That Time I… Survived My Teens

That Time I… Survived My Teens by Craig Barker: Review by Lost in a Book for @BMBR

That Time I... Survived My Teens

Blurb:

The Saturday prior to starting this memoir, my ex-fiancé and I had two of his work friends over for an old-fashioned games night. And when I say “old-fashioned,” I’m talking about dice, cards, racking up your points on an abacus, etc. You know, the things people entertained themselves with before politicians blamed every violent fart that wafted their way on video games.

Stop doing that.

Anyway, seeing as I didn’t know who these people were and would’ve much rather spent the evening on the sofa with our dog, I was less than optimistic. If anything, the whole ordeal was going to be like sitting through a Christopher Nolan movie. Sure, I’d say I was having a great time to fit in, but in all honesty, I wouldn’t have a clue what was happening, and I’d probably need to take a nap midway through.

Hours before they arrived, just as I’d started to have those “what if I accidentally say something so obscenely offensive or mind-numbingly stupid, I’ll be haunted by the memory of it for years to come” thoughts, my ex ran down into the basement in which I dwell, his eyes frantic, and begged—

“Please don’t talk about choking on dicks when they get here.”

Come again?

“Please, Craig. That kind of talk makes them uncomfortable. Don’t do it.”

I felt a flurry of emotions in the picosecond it took for his words to register: amused, bemused, offended. It sounded like a joke, but his face was full of fear—a fear that I would be unequivocally crude to these complete strangers, and that my behavior would burn bridges he obviously wanted to keep erect (more on erections later).

That was when it hit me like a pair of loose-hanging nuts to the taint; a realization that I, Craig Thomas Barker, had a pattern of behavior that stretched across my life since adolescence—

I’m the person you get warned about before meeting. I’m the person that gets warned before going anywhere.

Like Carrie Bradshaw, “I couldn’t help but wonder” why that was. So, in order to understand who I am today, I decided to take a look at the years that shaped me. I spread my life out on the table, lubed it with the flare of artistic exaggeration, and went at it until I found my answer.

This isn’t so much a memoir as it is a gay’s journey to discover himself; don’t expect structure, coherency, or a thoroughly thought out narrative with a climactic closing paragraph that gives any of this dribble closure. I’m no one special, I’m not famous, and I don’t have much to say that hasn’t been said before, but I have lived a life, and all twenty-six years of that life has culminated in a single sentence—

“Please don’t talk about choking on dicks when they get here.”

This memoir explains why…
And it was cheaper than therapy.

color.jpg    color.jpg    color.jpg    color.jpg

5 Stars

I’ve been on a memoir kick for a bit and one thing I always struggle with is rating them. I mean, how do you give rating for someone’s actual real life moments? Luckily, this one is very readable, engaging, full of feels, and written in a casual way that is reminiscent of telling stories to my best friends… in between alcohol, drugs, sex, and all the other trigger warnings that are sprinkled throughout. That Time I… Survived My Teens is sad, soooo heartbreaking, and had me laughing as we follow the author, Craig Barker through his teenage years while getting a contact high and liver damage from reading about all his shenanigans.

My initial thoughts were that this would be a cheeky, fun, and lighthearted read about all the embarrassing moments that take place throughout the teenage years. WRONG. The bullying and homophobia Barker endured is disgusting and absolutely heartbreaking to read about. How can “teachers” turn the other way? Administrators? Friends? Adults? Who the fuck ever? Someone should have been able to step up and step their ass in to protect him. But nope… and holy shit was he terrorized. I hope you don’t let that dissuade you from reading this. I’d would imagine that reliving this was painful for him but finally telling his story to people that will actually listen might be therapeutic. Like lancing a wound and getting rid of the infection. I felt honored to share a fraction of this heartbreaking memoir and only wish I could have been his teacher so his path wouldn’t have been as broken.

Was Craig innocent and the picture of a perfect student, son, friend? Nope. Not even a little. He admits his pain-in-the-assery and selfish tendencies. Some reactions and actions are questionable but when you’re constantly backed into a corner/wall and the very people hired to care for and protect you only exacerbate the issues, it’s inevitable one would strike out at anyone and everyone.

Craig experienced a lot beginning at age 13 through high school and I’m glad I was able to read and feel his story, angst, anger, sadness, hopelessness, and moments of his escape. I’ll most definitely continue on this journey if he feels inclined to tell us more. Recommended.

Trigger- drugs, alcohol, mention of self-harm, bullying, homophobia, addiction, depression.

P.S. Fuck that school. Fuck the administrators and most especially Fuck the teachers. As educators we are hired to teach children not only academics but go alongside parents to model how to be good human beings and not tolerate this behavior. The assholes in this school (and any other school that allows bullying and homophobia to take place) clearly got into education for wrong reasons. On behalf of “mama/papa bear” educators who truly love their jobs and the students placed in our charges, I’m sorry. You are loved. You are valued. You are worth it just as you are.

Copy provided for honest review.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s