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California Diaries #4

Amalia

Ann M. Martin

Interior illustrations by Stieg Retlin

This e-book is distributed for educational purposes only. No copyright infringement is intended by distribution of this e-book.

ISBN 0-590-29838-0

Copyright © 1997 by Ann M. Martin.

All rights reserved. Published by Scholastic Inc.

CALIFORNIA DIARIES is a trademark of Scholastic Inc.

The author gratefully acknowledges Peter Lerangis for his help in preparing this manuscript.

Saturday December 20

A

Vargas

Family

Christmas

Palo City, California

Art: Amalia Vargas

Ink: Amalia Vargas

Text: Amalia Vargas

Any resemblance to persons, alive or dead, is definitely, absolutely, on purpose.

12/20

Yo, Notebook.

Merry almost Xmas.

At least you listen to me.

Sun 12/21

Dear Nbook,

I will never EVER leave you out in plain sight again. Not after today.

Isabel, if you are reading this, you are the witch sister of Christmas Present and I hope you melt into the carpet with Big Tooth Lover Boy standing over you and crying his guts out.

I have been writing in you since September, Nbook. You and I both know this hasn’t been easy. I hate writing, so I draw a lot. And everything I write is so POLITE.

No more. It’s time to say what’s on my mind.

I mean, we’re all home today and everybody’s having a good time—Christmas, happy

happy, whatever. I’m in my room, wrapping presents I bought for Mami and Papi. And Isabel barges in without knocking. And where are you, Nbook? Faceup on my bed, where I’ve left you.

“Cute,” says Isabel. “You can write?”

I am boiling inside. But you know me, Nbook. I always keep cool. “It’s mostly

drawings,” I say. “Keep your hands off.”

Does Isabel listen? No. She never listens. She just has to open you up. To the Christmas picture. She sees the drawing of her and Big Tooth Lover Boy. Only Simon’s teeth don’t show because he’s kissing her in the picture.

Now she wants to kill me.

I ask you, is this fair?

I will never understand my big sister. To me, she’s Dr. Jekyll. (Or is it Mr. Hyde?

Anyway, the bad one.) To the rest of the world, she’s Saint Isabel of the Lost Causes.

She gets Christmas cards from her old teachers in San Diego. (Do I? No. My teachers are thrilled that I moved.) She’s constantly bringing home gifts from the women’s shelter where she works. “One of the residents gave this to me,” she says. “Just a little something for the holiday.”

I want to give Isabel a little something for the holiday. A bonk over the head.

These journals are supposed to be private.

Which brings me to another point. No offense, Nbook, but why did we have to move to a place where the schools force you to write journals? We didn’t have to write journals in San Diego.

Some of my classmates have been doing this since first grade. To them it’s like, ho hum, another five pages.

To me, it’s torture. Already my fingers are cramping.

The worst part is, it’s totally pointless, since the teachers are never ever going to collect it.

So why do I open up my inner thoughts to my nosy sister who everybody loves even

though she’s a thief who steals my private property?

I know why.

Because, Nbook, you are very cool.

But from now on, you stay under my mattress.

Fa la la la la, la la la la.

Sun night, 12/21

Maggie is rich. Not just in the way of a big house and nice stuff, but Major Money.

I mean, I’ve always sort of known this about Maggie. People drop hints. But I’ve never thought much about it one way or another. What’s inside a person is what counts. Inside, Maggie is friendly and talented and unsnobby.

Tonight, Nbook, I see the outside for the first time.

I’m at the Blumes’ for dinner. Dawn and Sunny are there too. The house is at the top of this canyon. It’s so high up you look down into the smog. The backyard looks like they imported a small Hawaiian island and plopped it right there. The pool is huge.

We sit down to eat, and the plates look so expensive I’m afraid to touch them. But it doesn’t matter because the maid takes them away and serves dinner on different plates anyway.

Which seems weird to me but I don’t say anything.

The maid’s name is Pilar and she’s Latina. Maggie says she’s studying to be an actress. I wonder if she’s acting when she smiles at everybody and takes orders from Mr. and Mrs. Blume.

The main course is this shrimp dish that’s about the most delicious thing I’ve ever eaten.

So I do the polite thing and compliment the Blumes on their cooking.

Well, Mrs. Blume gives me this funny, tight-lipped smile. Mr. Blume laughs and says,

“It’s catered.” And I feel like melting into the Persian rug.

Don’t worry, Nbook. Things loosen up eventually, and I end up having a good time.

But now I have a new problem. My Christmas list. My belated procrastinator’s Christmas list that I shouldn’t even be thinking about anymore.

Over dinner, as I listen carefully to the conversation, I pick up what people want to receive. Which is helpful in some ways, but not in others.

Okay, here’s the whole thing, with my changes added (including people who weren’t at dinner):

Revised Christmas Shopping List

Saint Isabel (who I overhear telling Big Tooth Lover Boy she’ll “die” if anyone gives her another sweater) – Return sweater. Buy earrings. Or maybe a bag of coal.

Cece – Hair stuff.

Marina – Science fiction book, not related to Star Wars or Star Trek. (Does that leave a nything ?) Maggie – Oh, just something that the daughter of Hayden Blume the gazillionaire movie producer might not have. Like maybe her own private village.

Dawn and Sunny -- ????? Gift friends or nongift friends?

James -- ????? Boyfriend gift (cologne)? Or friend friend gift (new shades)?

To be decided by tomorrow!

Mon 12/22

study hall

¡SURPRISE!

Hey, Nbook. Bet you didn’t expect to see me here.

Thank Sunny.

She says she writes in her journal during her study hall. Everyone thinks she’s really working.

I say, great idea.

Besides, today is the Useless School Day of the Year. Vacation starts tomorrow, so we have to be in school for one day this week. Of course, practically no one is here, and I don’t blame them. Vacation should have started on Friday!

Boy, do I need to vent.

It’s three days before Christmas, and I am like a flea on a sweaty dog. I can’t stop jumping.

Remember my plans? All changed.

This morning, I’m at my locker, and I’m thinking: cologne. For James’s gift, I mean.

Mainly because the stuff he wears is so awful. So what if he thinks we’re boyfriend-girlfriend?

I’ll deal with it.

Besides, we probably are. I look for him every day before and after school. And I always feel so good when we’re together in the hallways. James has really changed my life. Before I met him, I felt so small. Moving into a new city and school was hard enough. But did I know that the Vista eighth-graders would be going to the high school building this year? No. All of a sudden, I’m not only a new student but also in the youngest class. Then I meet James, and all of a sudden upper-graders are talking to me.

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