A few weeks ago I was required to write a six page autobiographical piece about someone else.
I know…”autobiographical” kind of means “written by oneself about oneself,” but my professor said that usually those kind of essays get too confessional for her tastes, so she preferred it if we would simply make up a fake autobiography (in other words, she couldn’t give a Bill Clinton about us or our lives, and would rather read about the lives of people who’ve never existed than deal with our emotional baggage all semester).
Which was fine by me, because I love that kind of crap—really, love it. Creative writing is great, see, because it’s really hard for people to read it and say, “No, that’s bad,” or “You misspelled gouge;” in creative writing, confusing “gouge” with “gauge” is actually something people do for artistic impact. It’s all very freeing.
As it happened, I wrote my autobiographical piece about a girl named Danger, and it got a 9.5 out of 10 (I don’t know why I lost a half a point…my professor never made any notes on it). Still, I was pleased with Danger’s grade, and someday I’ll post the piece here, but only if it doesn’t get published in a literary journal that I submitted it to last week.
(Apparently, then, this blog is just a landfill—a funeral home for me to dump and cremate all the mental word garbage for which nobody else will give a proper published burial. Poor you guys.)
Anyway, I only settled on Danger after writing about lots of other girls first. And today, as I was sorting through a stack of mish-mash papers kicking around the office, I came across the first three paragraphs of one character whose story didn’t make it to my professor’s desk.
(Awkward that I just wrote “thar she be,” right? I know. Sorry about that.)
I reread it, and I sort of felt bad that my little friend would never see the light of day. I thought she deserved more respect than that. And even though I didn’t trust her to see me through a creative writing assignment, that doesn’t mean she’s totally worthless.
So she’s going to get her moment of glory here today.
(Remember, this is not me or my parents I am writing about; this is another person. If you start to feel bad for me, you shouldn’t, because I am not her, and she is not me. That’s just how it has to be.)
Everything about me is ordinary. I was born and raised in the same mid-sized suburban city, I got average grades in school, I have dirty blond lifeless hair, and my teeth aren’t very white. I didn’t have braces, but I needed them. I went on a few dates, but only when I asked.
My name is Sara, and my parents didn’t even have the decency to give me an “H” to pretty it up a bit; there’s Ben Folds a song about people like me. I’m like “Ann without an ‘E'”—Sara without an “H.” Sarah, plain and simple.
But in my head there lives another me. She is the better of us, the one whose parents sprung for straight teeth and a car on our sixteenth birthday, the one who experiments with ways to make our mousy hair more vivacious, the one who turns down dates because she has that option. (Me? Well, ya can’t refuse what you’re not offered, right?) The me inside my head is Sarah with an “H.”
She’s not perfect, though—I’m so bland that my imagination can’t even conjure up perfect self. I just can’t imagine what that would be like, to be perfect.
No, Sarah with an “H” has faults: She is greedy and self-centred. She was spoiled growing up and consequently believes—truly believes—that the world revolves around us.
And that’s as far as the Sara/hs ever got.
It’s too bad, really, because it could’ve been interesting, writing an autobiography for two people rolled in one—a twofer. (I’ve been waiting to use that word on this blog since it got stuck in my head last week; good to finally have it out. [I like it ’cause it looks like it should be pronounced so different from how it actually is.])
Anyway, there’s no real point in sharing this except that I want to throw away the paper but I felt bad for my imaginary Sara friend/s, so I’m transferring it to the old blog (again with the mental mind dump), and tossing—no, recycling—the loose leaf.
Maybe someday I’ll share what’s scrawled on the back side of the page.
It’s titled Barack Obama Killed My Mama.
I might have to wait until every member of my fairly-ultra-conservative extended family is dead and gone; I’d be disowned otherwise.
Even still, they’d probably roll over in their graves.
I’m a black sheep, what can I say?