The trip to France and England began shortly after my birthday. We had been talking about it for a
while at father’s house, and I was really excited to go. We traveled on Virgin Atlantic Upper Class. I was
extremely enthusiastic about this, as I always loved luxury and opulence.
We stopped by in England for a couple of days to say hello to grandma Jinx. The cousins weren’t
there, they were already in France, so it was a bit boring. When we arrived in France, the feeling of
wonder and curiosity swept over me as it always did when I visited a foreign country. The last time I was
in France, I was only a few weeks old. This was the first time I was able to truly experience the country.
France was a whole different world, and it was a world that I liked. French culture is so exquisite and
refined compared to American culture.
After booking a couple of rooms at a small Inn near the town of Toulouse, we met up with Jonny and
the cousin’s at Aunt Jenny’s house. Aunt Jenny is my father’s sister, and the last time I saw her was
when I lived in England, before the move to America. She had a few kittens in her house that I loved to
George and I immediately resumed our friendship that started in the spring. There was a vast
forested area surrounding the house. George told me there were lots of wild boars in the forest, so we
went “wild boar hunting”. It was just a game, and we never ended up seeing any boars at all, but the
suspense of possibly finding one was what made it fun.
We stayed in Toulouse for about a week, and then we said goodbye to the relatives and set off to
tour the country. We toured many cultural towns and stayed in castle-style hotels. This should have
been a great experience for me, but my conflicts with Soumaya soured it. There were a few incidents in
which she punished me by making me stay in my hotel room while she, father and Georgia all went out
to dinner at a restaurant. I hated her for this.
On the way back, we stopped at grandma Jinx’s house in England for a week. The cousins were there
this time, and it was a lot of fun. We all slept in one room, so it was like having one big sleepover. One
day we went on a trip to a museum, where I had an argument with Soumaya. She shouted at me in front
of George and threatened to punish me. This was so embarrassing that I fell into a miserable mood for
the rest of the day. I always loved traveling, but I learned that traveling with Soumaya just ruins the
whole experience. And this wouldn’t be the last time I would be forced to travel with Soumaya either, to
my utmost dismay.
The trip lasted three weeks in length, the perfect length of time for a vacation, in my opinion. I quite
enjoyed it, if I don’t count the times Soumaya ruined it.
It felt nice to be back home after a long, cultural vacation. At father’s house, my nanny Tracy got into
an argument with father, and she was forced to leave. I was sad to see her go. She was always pleasant
and fun to be around. Once Tracy left, Georgia and I would no longer have any nannies. We were getting
too old for it. I wasn’t a little child anymore… having nannies became a thing of the past. From now on, if
father and Soumaya had to go out to a dinner party, they would just hire a baby-sitter to look after us,
and soon I would be old enough to stay by myself in the house.
I got a haircut, and this time I decided not to bleach my hair blonde. The black hair always grew out
anyway, so the full-blonde look only lasted for a couple of weeks. Having blonde hair seemed to have
lost its spark, so I just didn’t bother with it anymore.
The summer was pleasant and relaxing, but it quickly came to an end. The time for Middle School had
come. My fear of this day haunted the back of my mind all summer. I was enrolled at Pinecrest Middle
School for Sixth Grade. I had mixed feelings about going to this school because I didn’t like my
experience there during kindergarten. Father said it’s the best option for me, because it was a small
private school. I didn’t want to go to a large school like Hale Middle School… that would have been too
overwhelming for me.
On the first day, I was shaking with anxiety and fear. I didn’t know what to expect. Transitioning to
Middle School was a big deal for me, even more so than starting elementary school. I was much older
and I cared more about what people thought of me. I was no longer an innocent little child who didn’t
have to worry. I had to worry about a lot of things, and oh, did I worry! It was a whole new school full of
people I didn’t know. They all previously went to elementary school together, so most of them already
knew each other. That made me even more nervous. The only person I knew who was going to Pinecrest
was a geeky kid named Nate Grossman, who I didn’t really interact with that much in Topanga.
I also felt an intense fear of what Middle School life would be like. I didn’t know how to act around
girls, I didn’t know what was cool anymore, I had no friends there. I simply didn’t know what to do. I felt
like I was walking into a snowstorm without a coat.
My parents led me into the school to say goodbye, and then it was time for me to start my first class.
I had to take multiple classes with different teachers now. This was also a new concept for me and it
made me extremely uncomfortable. Since this was a private school, I had to wear a uniform, something I
hadn’t done since going to Dorsett House in England. I thought of this as a good thing though… I didn’t
have to worry about what I would have to wear on the first day.
For the first few days, I withdrew into a defensive shell and didn’t really talk to anyone. I did observe,
however. I observed how everyone acted, who the “cool kids” were, what they were like… and it was all
so intimidating. The social challenges that I faced in Fifth Grade were intensified tenfold.
I noticed that there were two groups of cool, popular kids. There were the skateboarder kids, such as
Vinny Maggio, Ashton Moio, Darrel, Wes, and Alex Dib. And then there were the boys who were popular
with girls, including Vincent, Robert Morgan, and Oren Aks. They all seemed so confident and
aggressive. I felt so intimidated by them, and I hated them for it. I hated them so much, but I had to
increase my standing with them. I wanted to be friends with them.
I also observed the girls. I was still very short for my age, and most of the girls were taller than me. I
hadn’t reached puberty yet, but I was starting to admire female prettiness. There was one group of
pretty, popular girls, and they all seemed to like hanging out with that boy Robert Morgan. I didn’t yet
desire girls sexually, but I still felt envy towards Robert for being able to attract the attention of all the
popular girls. What was so special about Robert Morgan? I constantly asked myself.
I thought all of the cool kids were obnoxious jerks, but I tried as best as I could to hide my disgust and
appear “cool” to them. They were obnoxious jerks, and yet somehow it was these boys who all of the
girls flocked to. This showed me that the world was a brutal place, and human beings were nothing
more than savage animals. Everything my father taught me was proven wrong. He raised me to be a
polite, kind gentleman. In a decent world, that would be ideal. But the polite, kind gentleman doesn’t
win in the real world. The girls don’t flock to the gentlemen. They flock to the alpha male. They flock to
the boys who appear to have the most power and status. And it was a ruthless struggle to reach such a
It was too much for me to handle. I was still a little boy with a fragile mind. Thinking about such things
would only crush my innocence, and it eventually will. But not at this point. I subconsciously wanted to
enjoy my childhood as much as I could, so I tried not to think about this new revelation and enjoy life in
the moment. I put it all aside, to be pondered over later.
My whole world had changed. The “cool” thing to do now was to be popular with girls. I didn’t know
how to go about doing that. Skateboarding, I was able to do… dressing well, that was simple… But
attracting attention from girls? How in the blazes was I going to do that? I didn’t even understand what
was so special about it either, but everyone seemed to place so much importance on it. This made me
even more shy, and I became known as the “shy new kid.”
Thankfully, some kids started reaching out to me, and I had a few chances to integrate within a
couple of weeks. The first boy to talk to me was Brice Miller. He asked me if I had any friends at the
school, because he always saw me alone. I admitted that I had no friends, and he offered to be my first
friend. I was very grateful for this.
Once again, I used skateboarding as a way to increase my standing, telling the skateboarder kids that I
knew how to skateboard and that I could do some tricks. This got them to treat me more cordially. I
even talked to Robert Morgan a few times, who I hated and yet subconsciously revered for being so
popular. Whenever a so-called popular kid would say a word to me or give me a high five, I felt immense
Inevitably, I started to become known to the girls of my school; and surprisingly, they treated me
quite well. It was a huge relief. Middle School would be the last time in my life where I wouldn’t be
completely invisible to girls. All of the pretty girls had a peculiar habit of hugging boys they knew as a
form of greeting, and some of them hugged me. I didn’t understand why, but it felt like the best feeling
ever. I was one hundred-times more satisfied from getting a hug from a pretty girl than getting a high
five from a popular boy. It was a new experience that enraptured every fiber of my being.
grade girls were especially kind to me. I guess they thought I was “cute” in a boyish
sort of way. This made my initial experience of Middle School much better.
I decided to attend the school dance in early October. A school dance was completely foreign to me.
Elementary Schools didn’t have them, of course, and I only knew about them from watching typical
American shows on television. I thought it was something I had to do in order to be cool. I was very
nervous, naturally, but I pushed myself to go ahead with it.
When I got there, Robert Morgan saw me and asked me if I wanted to hang out with his group. I was
grateful for this, and I ended up having a nice time. I was shocked that some 7
offered to dance with me. They came up to me in a group and taught me how to “slow dance”. I had to
place my hands on their hips, while they placed their hands on my shoulders, and we would move slowly
with the music. They were all taller than me, and I was terrified, but it felt so… good. That would be the
only time in my life where I would have a satisfying experience with girls. The only time.
Halloween of this year marked the last time I would ever go trick-or-treating. After this year I would
be too old for it. Mother took us to the Lemelson’s, and I decided to not dress up in any costume. I went
as myself, sporting my black Pinecrest sweater. As it was my last time trick-or-treating, it would be the
last time I would have any sort of fun on Halloween. And I did have a lot of fun. It was nice to go out
collecting candy with James and Noah, like we had been doing for several years past.
My father cut off a portion of the child support he had been paying my mother, which forced my
mother to move house. We moved to a small blue house on Glade Avenue in Canoga Park. I didn’t like
Canoga Park at all. It was a very ugly and low-class area to the north or Woodland Hills, and I felt it
demeaning that we would have to live there during mother’s week.
The house did have some upsides. It had four bedrooms and a bigger living room than mother’s old
house. My new room was a lot larger than my old one. And of course, my mother always had her own
ways of making everything better. I would still enjoy my time at mother’s small house more than my
time at father’s big Woodland Hills house.
Along with this move, there came a new change in our rotation schedule. My parents decided that we
would stay at our mother’s house more, instead of switching one week-one week. Mother would have
us for all of the weekdays, and we would go to father’s on the weekends when he was in town.
Around the same time that my mother moved, James’s family moved as well, to another Lemelson-
owned house in the Palisades. They would only remain in this house for a very brief period, because a
tragic event would soon occur in James’s family.
One day at school, I was sitting in my class when I was suddenly called to the office. My mother was
there, waiting to pick me up. I got into her car, and the three of us drove out of my school and parked on
the side of Shoup Avenue. She told us the dire news. James’s mother, Kim Ellis, had just passed away
from breast cancer. I cried for a bit. Kim was a very kind-hearted person, and the mother of my best
friend. She had been suffering from breast cancer for several years, but I never thought she would die
from it. I immediately thought of how James must be feeling. He just lost his own mother! It made me
think of how horrible I would feel if the same thing happened to my own mother, just the thought alone
filled me with pain.
There was to be a get-together of family friends at James’s house that night, in honor of Kim. On the
way, I thought about how I would approach James on the subject. The amount of grief he must be
feeling… I couldn’t even imagine it. The last similar experience was the death of my grandfather, and I
was only four years old then. When we arrived, I looked for James, and found him sitting in his room. I
gently offered my deepest condolences for his loss. He remained very strong, obviously hiding his
emotions. He looked very sad, in an extremely stoic sort of way. He told me he fully accepted what had
happened, that his mother was dead and that was the end of it. That was all we spoke on the matter.
We tried not to think about it for the rest of the night, and later on I played tag in his backyard with him
and some of his friends.
I remained very shy during my Sixth Grade year, and I would always be labeled as a quiet kid. I wasn’t
able to establish any friends that I could have playdates with, so the only playdates I had was with old
friends from Topanga Elementary. This filled in the social void, and I was content with it.
I tried my best to improve my social situation during school time. A few girls continued to pay
attention to me, saying hi as I walked by them and occasionally giving me hugs, but I felt bitter at the
fact that I wasn’t able to truly hang out with them like the popular boys were doing.
In order to not be seen as a complete loner at school, I ended up making friends with a kid named
Connor Hanrahan. Connor was not a popular kid, because girls didn’t like him. Despite this, he was one
of the most pompous assholes of the school, even more so than any of the most popular boys. Connor
was a true bully. I started hanging out with him during recess and lunch, and we made a few jokes with
each other and had a few good laughs, but he would always push me around and act tough. I was so
timid back then that I didn’t care. I just wanted someone to hang out with.
When I stayed back after school one day, my mother saw me with Connor when she came to pick me
up. She has been concerned about me not making any new friends at Pinecrest, and I suppose she was
relieved to see me with a “friend”. She invited Connor to come over to my house, which he accepted. I
was a bit hesitant to invite anyone from Pinecrest to my mother’s house, because it was located in
Canoga Park, a bad area, and most of the kids at Pinecrest were upper-middle class who would look
down on me for living there. But I couldn’t back out of this once my mother invited Connor. He came
over and all went well, we played a few video games for a couple of hours. But after that playdate, he
would always rip on me for living in a “poor” house. He would also tell other kids at Pinecrest about it.
This infuriated me to no end, and I would keep proclaiming that my father lives in a prestigious three-
story house in the Woodland Hills Heights. I became vehemently obsessed with proving to Connor and
everyone else that I wasn’t poor. I went so far as to bring pictures of my father’s house to school. I even
considered inviting some people over to father’s house, but I remembered my vow of never doing that
due to the possibility that another incident would happen with Soumaya, like the one that occurred
It was at eleven years old when I first started using the internet on a regular basis. The internet was
still considered a new phenomenon at the time. Before eleven, I roughly knew how to browse websites
and use email, but once I fully immersed myself in it, it really fascinated me.
The popular social networking tool at that period was AOL instant messenger, or “AIM”. I made my
first AIM account on my mother’s computer, and she would let have one hour a day to explore it. I
joined a few chat rooms. The prospect of talking to strangers from a computer was new and astounding
Towards the end of sixth grade, I still hadn’t made a group of friends who I could see outside of
school. The only social interactions I had outside of school were playdates with old friends from Topanga
every now and again. Joining chatrooms through AOL temporarily filled in the social void for a few
weeks. This will definitely not be the first time I would try to fill in that void with the internet.
Once I established myself in the chat rooms, I made a few friends who I instant messaged frequently.
Most of them were in middle school and some were in high school. I also talked to a few people I knew
from Pinecrest over AIM.
One friend who I met through a chat room suddenly emailed me pictures of beautiful naked girls,
telling me to “check this out”. When I looked at the pictures, I was shocked beyond words. I had never
seen what beautiful girls looked like naked, and the sight filled me with strong and overwhelming
emotions. I didn’t know what was happening to me. Was it the first inkling of sexual desire in my body? I
was traumatized. My childhood was fading away. Ominous fear swept over me, and I stopped talking to
As the Sixth Grade year came to a close, I felt dissatisfied and insignificant. Indeed, a whole new
world had opened up before me, and I had no idea how to prevail in it. I still wanted to live as a child.
I never established any proper friends at Pinecrest, and the only playdate I had was the one with
Connor that my mother arranged, and that turned out to be a disaster for me. My mother and father
both showed concern that I wasn’t making any friends, but because I still saw some friends from
Topanga, they didn’t make a big deal out of it.
I consider Sixth Grade to be the better year out of the three years I would spend in Middle School.
Girls actually paid attention to me. They knew who I was and I didn’t feel like I was completely invisible. I
was extremely shy with girls and could barely have a conversation with them, but I still interacted with
girls more during this year than I would for any following year. The cool kids treated me nicely, despite
my reputation as the “quiet kid”. I always felt like a loser compared to them, and I hated them for it,
though I still wanted their approval. I wanted to be one of them… I wanted to be their friend.
The closest I came to truly being one of them was when Vinny and Robert both invited me to their
birthday parties, which were only a couple of weeks apart at the very end of the school year. Both
parties were at Skatelab skatepark. I hadn’t been to Skatelab for about a year, and when I walked in, all
of the memories of going there with James filled my mind. I hadn’t even skateboarded for a while, but
after a few minutes on the ramps my ability came back like magic. They were all quite impressed. I bet
they thought I would end up sucking at it. I was happy to prove them wrong.
Indeed, Sixth Grade was the peak of my life at Pinecrest. It would only go downhill from there.
My mother bought me a brand new video game console, the Xbox. I heard a lot of kids talking about
how great the Xbox was at school, so I was really eager to have one. I liked the Xbox much more than
the Playstation 2. The graphics were better and the games were more to my taste. With the Xbox, I got
the game Halo. At first, I found Halo to be very difficult and I gave up on it a few times. I had no idea that
Halo would soon become one of my favorite video game series that I ever played.
I was extremely happy and relieved when summer came. Middle School was much more stressful
than Elementary School, both socially and academically. Summer would provide a well-needed break
from all of it.
I started seeing some old friends from Topanga more frequently. Among these were John Jo Glen and
Charlie Converse. Charlie wasn’t really one of my main friends at Topanga Elementary. I had a few
playdates with him here and there, but not that many. It was only until after Fifth Grade graduation that
our real friendship began. He always had a charming and humble personality, and he was well-liked by
everyone at Topanga. He came over to my mother’s house a few times after I got my Xbox, where he
tried to help me get past the hardest level on Halo. John Jo and Charlie were very close friends with each
other, and eventually I would start to see them at the same time.
John Jo invited me to his father’s apartment in Hollywood for a sleepover. I found his apartment to be
very dingy, but I had so much fun that I didn’t even care. He lived just across the street from the huge
Scientology building. We got together with a group of his friends and snuck into the building’s courtyard
at night to play hide-and-seek tag. This was the first time I had been out having fun with a group of kids
my age without any adult supervision. It was very amusing. When we went back to his apartment, we
played Conker’s Bad Fur Day on the Nintendo 64. The Nintendo 64 was a very old console at this point in
time, especially after I now had an Xbox and a PS2, but I was entertained by Conker’s Bad Fur Day so
much that I asked my mother to buy it for me the next day.
James Ellis moved yet again to another house in the Palisades. After the death of his mother, James’s
father Arte quickly made the decision to move again. Arte rented a small house on Temecula Street,
near the renowned Palisades Bluffs. There they would remain for a very long time, and all of the most
significant experiences I would have with James in the future would take place there.
At this time, though, I wasn’t seeing James that much. We slowly drifted apart after we lost our
common interest in skateboarding. We still considered each other friends, and we would still see each
other occasionally, almost as a courtesy. But our friendship would be at a standstill during our middle
I was enjoying a lovely summer, but suddenly my mother said that I had to go to summer camp at
Pinecrest. This was a decision she made with my father, because they thought it would be healthy for
me. I didn’t like this one bit. It was a last minute decision. One moment I was relaxing and enjoying my
summer break, the next my mother is waking me up early to take me to my first day of camp at
Pinecrest. Gratefully, summer camp would only last for four weeks.
Summer camp at Pinecrest was located at the Elementary School section, and I recognized my old
kindergarten class. It was a mix of middle school and elementary school kids, and I made a few friends
with some kids who were younger than me.
At this camp, an incident happened that would scar me for life. The first time that I was treated badly
by a girl occurred at this camp. I was innocently playing with the friends I made, and they were tickling
me, something people always did because I was very ticklish. I accidently bumped into a pretty girl the
same age as me, and she got very angry. She cursed at me and pushed me, embarrassing me in front of
my friends. I didn’t know who this girl was… She was only at Pinecrest for summer camp… But she was
very pretty, and she was taller than me. I immediately froze up and went into a state of shock. One of
my friends asked me if I was ok, and I didn’t answer. I remained very quiet for the rest of the day.
I couldn’t believe what had happened. Cruel treatment from women is ten times worse than from
men. It made me feel like an insignificant, unworthy little mouse. I felt so small and vulnerable. I
couldn’t believe that this girl was so horrible to me, and I thought that it was because she viewed me as
a loser. That was the first experience of female cruelty I endured, and it traumatized me to no end. It
made me even more nervous around girls, and I would be extremely weary and cautious of them from
that point on.
Before summer camp ended, I saw that same girl hanging out with Oren Aks a few times. Oren Aks
was one of the popular kids in my grade. I hated Oren so much when I saw him with her. It made me feel
so inferior… that this girl was mean to me and yet she liked Oren. Thankfully, Oren wouldn’t be
returning to Pinecrest for Seventh Grade, and I would never see him again. I wonder what became of
him… I bet he lived a good life.
I felt relieved when summer camp ended. That experience with the mean girl ruined it for me. Hell, it
ruined a part of my life. Whenever I think about summer camp I would think about that girl, and my
emotions would flare up.
birthday followed. I decided not to do anything for it. Mother took me and my sister out to a
Japanese restaurant to celebrate it. Twelve seemed like a big number to me back then. One more year
and I would be a teenager. It was hard to believe.