In this year’s National Novel Writing Month, (NaNoWriMo,) a little more than a week has passed. I thought it time to include a sample of what I’m writing.
For now, I am writing a memoir — just pulling together as many stories from my life as I can. After my 1st draft is done, I intend to novelize these stories from my life, but for now, I’m just getting stuff from my brain to the page. Up to this morning, I have written 20,004 words.
I never did realize, as a child, that others of my family were targets for disapproval. Some of my siblings experienced a lot of the same flat thumb on the head that I did. Of course, then, I felt the problem was who I was, not how I was being raised.. As I still felt, up until recently. But when I was eleven, I saw myself as the only child who got picked on. I don’t remember being surprised when I got sick then; I only remember being teased and picked on by my sisters.
And why? I caught mononucleosis. Yes, the kissing disease. My sisters waited after I was diagnosed – they didn’t start teasing and picking away for almost ten seconds. Having mono, as an eleven-year-old girl in 1971, felt like a scarlet letter on my chest. (I’m still pretty melodramatic, aren’t I? I am recapturing my feelings of that time.) I wrote about these feelings in another medium, and my dad objected strongly. He told me I was happy, through all my years of youth, and that I was telling this story through a false filter added later. He even named some of my accomplishments as proof to me that I was happy. Maybe for the first time, I stood up to my dad; I didn’t try to explain how he was wrong. I told him that I refuse to accept his judgment of my feelings.
Enough for now. Back to the kissing disease. My throat became very sore. The antibiotics I got from the doctor didn’t heal, and I remember a body-wide itchy, blotchy red rash, for which I had to soak in a tub of water and oatmeal. Doctors used medicinal oatmeal for a lot of skin conditions in 1971, I guess. Somewhere in the middle of all this, the doctor diagnosed mono. Of course, regardless of where I caught the disease, (at a city pool, we believe,) Mom was thoroughly uninterested in nursing seven children through this. Even in the big house we had in Tampa, I would make the whole family sick, and that was unacceptable.
At this time, my dad was either just back, or still in Viet Nam, so Mom put me in the care of a close family friend. More details about them later. But I was happy to be away from my family, as the house was in an uproar of packing and planning and kids just out of school. I stayed with Joyce and her family until we left for Montgomery, Alabama, and Maxwell Air Force Base. I remember her as an angel of mercy – she would laugh at that, but she was also the lady to whom I ran after my separation from Jerzy, in 1999. After we drove to Maxwell, I was in bed for most of the summer, still recovering from the kissing disease. I shared a room with Sue, and Mom bought us very cool astrology bedspreads. That’s one of only a few memories from the later summer months of 1971. Others? That was the year I read Gone With The Wind twice. Late in that time, I met our neighbor from across the way, by use of our personal window sign language.
Within just a few days of us moving into our house, there on Maxwell AFB, we learned that my new friend, Jennie, had a young golden retriever who barked whenever he was alone. Tied on the front patio, with yards of chain, so he could run, Doggy, (I don’t remember his name,) barked all the time. Throughout the year we spent In Alabama, Mom grew to honestly hate that dog. I think if we weren’t around, and if it were just her and the dog, she might just grab a gun and blast his brains out.
Posting these few paragraphs, and reading them, I find many, many mistakes that need to be edited. But the trick with NaNoWriMo is to get the words on paper, not to begin to edit or proofread. I’m posting this, but I think from now on, I’m not going to set myself up for self-criticism. I am going to write.