Thursday, 7 June 2012

Chapter 3: Progress Report and Excerpts

At long last, Chapter 3 is complete and I have fresh excerpts from it.  But, before I get to that, I need to make an announcement.  *Ahem*

I will be transitioning from the pen name CJ to my actual given name, Chad.  I have two reasons for doing this: a) There is already an accomplished author floating around out there, going by the name CJ Carver and, while a woman and writing in a different genre, I continue to have an aversion to conflict, particularly lawsuits.  And b) I just feel weird going by CJ.  It seemed like a good idea when I started this whole affair, but it has never "fit" quite right, since I've been called Chad my whole life.  And, since the story is supposed to be inherently personal, I feel a great deal more comfortable just writing it as myself; as Chad.

Okay, now that the whole name thing is out of the way, Chapter 3 details my elementary school experience, focusing on what it was like for me as a boy in school.  It was a tough chapter to write, and it took a lot out of me.  I was forced to go to some pretty dark places (not nearly as dark as it's going to get, but dark) and I had to face aspects of myself; my character that I might have otherwise left happily swept under the carpet, or, at the very least, glossed over.

Chapter 4 will discuss my extracurricular life, and will be considerably more upbeat, so please don't assume that the book is all doom and gloom.  I'm a funny dude, you'll find.  Just hang around long enough to have some laughs with me.

So, with no further crap from me (for now), excerpts from Chapter 3: Bullied at School:

Bullying was much more common in the 80s and was largely viewed as proper conditioning for a young man; not the life-altering, soul-shattering experience that it is recognized as today.  Unfortunately, it took a few high-profile suicides and murders among young people for society to see the flaw in our collective view of things.  Whatever the case may be today, when I was a kid, I was bullied - a lot….

Growing up in a blue collar family (Only two people in the whole family - both sides - have university degrees.) the standing order, as passed down through the generations, was tough love. This wasn’t, and isn’t, uncommon among blue-collar families, though.  It’s the old stiff-upper-lip, men don’t cry and women cry in private type of nonsense that has somehow become woven into the cultural fabric of those who sweat, slug, lug and trudge their way through life….

I stood back up, and walked straight toward him.  I didn’t swing, or even raise my arms, but walked right up to him, so that my eyes were at his nipples, and he shoved me again.  I rolled, the crowd laughed and jeered, and I simply repeated my patently insane manoeuvre.  As though contrived and rehearsed for the crowd‘s amusement, we repeated this routine several times, but I expected him to drill me at any given moment.  Something totally unexpected happened, however, which I now recognize as a turning point in that boy’s life.
I stood up for the 6th or 7th time and started my, by now comical, march toward him.  In his eyes, replacing the recently departed combination of derision and malice was a look of empathy.  I saw with unmistakable clarity that this kid was very sensitive, and this game wasn’t fun anymore….

And while the old saying: “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but names will never hurt me,” was often quoted as I was growing up, I didn’t feel that way.  The names did hurt; they hurt like hell.

A black eye disappears over time, and the memory of the punch that caused it fades even more quickly.  Hateful, mean-spirited words, however, burned red hot for a very long time, as though I’d been branded, in my mind, heart, and soul.  Indeed, some of those words still linger….

On this particular day, I had worn, as I often did, the same clothes I had worn the previous day.  One of the girls took note, and made a comment, as they were wont to do.   Charlie turned around and gave her a dirty look and said, “Guys don’t worry about fashion and clothes.  That’s for girls.”  She shut up, and I smiled at the back of Charlie’s head with the admiration of a young boy for his big brother.  I tried to befriend him, but there was nothing for it.  The social hierarchy was set, and not even Charlie could manipulate this cosmically-set classification system….

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