Saturday, September 10

Writing Exercise - A Childhood Memory

The following is a writing exercise where I discuss a childhood memory. Check out the assignment here: Girls With Pens. This story is all true.

Kids are funny creatures, aren't they?

They're small, make funny faces and sounds, ask silly questions that older humans don't dare ask, and they can spin the most interesting - if however disjointed - stories you'll ever hear.

I was that way when I was little. I made all sorts of faces. Told stories practically on the spot. I was indeed small. So I fit the bill for what a child is and should be. Webster even contacted my family to ask to use a picture of me for their definition of "whipper-snapper". Whatever happened to dictionaries not using pictures anymore, anyway? Makes that joke totally old-school now.

Point is, I was a pretty entertaining little thing back in the day. Just ask anyone. Never a dull moment, I assure you. Medicated for ADHD, politely asked not to return to my elementary school of since-Kindergarten for fifth grade, gleefully disruptive in class, and ALWAYS imagining bigger and greater things.

Looking back through "the blur" - as I call my overactive creative mind (I don't really but I should, shouldn't I? Makes me sound all established and stuff) - I seemed to always have this affinity for television and film in some aspect. I always tried to view how I played as if through the lens of a camera in a sort of "this would look cool like this" manner. I was, according to Mom, somewhat bossy of my friends when it came to how to play and what to do. I suppose this came from being an only child and being used to the game going how I designed. I would even get behind the literal camera every now and then to try my hand at some professional, Spielberg-esque storytelling. Yes. Professional. At eight. You don't know, you weren't there. Me an' Spiels were tight, yo.

Set the scene. It's January (or February, who cares?) in 1994. Southern California. For those of you familiar with the time and area, you probably remember the '94 Northridge earthquake. Our "big one", if you're the type to exaggerate everything. I live just outside Northridge, so yeah...we felt it. Well...most everyone did.

Me? I was fast asleep. Always could sleep through anything. And I would have too, if it weren't for pesky, protective Mom. Here I am, enjoying my dream about something really awesome, I'm sure, when my mother comes tearing into my room, wraps her arms around my sleeping form, and RIPS me out of the comfort of my bed and over onto the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles bean bag chair I had next to my bed. She clings onto me here in the hope that this new positioning will save me if the ceiling collapses. Because bean bag chairs are magic.

A week or so after the quake, I get a hold of a video camera (God, help us all) and start filming my family while visiting my grandparents. My father, step-mother, aunt and cousin are all present on the back patio under the false pretense of a little bonding after a traumatic natural event. But I know why they were really there. To humiliate and frustrate me to the point of tears.

I decided it'd be a good idea to put on a news show with the camera, since everyone's talking about the earthquake. Now, here comes bossy me. I give everyone fake anchor names - well, I try to, but my father - thinking himself a comedian - feels fit to deal out his own, witty names. Frustration number 1. I roll with it for now. So I to introduce some breaking news. My father exclaims, "Breaking News?!", gets up and goes to a chair that's there, points to it and shouts, "THIS CHAIR! BROKEN!" Everyone laughs. Everyone but a little eight year-old boy with a camera and a dream. Frustration number 2. "NO!" squeaks my angry little voice, "Talk about the earthquake!" So he does. And then he starts shaking and vibrating. My step-mother and aunt are quick to catch on and participate too. My six year-old cousin, the only other one standing, shakes and stumbles around (he really needs acting lessons). "Oh no!" announces my father. "Aftershock!"

And cue another shout of frustration (number 3 now) from me, the camera dips and turns all about as I fling my arms around, and cut.

Here's where I have a serious talk with each and every one of them. This is going to be a professional, no-nonsense news show, goddamnit. I will not allow my illustrious eight year-old film and television career go down the crapper because these jokers find it funny to make the veins in my head pop out. Now stick to the f*#king script. (I'm sure I said all that)

The camera fades back in on a group of politely seated adults on a sunny day. There are little-to-no smiles, as the news should be (from my perspective). My father holds an awl upside-down for a microphone. He starts talking about some breaking news ("BROKEN!" shouts my cousin, the funny little bastard). We address the seriousness of the earthquake. The broadcast is over. The camera fades out. I got what I wanted.

Frustration number 4. Did I have fun? No, not really. I could have, if I had embraced my father's carefree and humorous attitude. But I had control problems back then, and they got in the way. I'm surprised nobody hates me now. Well, my aunt probably does. She's crafty.

Kids really are funny creatures. Instead of being flexible and ready for fun, they insist on focusing on the bad parts and pouting, throwing temper tantrums, instead of doing what makes them happy. Why? I'm not sure. All I know is that I got my video, the way I wanted it, and now I can look back on it any time in disappointment that I had acted that way.

Lesson learned, I guess.

Yes, I still have the video.

Thanks, Girls With Pens, for bringing that painful memory back out of me.

1 comment:

  1. Looking back over this, I've decided I cannot wait to torture my own kids, too. :)