CORRODED Excerpt

Since I plan to post my 100th blog entry on New Year’s Day, I decided to share a few snipets from CORRODED, the novel I’m currently querying to publishing companies. This scene has freshman Mary Weber reporting to the office for the first time in her high school career.

The school secretary looked at me without recognition and read my note. “Your guidance counselor, Mr. Lopez, needs to see you. He’s down the hall, next to the last door on your right.”

            A couple of students sitting in chairs along the wall narrowed their eyes at me when I walked past. I quickly looked away.

            Mr. Lopez’s blue office door was open. The walls in the small room were covered by posters with motivational quotes. He waved me in and introduced himself.

            “I suppose you’re wondering why you’re here, Mary.” He leaned back in his swivel chair but kept his brown eyes focused on me. My school file was open on the computer screen behind him, listing my current schedule.

            My mind scanned through the possible offenses in my life and settled on the big one: my night out with Ben. I sucked in a deep breath. “Did my parents call you because I snuck out of the house Friday night?”

            He grabbed a pen from behind his ear and scribbled down something on the notepad on his lap. “Not at all, but that does fit in with the other issue.”

            “I’m grounded, but that’s not going to affect my school work.”

            Mr. Lopez replaced the pen behind his ear—it was camouflaged against his black hair—and leaned closer. “One of your classmates came to me last week out of concern. She wanted me to help you seek support for some issues you might be dealing with.” There must have been a look of utter bewilderment on my face because Mr. Lopez continued talking. “Whatever we talk about here will remain confidential. You don’t need to worry about the school calling your parents. I’m here to help you. Whatever is troubling you is valid, and there’s a support system to help you cope.”

Explore more things CORRODED at http://pinterest.com/wonderwegian/corroded/
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Middle School Blues

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Middle School Blues

The years I spent in middle school were terrific and terrible. I was trying to find my style and express myself—the slightly pudgy, tall geek posing as a rebel. (Yes, it carried over into high school, too. And adulthood, minus the rebel part.) And no, I didn’t fool my friends or family.
I took gifted/advanced classes in a four-track-year-round school in a culturally diverse neighborhood in Southern San Diego County. I was the tallest girl in the school and blonde amid a sea of dark hair. (Translation: You could spot me across the campus with ease.) I went to all periods with the same group of people for two years. The exception was the elective classes—those in band went to the band room and the others (me included) cycled between art, cooking, computers, health, drafting, and wood shop each quarter. It was a solid, well-rounded experience.
My group was the popular clique amid the nerds and all the cultures at the school were represented. Only the truly weird kids were the odd ones out. The other three tracks in the school—one would be on break for a few weeks at any given time—had separate lunch schedules and we didn’t mix socially. Thus, I was in the privileged top of the (geek) social class.
Switching middle schools in my final month of eighth grade did a number on my self-esteem. That last month of school (actually moving on my fourteenth birthday) my family moved to a predominantly white/upper-class area in North County San Diego and it shook my sense of self-worth to the core. Less than a thirty minute commute, but it was a radical culture shock.
I had to ride the bus, which I hadn’t done since elementary school, and the trips were worse than the actual school day. (I tend to think this is when my fear of crowds kicked in.) It was packed full of jeering kids who made fun of those of us who got on/off the bus in my neighborhood—it was one of the older, original parts in the suburb. Most of the other kids on the bus route lived in new tract housing with a minimum of three car garages, five bedrooms and 3.5 baths. People would actually try to trip me when I walked down the aisle and projectiles were thrown in my direction.
The school days were disastrous. Wood shop, which I loved at my old school, was torture. Even the teacher looked at me funny and said “it’s not like it was in your old school” when I walked in the first day. He offered to let me change my schedule to drop the course, but I naively stuck it out. There were only two other girls and they were in there because it was “where the boys are.” I was branded a hoe for taking shop class because in that school it was for guys and skanks.
I’ve blocked from my memory which class it was that I had notes stuck on my back taunting “wide load” and such on several occasions. It was always from the under-sized boys who must have been intimidated to have a girl sitting in front of them that could physically beat them up—as if I’d ever. One student did defend me, but the damage was done.
In another class, I was trapped on the back row between the 90210 looking kids. They’d discuss their parties and drinking/drugs from the weekend before, where the next one would be held because so-and-so’s parents were on a cruise, who spent the morning puking in the bathroom, who was in rehab, or who might be getting an abortion.
There I was, on the “better side” of San Diego, and I was being exposed to bullying for the first time. Plus the exploits of the privileged class piled around me—those outwardly perfect kids spiraling down the dark hole of addiction before reaching high school. It was frightening and sad, even then. I didn’t envy them. They made me sick just listening to the stories they joked about. (I think that’s where my distrust for seemingly perfect people stems from. Even in books, I never trust the pretty boys. No Team Edward here.)
Then, there’s the fact that on the first day I dressed out for P.E. I was picked last when choosing baseball teams. (The first, but not the final, time I was left for a coach to assign me to a team.) I busted myself to prove I wasn’t all that bad. I barely made it to first base and later sprained my ankle running home. I had to hobble around for a couple weeks on crutches.
I sat the whole boring 8th grade graduation (the only time I walked for a grad ceremony) surrounded by strangers. The next day, I attended my old school’s graduation and watched my close friends get their diplomas as a bystander, sitting with their parents and siblings rather than with them on the stand.
It sucked to be me.
Over the summer, and then when high school began, I did settle into a small friendship circle of other outsiders and new comers. I was no longer bullied—but mostly ignored, which was fine by me.
Three months into my freshman year—just six months after the last move—I was once again relocated. This time the destination was eight hours north, to a strange place near Santa Cruz.
But that’s another story.