If you haven’t figured it out, my parents did not choose to name me the unfortunately masculine name that heads this blog; thus, preventing the ruination of my life forever. Nah, instead they chose to call me Opal which is terribly common and not prone to any kind of problems at all. You may be wondering then why I choose to go by Charlie Greenberry on this blog. It all goes back to a simpler time, a better time. This is a time of hope, of certainty, and greater expectations than reality could ever concede.
When I was 17, I was positive that I would be famous. At the time, I was smack in the middle of a vampire novel. The novel started as the product of an argument with my dad. I was forcing the family to bend to my wishes during one of the few hours I had control of the remote to the one tv in our house. I wanted to watch my favorite show at the time, Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
For a quiet, sweet girl like me who was much more likely to cry myself to death if I was faced with something as scary as the things Buffy faced (notably the Gentlemen, who are remarkable in that they still make nightmare appearances) than to stand my ground and fight, Buffy was something I could watch and then start to feel better prepared, stronger, and more capable. (Go ahead, take a breath after that sentence.) If you haven’t figured this out, I was kind of a weirdo. Some may stay I still am. Weird kids don’t have the greatest time in school, although I have to give props to my tiny high school for bearing with my obsessions with Greek myths, Egyptian hieroglyphics, Harry Potter, and Lord of the Rings with aplomb. I liked Buffy because she was in school, but then had this exceptional extra skill that ruined her life. Obviously, high school wasn’t that bad.
Anyway, it was my turn to pick the tv show and, luckily, FX was obligingly running several episodes of BTVS back-to-back. My dad, an incredibly practical man, said “I just don’t get why you have to watch something as worthless as vampires.” In my typical teenage huff,* I promised to him that day that vampires were going to make me rich someday. “They better,” he challenged me.
The vampire novel is saved on some floppy disk somewhere in my parents house. I actually began reviving it a few years ago, but I changed it. Whereas, initially, it was (reflective of the stories I liked to read at the time) a story about a girl who is forced to become a vampire by her father in an effort to save her siblings from him. She falls in love with another blood-sucker, but can never get over the fact that she has traded her life for eternal living-death, and kills herself. In the newer version, she just can’t figure out if there really are vampires in her life or if that whole narrative is a way for her to deal with coming of age with a dead mother and an abusive-distant father. The story was in no way a reflection of my own home life, but the product of (and I’m feeling your eye rolling now) a dream. Yes, like Stephanie Myers, I dreamed of vampires and thought I could make a career out of it. unlike her, I left the story to rot on the floppy, realizing that my skill as a writer hadn’t met the needs of the story yet.
This is all just a long, complicated way of telling you that I was certain that I’d be famous someday. I didn’t want all of the problems that come from fame, so, two summers before high school ended, I made myself a pen name.
The name is a combination of different people out of my family’s history: E. C. Greenberry. The E is for my middle name; C for Charles, my grandfather; and Green Berry is the first name of an ancestor a little farther up the line on the other side of the family. I figured that I wouldn’t be forgetting who I am or where I come from, but I’d at least be out of the limelight.
Isn’t it funny how sure we are of ourselves at 16?
*As a kid, I used to practice huffing my bangs like Ariel, the little mermaid. I truly needed that skill as a teenager.