Wednesday, November 5th, 2003 • No Comments on NaNoing the Night Away
I feel like all I’m doing is writing about NaNoWriMo, which is probably true. It is taking up a lot of my free time this week, but I’m still in the first blush of infatuation with this whole notion of writing a book in a month.
I’ve done the book-in-a-week thing a couple of times, but who are we kidding? No one writes a book in a week (okay,
no one) and the entire process is mostly just a writing exercise to get you out of your rut. This, however, is different. Fifty thousand words in a month is entirely do-able. They may not be great words, but I can do that. Of course, I’ve been up until 3 or 4 in the morning every night since Friday, so that’s given me a lot of time to write. We’ll see how that changes come the weekend when I have to work.
Still, if you’re a writer or an aspiring writer, NaNoWriMo offers a great opportunity at making some headway on whatever ideas are churning around in your brain. And if you happen to work best under a deadline (which I do), even better.
Chapter 3 of my still untitled work in progress is below. It’s all crap, but it’s on paper and I can fix it later. Hopefully.
Just when I thought my life couldn’t get any worse, my grandmother insisted I had to dress for her party. I figured that meant changing out of my grungy jeans and into clean ones. But no, she meant I had to actually wear a dress. Ack.
It was bad enough I’d spent three hours dusting every book, knick-knack and piece of furniture downstairs, breaking a nail in the process, I might add, but now I had to actually put on a stupid dress that would meet Grandma’s approval. What were the odds of that?
I stared at my meager wardrobe, annoyed that my mother had made me pack seventy-five percent of my clothing. She’d insisted I wouldn’t need much for the two weeks it took for the moving van to arrive, so I was pretty much limited to jeans and tank tops. I had one dress in the bunch, a hideous pink thing my mother insisted I pack in case Grandma wanted to drag us to church. I was not wearing that in front of my potential classmates, no matter how nerdy and country they might be. Heck, I’d probably fit right in if I wore that disgusting thing and that was not something I intended to do.
“Aren’t you dressed yet?” my mother asked, popping her head around the doorway. “Guests will be arriving in thirty minutes.”
Just then, Grandma screeched, “I need help down here! These canapes aren’t going to stuff themselves.”
I didn’t know what a canape was, but I definitely knew where Grandma could stuff it.
“I have nothing to wear,” I said, trying to maintain calm.
I didn’t even know why I cared. It wasn’t like I wanted to impress Grandma’s stupid friends. But it was my first chance to meet anyone in Truhart and I wanted them to know I wasn’t some hick from the country. I was a Miami beach babe and I was above square dancing and horseshoes, or whatever passed for entertainment around here.
“Just put on your church dress. It’s perfectly fine and you look lovely in it.”
I fought very hard not to make a gagging noise, but I was thinking about it. “Mother, that dress is two years old and I hate it. I cannot wear that tonight.”
She shook her head. “Julia, you’ve been difficult since we got here. Please, I’m begging you, just get dressed and come downstairs. I’m going to help your grandmother before she blows a gasket.”
I was so stunned at my mother using the phrase �blows a gasket’ that I could only stand there gaping as she walked away. Maybe I wasn’t the only one a little on edge about this party.
When I regained my faculties, I remembered that I did have a choice besides the stupid pink dress. I dug through the pile of clothes I’d dumped in the bottom of the tiny closet (what’s with old houses that have fifty gazillion bedrooms, but practically no closet space?) and pulled out my black pleather skirt. It wasn’t a dress, but it would have to do. It was also the wrong season for pleather, but I doubted anyone in TruHick
would know anything about fashion.
I finally decided on the peach blouse that accentuated my skin tone and the highlights in my hair. A pair of ankle boots, a little makeup and I was ready to party. Okay, I was ready to meet the good citizens of the dinky little town my mother had moved me to.
My timing was perfect. Just as I was putting on a second coat of mascara, I heard the doorbell ring. Good. Grandma would be so busy with her guests, she wouldn’t have time to freak over my outfit. And since my mother was so busy trying to make my grandmother happy, I figured she’d just be thrilled I was dressed and present.
I got an attack of the butterflies as I came down the stairs. It was ridiculous to be nervous, I told myself. Maybe it was just hunger. I hadn’t had much to eat since I’d gotten there since Grandma seemed fond of fried and breaded food. That stuff will kill ya.
I heard voices in the parlor and made my entrance, careful to toss my hair back just as I walked through the door. It was supposed to improve my posture and give me a last minute boost of confidence. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. I really needed it to work tonight.
“There’s Julia,” m mother said to about six people standing around. I could tell by her tight little smile she wasn’t happy. “I thought you were going to wear the pink dress?”
I could fake smile as well as she could. “No, Mother, I said I was going to pick something else to wear.”
I kept my smile plastered on my face as I looked around. There was definitely a couple of blue hairs, a woman about my mother’s age, a girl who had to be in middle school and two guys who looked like they might be close to my age, maybe a little older. One of the guys looked awfully yummy in jeans and an Old Navy T-shirt, the other looked about like what I expected TruBumpkin teens to look like, complete with a ball cap that said John Deere. The girl barely looked at me, she was busy staring at the yummy guy. She was wearing a dress that looked an awful lot like the hideous thing upstairs on my bed. The boy in the hat said something to her and she looked in my direction and giggled.
I didn’t have time to analyze that because the doorbell rang again and another mini-herd came through. In about twenty minutes, the entire parlor was filled, which was saying something since it was about the size of my old house. I lost my mother in the crowd and Grandma seemed to have barricaded herself in the kitchen because I kept hearing people asking for her.
There were a bunch of people my age or close to it, but no one bothered to say hello. I thought maybe they were waiting for me to do it, but then I figured it wasn’t even my house, so why should I have to make the first move? I mean, when a new kid started at Miami High, they were usually the most popular kid in the class for awhile. As far as I could see, they should be making the effort to be my friends, not the other way around.
I made my way to the edge of the room where the drink table was set up. I’d made sure to put out my favorite sodas, all diet. I really just wanted to disappear into my room and not come out until the crowd went home, but I figured I’d hear about it from now until I graduated. Hopefully everyone would go home and I could watch a couple episodes of Buffy and decompress, as my dad’s girlfriend Amanda is fond of saying.
I was pouring a glass of diet Pepsi when someone bumped me from behind, spilling my cup down the front of my peach blouse. “Geez, watch what you’re doing, will you?” I said, mopping at my blouse with a napkin. I’d have to change now. The blouse was a thin fabric and the soda had made it almost transparent. Which might have been great if Josh was there, but I wasn’t feeling all that generous with the boys from Truhart.
I turned around to see the fox from before. Well, at least he was a fox by TruHick standards, I amended. “I’m going to have to change,” I said, annoyed that he hadn’t even apologized.
“Yeah, I was thinking it was a little early for you to be dressed like that,” he said with a grin.
I didn’t like the way he was staring at my chest, fox or no. “Dressed like what?”
“Like a pumpkin. Halloween isn’t for another three months.”
I just stared at him. “I do not look like a pumpkin,” I informed him. “This is peach, not orange. Not that you’d know the difference here in TruHick, Virginia.”
He just laughed at me, flashing a row of perfectly straight, white teeth. “I’m just messing with you, don’t get your panties in a twist.”
“Excuse me, will you?” I said as coldly as I could manage.
He did this kind of fake bow thing and stepped out of my way. “Sure. Wouldn’t want you to ruin your Halloween costume.”
I stalked past him and into the hall. Someone grabbed me and for a minute I thought it was him. I spun around, ready to use a couple of kickboxing moves Jeanette’s brother Eric had shown me, but it wasn’t the jerk with the pretty white teeth. It was his buddy, the ball cap wearing hick.
“Hey, wait,” he said.
I gave him a withering stare. “Take your hand off me or you’ll lose a knee cap.”
He let me go and took a couple steps back. I resisted the urge to smile. “I just wanted to apologize for Wade. He can be a jerk sometimes.”
“Sometimes?” I asked, practicing the one eyebrow raised look.
“Yeah. He’s an okay guy once you get to know him. I’m Darren, by the way. Wade’s cousin.” He held out his hand. When I ignored it, he left it fall. “Anyway, I just wanted to meet you. Not many people move to Truhart.”
“I bet an awful lot move away, though.”
His grin kind of faltered. “I don’t know. I think most people like it here.”
“I’m not most people.”
Darren kind of stared at me for a minute, like I was speaking a foreign language and he was trying to translate it. “Gotcha. I guess Wade was right.”
I put my hand on my hip. “About what?”
“Well, he said you looked like a snooty little princess who thought she was better than everyone else.” Darren shook his head. “I told him you were probably just shy and needed to get to know us first. But I can see Wade was right. Have a nice stay in Truhart. Maybe if you’re lucky your mom will pack you up and take you back to Miami where you belong.”
It was my turn to stare as he turned around and walked away. It was little comfort to see that he was wearing Wrangler jeans. Somehow, being insulted by someone who had absolutely no sense of fashion was just as painful as being insulted by someone who did.
“Sweet God in heaven, what are you wearing girl?”
My grandmother’s screech cut through the party chatter like a dagger to my heart. I’d made it up four stairs to my room when she spotted me. I wanted to just run the rest of the way, but I had a mental picture of her screaming after me and the whole crowd staring. It seemed easier to just talk to her for a minute and let her know I was going to hide in my room for the rest of the night.
“I got soda on my blouse. I’m going to change.”
“You sure are,” she said, wiping her hands on that painfully bright apron she always wore. “Has your mother seen you?”
“Of course,” I said, a little snappier than I intended.
“And she let you come down here like that? Looking like some street walker?” Grandma shook her head. “I thought she raised you better than that.”
Have I mentioned how my grandmother’s voice carries? I could practically hear a pin drop behind me in the parlor. I just knew everyone was standing there staring at me as my grandmother decided to play grand matriarch of Creepy Manor.
“Grandma, this outfit is very fashionable in Florida,” I said calmly, working my way back up the stairs. I would not, under any circumstances, look behind me. I refused to let anyone in that room think I cared what they thought. “But now I need to go change.”
Grandma huffed and puffed until I thought her cheeks were going to burst. “Put on something that won’t embarrass your mother and me, would you? Your mother has suffered enough humiliation and I’m too old to be explaining to people why my granddaughter looks like a floozy.”
I didn’t dignify that with a response. Never mind that no one had used the word floozy in probably fifty years, but I didn’t really like the way she talked about my mother, especially in front of a room full of people.
I slammed the door to the bedroom a little harder than I intended and waited for more screeching. Thankfully, there was none. Maybe Grandma would go chew out the jerk who’d spilled soda all over me.
Subj: Can you say humiliation?
Date: 07/16/04 8:02:03 PM Eastern Standard Time
From: [email protected]
To: [email protected]
Okay, so I’m barricaded in my room and I refuse to come out until someone slips a plane ticket to Miami under the door. Yes, it’s that bad. I hate this place, I hate these people and all I want to do is go HOME. There is a crowd of people downstairs who just witnessed my humiliation at the hands of my grandmother and now I’m supposed to go back down and face them. No, I can’t do it. I refuse. Not even if one of them is a stone fox.
I miss you. I miss Josh. I miss the beach. I miss my pool. I even miss my father, believe it or not. I do not miss Amanda, not yet anyway.
I need e-mail. I need a lifeline to the real world. Call me tonight, I’ll be up late making an escape ladder out of bed sheets. I am so not joking.