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Don’t know who decided this, but apparently November is Learn Chinese Month.  Now I understand why so many people would rather struggle with writing a novel this month. So much easier than trying to learn Chinese.

My son took two years of Chinese in high school, learning not a thing, as far as I could tell, as illustrated by the following.  Students were to bring in plain white t-shirts to class, on which they were to write slogans of their choice in Chinese characters.  My funny boy and his pal, Brett, decided their shirts should be a matched pair: Infamous Hooligan #1 and #2. Of course, they had no idea how to translate that infamous phrase into Chinese, so they asked their nearly insane teacher for help. She patiently instructed them as they wrote the strokes in indelible ink on their shirts. When they were done, pleased with their classic high schooler combo of incomprehensibility and cleverness, they donned the shirts, only to have their teacher laugh and point at them.

“Ha, ha, I tricked you! It really says ‘Sex Offender #1’ and ‘#2.’ Ha!”  How handy to have on walks through Chinatown.  They didn’t ask her to write their college recommendations, so I guess they learned something after all.

I’m in a perfectly good mood today, but I have a file on my computer entitled, “Journal of a Bad Attitude,” a take-off on May Sarton’s Journal of a Solitude (which I could never get through). My file is something like a bajillion words over the course of eight years though I haven’t added to it with any regularity the past several years. Perhaps that means my attitude has been good of late. That doesn’t seem likely. I think I will make myself read through the damned thing and see what I can find lurking there.

Here’s something from July 2001:

“Strangely enough, I might be too polite to be much of a writer.  I suppose that is why people become novelists, so they can crucify the people they want to indirectly under cover of plot and character.  Or at least bitch about them, contradict them, hold them up as a laughingstock, but I’m just too damned polite to do that to my friends, so I have nothing to write about.  Or at least a lot less.  I do love typing fast.  Maybe I should have been a data entry clerk or a secretary.  Let’s try to imagine that for a moment…me blazing away not perfectly accurately, but at least I can spell words right the third time around.  Completely routine stuff–mundane, dull, boring, and omnipresent.  Good ole Mrs. Guiliani, the typing teacher whose bosom would have made a fine, sturdy desk for her typewriter.  How convenient it would have been for her.  I don’t have a bosom.  The lightest laptop would fall right to the floor. ”

hmmmm… notice I didn’t say I was too damned polite to do all that to family….

I’m back!