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Wednesday, May 13, 2015

The Eleven-Year-Old And The Little Green Notebook

You know something?  1992 was such a great year, I decided that I would do a double post about the year.

Well, okay, not really.  That part was posted merely by coincidence. 

Anyway, with the Tuesday Timeline out of the way for another week, we can go back to the original plan, which is for me to post personal stories about memories gone by.

And, well, we're smack dab in the middle of year number eleven.  Look at it this way, there's only another twenty-three to go!

So, year eleven spanned between 1992 and 1993, and I have to admit that I really loved that time period.  Really, the early 1990s were a good time.  I had to adjust a bit to the fact that some of my friends went off to French Immersion at another school, but I held my own.  I left fifth grade and entered sixth grade, and I remember really getting into the R&B, hip-hop, and new jack swing music that was all the rage that year.  I think I drove everyone crazy playing Toni Braxton, SWV, TLC, Michael Jackson, and Janet Jackson all the time from my little stereo system!

Apparently, I also still had some fond memories of neon colours as well.  Check out my annual snapshot - 1992 edition.

Yeah, apparently my favourite colour at eleven was neon green.  I wore that shirt a lot when I was that age.  Though, nobody really beat me up for it.  '92 was the year the Blue Jays won the World Series (and 1993, for that matter).  This picture was probably taken during the summer of 1992 when I was in the summer playground program, as I recognize this being taken at the Celebrity Sportsworld bowling alley in Kingston, Ontario - now defunct.

What else was happening around my eleventh birthday?  Well, let's browse through the pop culture files.

#1 SONG THE WEEK OF 5/18/1992

Who knew that a couple of teenagers wearing their clothes backwards would bounce their way onto the top of the charts?  Mind you, this is probably the only song of theirs that I recognize, and sadly, one of the boys ended up passing away some twenty years after this song was released, so no chance of a reunion.

"Lethal Weapon 3"

It wasn't the best movie of the bunch, but entertaining enough to be able to sit through it.  But I still maintain that a fourth film should have never been made.  They were getting way too old for...well, you know.

"60 Minutes"

Again?!?  Wow, people must have really been into news programming back in the early 1990s.  But seriously, I expected "Roseanne", or "The Simpsons", or even "Murphy Brown" to top the list that year!  Anything but 60 Minutes!

Anyway, for today's story, I want to give you a bit of a set-up before we get to the main body of this entry.

Entering sixth grade was a bit of a good thing and a bad thing.  It was a good thing because I really loved my teacher, Mrs. Woodfine.  She was tough, but fair, and she was probably one of the most encouraging teacher that I have ever had.  The bad thing is that we had the same seats the entire year, and I was in the direct center of the room, and it seemed as though I was surrounded by people who...well, for lack of better description, hated my guts.

It was my own fault.  I was one of the last kids to enter the classroom, and most of my friends in the class sat around the perimeter of the room.  I was dead center.  Not exactly a place where I wanted to sit, but again, I had no say in the matter.

Of course, I tried to make the best of a bad situation, and I tried to focus on schoolwork and other things.  But sometimes there were instances in which the kids around me would purposely tease me and try to humiliate me because they counted on getting a reaction out of me.

And, well...I'm a very emotional person.  I consider it to be my Achilles heel of sorts.  Sometimes there are times in which I wish I could feel nothing and times in which I wished I could turn off my emotions the way one would switch off a lamp.  But in the real world, that is not possible, and let's just say that some of the kids succeeded in getting me quite upset in class.  Sometimes I would try to defend myself, but it came out the wrong way and ended up hurting them even though all I wanted them to do was to shut up and leave me alone.

So, imagine my surprise when one day as we were leaving for home after school, Mrs. Woodfine calls me to see her at her desk, and right off the bat, I figured that I was in deep trouble.  I mean, why else would a teacher keep you after class, right?

Well, apparently my sixth grade teacher was no idiot.  She had a keen eye, and she knew exactly what was going on.  And, honestly when she told me that, I was completely shocked, as none of the other teachers that I had really seemed to notice or did anything about it.  But I suppose I could understand their stance.  None of them were really trained in how to deal with conflicts between students.  They were there to teach English, Science, Mathematics, and History.  Nothing more, nothing less.

Mrs. Woodfine was different though.  I get the feeling that she really cared about her students...and I mean ALL of her students.  So, I told her some of the stuff that was going on and how it made me feel, and she came up with a suggestion that at first I dismissed.

"Why don't you just write everything down?"

Now, granted, I did like writing back then, and did have a run of 27 perfect spelling tests in a row back in the sixth grade.  But I couldn't understand how writing about my feelings would help me feel better.

It was then that Mrs. Woodfine handed me a bright green notebook from out of the supply closet in the classroom, and told me that I could keep this book for my own personal use.  She explained that I was to keep this book in my desk at school, and that if anything happened where I was feeling down, or angry, or downright homicidal towards any of my classmates (okay, I made up the last part), I was to write it down in my own words, and if I felt like it, I could give it to her and she would offer some advice on how to handle the problem better. 

So, the eleven-year-old me was skeptical, but I accepted the book, thinking that I would never use it...

...only to actually use it just two days later when I got into a snit with some snotty girl in class over something that I don't even really remember anymore.  Let's just say that this girl and I had not gotten along since we were in the first grade, and five years had not done anything to thaw the tension between us.

Here's the kicker.  I wrote everything out about how I was feeling, what started the conflict, how much I really couldn't stand the girl, etc, etc, etc.  And once I wrote it out, I immediately felt better getting it out.  It was like the ultimate way to express my anger without anyone else knowing.  It was strangely empowering!

Of course, the first few times, I did let Mrs. Woodfine see what I had wrote, and she commented (giving some great advice in the process).  But over time, I stopped showing her because I didn't really need it.  I found that the more I wrote stuff down, the better I felt.  Sure, there are some days in which I struggled, but they became less and less, and I learned to put the majority of my emotion on the page and less on my face - if that makes any sense.

At any rate, I think it was Mrs. Woodfine that really turned me onto writing in the first place, and I have to say that she is a little bit of the inspiration behind the creation of this blog, as well as my love of writing in general. 

So, if you want to blame someone for the last four years, blame her!

No seriously, don't.  She helped me in more ways than anyone could imagine.  She'll forever be my all-time favourite elementary school teacher.  Nothing will ever change that.

And, well, she gave me the gift of courage...a gift that I really needed when it came down to year twelve.  But that tale will wait until tomorrow.

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