Toxic is the word that describes my first day of Tenth Grade at Taft High School. It was a toxic
nightmare. Every single second of it was agony. I continued to beg my parents to not make me go, but it
was to no avail. My father drove me there, and I didn’t want to get out of his car. He almost had to drag
me out. I somehow found the will to put one foot in front of the other and walk towards that awful, ugly
The first week of Taft was living hell. I was bullied several times, even though I didn’t know anyone
there. After being so used to wearing a polo shirt with khaki pants as a school uniform at private
schools, I continued to dress like that even after leaving Crespi. I didn’t give any thought to how nerdy I
looked. I was too withdrawn, like a turtle tucked into his shell. I was still in the process of going through
puberty at the time, so I still looked and sounded like a ten-year-old. Such a persona attracted zero
attention from girls, of course, but it did attract bullies like moths to a flame.
I was completely and utterly alone. No one knew me or extended a hand to help me. I was an
innocent, scared little boy trapped in a jungle full of malicious predators, and I was shown no mercy.
Some boys randomly pushed me against the lockers as they walked past me in the hall. One boy who
was tall and had blonde hair called me a “loser”, right in front of his girlfriends. Yes, he had girls with
him. Pretty girls. And they didn’t seem to mind that he was such an evil bastard. In fact, I bet they liked
him for it. This is how girls are, and I was starting to realize it. This was what truly opened my eyes to
how brutal the world is. The most meanest and depraved of men come out on top, and women flock to
these men. Their evil acts are rewarded by women; while the good, decent men are laughed at. It is sick,
twisted, and wrong in every way. I hated the girls even more than the bullies because of this. The sheer
cruelty of the world around me was so intense that I will never recover from the mental scars. Any
experience I ever had before never traumatized me as much as this.
I couldn’t do it anymore. On the morning before the second week of Taft started, I broke down and
cried in front of my mother, begging her not to make me go to that horrible place. I was so scared that I
felt physically sick. I continued crying in the car on the way there, and my mother gave in. Instead of
taking me to school, we went to the café at Gelson’s in Calabasas where we had a big talk. I tried to
explain how much I was suffering there. She just could not take me to school after that. When we were
finished with Gelsons’s, she drove me to my father’s house and told him about what happened. They
agreed to take me out of Taft.
I didn’t go to school for a month while my parents decided what to do with me. I took advantage of
the time to rest and recover at home, playing my online games. The pain and suffering I had to endure
at Taft was all over, but the scars would remain. I tried to forget about it as much as I could. I took a
deep breath and relaxed.
After a month of recovery, my parents took me to look at two continuation high schools, which
operate like home-schooling because you only spend three hours a day there and do the rest of the
work at home. One of them was right next to El Camino High School, the other one was in Van Nuys. My
parents preferred the one in Van Nuys because they felt it was more structured and organized. It was
called Independence High School, and they decided to send me there.
Independence was a very small school with only three buildings and 100 students. The teachers were
all very nice and understanding, and it had a relaxed and calm environment. I figured this was the best
option for me.
A week later, I started going to Independence High School. I didn’t like any of the students there, as
they were all slobs with the exception of two or three boys. This wasn’t a major concern, because I
didn’t care about having a social life at the point. All I wanted to do was hide away from the cruel world
by playing my online games, and Independence High School gave me the perfect opportunity to do just
that. I only had to be at school for three or four hours per day, and all of the work was very easy with
teachers available to help me with anything. After those short school hours, I had all the time in the
world to do whatever I wanted, and I spent it playing World of Warcraft.
One drawback was that I had to take the bus to school because my parents couldn’t pick me up at
such an early time of the day. Though it was embarrassing, I didn’t care about appearances anymore, so
I didn’t make a big deal out of it.
This was the perfect set up for a World of Warcraft addict. After school, every day, I fully indulged
myself in my addiction to WoW. My only social interaction was with my online friends and with James,
who would occasionally come over to my house to play WoW with me.
My father’s career as a commercial director hadn’t been as successful as it was a couple years before.
He foolishly decided to invest all of his money in his first feature film, a documentary named “Oh My
God”. In the film, he would interview various people about their opinions on religion and God. To make
it, he took off to travel all over the world for a few months. Despite this, the one week-one week
arrangement remained, and during father’s week I had to stay at father’s house with only Soumaya. This
frustrated me tremendously, because Soumaya has always been a pain to live with, and she would
obstruct my time on WoW. I was hopeful about father’s movie, however. He kept talking about how he
will become very rich from it, and I fostered a hope that he would become rich. How naïve I was… the
movie would only bankrupt him in the future.
On top of this, I had to deal with another change at father’s house that angered me to no end. I had
to give up my lovely, huge, and luxurious downstairs room. It was all because baby Jazz got a new nanny.
Once again, Jazz’s existence caused me to lose my room at father’s house. This time, father made my
room into his new office. He split his old office into two bedrooms, in which I got one of them and the
nanny got the other. My new room was much smaller, and it didn’t have its own bathroom. My
downstairs room was the best part of being at father’s house, and it was all gone. I started to really hate
Father came back shortly for the winter break, before taking off again. A new expansion for World of
Warcraft, called the Burning Crusade, came out in the beginning of January. I was extremely excited for
this expansion. It added many new features to the game, new areas to explore, and raised the level cap
to 70. It was like a whole new WoW game. I asked my father to buy it for me as a Christmas present. I
can still remember the intense anticipation I felt as I installed it onto my laptop.
I decided to transfer my WoW character to the same server as James, so that we could play together
online and level up our characters in the new expansion. Through doing this, I met two of James’s
friends from his school, who also played on his server. They were two brothers named Steve and Mark.
Steve is our age, and Mark is a couple years older.
Me, James, Steve, and Mark would then always play together online as a group. I found them quite
fun to play the game with, and it was nice to have some friends to play WoW with on a regular basis.
Eventually, Steve and Mark decided to make new characters on a PvP server, which had play settings
that were more to my liking. I chose to make a new character with them. I made a blood elf character
that I leveled up very fast, and this became my main character in the game. James stayed on his old
server for a while, but within a few weeks we persuaded him to join us on the new one.
I had heated conflicts with Soumaya during every week that I was at father’s house. All I wanted to do
was play WoW, and Soumaya strictly limited my playtime. Because my new room was just across from
hers, she knew what I was doing at every single second. She was breathing down my neck the whole
time. She kept making me do chores around the house. I despised doing work around the house,
especially since we had a nanny who was supposed to do it. If I made a scene about doing the work, she
took away my laptop for a day or two. This was the most horrible thing she could do to me, to take away
my only source of joy left in the world. She sometimes did it even when father was at home, and father
didn’t lift a finger to stop her.
My first year at Independence high school came to an end very quickly. Nothing eventful really
happened there, and I barely interacted with anyone. I would just go there for my required time, do my
work, and go home. I was too absorbed in my game to care about anything else.
At father’s house, in the beginning of the summer, I was introduced to someone who I would hate for
a very long time: Leo Bubenheim. Alex Bubenheim married a German woman named Karina who had
just moved to the U.S. with her two kids: Leo and Pollina, who became Alex’s step-children. They would
then always come over as a family. Leo was 12 years old, and Pollina was a year younger than me. My
fear of girls made me keep my distance from Pollina. She was a total bitch anyway, and her attitude
would only get worse. She is a true representative of everything I hate about women.
When I first met Leo, I didn’t think much of him. He was only twelve years old. I just thought of him as
Lukas’s new older brother. I had no inkling of how much I will envy and hate him later on.
Soon enough, my jealousy of Leo began to manifest. He had just moved to the U.S. from Germany,
and yet he was already able to make lots of friends and had a great social life. He was tall, good looking,
blonde-haired, and a skateboarder; the type of person I’ve always envied and wanted to be.
Me, my father, and the Bubenheims all went on a camping trip to Big Bear. It was just the boys. We
drove deep into the wilderness in my father’s big, formidable Lexus SUV. After setting up our tents, we
built a nice fire to gather around and tell stories. It was quite fun, and it made for a small respite from
my lonely life, though I had to suffer the presence of Leo and deal with my jealousy of him. One time
during the trip, my father made me take Leo and Lukas out exploring. The three of us covered a lot of
ground, and I tried to act tough in front of them by slashing my knife at any plant that got in our way.
of July of this year was the day I saved my little brother’s life from drowning. I went with my
family to Antje and Gary Twinn’s house, as they always had a 4
of July party. The Bubenheims were
there, including Leo and Pollina. So was Vincent Twinn, who had grown up quite fast. The last time I saw
him, he was the little kid who looked up to me when I showed him all of my computer games. Now he
was just becoming a teenager, with an interest in skateboarding.
The party was a pool party, and my brother Jazz had full exposure to the swimming pool. He had
already learned how to walk, but he couldn’t swim. At one instance as I was eating lunch, I saw Jazz
quickly run off from the adults, completely unattended. I then watched as he curiously examined the
water, and then descended into steps of the shallow end of the pool. Before long, he lost his footing on
the steps and his whole body sank into the water. Nobody noticed. He was going to drown, I thought
with panic. I ran as fast as I could, plunging into the water with my clothes still on, and pulled him out. I
asked him how he was doing, and he coughed up some water and told me he felt fine. The only person
who saw this happen was a little girl who was swimming in the shallow end. I saved his life, and my
brother remembers it to this very day. Every single second of my brother’s life, everything that happens
to him in the future, will exist because I pulled him out of the water that day.
I celebrated my 16
Birthday at mother’s house. She bought me an Xbox 360, which had just been
released. I didn’t play it yet though, because the only game I wanted for it was Halo 3, which was set to
come out in November. I was really looking forward to that game. It was supposed to be the best Halo
game of all time. After I blew out my candles, I remember going outside and sitting by my mother’s pool
to contemplate my life. Sixteen… what an age to be. I still felt like I was twelve. Most teenagers will start
driving at this age… I couldn’t even fathom myself driving. The thought of it scared me.
James came for a sleepover shortly after my birthday, and he helped me set up my Xbox 360. We
played a round of Halo 2 to test it out. He didn’t bring his computer, because he had a desktop that was
hard to transport, so I suggested that we go to Planet Cyber to play WoW together. Our parents
dropped us off there and we had a good WoW session. It was nice to see that place again, to reminisce
of happier times. I proposed, for nostalgia’s sake, that we walk home for the way back. My mother’s
new house was three times the distance from Planet Cyber as her old blue house, but I really wanted to
do it. On the way, we passed by that little blue house, and all of the memories came back. The two of us
talked a lot, and shared some laughs. It was a very memorable night.