Well, my friends, it has been awhile.
Rest assured, I am still around and Identified: The Maya Price Story will still be released on December 3, 2012. I have, as of late, been quite busy meeting with new colleagues, finding my way around the school where I now work (I still don’t know where the second floor copy room is!) and, most importantly, getting to know my students.
If it were not for the fourteen to eighteen-year-olds that I meet every year, I do not think that I could write about young adult characters. You see, I am no longer a young buck. In fact, my father recently asked me if I am old enough to be a cougar. (I’m still not sure. I think the answer is no, but at what age is one considered a cougar? Oh, well. It’s not like I’m out “couging” around.) The point is, the further I get from eighteen, the less I remember what it is like to be that age. Teaching teenagers allows me to borrow bits and pieces of the variety of personalities I encounter and build characters that are authentic young adults.
Take, for example, one of my favorite characters, Lamar Elkins. Lamar is not a typical guy’s guy. He really wants to be, but he’s not. He’s skinny, awkward, and hopelessly shy. His one “cool” quality is that he plays the drums. But, in this new world, this other dimension, he’s not even able to do that. Instead, he has been thrown into a group with the handsome meathead Ivan, the mysterious, talented, Nathaniel, and the laid-back, outgoing Akins. He also, unfortunately, has had his ass kicked by a girl. However, Lamar is far braver and stronger than most of the other characters give him credit. In the following letter that Lamar writes to his stepbrother and fellow band member, Ernest, readers can see that, while Lamar tries to play it cool, he is truly struggling with his role in this new world:
(Letter from Lamar Elkins to his half-brother, Ernest Perkins)
June 5, 2006
So, we started training last week. It’s kind of weird that you aren’t here. I know we always planned on me sticking around after high school and playing the drums for Eddie and the Underwriters, but this is just something I gotta do. I know I’ve told you that before, and I know you said you understand, I just feel like I need to say it again.
This is crazy! I don’t even know how this letter is going to reach you! It’s weird too, writing letters. I mean, who does that anymore? I wish I could email you, but we don’t have any computers here. It’s some crazy shit. My main trainer lady, Victoria, says they have people everywhere, even in the post office. I guess they deliver the letters. Victoria’s all with the cryptic. All the time. We can never get a straight answer out of her. I guess I just have to trust her. I mean, I do have to trust her. She’s pretty much in charge of keeping us all alive.
Anyway, they’ve really put us through the wringer with training. Not only do we have to learn how to “hone” our sensory and element manipulation skills, but they train us in combat. Ok, I haven’t suddenly turned into some steroid-looking freak since I got here and, to be honest, I kind of suck at combat. It kind of pisses me off, because most of the shifters on my team are really good at it. There is this girl, Luz, who’s from the Bronx and doesn’t mind telling everyone that. She has kicked everyone’s ass. Including mine. I know I can tell you that and you won’t tell anyone. Remember, I know several secrets of yours, including one involving a nice girl from Minneapolis named Violet, your left butt cheek and a pretty little tattoo. Anyway, Luz kicked my ass up and down the training field. I didn’t even get to throw a punch. She’s also able to control fire like nobody’s business, which makes her even scarier.
Here’s the thing though, I’m much better than all of the shifters on my team at manipulating sound. I know I sound kind of like a jackass when I say that, but it’s true. I’ve always pretty much sucked at everything, except playing the drums, but I am good at this. I guess that’s why I’ve always been a pretty badass drummer. It’s like I’ve always been able to sense each individual beat and then command it, without words, to explode or to soften. I could subconsciously tell the beats when to roll together and when to vibrate with individual staccato. It’s why people noticed me when I played the drums. Here, they’ve told me that this ability is part of my mental connection with the five senses. It’s kind of funny to watch the others try to manipulate sound; they have to use their hands (including Luz) to locate the sounds, and then move their fingers to change its pitch and volume. I don’t have to do that. Ok, ok, I have to do that when I’m trying to change sight, smell or taste (which, if you ask me, is a pretty pointless talent. What are you going to do? Make someone’s bean burrito taste like dog poop? Watch out! Ri-di-cu-lous.) But, I don’t have to do that when I am changing sound. It’s really weird sometimes, because I can change what other people hear. It’s almost like every sound out there in the universe obeys my silent commands like I’m some kind of sound master. I can find the tiniest whisper of a noise and make it sound like an explosion. (I have gotten in trouble for this in my language class, where we learn Letian. Akins, this other guy on my team, rested his head on his hand during class and I made it sound like he was snoring. He got pissed, the teacher got pissed. Whatever).
I think that the scariest are the ones who are talented in manipulating sense of touch. Yeah, it’s pretty intimidating when someone can command fire, or make a huge tsunami-looking wave out of a fish pond, but that’s all just showy stuff. I have the ability to manipulate sense or touch, or feeling, or whatever you want to call it, but so far all I’ve been able to do is make Espy (Luz’s twin sister) feel ticklish. There are some of us that can make people feel like they are about to throw up, or like their skin is burning, or they can’t breathe, or pain in their chests so bad they want to die. It’s really messed up; I don’t think I could make anyone feel that kind of pain. I mean, it’s not real, but I couldn’t do it.
I don’t understand why or how we can do this stuff, but Victoria said it’s something like our connection with both worlds causes us to be connected to the energy of everything in both worlds. It’s kind of cool to have that much power, but kind of not. I don’t know how to explain it. Most of time, I’d rather just be playing my drums. But, like I’ve said a million times already, this is just something I gotta do.
I guess I should wrap this up. I gotta wake up and start letting Luz kick my ass again in about three hours. I hope The Underwriters are doing alright without me. Tell everyone I said what’s up.
I miss ya man.
I hope that this gives you an idea about what one of my favorite characters is like and gives you a little insight into Identified. I also hope that you enjoy reading about Lamar and the other characters on December 3rd