Monday, October 01, 2007

First post for NaBloWriMo! Three cheers and a tiger for ME!!!

I has done stepped up to the challenge mah blog sistah Groovygrrl placed before me. I am writing my first post for NaBloWriMo (in the long form, it's National Blog Writing Month).

NaBloWriMo is a challenge that was first issued by Groovygrrl in 2006, and I stepped up to the plate by writing lots o' essays about my dad.

This time 'round, I'll be writing about Dad and other stuff that interests me...and today, here's what interests me.

Thank you, YAHOO...for posting a really neat article about S.E. Hinton, who is the author of one of my favorite books of teenage-dom. That would be The Outsiders. Click HERE to read the article in full. (My favorite principal Brian should appreciate this tribute since Hinton is a fellow Okie...)

I didn't even realize this, but according to this article, The Outsiders is 40 years old.

Wow. This book is one of those "life-changing" books, at least for me.

I remember hearing about it because there was going to be a movie released, based on said young adult novel. I think I gleaned this info from Super Teen or Tiger Beat or one of those glossy pin-up magazines. Who knows?

I remember checking it out from the junior high library and reading it in a day and 1/2.

The Outsiders was a "popcorn" book in my eyes...and everyone's read a "popcorn" book, right? By that, I mean that the book is one you just can't stop reading unless someone forcibly takes the book from your hands, and even then you'd probably fight them tooth and nail just to get it back.

I remembered reading this in study hall while in junior high, and wishing I could have the cojones to keep reading in class. I behaved myself, but I think I rushed through my remaining homework that night just to finish it. After The Outsiders, I couldn't wait to read the other books. I think the only one I didn't read was Tex...but I can't be sure.

I remember driving by the theater with Mom when the poster for the "now showing" attraction was changed, and I screamed, "OH YEAH!" when we drove by. Mom almost hit three parked cars and I almost got grounded. But it was worth it...

I remember going to see the movie back home in Washington at the State Theater...who I went with remains a mystery. It was probably my friend Teri K., or maybe Ranee...I don't remember off hand. I remember that Stevie Wonder provided the closing theme for that movie, "Stay Gold".

And OH LORDY the cast was hot. I tried to ignore Ralph Macchio even though he played one of the pivotal characters in the book. Yowza...with all those Okie "greasers"portrayed by teen-magazine pin-up hottie boys, I really wanted to be a juvenile delinquent in the '60s just to look at their righteous bods. (question - has Macchio's voice changed yet? He's what...60 years old now?)

But more than that...I was glad to read a book written by someone I DIDN'T EVEN KNOW, and this book validated the fact that yes, class wars exist, even when you're a teenager.

It was great to read a book (even though the ending was sad) by a writer who understood that no matter who you were, there was always a group below you and a group above you.

Hinton knew that these groups could AND would give you crap about who you were. Never mind that you may not be the prototype of whatever clique you hung out didn't employ ALL the same traits but you were still judged based on the company you kept.

Of course, we all pulled rank on each other...plain janes, jocks, potheads, farmer boys, party girls, music-heads, Jesus freaks, "the beautiful people"...WHOEVER...God forbid you'd actually bother to get to know someone and see that they're not defined by their social group alone.

But Hinton wrote this book when she was fifteen.

FIFTEEN, y'all.

When I was fifteen, I was:

  • chasing boys
  • flunking half of my algebra tests
  • hating life half the time
  • babysitting many cousins
  • plotting how to knock down the wall separating my sister's room from mine so I could have one big bedroom to my own bad self
  • wanting to marry Michael Jackson (sorry...quit puking now, please)
  • wanting to marry Sting
  • wanting another puppy and/or kitten
  • the happy recipient of my first kiss
  • writing letters to half the state of Iowa (I had many was the age before e-mail)
  • focusing more and more on music and drama
I wanted to write a book...but I also wanted pin-striped jeans and polo shirts in a rainbow of colors. I felt like I had this void inside matter what I got, it was never enough.

Yes, Hinton's youth did get in the way a little bit in how the book was received. To quote the article:

"The Outsiders" was published in 1967, but greeted more as a curiosity than a breakthrough. "Can sincerity overcome cliches?" began a brief New York Times review by Thomas Fleming. "In this book by a now 17-year-old author, it almost does the trick."

"It was overemotional, over the top, melodramatic," Hinton acknowledges. "But its vices were its virtues, because kids feel that way."

Man...this timeless book was written by a woman who got a "D" in creative writing while in high school. Now she's honored by her alma mater. (If it were me, I'd work on getting that "D" taken off my transcripts, but that's just me...)

I guess this article just smacked me across the face because I've gotten re-acquainted with two women I went to high school with. They are lots of fun to correspond with...we knew each other from church and school but we didn't hang in the same circles.

But back then, I judged them based on their group.

I don't know if they judged me or not...and to be honest, does it matter anymore?

But once upon a time, it mattered to S.E. Hinton. It mattered so much that she wrote a book about it...and other kids like me (and unlike me) read it.

And so on...and so on...and so on.