Archive for March, 2012
Listen, I could have my head up my butt. It’s happened before. But, ah…did they play this song nonstop for months, with every word intact? Like, some guy telling other kids to haul ass or get shot?
I’d drive around hearing it, 50 times a day, and I’d be thinking, Is he really saying that? And they’re playing it on the radio? A kid whistling about shooting a school up?
I must’ve been right, ’cause yesterday–like, 8 months after that song finished its loop through the revolving door–I heard it again. But it went like this:
You better run better run, run from my–CLAPCLAP.
So it took the Ohio shooting for Clear Channel to realize the lyrics might be, er, distasteful to some?
Anyway, school shootings. At the end of the book The Hour I First Believed, which centers around a fictional recreation of Columbine, the author reflects on school shootings and says, “Why all this rage?”
Um, guys? ”Why all this rage”–isn’t it obvious?
You can spot the quiet rage kids a mile away. They hide in the back of the room, wearing long, dark layers, doing a good impression of invisible. There’s a ring of empty desks around them. You don’t know what their face looks like, what their voice sounds like, even after they’ve been in your class for a year. Because it’s high school now. They’ve had so many years of shit-eating at the hands of their peers, and probably the gym teacher, plus maybe their parents and jockstar older brother, they’ve finally figured it out: if I stay quiet, I’ll get ignored most of the time. Finally.
The loud-ragers get it out. They’ll throw down with the teacher, get suspended from school. The emo kids, too–you cut, a friend notices, you talk to your friend about pain. Angry jocks beat guys up on the field, whack the hell out of their tennis racket. Beauty queens don’t bawl, they bitch: gossip as slimy therapy. Artsy-kids put it on paper. And the tech-heads? Don’t shoot me, but…I think their brains might be different. So brilliant, so structured, there’s no room left for sloppy emotion. But the kids who have no outlet? Who don’t connect with anyone and don’t have a “thing,” an art or a sport, that makes them feel alive? Those are the kids with the rage. Because it’s so uncool to be uncool. You know how animals attack or abandon the “different” one, the one who could slow the herd? Humans are animals. Animals who can shoot guns.
But if you want to share a milk-of-human-kindness moment with a quiet rager, take it from me: take it easy. I’ve come at these kids with the absolute best intentions, full-on Pollyanna. It backfires. People suck, remember? So if somebody’s suddenly kind ‘n friendly, it translates to fake ‘n agenda-y. I’m still trying to figure this out myself, but I think the best idea is a simple “Hey.” Or in an online forum, maybe an “I hear what you’re saying.” Just a single smoke signal that says, “Somebody out here doesn’t hate you.” Maybe that’s a start.
If you’re a kid who feels this way–isolated and different–please tell me what you think. If you’re somebody with a better idea than mine on how to reach such kids, drop some knowledge. Please.
That’s a healthy thigh. On a confident girl. ‘S what I’m talkin about.
I think I just became a Ke$ha fan.
It was an honors class in a wealthy-enough suburb. They insisted their high school’s parties are like this. After I said “Really?!” seventeen times, one girl fessed up: “No, our parties are more like the one in 21 Jump Street.” Seen these flicks? Which is closer to Saturday night reality for you?
Or if you’re old folk, what movie did you fantasize repped your badass weekends? Mine was The Outsiders. I told concerned adults I was a “hood.” Seriously.
Does high school suck? I asked some real, live high schoolers that question today. They tried giving me these thoughtful, complex answers, but I shut ‘em down with a quick, “Neh. Listen. Is high school still like The Breakfast Club?” Nope, was what they said back. Those killing cliques stayed back in the 80s. There will always be The Stoners, they said, but other than that, it’s one big happy high school family.
Not that many years ago, I gave the best assignment of my teaching career. I left The Breakfast Club DVD with the sub, along with an assignment:
1) Watch this movie carefully.
2) Figure out which character is you, pretty much.
3) Write an essay telling me why he or she is you.
Damn. Those kids ate that assignment UP. I mean, they hoisted me overhead and carried me around the classroom when I returned. I still can’t figure out why.
Well, I miss being toted around by a gatch of cheering teens. So I’m trying my luck with a repeat assignment. Ready?
Tell me which of these guys is you, and why. You don’t even have to write an essay. Just leave a comment.
And me? As a teen? I was the chick who made it rain dandruff. But I was trying really, really hard to be the flop-haired guy in the denim.
Every time I hear this song, I think of you guys. You kids, I mean. Especially my former student Henry. Diggit.
If you’re the kid who’s like, “How come everybody else gets all the As, and not me?” I’ve got something for you to chew on. This chick
<—? The one who’s a mega bazillionaire at 21? In an interview in this month’s Glamour magazine, she said something I thought you might like hearing.
Ready? She was all, “I wasn’t the best student…I remember being in the classroom and looking around and being like, ‘Oh, all of you get this’ and just feeling
stupid. And then I read a script, and I just fell in love. I didn’t feel stupid anymore. I just found something I was good at.”
Now you know there’s gonna be a pep-talk here, right? Yeah. So here it is.
Kid. You’re good at something. Like really, really good at it. Don’t tell me no, ‘cuz you’re lying. Maybe you’ve forgotten about it in your old age; that’s fine.
It’s still there. If you have to, think back. What did you love to do when you were little? What were you better at than all the other little brats? Uh-huh.
That thing. Try it again, now. You’re still good at it, only better.
So school sucks for some of us. Doesn’t mean you suck; maybe it just means you’re meant to be a bazillionaire actress/clothing designer/
singer/child care expert/chef/video game architect, rather than a starving professor. Sheeit. Sounds alright to me.
My thing? Writing. How ’bout yours?
P.S. If you want to read an excerpt of that interview with her, click here.
And those kids? They were stoked to get those bracelets. Not saying I know why they were stoked, just saying they were.
I was even more stoked than them, when the UPS guy delivered the box o’ bracelets to me yesterday: I’d get to put a smile on every one of those kids’ faces!
Except…kids are kept in schools. And schools are supposed to be proper. And F-bombs aren’t proper. And the F in MF-UL stands for Fkd.
How did I not know that the super-cool, totally gets-it administrator at this school was gonna have to put the smack down? How the fuck long have I been in the education game? Not long enough, it seems, ’cause I’m still too stoopid to know the obvious:
Fool, you can’t send students home with swag advertising a website full of F-bombs.
Ain’t a parent out there wants to hear their kids’ school is teaching them nasty swear words. Right?
And I totally get it. Schools shouldn’t be all full of swears. You don’t sound professional when you swear. At school, you need to learn how to act professional, so you can make you some good $.
So how come I can’t quit swearing?
I asked the kids today. ”Y’all, should I switch it up? Make it My FUNKDup Life, instead? Take all the swears out the blog, so it’s cool for y’all to wear the bracelets?”
They wouldn’t let me finish my damn sentence.
“NO! You can’t take the real out!”
They sounded pissed, so I’m gonna leave it. I’m gonna let it stay all fkd up, ’cause like they said, that’s what’s real. That’s what’s me.
But tell me, please: what do you think? Go easy on me, if you can, ’cause despite my foul language, I’m 1 zillion percent in it for the kids. I’m not all polished and professional, but I absolutely love, and totally relate to, the kids. Is that enough? Or should I padlock my tongue to be a better role model? I can’t wait to hear you guys’ opinions.
Spanish is his first language, then he’s funny as hell in English.
Sits in the back of the room like he’s shy, then says e.xact.ly. what’s on his mind. Especially when the other kids are disrespecting the sub.
He plays concert piano, then bangs out a sick beat box.
He’s got the “I don’ give a crap” hair in his eyes, then raises his hand to talk about Asian culture or what book he’s reading.
Kid’s cool. If you still don’t see it, look at what he wrote, with a Sharpie, on his shoe.
Yessuh. That’s my blog’s URL. And people wonder why I love teens?