January 8, 2018:

After that experience I refused to continue with the gifted program. My junior high was the magnet school, so there would at least have been no bus across town. But I turned it down adamantly. Year after year, 'cos the teacher seemed desperate to change my mind.

I don't remember her name. She wore a beret and smoked little cigars. I would have been correct to turn her down just for that.

I agreed to rejoin the program only in 11th grade after learning that the kids were largely unsupervised in a bungalow of their own. That made my truancy career almost laughably easy. I'd just go to the beach: nobody knew. Or, more and more frequently, UCSD, where I began working in the radical student movements and hanging with the beautiful co-eds. Sorry but that kicks the ass of high school no matter how hard you try to sell it.

Near the end of my senior year I deliberately provoked the Powers. I offered more and more transparently ridiculous excuses for my frequent absences. "I can't take my bike in the rain", on a blue-sky'd spring day. Like that. Cynical. Daring them to do something about it. At last they did. Although when they finally got me it was actually for something reasonably legitimate. With a cast on my wrist I'd stayed home to type a long history paper with one finger. Busted! We've had it with you, mate. Off you go. It was, like, three weeks before graduation. It was mighty inconsiderate of them to wait so long.

Thing was, by then I'd become serious about learning. A girl everyone called Nasty Debbie for her New York sarcasm encouraged me to read The Idiot, which changed my relationship to literature forever. Now I wanted to read all the literatures. At the same time, Frances Fitzgerald's Fire in the Lake dramatically changed my relationship to the world. Now I wanted to read all the books. It was that one-two punch which switched my brain back into the ON position.