Monday, February 28, 2011

Where Was I Going With This?

I was cleaning my room recently and started sorting through some old school work. I've done this before and I usually find random pieces of writing, like the beginnings to stories that I never bothered to develop. A lot of times, I've got a general idea of where the story was going, and when I discover them months or years later, I remember. So it wasn't weird that this happened this time. This opening, though, is particularly interesting, and I really wish I could remember what on earth I was thinking:

Nobody told me it was going to be like this. When you volunteer for this sort of thing, you don't exactly sign a waiver that lets you know you'll be sitting on your butt, shivering to the bones, hungry and exhausted in a damp, dark, cold cell thirty feet underneath what was supposed to be the vacation of a lifetime.

But here I am.

That was ninth grade. I honestly can't even begin to reinvent some storyline to go with that beginning, and the more I think about it, the more I wonder if there even was a story that went with it. Did I even know what I was writing when I was writing it? It's a distinct possibility that I didn't. I'm going to keep wondering, though.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Star Student

Two days ago in English, we were going over grammar corrections we had done as a warm-up. There was a debate over where a comma went in relation to two sets of quotation marks. When the teacher asked how many people thought it went in "A" position, the majority of the class raised their hands. When she asked who disagreed, I was the only one. She asked me what I thought. "It goes inside all of them," I said.

She seemed to become rather distressed at this moment. She threw her arms in the air and started looking around for something. When she turned back around, she was beaming.

I've only been in her English class for two weeks, but I've already learned a couple of things about my teacher: 1) She's a great teacher with a real passion for what she teaches. 2) She's terrifying. So the broad grin she wore as she approached me could have meant death as easily as happiness.

As it turns out, I was right about the comma. What she gave me when she reached my desk was something I had never received before, in twelve and a half years of school: a gold star. I mean, a real, legitimate, gold star sticker.

It's the age-old grade school cliché. Still, I had never gotten one, nor had I seen anyone else get one. Now, in my last semester of high school, in my Honors British Literature class, I may have finally achieved what television teaches every child to strive for but no one ever achieves. I can die happily. Or at least, I can graduate happily.

In fact, I am almost embarrassed to admit just how happy I was. I put the gold star on my notebook, radiating pride, with the biggest and sincerest smile I've worn in a while. I was transported, for that moment, backward through adolescence and cynicism and distrust, away from young (and now legal) adulthood, to elementary school. Back then, I was the kid everyone else hated, because I raised my hand to answer every question and sucked up to the teacher like there was no tomorrow. I have gone through school earning 100's and A+'s and none of those even seem to matter anymore. What difference does a letter make in the long run? What makes a 93 so much better than a 92 that it gets a different name?

Never before had I received a gold star. Yet, that star, that sticker, which holds absolutely no value as far as my GPA is concerned, made me happier than the 99 I got on my History test. It's more honest, in a way. Instead of parading its supposed value on a report card or transcript, it sits, shiny but unpretentious, on my English notebook.

I am never getting rid of it.