First off, I want to thank Denise Jaden for featuring Harmonic Feedback and inviting me to guest blog for The Contemps. It’s an honor! You should all go out and buy LOSING FAITH if you haven’t. It has my seal of approval, okay? And I’m mad picky.
I went back and forth on what to do for this blog. You see, I’m not terribly good at writing about myself. Odd, huh? Being that I’m a writer and all I thought about blog posts I really enjoy. And I love it when authors post excerpts from their teen years. So, I’m going to do the same…although I’ll warn you of a couple things.
I was a bit of a delinquent, and this is the tamest stuff I could find. No joke.
I took being an angsty goth to a cliché level.
I was wise (or unwise) enough to keep my teen years in a box. Every notebook I scribbled in, every short story I wrote, every song lyric, every poem, every journal entry, every note…you get the picture. I’ve retyped everything exactly as written. However, my OCD adult self insisted on making everything grammatically correct. Believe me, you don’t want to see just how bad my grammar was…
Now that we have that out of the way…I present to you bits and pieces of my teen self.
Unfinished notes that apparently never got delivered to friends (names of friends have been changed for privacy—some names were their REAL nicknames):
Undated note/Age 15
What’s up Kermit!
In Tinkle Dinkle’s class right now. SO BORED ! ! ! I’ve decided that French is not the language of love. It is the language of hell. Tu es tres bête. Even insults sound like a bad entree.
Tinkle Dinkle is wearing a pink bow today. I’m not even lying. Like pinker than a poodle’s ass hole. She tore me a new one in front of the class yesterday because I couldn’t order a ham sandwich. I told her I was vegetarian and my preference was avocado and cheese. Then she’s like, transferring in the middle of the semester is no longer an excuse and she has no problems flunking me blah blah blah. What is it with French teachers? Every one I’ve had likes to give people shit.
I saw Britt at Flames last night. She gave me the stink eye. Guess that means she still hates you?
Backstory: ‘Kermit’ was one of my best friends. He wasn’t big on notes, but I kept writing to him anyway (notes were kind of my therapy back then) I’d transferred to a new school mid-semester. Unfortunately my new French class was 8 chapters ahead of my old French class…and I stunk at French to begin with. It didn’t help that I was a huge slacker…and I actually thought I was funny.
Undated note/Age 15
I did it. I spoke to El Camino! I walked past him at lunch and was like, hey, cool shirt. NIN is awesome. He kind of smiled I think? I’m not sure because I freaked out and kept walking. I am such a dumbass!!!!!! (dumbass was gone over about 100 times)
Backstory: This was a note to one of my girl friends regarding the El Camino driving Goth boy at school I always admired from afar. I simply couldn’t get up the nerve to talk to him. And I wasn’t that shy!
Undated note/Age 16
Mansonites are taking over the school this year. Half of them still think Marilyn Manson is a chick. Preppy girls are carrying lunchboxes. The same girls who laughed at mine last year and called me a freak. One of them put butterfly stickers all over hers. They glitter too. I’m tempted to steal it and draw a giant dick on the front. Does that make me a bad person?
I wish we hung out like we used to. I miss you. I heard that stupid Bad Religion song the other day and thought of you. It reminded me of the time Genius set his pants on fire. I think it must have been playing at the time or something.
Backstory: ‘Rabbit’ was THE best friend. We were pretty much joined at the hip—us against the world. And then junior year happened and things changed. He changed…a lot. This is about when I started to notice.
Really bad poetry
I wasn’t a poet, but I sure thought I was. Let’s leave it at that.
Lost Child, age 16
Moving pictures glow back at me
Centering deep within his pupil
A collage of green and gold
A scowl binds his lips
I see the young boy
Chocolate covered face and wide eyed dreams
Tiny pink hands clutch on to his daddy’s leg
He questions the indifferent eyes of his teddy bear
Why did daddy leave?
Mommy’s station wagon coughs down highway 29
Boxes of 59 cent Mac and Cheese swam around his little feet
Cheap motels and welfare checks
Mommy’s vodka covered bedtime stories
Little boy ignores his aches
The moving picture skips ahead
Boy meets a girl with eyes like violets
Salty kisses and cotton candy lips
Her tear stained white pillows stayed in his mind
But he learned to never look behind him
Tattered docs hit the sweaty city streets
Yearning for his daily anesthetic
Drunk with rain
He cowers in the dark alleys
He lays there on his anonymous hospital bed
No one knows his name
His mouth twitches and struggles to form just a word
The nurse smiles and says
Just another lost child with a story to tell
Conversations at Denny’s
I had a lot of odd hobbies as a teen. One of my favorite activities was to go to a local coffee shop or a Denny’s and write down the conversations people were having. My goal was to use them as inspiration for dialogue. And, man, did I get it. In hindsight, I’m not sure how I could write this fast…so there’s a good chance some of this dialogue is slightly fictional.
DAUGHTER: (speaking swiftly in an urgent tone) I really don’t know what to do, because I can’t stop thinking about him and he totally blew me off. I’d at least like to know why he dumped me. He didn’t even tell me what was going on! He just like stopped calling me and totally disappeared.
MOTHER: (monotone) Wasn’t he the one with all the holes in his face?
DAUGHTER: You mean piercings? No, that was Brett. I’m talking about Brandon.
MOTHER: Oh, okay. The one who had a bird’s nest for hair and never wore deodorant?
DAUGHTER: Ew, no that was Cody. And they are called dreds.
MOTHER: (monotone continues) Whatever. I can’t keep track. How long has it been since you’ve seen him?
DAUGHTER: It’s been forever! At least 2 months!
MOTHER: Did you try going by his house?
DAUGHTER: (fork scrapes the plate) One time I was with Courtney and we were like let’s go over there and see if he, like, still lives there, stop in, say hi, and then leave.
MOTHER: Mm hmm.
DAUGHTER: (frowns) But we didn’t end up doing it, because I didn’t want to seem like obsessive or something.
MOTHER: (rests chin on her hand and looks bored) Right.
DAUGHTER: (talks quickly and gestures furiously) Even though he treated me really badly, I still want to know what happened to him. See, I think he might have moved, but I don’t know how to find out where he lives. I’d like to call information and ask where he lives just because I’m curious, you know? He was like a friend since junior high. I don’t like want him back or anything.
MOTHER: Uh huh
DAUGHTER: And I tried calling his old number the other night, but he never called me back.
MOTHER: Told you that was going to happen.
MOTHER: (Lifts her chin from her hand without changing expression and continues in a monotone voice)) So how is school going?
DAUGHTER: It’s okay. We are doing this thing in history class, like looking up the causes and effects of the Constitution.
MOTHER: (Crinkles her brow) What do you mean?
DAUGHTER: You know, it’s like you look up a cause or you have to define something.
MOTHER: So you are talking about George Washington and Thomas Jefferson?
DAUGHTER: Yeah, we talked about them awhile ago.
MOTHER: Oh yeah? You know who Paul Revere was?
DAUGHTER: The name sounds familiar, but I have no idea who he is.
MOTHER: (Rolls her eyes and sighs before continuing) How are you doing in that class?
DAUGHTER: Well, on the last test I missed 42 questions out of 100.
MOTHER: Uh, isn’t that a lot?
DAUGHTER: Yeah, I didn’t really study. I got a D on it.
MOTHER: Wouldn’t that be an F?
DAUGHTER: No, it was a D because they averaged it with another test.
DAUGHTER: Yeah, I was pretty lucky.
Thanks so much, Tara! Aside from being AWESOME and HILARIOUS, Tara Kelly has another book coming out this fall. If you haven't read HARMONIC FEEDBACK yet, it's an absolute must-read. Her next release, AMPLIFIED, is due out from Henry Holt & Co. this October. Thanks to Tara for stopping by to share some secrets and for reminding me of what it was like to be a teen!
From our teen readers, I'm curious...do you write notes to your friends in school? Or write any kind of poetry (good or bad). Or how about jot down people's conversations word for word?