Monday, August 05, 2013

you can’t spell “mean girl” without “me”

1. chonnie

When Bonnie and I were in fourth grade, we were bussed to GATE (“Gifted and Talented Education”) every Wednesday at a nearby school the district wasn’t using. My main memory of GATE is that there was a microwave there, so you could bring Cup O’ Noodles, which was very exciting. So yes, I went to a special school to learn how to microwave soup.
NoodleBot: what a truly gifted kid would have made for lunch.
But for some reason having to do with the intricate politics of girlhood, Bonnie and I decided to convince our non-gifted-and-talented friend Stephanie (who I think is a marine biologist now) that GATE was an amazing place where the corners of our friendship triangle grew closer. We did this by inventing a super cool girl named Chonnie (as in Cheryl + Bonnie) and talking about her all the time. I don’t remember what made Chonnie so great, but knowing my fourth-grade standards of coolness, she probably had a pet dolphin, and she may have met Pee-Wee Herman.

2. cathy

This past spring, my sister went through some big shit, and I spent a lot of time yelling at her for stealing my cancer spotlight. I’ve been in therapy long enough to know that I was really yelling at Cathy for being born thirty-three years ago and stealing my parents. Back then, I saw quickly that I wasn’t going to get anywhere by being cute and needy now that someone cuter and needier had come along. So I did my three-year-old best to suck it up and be independent and good at things, which got me some decent parental attention.
Sometimes I throw weeknight pity parties too. Weekends are for amateurs.
As a cancer patient, I wasn’t terribly cute, but I was needy, so I enjoyed my dad’s love and concern as a sort of free gift with purchase. He was a basket case sometimes, so this particular free gift was like that makeup bag made out of weird synthetic fabric in a color you’re not so sure about. When my sister’s needs bloomed big and loud, my dad acted like she had cancer, and I concluded that it was time for me to suck it up and be independent and good at things again. I was very self-pitying during this time. I stepped down off the neediness stage as subtly instructed, but I basically stood in the groundling pit throwing angry tomatoes for three months.

3. camella

But the good thing about acting like an immature jerk is that you can write about it, if you happen to be a writer (or even if you don’t). In doing so, you see your own jerkiness with more clarity, but you’re also nicer to your small hurting self on the page than in real life. And so that’s what I did, and the story that resulted from the aforementioned experiences is called “The Legend of Camella,” and it’s available for free download (see Issue 1) at Stone Crowns, a new YA lit mag I’m very excited about.

4 comments:

lesbrain said...

I LOVE THIS TITLE.

Cheryl said...

Thanks. :-)

Sizzle said...

What would we do without writing about it? I'm pretty glad that's my outlet rather than like doing meth.

I totally laughed at the pet dolphin and Pee Wee Herman line. That would have been so cool in 4th grade!

Cheryl said...

I have this hunch I would really, really enjoy meth, so I'd better keep writing.