Hello everyone. Here is a sample from my latest book, Novocaine. Enjoy!
10. The New Erin
Mom really wanted me to look into going to school, but I convinced her, it would be better for me to get a job. We needed money. I made a list of all the things I knew Mom needed to pay for, such as insurance for her car, gas, our prepaid cell phones, metro cards, food, and the storage unit in Georgia. She couldn’t do it alone. So, I started putting in applications again. A few places were a little skeptical of even considering me, because of my age. I reminded them, I would be turning eighteen in January.
Finally, I applied at a bookstore called The Strand. On the application, I was asked to match the titles of classic, well-known literary novels with their authors. It was child’s play. Three days later, I received a phone call, to come in for an interview. During the interview, the manager asked me which books I’ve read. I told him all about my childhood love of books, and listed some of my favorites. The manager mentioned it was interesting to meet someone my age, who had read more classics than “fluff”. The interview ended with the standard, “I’ll give you a call”, so I went home and waited. Thankfully, the following day, he did call me, to say I had been hired.
When I got off of the phone with the hiring manager, I screamed like an idiot. I immediately called Mom at work to give her the good news. She said she was proud of me, and working in a bookstore would be good for me. I’d be surrounded by the works of my favorite authors. Plus, I was happy I’d be working in a place where I didn’t have to dress up; I could come to work dressed as myself. My new self.
My first day at The Strand, I realized, I really didn’t have to wait to change my hair. In fact, changing it now would help me blend in a bit more. There wasn’t much of a dress code at The Strand; employees were either dressed in renaissance-style clothing, or punk, or Goth, or grunge, or…whatever. My first day consisted of a tour of the store, learning where each section was located, and watching one of the cashiers run a register. One of the managers said I probably wouldn’t be on the register very often, according to my application and my knowledge of literature, I’d be more useful at the customer service desk or on the floor.
After work, I stopped by a drugstore, and bought a box of black hair color and a bleaching kit. My plan: dye my hair jet black, and bleach my bangs. I’ve been wearing my natural color (dark brown) my entire life. The new Erin required a new hair color.
I followed the instructions to the letter. After dying, shampooing, conditioning, then blow-drying my hair, I had achieved the results I wanted: black hair with bleached bangs. I had also bleached two locks of hair in the front.
“I didn’t think I was going to like it,” Mom said, when I was finished. “But I have to say it looks nice.”
“Thank you,” I said. “I like it, too. I needed a fresh start.” It was a pleasant distraction from the house we were currently living in, and the lop-sided bed I had to sleep on. I know, I’m being negative, and I should be more grateful…I am grateful. But I’m also pissed off at my family, for putting us in this position. Perhaps, I can channel that anger into something positive.
I decided to walk up to Main Street, to the 99 cent store. Mom came with me. I needed some supplies: notebooks, pens, a sketchpad, and the cheapest colored pencils I could find. Roaming the aisles of the store, made me miss a familiar place in Hampton: Paul’s Arts and Crafts. I loved that place. I should stop thinking about it, though. Thinking about it makes me miss Virginia.
I figured, I’m a nerd of sorts, but just being smart doesn’t classify you as a nerd. Liking very specific things, is what makes you a nerd. In my mind, I made a short list of what I liked: punk rock (thank you Green Day and My Chem), art, books (good books, not “fluff”) and science fiction. So, I decided the new Erin needed to devote more time to the things I (she) liked. I used to draw when I was younger; I needed to start drawing again. Mom and I were going to change our driver’s licenses over from Virginia to New York, which meant I’d be able to get a library card and do more reading. And as far as music was concerned, I needed to get into more bands.
During one of my days off I spent the entire day in the library up the street from Aunt Ella’s house. I gathered every book and magazine they had on punk rock, past and present, and started reading and taking notes. I wrote a lot of poetry when I was in school; maybe I could give song writing a try.
I wanted to absorb everything. Gilman Street. Green Day’s beginning. My Chemical Romance’s New Jersey roots. Patti Smith. London punk rock. The Who. The Clash. The Smiths. The Ramones. How punk wasn’t just the way you looked, it was a state of mind. All of it. This would build the new Erin. This would build the new me.
Mom and I agreed to save as much money as possible. In between saving, since I had a job, I was permitted to make small purchases here and there. Nothing major. If I saw an inexpensive band T-shirt, or a magazine, I could buy it with my own money. It made me feel normal, or at least, next to it.
END OF SAMPLE