My life is crazy. I wake up before the sunrise, commute an hour in the morning to work, complete a daycare drop off, work nine hours, take a walk at lunch if I'm lucky, pick up from daycare, commute an hour home, fix dinner around 7 PM, try to get the kids to bed by 8:30, get things ready for the following day and then finally after 9 PM I think about things like writing. This includes writing SPF, writing my blog or working on a critique for my great crtique partner J.A. Titus. I try to take 10 minutes before I go to bed to read. My head may not hit the pillow until after 11 PM and I never have problems falling asleep.
I am always thinking about the future. My kids are growing up. My daughter, Cassie, will turn 6 next week and start First Grade next year. Her little brother Cyrus will turn 3 in July and I constantly pray that he will be out of diapers by then. I think about the future financially. How will we afford things when gas reaches $5 per gallon, will our school loans ever be paid down, should we start putting more aside for retirement. I think about the upcoming weekend and what needs to be accomplished. I think about the number of Scentsy parties I need to book in the next two months to make extra money to pay for my Kindle and Sephora addictions. I think about the camping trip we have planned this summer and worry about the weather. I think about how I should be trying to get in shape for the Portland to Coast Walk in July.
Other than a few teary eyed journeys down memory lane looking at the kids' baby pictures I haven't had much time to think about the past, and have almost forgotten what it was like to be 17. Since my heroine/female lead in SPF is Seventeen I've been trying to get in touch with my lost 17 year old self. I've pulled out the old Shillalah yearbooks from Waldport High School and my Letterman Jacket which is rather tattered with some of the patches and medals MIA. To get in the spirit I've searched for CD's of music I liked to listen to back then (and by back then I mean 1994) hoping they'll evoke the memories and feelings of being 17. I've thought long and hard about what being 17 means. When I was 17 my whole future stretched out in front of me. I had the freedom of a newly licensed driver with a car (thanks dad and please don't mention what happened to the car). I had dozens of college possibilities and was itching to get out of my small town. I looked forward to living on my own with no rules and no curfews. I thought about careers from Doctors to Diplomats. I hated triginometry and had to worry about finishing my homework before watching TV. I ran competitively and spent my after school hours at practice or hanging out with my friends. I had crushes and thought I'd met "the one" only to have my heart broken, sometimes more than one (I am not proud of this). I had fights with friends that spread to other friends and was convinced on at least one occasion my social life was over. It was the best of times, it was the worst of times. It was certainly one full of emotion and change.
When I started writing SPF I actually purchased both Seventeen and Teen Vogue magazines for "research" and character development. A lot has changed in the last 17 years, reminding me that I was 17 half my lifetime ago. No one had cell phones in 1994, the only texts I knew about were textbooks and I still had a supply of cassette tapes. I listed to Ace of Base, Bell Biv Devoe, Boyz to Men, 10,000 Maniacs, Madonna, Counting Crows, The Gin Blossoms and Toad the Wet Sprockett. I watched Friends and ER. We no longer had sky high bangs but no one had highlights unless they came from a bottle of Sun In. Apples were the computer to by because who could figure out how to use a PC? And what was email or the Internet? I didn't send my first email or search the Web till college. Cell phones, texting and sexting, iPhones and iPods, highlights and fake nails, Lil Wayne and Justin Bieber, Gossip Girls and Jersey Shore were just a few of the things in which 17 years olds today partake.
By attempting to call forth my long forgotten 17 year old self and some highly academic reasearch on the current social and dating/mating habits of the American teenager I have been working hard to make sure my characters are believable and well developed. In the first chapter Nikki listens to Placebo. She also tells me (yes she talks to me sometimes and no I'm not crazy) that she likes Death Cab for Cutie and Broken Bells but when she's in the mood for fun it's all about The Black Eyed Peas. Since she's a bit of a shut in she would die without her computer but she's never had her nails done, no highlights and a tanning bed would **gulp** kill her. She's had no use for a cell phone but would like one (with a pink case) anyways. And she shares the same excitement about the future, frustrations with the rules and roller coaster of emotions I did in 1994. Someone pass the box of tissues please. Puffs plus with lotion is preferred by both Nikki and I.
Doing the Time Warp to 1994 has been eye opening and has given me some time to reflect on my past and not just the present and the future. I've taken the time out of my busy schedule to reconnect with myself. I hope when I post the first chapters in few weeks you'll find Nikki real and believable (and hopefully likeable) because there is quite a bit of my 17 year old self present in her with some 21st century style.
Thanks for following!