My kids have gone back to school already. Their first day was Thursday, August 13th. Yeah, it was a wee bit early, but that’s off topic. Tonight, I was reminded of my own high school days. I’m thrilled to death they’re over and done with, but I’m notorious for my trips down memory lane.
This particular trip is being brought to you by my overwhelming sense of nostalgia and my absolute hate of high school and middle school bullies. Yeah, I had to deal with bullies sometimes, too. I think most of us nerdy writer types have a few bully stories. We’re weird. And we were born weird. Most of us have come to terms with that and we’re all okay now.
But, not toooooo (yes those extra o’s are necessary) okay. Otherwise we’d never sell any books.
First, let me tell you a little bit about the high school I went to. It was SMALL. Super duper tiny. There weren’t a lot of students at all, but all of the other kids I went to high school with spoke of how big it was when we first started. This is because the beginning of my 9th grade year was also the very first year the school opened. It was built to consolidate a few high schools into one. But, I’d already gone to a middle school elsewhere that was about three times the size of that high school, so for me, it was tiny and that meant one thing.
There was nowhere to hide. I was alone.
I had friends, though. As a matter of fact, I made friends quite easily with a group of girls I’m (mostly) still in contact with. We’ve all changed over the years, but I’m so glad I have them in my life still. They were a small group, but they accepted my weirdness. There I was in my Doc Martens, band shirts, and larger than life thick eyeliner, and the rest of the girls were wearing sweaters and jeans and dressing to impress. I wore jeans and sweaters and nice little girl things, too, just not every single freaking day. I dressed to impress nobody. I liked what I liked and didn’t try to hide it. I think some of them actually did try to hide it because every once in a while I’d get a compliment from someone I didn’t know about how they liked my killer eyeshadow or how they wished their parents would allow them to wear black fingernail polish.
And, there was this one time… A very sweet young girl in my class came up to me one day and smiled. She was one of the more popular girls, so I had no idea what she wanted with me (I was always skeptical of people). But, instead of being mean or teasing, she was pleasant. She asked me about an assignment we had while she’d been sick and then, as she turned to walk away, she stopped and said, “Ya know, you’re kinda like a living, breathing Daria. Daria is awesome, ya know. You look and act just like her!”
From that point on, that young woman was okay in my book and we talked often in classes we had together. And, both of us were damn smart, so we had a lot of smarty pants nerdy things to talk about sometimes. Ya know, books and homework and stuff. She passed away just a few months after graduation and every time I see a picture of her or hear her mentioned on Facebook from another classmate, I remember her kindness because not all of the other kids were always nice to me, the freakazoid fatty in the big boots.
I think I was probably called every single name in the book when I was in high school. Everything. And, because of my insane love for bands nobody in my high school liked (or would openly admit to listening to), I was branded a Satanist on more than one occasion. Do you people have any idea how that can affect a kid? It was pretty terrible. If I actually HAD been a Satanist, it probably wouldn’t have bothered me so much. But, I wasn’t. I also wasn’t a witch thankyouverymuch. If I’d been a witch, I promise I would have turned several boob grabbing boys into toads.
But, I wasn’t just a kid in a Marilyn Manson tee shirt. I was smart, too. It was confusing to some people, though (my mother, mostly lol) because I made straight A’s in most classes, but was failing in math and wound up taking Applied Geometry just to pass. For those who don’t know, “applied” in Wyoming county is the same as remedial in other places. So, I guess that meant my brain was one sided. I’m okay with that. Artsy types like myself can probably relate. It was crazy difficult for me to explain to friends that I couldn’t help them with math, but I could explain any piece of Shakespeare to them in three seconds without even thinking about it. I could diagram sentences with the best of them, but I couldn’t figure out what X was equal to. I’m sure my teachers wanted to strangle me.
I liked a lot of things other kids didn’t like. I was not particularly rebellious, though I had my moments. I liked bands nobody else liked and I liked to read books. Big books. I read “A Game Of Thrones” by George RR Martin in 9th or 10th grade. I read Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet” when I was thirteen and was totally unimpressed by it. I thought they were idiots. I also thought Romeo was sort of pervy. I was also the only one of my friends who even knew who Dr. Who was. But, I liked to kick back with my friends more than anything else. We did a lot of cool things together that I’d absolutely strangle my children for if they did the same things. Like jumping off train tracks into a rocky creek. Like throwing quarters at the sign dancer at Little Caesars. Like smoking behind the bus and hiding the cigarette between my boobs when I knew I was about to be caught (I didn’t that time, FYI, but I got burnt pretty darn bad). Like taking off on fourwheelers with boys and wrecking and ending up with a million stitches in my head and leg. I still have the scars from that one.
I wrote a lot in high school, too. I kept notebooks and notebooks full of short stories and the beginnings of novels that I’d never finish. I wrote every thought that popped into my silly little head. I kept journals and I sketched a lot, too. I wrote my own magazine (and if anyone has an old copy, hit me up because I’d love to see my old work lol). Most of my stories, though, were written because I was afraid of something. I was afraid of monsters. I was afraid of vampires and demons. I was afraid of my own shadow sometimes. Whatever it was I was afraid of at the time was the hero of my next story because the best way to overcome a fear, at least in my teenaged mind, was to discredit it. I still do this. Have you ever read a little novella called “The Demon King” by Rhiannon Mills? Hey, I wrote that.
I always thought I’d be a big shot author one day. I thought I’d take on the world. I thought I’d be the next big thing and live in some loft in New York somewhere and I’d be writing novels and selling them faster than you could say Stephen King. I didn’t quite understand how it all worked back then. I thought I knew, but I had no idea. I had big plans. Very, very big plans. I was going to write. The people would make movies out of my books. And I’d be a recluse, too, because being a recluse sounded fantastic to me (it still does). I wanted to write the books that Tim Burton would turn into creepy, weird movies for creepy, weird kids like me. Honestly, that would still be awesome…
I am a writer today. I’m an awesome author. I write the awesomeness. I pull the darkness out of my head and spew it forth onto the page. I am a knight in shining sweatpants and write whatever creeps into my big head. And sometimes, when I think back to the bullies of high school hell’s past, I smile because maybe they knew something about me that even I, myself, couldn’t have seen back then. Maybe they saw that I was different, that I was weird, and that I stood out. I didn’t see it that way much. I wanted to fit in, to be like everyone else, but I wasn’t about to pretend to like things I didn’t like to do it.
So, thanks, asshats. I’m a reclusive independent author now. The minute my kids are out the door for school every day, I’m writing another chapter of epic science fiction/fantasy/horror proportions. I work with coffee stains on my shirt and a furball black cat in my lap. I don’t make a lot of money doing it, but people pay me to hear what I think. I take the darkest periods of my life and bleed them onto a blank page for other people to read and judge me by. I’ve learned to let go of my fears by typing them out into a blank document. I don’t live in a loft in New York, but I have a hovel in Itmann, West Virginia where I wake up to a tiny army of minions of darkness (my four awesome children) and am greeted by my two black cats, Salem and Scrappy, and my pitty mix, Thor, every single time I come in the front door. I’m not into name dropping (har har har), but I have friends and acquaintances who have written books that are now films (and you’ve probably watched at least one of those). Some of the same writers I grew up reading are now names in my email contact list. Not George RR Martin, though. My books aren’t bestsellers and have never made it to the New York Times, but I don’t care. I’m pretty pleased with my life. And I owe all of my successes to the bullies.
Had you not all called me a fatty satanist witch, I might have wound up sitting behind a stuffy desk all day, working 9-5 for The Man, and miserable every minute of it. Instead, I’m happy and dropping cookie crumbs on my keyboard. Cookies, coffee, and great books are bliss, bitches.