Sometimes You Just Don’t Think About It

Don’t mind me. My Prozac prescription ran out today (getting it refilled, so no worries. I’ll be Happy Mac again soon). That’s my excuse and I’m sticking to it. I’m depressed. I do what I want!

It’s funny, I’ve been thinking recently. So many kids grow up without realizing how good they really have it. I remember one time in high school, I overheard one of those perfect, pretty, popular straight-A students complaining about how her parents had taken her phone away for a week. She was a good kid, she protested to her friend. Her parents were being so unfair.

Personally, sitting in my dark corner of the classroom, I wanted to tell her that she didn’t know the meaning of unfair.

But, at that time, I thought my parents were still normal. I was the crazy one, according to myself. Everything was wrong with me, personally, and most of the time, I shoved that off as regular teenage melodrama and only wrote about the good things in my journal. Never a word about The State, or hoarding, or having a VCR thrown at my head for quietly asking if I could use it. A total gloss-over of the summers of hell. Don’t worry, Mac. Be happy.

That’s what child abuse is really like. You never realize that it’s wrong. You just think the world is a horrible place, and all the nice things you see are just a facade. You love your abusers, because they’re not always the Big Bad Villain. This is your parent. Your sister. People you’re supposed to love. People who make flower crowns for you, and buy you big Get Well baskets when you’re sick. They listen to you when you cry because of your kitten who just died. They make banana milkshakes for you, and give you a spa treatment. They do your hair and makeup, and tell you they love you.

All of that kindness makes the other side so hard to comprehend. The yelling and fighting, scratching and screaming. Crashes and holes in the walls. The “you’re too sensitive.” Being blamed for everything that goes wrong.

That girl, Sarah, still annoys me. Just thinking about her. With her neat clothes and her neat hair and her perfect grades. Sure, she had her own problems, but it’s hard to remember that, looking at her from that angle. I just see a girl who doesn’t realize how good she has it.

Growing up with a narcissistic hoarder for a mother and a scapegoat, parentified child for an older sister is no picnic. All those things people take for granted, like a stove or hot showers, cell phones or an Internet connection. A clean house. Parents who didn’t yell or throw things at your head, and actually loved each other. Being able to play outside. Going to school. They were all distant dreams for me. As much a fantasy as being able to fly. That was what I spent time daydreaming about—having a normal life. Wishing—praying—that I was adopted, and that my real, functional family would come for me someday.

Well, it never happened, obviously. Someone else’s horror story is my reality. I come with my own Certified Tragic Backstory. And thus, my secret comes out. I am a Mary Sue.

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Those Writers and The Legend Of Mary Sue

I did something with my life this week. I joined the local college’s writing club, and got to participate in critiquing other club members’ stories. As a natural-born proofreader with sharp, pointy teeth filed to perfection, I was roaring and ready to go!

Before going to the meeting, I got the opportunity to read one of the two pieces up for the workshop. And boy, did I tear into it, mocking it aloud to my roommates at every opportunity. I’ve eviscerated their work, as fellow writers, plenty of times, so they’re used to it, and beginning to learn like good little minions.

Anyway, this piece. . . it was a high school vampire story. Overly dramatic, rushed, awkward and dull. Something all too easy to mock. And I delighted in it.

Then, of course, I got to the meeting. Met the other writers and critics. Got to taste some writer blood. And begin a friendship with another Grammar Nazi.

That, of course, is when the vampire author is brought into the spotlight, and it is this so-called Grammar Nazi. And I began to fear for the future of humanity. Again.

This girl is in college, but the story is based on her and her friends. And even as I—heavily biting my tongue—gave few well-placed comments, she looked like she was about to cry. Even though we were giving her the kid gloves, and giving her praise that she really didn’t deserve, and that we’d had to fight like hell to dredge up. It was poorly written. Plain and simple.

So, to all the aspiring writers out there who haven’t heard it, I have a few words to say. Not everyone’s going to like your work. Ever. Fact of life. Deal with it, pin up another rejection, and keep trying until you get it right. The big bad world doesn’t care about your feelings. It’s about what you can give them. There’s always going to be someone who thinks it’s a stupid story. There are always going to be critics. They keep you in perspective,

Also, some of you just weren’t meant to be writers. If you’re not a reader, first of all, just go ahead and rule yourself out. Writers are a strict, snotty club, and require you to know your medium. If you can’t get beyond the stuff that sounds like the regular Internet drudgery, rule yourself out again. Go for the exceptional, not what’s been done a thousand times under a thousand different names and descriptions—here mostly meaning our good old friend, Mary Sue, and the hackneyed plots that follow her around because they have no will to stand on their own. Besides, don’t you think you’d be better suited putting your talents to use elsewhere? Maybe your writing is depriving the world of future leaders. Doctors. Teachers. Techs. Dictators. Expand your horizons!

To those of you adding to The Legend Of Mary Sue, us who are criticizing you have been there. We got smart. We’re just trying to keep you from making our mistakes.

And, let me just point out, there’s a good reason I don’t often show any of my own stuff. I’m not a bad writer, says me, but I’m a better proofreader.

Mormon Girls and the Sludge called Twilight

It’s behind the times, sure, but let’s talk about Twilight, religion and sexism for a minute, m’kay?

I’m a Mormon girl, born and raised right near Salt Lake City. I’ve played with being inactive over the years, but I know my life would totally suck if I didn’t have my religion to fall back on.

I am also part of the “Twihard” generation, sadly. The first book came out when I was in middle school, and I begged my mom to let me buy it so I could read it. She refused because it’s about vampires (even though I read Dracula at the age of ten). I was only successful when we saw it on the shelf at Deseret Book (big Mormon bookstore, for those of you who don’t know). So, we bought it. And I read it in one night.

But I didn’t like it, even though I couldn’t figure out why at the time. So, I handed it off to my sister, who’s two years older, and said it was something she might like better. And she did. My sister was a Twilight fan. And she’s supposed to be more mature than me, remember. She made me go to the midnight release party for the book Breaking Dawn, too.

Let’s just say I like to block out that memory.

Now, many, many people in the world know that Twilight isn’t great literature, to put it in the nicest way. Blah blah feminism blah blah, anti-feminist Mormons blah blah, Renesmee’s a chestburster from Alien blah blah (gotta say, I love that image), Edward’s a creepy abusive possessive stalker blah, Bella’s a vapid Mary Sue who only exists to be Edward’s girlfriend/wife/baby mommy blah blah. You’ve heard it all before, probably.

Though my hate of Twilight has only grown over the years, I do not hate Stephenie Meyer as a person. I read The Host and didn’t find it too bad, though a very long way from being something I loved. Yes, she wrote a crappy series. But she doesn’t deserve to be personally attacked because of it.

And let me say it right here—Mormons are not anti-feminist, strictly speaking. Feminism, even in its one-sided narrowmindedness, is women doing what they want because they want to. So, if a woman wants to be a stay-at-home mom because that’s what she wants, not because it’s what society expects of her, she is a feminist. Likewise, if she doesn’t want to get married, but wants to say single with hair flowing through the wind as she rides through the glen, firing arrows into the sunset, she is also a feminist. What is anti-feminist is a woman who becomes a wife and mother even though she doesn’t want to. A woman who really wants to just get married and have kids, but remains single and with a high-paying career because she knows all the flack she’d get if she ever settled down.

Yes, Mormons are encouraged to get married and have kids, and some people will make us feel guilty if we don’t by the time we’re twenty, but the presidency of the church does not condone such behavior. Every group has its fanatics, and we’re no different (boy, I could tell stories).

So, yes. I’m a Mormon. I don’t identify myself as a feminist only because I believe in equality between the sexes. One day, I do want to get married, and maybe even eventually have kids. But I absolutely loathe that horrific thing known as Twilight.