Friday, May 30, 2008

This Post Brought To You By My Mother And Her Enormous Hoard of Blackmail Material

So, I have a theory that the most compelling, entertaining kind of personal writing involves complete, utter, naked embarrassment on the part of the writer. And who among us was not at their most embarrassing during that heady decade between the ages of ten and twenty?

Case in point: a dear friend (who I will not link because she doesn't want to talk about it anymore, OK?) recently admitted via blog that, at nineteen, she dated one Dave "Uncle Joey" Coulier. I know. I know. But we're not going to talk about it.

Instead, in the spirit of sisterly support and solidarity, I would like present some of my own sins from the high 80's. (Sadly, they do not involve Canadian-born sitcom stars.) The scene: I was twelve, and entering the National Written & Illustrated By Contest, and putting together a volume of poetry (poetry!) and this is it:

"Impressions"

That's right. "Impressions." Which sounds very much like a series of trite motivational posters, or a brand of pantyliners with Monet's waterlilies on the wrappers. (Or, come to think of it, those things the hilarious Dave Coulier is known for doing, but we're not talking about it!)

Really, I dare anyone to come up with a title as bland, nondescript, and twee as "Impressions." It's almost painful to look at.

splatter

And even worse with splatter paint.

All of the book's actual poems and table of contents were typed up in Word Perfect, printed out on a dot matrix printer, and lovingly trimmed and pasted onto the page.

dot matrix 4eva

Dot matrix 4 ever, baby. Can you make out that list of titles? Let me help:

holy twelve-year-old girl, batman

"Horse?" "Dreams?" Mother freaking "Dew Drops?" It's almost like a parody of a book of poetry written by a twelve-year-old girl in the late 80's. I do wish there were at least one called "Pegasus" and maybe one called "Feelings" and possibly one called "Puffy Iridescent Lisa Frank Stickers On My Soul."

The actual contents are too painful to reveal. They are baaaaad, so nakedly earnest yet horribly cliche and hokey that I can barely bring myself to read them, let alone post for the greater Internets to see.

I will give you one, a precious little haiku called "Reality."

too deep

Deep. I mean, it really makes you think, right? About, like, life. And dreams and stuff. And just what did I choose to illustrate this stunning bit of wisdom?

I think they call them "metaphors"

Girl, please; it was 1989.

(Needless to say, I did not win. The winning entry was called "Life in the Ghetto" and, really, how could my suburban, Idahoan, rainbow-painting ass possibly compete with that? Well played, Anika Thomas, wherever you are.)

30 comments:

standing still said...

I'm glad you highlighted Dew Drops, because I was going to, cause man, it touched me. Deeply.

Lisa Milton said...

Where is your mother and does she have more?

Because this was delicious.

(Don't feel bad. Splattered paint was very chic in 1989. It's in my senior pictures. Don't judge.)

So glad you shared. You feel just a little better now, don't you? I know I do...

debawriter said...

I swear on all that is good and holy that I have an almost identical book in my dad's garage back home.

Except that in addition to the splatter paint, I burned the paper's edges for a ragged artsy feel...

Deb
sandiegomomma.com

amy t sharp said...

love it! rainbows rule

Kelly @ Love Well said...

Sadly, I have no illustrations.

But I have oodles of journals from fourth grade on that I can't quite bring myself to burn.

It's like Frodo trying to throw the ring into Mount Doom. I want to be rid of this horrible burden. Yet I can't throw it off the ledge.

hippyhappyhay said...

That is so seriously funny that it hurts!

So the Uncle Joey thing was true? Which one wasn't? Did I miss an update. Golly.

Mike Golch said...

well.I have stuff from my childhood that I'd like to burn as well.but how can I it is from my childhood.

Jenn @ Juggling Life said...

It's all that stuff that made you the writer and artist you are today--don't be so hard on your teenage self!

Jenn @ Juggling Life said...

It's all that stuff that made you the writer and artist you are today--don't be so hard on your teenage self!

MamaBird said...

Ah, but did you go from rainbows and soul searching to punk rock, black eyeliner and ennui? I want to meet the early 90s Melanie tooooooo...

Mrs. G. said...

Were you wearing your retainer and earth shoes and chomping on some green apple Bubble Yum while you wrote this masterpiece. I am awed by your adolescent emotional landscape-from dew drops to reality. You were such an artistic beansprout.

You better hope I don't get ANY information about your past dating life.

dkuroiwa said...

~~man....I'm moved. And so glad that you let your reader know that each heart-wrenching haiku came with "illustrations".
Seriously....keep this forever...your children will someday laugh their butts off, but...also might possibly be inspired to do exactly what you have done and that is put your thoughts on paper...and then, those notebooks will become your treasures...and the circle continues.

Rainbows are wonderful...and yours was blended quite nicely!! The elementary school teacher in me just gave you a really nice Lisa Frank Sticker)

i am very mary said...

OMG! I think I dated Anika Thomas! OK, not really, but I can't beat Joey. As for Deep Thoughts? You're no Jack Handy, but you'll do.

Melanie said...

standing still: Yeah, the Dew Drops are the killer, aren't they?

Lisa: There is more. And some of it involves fairies.

Debawriter: Sounds like your dad needs to fish something out of the garage...

Kelly: Oh, Mr. Frodo.

Jen: You get extra points for kind-hearted, Mom-driven niceness.

Mamabird: About one year later, I discovered Bob Dylan and Joan Baez and social injustice. It wasn't pretty.

G: No retainer, but I had me some ugly white Birks.

dkuroiwa: Thanks! My 12 year old soul craves approval (and stickers) from teachers.

Jennifer H said...

I don't know how they could pick "Life in the Ghetto" over that awesome rainbow. You know what? You probably forgot to sprinkle you book with Jean Nate or Love's Baby Soft. That would have done it.

(One of these days, I'll have to try to get my hands on a Christmas poem I wrote circa age 11.)

Think of it this way, the more you reveal on your own, the less blackmail material your mother has. :-)

Stu said...

Ah, old school cut-and-paste, real cut-and-paste.

I would hate for any of my love notes from High School to ever surface. Looking back, it is not such a bad thing to have a girl throw your notes away.

-Stu

Dr. Cason said...

Are you kidding me?

That was come fantastic work for a TWELVE year old!

Because of you I'm formulating a post about twelve year old that come to my office!

You'd be in the category of the advance thinkers that I envy!

Cheri said...

I must be twelve because I think Impressions is fantastic. And I love your haiku. I love the spattered paint. I love the titles. You were brilliant in 1989, which is why you are brilliant now. And I am going on record to say so.

Manager Mom said...

I have some rather horrifying photos of myself dressed as Madonna circa-"Like A Virgin" that I am fervently hoping stay buried deep in the vault.

katydidnot said...

i totally hope anika thomas googles her name sometimes, because she? will love this.

i just hope you had one of those white sweaters with the rainbow over the chest and sleeves to go with the illustrations.

BipolarLawyerCook said...

I would have totally traded stickers with you. I think I once wrote a really bad poem, of epic length, about King Arthur. I can't find it anymore, to showcase the rhyming badness.

Nora Bee said...

I kinda like your reality poem.

Amy the Mom said...

Oh dear God. I wish I could find my book of poetry called "Seasons". Similar use of rainbows. I would pay tons of money for my first literary effort at the age of five, "Turtles". Guess what it was about?

princessofsomething said...

"Puffy Iridescent Lisa Frank Stickers On My Soul."

Someday I am going to write a poem titled this.

You should really feel good because my poems written during that time of my life were mostly suicidal. Sigh. Good times.

family-of-five said...

oh, god, this tempts me to bust out with my 7th grade journal entries. I read them out loud to my husband sometimes when I feel the need to take myself down a peg. or ten.

planetnomad said...

I didn't keep any of my journals, since I reread them in my early 20s and burned with shame and was actually depressed for a week at how shallow and pretentious I was. However, my own daughter is now 11 and even though I would never (NEVER) read her journals, I have caught glimpses and can see she is on her way to achieving similar heights.

Love the haiku. It really made me, like, you know, THINK. About life. And dreams.

happygeek said...

I'm really late to teh party (was on holidays) but must say this is one of the funnier things I have read in a long time.

Sojourner said...

I, too, am really late to the party. But I wan't to go on record as being in agreement with the many who stated to cut yourself some slack- 12 is a tender and utterly sweet age. And that was the start of something much grander! I also agree with Jennifer H- "Think of it this way, the more you reveal on your own, the less blackmail material your mother has. :-)"

Mental Floss said...

Interesting Haiku, about reality!
:)

Larue said...

Ok, so I was searching for something on your site and found this entry, which I had never read before. And I was giggling so hard my husband came into the office and was all, "What ARE you reading?" And all I could get out was "Poetry! Splatter paint! Rainbows! Hee!" And he just shook his head, because he was not A Girl in The 80's.

Love this. You have inspired me. I am going to get the stories I wrote in 8th grade out and put some on my blog.