I’m writing this during 4th period while Mrs. Carter is standing in front of the room lecturing about the cotton gin. Abe got into some really big doo doo, and I mean a really big pile. Everyone in class was nervous as we took our seats 1st period. For some reason, this journal really meant something to Mr. Byrd. All week he had mentioned it and told us how much it could change our lives by making us understand ourselves better. So far, he hasn’t convinced me that it’s not anything but a bunch of busy work. Why do something if no one even bothers to read it?
Anyway, as soon as the bell rang, Mr. Byrd told us to get out our journals. He reminded us what he expected. It could be handwritten or typed, but it had to be the proper length. Looking around the room, it appeared that most students like me had written it out instead of typing it. I discovered it was easier to just jot things down as they came to me. It would limit me if I had to wait until I got home to type it. He also reminded us that we were to put down the number of words we’d written. I discovered it was easier if I added the words and jotted them down lightly in the margin after writing several paragraphs. He told us he didn’t care what we had written, as long as we had followed the guidelines he’d set out. He said he would have to just trust us that we responded to the prompt questions since he wouldn’t read our answers.
Everything went well until...until he informed us that he was a speed reader. He said he could read over 2000 words a minute. He said he could scan a page quickly and tell if we were doing what he asked. He assured us he would not concentrate on what we wrote, only that it appeared we had done what he requested. He then dropped the bomb. He said he could tell if someone added something other than their own words. Everyone immediately looked over at Abe. He had been bragging all week about copying the story of Rapunzel into his journal. Then suddenly, Sarah Innis started sobbing. When Mr. Byrd asked her what was wrong, she confessed that she had done what Abe did. Abe’s face couldn’t have been any redder as he slumped down in his seat. I think he wanted to cry too when Sarah informed Mr. Byrd what they had done.
I did a stupid thing too. When he asked if anyone else had plagiarized other works, I raised my hand. So did Elizabeth. My father always says that confession is good for the soul, but when Mr. Byrd walked back and stood over me, I wasn’t too sure. My voice cracked when I told him I copied three paragraphs from Little Red Riding Hood. I could hear my classmates giggle around me. I quickly added that I had exed them out and they really weren’t part of my journal. Elizabeth informed him she had only copied one page, but she did include hers.
For the next half hour, we had to endure a lecture on how disappointed he was of our behavior. He reminded us that we were the top students of our class and that he expected better from us than he did his ‘ordinary’ students, as he put it. I guess he thought he was praising us, but all it did was reinforce in our minds just how ‘unordinary’ we are. Then he handed down the sentence for our rebellious behavior. Sarah started crying when he informed her and Abe that they had to spend three nights of detention starting Monday after school. They had to come in after school and complete their journal. They were not to write anything for the first entry except what they wrote during detention. He excused Elizabeth and me, but we didn’t get by with just a warning. He said he was going to call our parents and inform them of what we had done. Elizabeth tried to plead with him while I sat quietly and listened. I was hoping that she could talk him out of it, but Mr. Byrd seems the kind of guy who, once his mind is made up about something, then he won’t change it. So besides being embarrassed in front of all my peers, I have to go home and face my parents and explain my wayward behavior.
Mr. Byrd gave us a writing assignment while he moved around the room and checked our journals. Again, he promised he wouldn’t read them, but that we were to turn the pages quickly for him to make sure we had completed the assignment. My hands were shaking when he walked up beside me. I tentatively began turning the pages as I held my breath. I just know he read my capitalized comments because twice he tried to stifle a laugh. When I finished, he chuckled again, patted me on my back and walked to the person behind me. I guess he was keeping his promise about not reading what we wrote. I didn’t make it easy for him though, by inserting bold statements that he couldn’t help but read. Even after he started the lesson, he looked back at me a few times and smiled. Okay. Mrs. Carter has finished lecturing. Now she’s handing out an assignment. More later.
Okay, I’m back in my room. Mr. Byrd called Dad at his office at the university and told him about my transgression. I had to endure an hour long lecture on how I could be dismissed from college for plagiarism. He had to discuss in great detail how he removed three graduate students because they used other writers’ works without citing the source. Sometimes I wish he was like other fathers and just scream at me and get it over with. He started to insist that he would read over my journal to make sure I didn’t make the same error again. I had to plead with him not to. I told him the journal was supposed to be really personal, and that even Mr. Byrd wasn’t going to read it. I think for the first time in my life, I stood up to Dad. It even surprised him as well as me. I told him he couldn’t read it. If he insisted on doing so, then I would refuse to write the journal and that I would take a failing grade instead. After carefully studying me for a minute, he agreed not to read it. However, he said if Mr. Byrd informed him that I was plagiarizing again, then either he or my mother would. I quickly accepted his offer before he changed his mind. Now I’m doomed for the next fifteen weeks to put in a good effort on this stupid thing. At least it took over 1200 words to tell about this, so I guess something good happened. I’m tired now, so I think I’ll wait until something exciting happens to write about. It’s Friday night, so I don’t think that is going to happen
WHERE DID WEBSTER LOOK UP THE DEFINITIONS WHEN HE WROTE THE DICTIONARY?
It’s me and it’s Saturday afternoon. I don’t know how I get involved in these things. Abe called a little while ago and wanted to know if I wanted to go to the movies tonight with Sarah, Stephanie and him. I would have told him no, but he called the house instead of my cell phone and my mother answered. He asked her if it would be all right, and she told him I could go. So I really didn’t have an excuse for not going with them.
I like Abe. He’s a good friend in class, but we rarely see each other outside of school. He’s Jewish and he spends a lot of time at his synagogue. He invited me to his bar mitzvah when he turned 13. I thought it was pretty interesting to get a lot of gifts and it wasn’t even Christmas. When he informed me he got a lot of money from his relatives, I went home and asked Dad if I could convert to Judaism.
Anyway, when he called I had to agree to go with them to the movies. If it had just been Abe, I probably wouldn’t have minded. But Sarah and Stephanie were going. It’s no secret that Abe has had a crush on Sarah since the fifth grade. They were caught kissing in the hallway last year between classes. Cory came out of the restroom and saw Abe pressing Sarah against the lockers as he forced his tongue down her throat. That was how Cory described it in class later.
I know I’m going to be stuck entertaining Stephanie all evening. I like her and all, but sometimes I think she wants to be just more than friends with me. I’m only fifteen. I’m not in the market for a girlfriend right now. If she tries to do anything more than just watch the movie, I’m going to make sure that Abe gets paid back- big time.
Hold on. Mom just came into the room. Okay, I’m back.
Wait a minute. I just read what I wrote. This is so stupid. Now I’m acting like I’m really talking to someone. I guess it helps me deal better writing this stupid journal. I’m really talking to myself, but that means I’m a little crazy. If I pretend I’m talking to someone else, then I can express myself better, I guess. I’ll just have to see if it works.
Anyway, Mom gave me a polo shirt she bought at the outlet mall last week. She said it was in a bag and she forgot to get it. It’s red. I like red. I know if seems weird, but I feel different when I wear red. Black and grey depress me. Blue and green are all right, but there’s something about red. If you look in my closet, half my shirts are red. There I go again, pretending someone is going to look in my closet. I wonder if Mr. Byrd’s main objection is to make all of us crazy by the time this assignment is finished in four months. He’ll probably collect the journals and show them to a psychologist and then have us committed to an asylum. Although, I probably don’t need this journal as evidence of my insanity. I do well enough without it.
I gotta go for now. I need to take a shower and get dressed before Abe picks me up. He turned 16 two months ago and his dad already bought him a car. I have to start working on Dad so he’ll let me get my permit. If I mess up again, then I may have to wait until I’m 18. It’s worthless to ask Mom. She always checks with my father first before making any kind of a decision. I think they read a child rearing book when I was born that warned them about me trying to play one parent against the other. I learned at a very young age that it was futile to even try. I’ll be back later and talk about my fun night out. Yeah, sure.
IF YOU EVER HAVE A GOOD IDEA IT WILL BE BEGINNER'S LUCK
Okay, I’m back. It’s Sunday afternoon. I was too upset to write anything last night. Like I feared, the night at the movies turned into the Terror at the Cinema Plaza. Abe picked Sarah up first, and I sat in the car while he went inside to get her. I thought they would be right out, but I waited for almost 20 minutes. When they did come out, Abe’s shirt was out, and his face was really flushed. I think they had been doing some heavy petting. From the look on his face, they may have done even more. When he got in the car, he gave me this really pleading look, like please don’t ask me why it took so long. Then Sarah just stood outside the passenger’s side and stared down at me. I guess she wanted to sit in front with Abe. So I got out and got in the back. Next we picked up Stephanie. I wanted to wait in the car, but Abe insisted I go get her. Her father answered the door and stared at me like I was some sort of pervert who wanted to do unmentionable things to his daughter. I was relieved when Stephanie showed up, kissed her father on the cheek and led me outside.
When she got in the car, she was wearing a sweater. As soon as Abe pulled away, she took it off and revealed a very low cut blouse. It didn’t leave much to the imagination what was hidden underneath. Of course, Sarah thought it looked good on her, and she wanted to know where she bought it. As we rode to the mall, I kept looking out the window even though Stephanie tried to get me to talk to her. Every time I looked at her, my eyes drifted to the two mounds pressed tightly together. They looked like a baby’s butt.
We got a bite to eat at the mall food court. They wanted to get Chinese, but I hate Chinese food. It gives me diarrhea an hour after eating it. Of course, I couldn’t tell them that. So I ordered pork fried rice and an egg roll knowing that it would soon make me sick. Mom gave me money to buy Stephanie’s dinner. She got Mongolian chicken and crab rangoons. She offered me one, but I declined. That’s all I needed was one more thing I would have to pass later. We mostly talked about Mr. Byrd. Abe and Sarah were still upset that he gave them three nights of detention for filling their journal with stories. Abe was still determined to find some way around having to write in the journal. I guess he hates it as much as I do.
The movie started at 8:00. We saw some boring vampire movie. Abe and Sarah sat down beside us, but minutes before the movie began, they got up and headed to the back of the theater and left me alone with Stephanie. She kept turning around to see what they were doing. Several times she started giggling. I didn’t care to look. I had already formed some nasty image in my mind.
Okay. Now comes the really bad part. About half way into the movie, Stephanie put her head on my shoulder. I was kind of weirded out by that, but I didn’t say anything. I just thought that maybe she was tired. But then she took my hand and placed it on her breast! I quickly removed it and gave her one of the most surprised looks imaginable. I asked her what she was doing. It was loud enough for the people around us to hear. She got all mad and went to the back to join Abe and Sarah. I was left alone to watch the rest of the movie by myself. When it was over, Abe took me home first. No one spoke to me, and Stephanie didn’t even look at me when I said goodbye to her. Okay. I’ll be back. I have to mow the yard before Dad does. I’m working on my permit. I need to finish this because it’s really important to me. I just hope no one reads it.
A CONCLUSION IS THE PART WHERE YOU GOT TIRED OF THINKING
Okay, I’m back. It’s Monday night. I needed some time to think about what I said about saying something is really important to me. When Mr. Byrd announced that we had to write a journal, it was the thing that immediately popped into my head. I knew when he said we had to write down our deepest feelings and emotions, it would emerge. But I’m not ready yet. Maybe tomorrow.
Today at lunch was awkward. I’ve eaten with Abe, Sarah and Stephanie at the same table since third grade. Others join us, but it’s always the four of us. We usually talk school stuff since none of us really ever have a life outside of school. I think Abe and Sarah are trying to change that. After thinking about it all weekend, I came to the conclusion that they probably talked Stephanie into seducing me so we could engage in some sort of wild sexual orgy. Okay, okay. I know I went too far with that one. However, I still think they hoped that the four of us could become two couples. I guess their plan didn’t work. Now they are ignoring me. Ignoring me! I sat at the table for thirty minutes while they talked. Not once did they ask me anything. I tried to join their conversation a couple of times, but Abe rudely cut me off. Some friend he is. He gets all mad because Stephanie gets all mad because I wouldn’t feel her up in the theater. I guess Sarah’s mad because Abe and Stephanie are mad. I haven’t decided yet if I’m going to sit at the same table with them tomorrow. The only thing I’m afraid of is that they may not want me to. Then what do I do? Eat alone?
I’m going to bed. It’s only 9:35, but I’m tired of thinking about things. Maybe I’ll write more tomorrow. So far I only have about 3000 words. Besides, it’s only Monday and I still haven’t even answered the prompt question. So I should be all right.
I DO WHATEVER MY RICE KRISPIES TELL ME TO DO
Okay, I’m back. I can’t sleep. It’s almost 4 in the morning and I haven’t slept one minute. This is something I gotta do now. If I don’t I’ll chicken out again. I’m in big doo doo if Mr. Boyd sees this, so I’m gonna write it small. I’m gay. There I said it. And since I’m using an ink pen to write this stupid journal, I can’t change it. I guess I could scratch it out until I leave an ugly hole in my paper, but since I got up the nerve to write it, I’m going to leave it there. Now maybe I can go back to bed and get some sleep. I’ll try and explain things tomorrow when I’m not too tired.
DOES THE NOISE IN MY HEAD BOTHER YOU?
Okay. I’m back. I’m in American literature. I’m supposed to be reading an excerpt from Hemingway’s The Old Man and the Sea, but I’m so mad right now I had to take out this stupid journal and write down what happened at lunch. If I suddenly stop, it’s because Mrs. Griffin is walking around the room and I may have to pretend I’m reading. They asked me not to eat with them at lunch! When I sat down, Sarah ‘suggested’ that I may not be welcomed at ‘their’ table and I should eat somewhere else. ‘Their’ table. She said ‘their’ table. The same table that was ‘our’ table just last week. I wanted to say something mean and nasty, but I couldn’t think of anything appropriate to say at that moment. Since then, a million things have jumped into my mind that I could have said, but didn’t. Anyway, I moved to a table where some of my other classmates sit. They gave me a weird look when I sat down, but no one said anything. I guess I really didn’t give them a chance because I was too mad to look at anyone.
Tomorrow after I’ve calmed down, I may just tell the others that they are mad at me because I wouldn’t touch Stephanie’s breast when she forced my hand on it. Wait. That doesn’t sound right, does it? That would only make them wonder why I was making a big deal out of it. A guy is supposed to WANT to feel up a girl, right? He’s supposed to make the first move, not complain when the girl does it first. So now I have more things to worry about. As if I didn’t already have enough problems. I’ll write more later. Mrs. Griffin keeps watching me as I sneak sentences into this stupid thing. Only 1500 more words to go. I counted them when she wasn’t looking. Add seven more words. No make that eleven. Fifteen. This is getting to be stupid. Twenty one.
Okay, I’m back. I’m starting to get addicted to this stupid journal. I still think this is Mr. Byrd’s attempt to drive us crazy. I had a ton of homework tonight, but I kept looking at this and wanting to write things down. It’s almost 10:30 and I’m tired because I didn’t get much sleep last night. Remember? Haha. There I go again, talking to my fictitious reader.
HEY MR BYRD. IF YOUR READING THIS- YOUR MOMMA IS SO FAT THAT SHE MAKES SUMO WRESTLERS LOOK ANOREXIC
I’m tired, so sue me. Okay. Let me explain something I wrote last night. It’s the reason I’m so tired now. I’m going to put it down now while I really don’t care if someone sees it. I’m gay. Okay?
I’M GAY I’M GAY I’M GAY I’M GAY
I don’t care if Mr. Byrd does see it as he speed reads through my journal. In fact, I hope he does read it and says something. Then I’m going to get Dad to hire a lawyer and sue him. I’d hire Abe’s father, but since Abe isn’t talking to me anymore I guess I can’t.
Reggie’s big secret is now down in writing. It’s the one thing I wanted to avoid writing about, but after yesterday, I don’t care anymore. I didn’t want to feel up Stephanie in the theater because I’m gay. I’ve always been gay. I’ve never denied it to myself, but I have kept it hidden from others. I don’t know why though. I’m not ashamed of being gay. I don’t think I’ve ever regretted feeling the way I do. I just don’t think it’s anybody’s business. I’m not doing anything with anyone, so what does it matter? Being gay is a part of who I am, just like my dark hair and blue eyes. No one asks guys in my class if they are straight, so why do they need to know I’m gay? I’ll someday let those that need to know, know. I’m sure someday I’ll come out to my parents, and probably my grandmother. They may want to know. But why does everyone else have to know? Abe doesn’t wear a sign around his neck telling people he’s straight. Then why do I have to wear a rainbow pendant around my neck to announce that I’m gay? Okay. I’m tired and it’s almost 11. I don’t feel like thinking anymore. I hate this stupid journal. It’s making me think too much. More tomorrow- maybe.
I COULD HAVE EATEN ALPHA-BITS AND POOPED OUT A BETTER JOURNAL
Okay. I’m back. It’s Thursday night, and Mr. Byrd is going to check our journals in the morning. I was going to just leave it the way it is, but I’m about a 1000 words short. I thought about cheating and putting down the wrong number, but Mr. Byrd is pretty smart. I guess because he’s young, he remembers all the things he did to avoid assignments. It’s a lot easier to fool an old teacher than it is a young one. Teachers like Mr. Byrd have already played the game.
I don’t know what I want to write. I’m not in the mood to write anything, but I have to. This week’s prompt is stupid. He writes it on the board at the end of the period on Friday after he’s checked our journals. We don’t have to discuss it, but he encourages us to do it. This week’s prompt is: If you could be anyone other than yourself, living or dead, who would it be?
I’ve thought a lot about it this week, but my mind has drawn a blank. When I think of someone, then I do a little research and find out that their life wasn’t all that great. Many either suffered while they were alive, or suffered a tragic death. And almost all of them, once you get past what made them famous, were disappointing in some way. History is kind to most people. I guess we want heroes so badly that we sometimes overlook their imperfections. So I really don’t have anyone I’d rather be. I guess everyone’s life is hard in one way or another. Even though there isn’t much to me, I still like being me. I guess I really don’t want to be anybody else. I’m only 15 going on 16. I’ve got my whole life ahead of me. Who knows, maybe someday in the future another teacher will ask his or her class to write about someone they would like to be. Wouldn’t it be cool is someone said they’d like to be me?
Okay. I’m 800 words short still, so I have to write something else. Give me a minute and let me read what I’ve written so far. Okay. I’m back. One of the things Mr. Byrd suggested that we write about is what we want to do with our life. I’m pretty sure he’ll have a prompt later on which will deal with this in more depth. Right now, I really don’t know what I want to be. I know I’m smart enough to be anything I want to be. Dad and Mom want me to major in medicine or law. Dad has even hinted that he’d be proud of me if I got a doctorate degree like him and taught in a major university. But I don’t know if that is what I really want to do with my life. Sometimes I just get tired of studying all the time. Sometimes I will see a baseball game on television and think those guys have it made. They get paid for doing something they enjoy doing. Dad’s proud of what he does, but I’m not sure he has fun doing it. I know Mom doesn’t. She’s a dedicated teacher and all, but she looks forward to her summer vacations. If she enjoys what’s she’s doing, would she need several months to recharge her batteries, as she says.
So all I know is I want to do something that is fun 24/7. When I leave whatever I’m doing for the day, I want to be able to look forward to doing it again the next day. I guess any job can offer that if you’re happy doing whatever it is. It can be the grocery store clerk who likes meeting people and goes out of her way to be friendly. Or it can be the plumber who feels a sense of accomplishment after he stops a leak in someone’s basement and gets an enthusiastic handshake by the homeowner. I’m not saying I want to be a grocery store clerk or a plumber, but I want to be happy doing whatever it is. Dad wants me to do something where I’ll make a lot of money. He says I’m too smart to live a poor life. But I watch the news and I read stories on the internet. Money doesn’t buy happiness. In fact, it seems at times to make some people’s lives miserable. So I’m not going to place a high priority on making a lot of money. I just want to be happy. Is that asking too much of life?
Okay. I’m 300 words short, but I’m going to turn this in and hope that Mr. Byrd cuts me some slack. I’m tired and I’ve really put a lot into this entry. I really, really hope no one ever reads it. I’ll be in big doo doo if they do.
Okay, I’m back. I know I said I was finished with this entry, but I had an epiphany when I awoke this morning. I’m on the bus writing this, so if my handwriting looks jerky, that’s the reason. So now my epiphany: I want to be a writer. Cool, huh? I like to read and write. I could be free to express myself, and no one would have to read what I write if they don’t like it. I’ve read numerous books that I thought weren’t really all that good, and I felt I could write better. So maybe that is what I’ll be in life. After all, Dad is a writer. I think he’ll understand once I explain it to him. However, I’ve heard him rant and rave about how much writing is a thankless profession. He thinks writers receive little respect for the hard hours they put into what they do. So I may have trouble convincing him. Maybe I’ll just tell him I’m going to major in English in college. I can hear him now asking me just what I plan to do with a degree in English. I’ll think of something. Maybe I can be a journalist. Wouldn’t that be ironic? I started out hating writing this stupid journal, but maybe it will help me better understand what I want to do with my life. Oh, cripes! Now I sound like Mr. Byrd. Maybe I’ll be an English teacher someday and make my students keep a journal. Now that would be ironic.