Keeping a journal for a whole year??

1 Jan

I don’t know about keeping a journal the whole school year. If I could just write stories, it would be easy, but she’s asking that we share our “hopes, dreams, fears, and inner thoughts.” First of all—inner thoughts? What other kinds of thoughts are there?

 Second, she says we’re supposed to write two or three times a week, including one entry on the assigned topic. Well, is it two or three? Doesn’t she know that if she says that, then everyone will just write two? You’d think teachers would have figured this kind of stuff out by now.

And third, there’s no minimum length for how much we write each time—we are just “encouraged” to write complete entries. “Encouraged” is not a word that gets students to do anything. I’m worried that the other kids are going to see Ms. Dell as an easy teacher and not take the class seriously. Then it’ll be Mr. Peterson’s eighth-grade Language Arts class all over again. Why do I care if nobody else does any work in this class? Why do I even spend time thinking about it when what I really should be doing is figuring out what to make for dinner…


Who came up with hazel as an eye color anyway?

12 Jan
   Assignment #2: Describe yourself. How do you see you? How do you think others see you?

There’s nothing special that sticks out—I’m not particularly tall or short, I don’t have red hair or high cheekbones or dimples—anything interesting. I’m kind of skinny with straight, boring brown hair that goes just past my shoulders. My skin is a medium brown I guess, darker than all-white kids, but not as dark as most Latino kids. My eyes are supposedly “hazel,” but I’ve never understood that as an eye color. There are 64 different crayon colors, and not one of them is hazel. It’s sort of a combination of green and brown, but mostly just looks like a muddy field. I think whoever decided on hazel just couldn’t find anything that color. Or maybe “muddy field” didn’t sound so good.

 When I was little I wanted to be beautiful and elegant and kind of mysterious—like my mom. I remember sucking in my cheeks while I practiced staring off into the distance to look exotic and serious. But when I look in the mirror, I see a scrawny, awkward girl who looks ordinary on good days and invisible on bad ones.

Personality-wise, I would say I’m quiet, and pretty much a go-with-the-flow kind of kid. I guess I’m smart—I taught myself to read when I was four, and I’ve always gotten good grades. People tell me I’m mature for my age, whatever that means.… I don’t need much. Give me a good book and a comfy spot to read, and I’m happy.

Homework, absent mother, and adverbs

9 Jan

 “Lupe!” Nube shrieks gleefully when I walk through the door of our apartment, like he hasn’t seen me for weeks even though I walked him to the bus stop this morning. He’s the best part of coming home.

 “Guess what?” His eyes sparkle when he gets excited.

 “What?” His enthusiasm is so contagious I can’t help feeling just a little excited too.

 “Starting Monday I get homework every day, well, not on the weekend, but Monday through Thursday. And Ms. Jackson says we’ll also have big projects to do this year, and not just collecting things to show like in second grade, but real research and stuff like that!”

Rico emerges from the big, comfy chair in the living room to express his opinion: “You dork, why are you so happy to get homework, and why would anyone ever want to do research?”

Nube ponders the question as if it were asked with genuine interest on Rico’s part.

 “Leave him alone, Rico, just because you don’t like school doesn’t mean that nobody else can like it,” I defend Nube, which is the pattern with the three of us: Nube says or does something that Rico puts down or makes fun of, and then I tell Rico to put a lid on it and mind his own business.

 “’Cause I want to learn a lot and be real smart like Lupe,” Nube says.

 Rico makes his voice sound high and mocking, “’Cause I want to be real smart like Lupe!”

“Really smart,” I correct him.

“Okay, we know, we know—you’re really, really smart!”

“No, I mean it’s not ‘real smart’—it’s ‘really smart’ because ‘really’ is an adverb and…”

“Like I care about adverbs! How are adverbs going to help me? Can I make money with adverbs? Can I eat them? Will they make me stronger or make me happy?” Rico grabs his backpack off the floor and heads toward the door.

“Are you going to be home for dinner?” I ask before he can leave, knowing I won’t have to make as much if Rico isn’t eating.

“What are you—my mother?” Rico snaps.

We’re all quiet. Then Rico’s shoulders droop and he looks at his feet.

“I’ll be back in a couple of hours. If you all get hungry, go ahead and eat,” he says sheepishly, but then adds hopefully, “But could you save me something?”

“Sure,” I answer, knowing he was never really angry—that’s just how he is.

He closes the door and Nube looks at me with his big, round eyes. I smile and ask him what he thinks we should have for dinner.

He grins and says, “How about…adverbs?”

Life is so much better not diagramming sentences

6 Jan

I know I’m supposed to be writing out to the blogosphere, but I want to take this opportunity to thank my English teacher, Ms. Dell.

Thank you for not making us diagram sentences. I was kind of surprised when you told the whole class that it was one of the concerns mentioned in our responses to what we were hoping to get out of Freshman English. I mean, I know I shouldn’t have been surprised—you did ask us—it’s just that I guess I didn’t think you would really consider acting on what you read. No offense to you personally, but usually teachers ask you to write stuff just to see if you can write, and then they correct your punctuation and your spelling. But you actually read my entry for meaning, as if I had something to say.

day 2: reluctant blogging, or if a 14-year old girl reveals her true thoughts in the blogosphere, will anyone hear them?

2 Jan


When Ms. Dell assigns an essay, it’s not like I get all excited, but I know what to do. When I’m writing for myself in my paper journal, I write my inner thoughts or sometimes a poem. There’s no way I’m doing that on a blog, even though I know that nobody is even reading it out there except Ms. Dell.

If I were a tree in a forest and fell, I might not actually make a sound, but I would still know that I’d fallen. I mean these words might just be going out into space, but they’re still my words, and I don’t want my feelings strewn across the public atmosphere for just anyone to pick up.

Sorry, Ms. Dell, I’m sure I will come up with something in the future. Does writing about not wanting to write count?

this blogging thing is trickier than I expected…

1 Jan
Okay, so I posted my first blog. Then I accidentally published what was basically a blank blog. So I tried to erase the blank blog, but accidentally deleted the real one. 

So back to square one…For English class we have to keep a regular blog. The thing is I’m not sure that anyone out there really wants to read about a 14-year old girl. I don’t particularly want to read about a 14-year old girl, and I am one. I’m willing to bet that nobody else in my class would want to read what I have to say either. But I have to write at least 50 words to get credit, so…Hey, there’s a word count feature on this thing and I’ve already written over 100 words! That was easier to do than I thought. Okay, now I’m going to go do something more productive–make dinner! 


My Name Is Lupe Jones

30 Dec
 Assignment #1: What do you hope to get out of Freshman English?

What do I hope to get out of Freshman English? Why do teachers ask these questions? Does it really matter what I hope to get out of Freshman English? I mean, isn’t the year pretty much planned already? Okay…                                                                   

I’m hoping to read some good books. And I’m hoping that we don’t ruin them all by having to write lots of summaries or answer a bunch of picky questions just to prove we’ve read them. Is that what this journal is going to be used for?                 

I like to write. I prefer creative writing, which I never get to do in school, so I hope we get to spend at least part of the year writing poems or short stories or something besides essays. And it is my sincere hope that I will never ever have to diagram another sentence for as long as I live. That’s not writing—that’s dissecting perfectly good sentences into prepositional phrases and parts of speech until all the meaning is sucked out of them and then they’re just a collection of lifeless words. Not only is it pointless, it’s disrespectful of language.                                          

Writing is expressing yourself. It’s poetry that inspires you, fantasy that takes you somewhere else, mystery that makes you want to read more, and humor that gives you the chance to laugh (especially when your own life isn’t so humorous.) I’m not saying that true stuff isn’t writing, but it isn’t fun. Why would anyone want to read about what is if they could read about what could be?