Self-as-Character Assignment: Eight Examples


Neziah Doe

0. The only thing I got in trouble for as a child was hiding under my covers and reading horribly written children’s fiction into the cold depths of the school year nights. I could barely wake up in the morning, shirt buttons incestuously snuggled up in the wrong slits as I made fresh squeezed orange juice stains worthy of Jackson Pollock. My mother would scold me as she gave me the smallest piece of toast: you’re going to ruin your eyes like this.

1. Sevens and ones, o’s and u’s, m’s and n’s were interchangeable. I couldn’t see the monochrome letter sheet on the doctor’s grey door, the strong slab serifs blending into indiscernible shapes, an astroid belt of “umm”’s, “I dunno”’s and the all too bold “can YOU read that”’s? The thick nurse in her rubber ducky scrubs sighs and taps her bitten pen against my medical records, facing my mother and I she says “You definitely need glasses. It’s written that you needed them last year too. Why don’t you have glasses?”

2. Later that week the nice eye-doctor lady with the Highlights magazines in her lobby tells me and my dismayed mother after a few minutes of “can you read that—no? No.” that a lovely pair of sight-enabling magic lenses are in my future. With a melodramatic sigh my mother asks if contacts are an option and the doctor’s eyebrows shoot up past her enviable thick frames. “She’s only twelve you can’t give her contacts just yet.” I am internally jumping with joy, thinking of finally looking like as much of a loser as I know I am. My mother yells at me for my eye abusing ways as we go to Costco to pick out the perfect pair. After much arguing (I wanted the grandma frames), I go with a brown pair with wire detail on the side, like a stained glass frame that had yet to be completed.

3. The Stained Glass Frame. The ones that sang a solo for the first time, thought they fell in love, cried drugstore eyeliner onto their shininess. Had their first kiss: a nauseating, saliva filled fifteen seconds of “This is what everyone was waiting for? Seriously?” The glasses had their first holidays with extended family—drinking instant coffee and cracking open salt crusted sunflower seed pods with front teeth. The ones that attempted writing and failed, the ones that had the clarity to look in the mirror and see it was an artist. And a mess worth cleaning up. They barely got through the ninth grade, friends all fleeing their disarray of a life one by one, it was torture, like pulling off fingers, a Venus fly trap of a glove. May the noble pair rest in peace, lying on the briny lake floor of Camp Ramah in the Berkshires since that spring day.

4. The Replacements. Bought in a frenzy because I refused to get the same pair as before, letting them have their run. Glasses don’t get a 2.0. Black on the outside, pink on the in. Their face never really suited them, warped into someone else by the beach-ball shaped flesh they rested on. They were smart and calm. They went to San Francisco, they were neglected on every surface as they realized that all boys are really good for are kisses. They tried unkosher food, they tried not believing in God. Oh how this pair tried, the glasses were reminded what they were there for, and they looked in the mirror and only saw a floating disembodied version of themselves, were flung to the bed and sighed.

5. The Replacement Replacements. They were free. They were there. Left behind in my dresser for the contacts that just did their job better. The obsessive glasses cleaning tempest was vanquished. They came out of hiding for dark days, test days. I couldn’t go to sleep last night days. I want to go to design school why I am I taking Math days.

6. The David Tennant. They look nothing like David Tennant’s 10th Doctor glasses but I thought they did and that is what counts. They were sexy, sophisticated. They got into Design School. They were short haired. They went to Israel and miraculously changed their vision.

7. The Henna Glasses. Bought in a rebellious state of spending twenty dollars past what the insurance gives. They were bought to clash with the growing mane of henna’d hair that surrounded them.

They don’t have a story yet.

It’s too bad I always wear contacts.

Discussion Questions

  • Why would somebody want to read this piece (the “Who cares?” factor)?
  • Can you clearly identify the author’s intention for the piece?
  • How well does the author support the intention of the piece? Cite specific details that support or take away from the author’s intention.
  • Is there information missing from this piece that would make its intention clearer? What else would you like to know?
  • Does the author portray herself as a round character? How does she do this?
  • Do you trust the author of this piece? Why or why not?
  • How clearly does the author establish a sense of setting/space in this piece? Cite specific details that support your claim.
  • How clearly does the author establish characters other than the self in this piece? Cite specific details that support your claim.
  • Did you learn anything new from reading this piece? If so, what?
  • Are there particular passages with engaging language/description that stood out to you? Describe the appeal of these passages.
  • Would you read more writing from this author? Why or why not?


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