Saturday, August 29, 2009

Learning How To Use Minimal Literalism

**Saipan Writer asks if I have quit blogging. The last two months have gotten away from me, and I think I had decided to stop paying attention to the blog. But she asked, so I'm going to see if I can take this to the end of this year.**

When I was in fifth grade, my class moved into a huge classroom in the basement of the building. This was the first year that my grade, which had been in two classrooms, was combined into one for homeroom and then split into two for classes. This wasn't such a big deal to me; not only was it only my second year at CSH, I was already so alienated from my classmates that where I was in the class made no difference to me.

My desk was halfway back, next to a support column. I found the wall next to me rather comforting, and sometimes leaned against it instead of the back of my chair. The desks were the kinds with lids, in which you stored your stuff. At that time I had just started keeping a journal, and I would slyly pull it out of my desk and lie it inside the workbook or other notebook in which we were supposed to be working. Or I would just write in it while the teacher lectured.

One day one of my teachers busted me for not paying attention in class. She came to my desk and asked for the journal. I gave it to her, because I had to, and she explained she would give it back to me the next day. Then she sent me to the Principal's office on the second floor.

Because the school was in a former mansion, the first floor was marble, with a wide curving stairway with a wide balustrade. It was almost like those you see in old movies, only bigger. This floor was guarded by a elderly nun whose job was to sit at a desk and yell at girls who ran or shouted in the main hall. I had come up from the basement and had just started up the main stairs to the second floor when I ran into the Principal.

I don't remember where I told her I was going during class time. I sure didn't tell her that I'd been sent to see her because I was writing in my journal instead of paying attention in class. We chatted and then I continued up the stairs and she continued down them.

After I walked to the third floor I went back to my classroom in the basement. The teacher asked if I had seen the principal. I said yes. The teacher sent me back to my desk.

The next day, the teacher returned my journal to me. I wondered if she'd read it and, if so, if she would say anything to me about it. There was a lot of "I hate this school" and "I hate So-n-So and So-n-So is such a b----" in it. She did not say anything to me about the journal, but she said that she'd spoken to the Principal and while it was very clever of me to say "yes" when she'd asked if I had seen the Principal, the teacher and I both knew that wasn't what she meant.

Then she sent me back to the Principal's office, telling me that I had to come back with a note saying she had seen me and talked with me about my behavior.