
            By the time my friends and I were done having fun it was already well past nine.  We had to sneak home so that the cops wouldn’t catch us breaking curfew and beat our asses and so our parents wouldn’t do the same.  I think I did so successfully, except I swear I woke up Sakoshi in the next room.  I bet he’s waiting just to tattle on me in the morning when Mom and Dad would be both awake and conscious.  I’ll have to wake up early and make some of those pancakes he likes.  Perhaps I can find a new pancake recipe on my Hipster.  I have to do something else on this thing than listen to music and watch pornography.
Hato Shurtleff

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