Friday, June 17, 2011

More on the Memoir in Progress

This week in the manuscript workshop that I'm taking, I had to submit an outline of my book -- a very fun exercise. I wrote mine in the form of a table of contents since my work is a collection of personal essays that fit together but can be read separately. This exercise was really useful as it helped to see the shape of my book, and for now I'm considering organizing it in three parts -- George Orwell seemed to love odd numbers, especially things that come in sets of three, so I do too. My three parts will be called Primary School, Middle-School Years, and High School.

The table of contents contains very brief summaries of each essay/story -- these were fun to write, you should try it sometime. The completed work will include more stories written this summer.

When I wrote this I had just started reading the Keith Richards autobiography -- I was clearly influenced by his style -- maybe a bit too much.  Enjoy!

Pretty Bold For A Mexican Girl: Growing Up Chicana in a Hicktown

Table of Contents

Primary School

**Blondes Have More Fun

In which I am sent to the principal's office for yanking Melissa Wheeling to the ground by her hair for taunting me after stealing my boyfriend. This essay/story introduces an important thematic through line: my growing antagonistic relationship with blond girls whose sense or what I perceived as a sense of superiority further increases my already festering feelings of inadequacy.

**Mexicans in Tuolumne

Introduces other Mexican girls living in Tuolumne, just a handful, including my childhood best friend, Amelie Lopez, and my complex relationships with them too.

**My Plymouth Rock

Introduces my family, how we landed in Tuolumne County and why

**Queen of Chlorine

In which I reveal an antagonistic relationship with a blonde lifeguard and introduces the Tuolumne band of Me-Wuk and stuff going on at home.

**Mexican Girl

In which my feelings of inadequacy rooted in class and race are justified by a run-in with the school janitor.

**Me and My Flat Tire

A rather long and vivid story about not being able to really depend on adults and the freedom I felt riding my bike around town.


In which I make many childhood horse lovers jealous by revealing that I once owned a pony, only she was fat, old, and we were too poor to actually take good care of her.

**Secret Rivalries

In which Michelle B., the daughter of one of my mom's sort of friends, outs me to the entire class. The story also details questionable behavior by a teacher and her fear of Jimbo Dyer, a troubled Me-wuk boy who throws a desk and is dragged screaming from the class.

**The Food Stamp Diet

A humorous look at the shit we had to eat while on welfare and how my mom made sure we didn't go hungry.

**Flour Tortillas with Butter

In which I am totally in love with my mother for coming to my class and teaching us to make flour tortillas by hand.

**David K and the Spaghetti on the Wall

Introduces the reader to my younger sister Zhanna's dad who my mom married and divorced all in the course of about two years – set amongst the backdrop of disco music and a 1970's approach to mental illness.

**Isn't She Lovely

Details the birth of my beautiful, blond haired, hazel-eyed sister, Zhanna June and goes more in depth about my mom and David's relationship.

Middle-School Years

**Stranded at the School Dance

Tells the story of the time that I had to walk home in the dark after a school dance because my mom was too stoned to remember to pick me up.

**Abusing Authority

Is about a teacher I had in 6th grade who made me put tape over my mouth for talking in class.

**Faking it

Introduces Lolani Hawkins, a Hawaiian girl who I went to school with all the way from elementary, middle, and high school. I was fascinated by how she managed to be popular even though she had even darker skin than I did and she was a tomboy.

**Punk Rock Americana

Introduces a set of stories to come that detail my affinity for punk rock music, seeing The Clash at the US festival, and dressing weird which only added to my alienation.The way I dressed matched how I felt inside which was convenient since I got my clothes from thrift stores, places where I could afford to shop.

High School


Tells the story of self-proclaimed cowboy, hick, Future Farmers of America member who began the year terrorizing Amelie and me in PE, and so we responded in kind.

**Prom Date

Is more a story about friends that Amelie and I made in marching band, boys who most everyone else thought of as freaks, than it is about prom.


Introduces a collection of boys that I dated for a couple of years and mostly all at the same time.


My mother's addictions have reached new heights, and my favorite teacher accuses me of forging my mom's name on a note.

**Green Acorns

Is all about my first love, Al Mendez .

**Beer Shampoo

Brings the reader right back to where he/she started, with me ensconced in a fraught antagonistic relationship with a trendy white girl who I was threatened by in elementary school and who has shown back up in my life in high school, poised to move in on my about-to-be boyfriend.

No comments:

Post a Comment