August 30, 2020:

Because I have opted out.

Not just of the program, but of all the trappings or badges or ancillary signs or signals of intellectual engagement. I am done with eggheadery. You and your elitism and your comical posturing with berets and boots and small cigars are solidly in the rear view. In a way I've rejoined my Ozarkian redneck forbears, rejecting intellectuals and their books and vocabularies and math puzzles and anything else suggesting brains-over-brawn. Nevermind I have no brawn. I'm populist, and I'm militant, and the answer is no.

This isn't to say I'm happy. I still hate school. The radical turn in my attitude triggered by the program has remained turned. How could it not? The adults are inept and bureaucratic, and I am very aware that outside the program I'm trapped in the hoi polloi assembly line leading to the same factories where my mother and grandmother work. I know it, I hate it, I hate everything, or at any rate everything which isn't basketball or bike riding or my friends from the neighborhood. Or drugs. A long list of hates.

For my brain this period, almost six years, is like an extended lost weekend. While the others are reading Dickens and Hemingway and Nietzsche and Margaret Mead and science fiction, I — am not. So that half a decade later when The Idiot and Fire in the Lake quite suddenly re-awaken my stunted, narcoleptic gray matter I come to feel a profound sense of retardation, that I've held myself back and now am urgently required to catch up, even or perhaps especially if it means reading day and night without interruption for literally the next ten years.