Lighting Up the Day
“She generally gave herself good advice (although she very seldom followed it.)”
I didn’t miss St. Mel’s during Spring Break, NOT AT ALL.
It was nice being away from everybody. I hung out with my new friend who lives in Avon Lake, and all my other friends, and didn’t think about school. I had been staring out windows a lot, waiting for spring. I felt like a crab apple tree sniffing out warm weather.
I did a lot of reading and relaxing. I re-read the ‘Hunger Games’, which is absolutely one of the best books of all time. It’s a series, there are three of them, and I read all of them when they first came out. I was in middle school back then and we had a book fair one week. I spotted it there, right on the spot..
Not many people knew anything about it, but I saw it right away. It said’ Hunger Games’ on the cover and it looked very cool. I read it and two days after I finished it I bought the second one. When the third one came out I got it right away, too.
I’ve re-read all of them because the movie is coming out and I’m going to see it as soon as possible.
It’s about a semi-post-apocalyptic America. Everything is run by the Capital. That’s another name for Washington, but they don’t call it Washington. There are thirteen districts, although now there are only twelve, and the Capital tells them what to do. Every year they have something called the Hunger Games. Each district has to send one boy and one girl to the games. They all go to an arena and they have to fight each other to the DEATH. The last person left is the WINNER.
They win a life of LUXURY.
Mr. Orwell told me to read the story of Theseus and I would understand what it was about, but I didn’t. I don’t think he read my new ‘Hunger Games’ so why should I read his old thing called Theseus? Besides, I don’t believe it really had anything to do with the ‘Hunger Games’. That was then and this is now.
I don’t usually read too many books, much less re-read them, but the ‘Hunger Games’ is a series I’ve re-read three times. The emotions, the action, and the conflicts are all great.
Barely anyone I know reads. GOD, NO! They feel like they’re missing out on something when they’re reading. “It wasn’t half-bad,” they’ll say. “At least for a book.”
My dad reads a little, and one of my uncles is always talking about books, but at St. Mel’s nobody reads. Some of the kids don’t even crack the textbooks they’re supposed to read. That’s how much they don’t like all a butt load of words.
“What if you’re reading something and there’s a misprint?” one of my friends asked. “If it was a cook book you could get food poisoning.” They just don’t want to stick their fingers in the socket for themselves, or maybe they do.
Truly, almost everybody doesn’t read. They think reading is a waste of time. They would rather watch anything on their tablets. That way they don’t have to imagine something to make it real. But, if you ask them about video games, almost nobody would say they were a waste of time. I don’t think they are either, and I love to play them, but I like to read, too, at least a little more than most.
In our English class we hardly read any books. We mostly read parts of them. I read the entire ‘Inferno’, even though I didn’t have to. I liked it because everyone is always getting ripped from their mouths to their butt holes. We read a smidge of the ‘Odyssey’, but it was for a project that involved an essay. The ‘Odyssey’ is long, although Mr. Orwell says it isn’t. Nobody cares what he says, because it is long. It’s retarded, too.
The first three months of school we read different parts of it. We read the sirens passage and, basically, some of the other good parts, like about the Cyclops. That was really something, him being stabbed in the eye with a nasty, burning, poop-filled sickle thing. That was good.
We read a few more parts, but they were so bad I can’t even remember them. Then we had to write an essay about what we read. It shouldn’t have been hard, but it was actually rather hard, because of Mr. Orwell. If you don’t write your essay how he likes it he won’t give you a good grade.
I don’t know about that. You just have to get used to it. He’s a boat load.
Mr. Orwell is young and has a totally different style of teaching than most of the other teachers. I like him, because I can relate to him, but sometimes I very much dislike how he teaches.
We have English class every day and he’s had us write a butt load of essays this year. I don’t like writing essays.
He had us write one about home in the ‘Odyssey’, another one about women in the Odyssey, and even another one about why it takes Odysseus so long to get home to his wife. Mr. Orwell grades every essay and no matter what grade you get you have to revise it. More writing! I got a 93 on one of them and I still had to revise it. When you revise it, if you do something different with it that he doesn’t like, he will give you a lower grade. That’s the grade that will count, the revised grade, no matter what.
Sandy told me you have to write a lot of essays in college, and she thought he was prepping us for that, so it seems like what he is doing is actually a good thing. But, we do a ton of vocabulary, too, Greek and Latin words, and words with all kinds of weird endings. He said he wanted us to know where words came from.
Mr. Orwell said he usually has students read a book over the Christmas holidays, but he had us do a group project, instead, which I thought was a horrible idea. We had to pick a part in the Odyssey and work with a group on it.
There were three of us in our group, including me. The others were Tommy and Tyler. I called Tyler a few times, but he never answered. I called Tommy, who was good at drawing, texted him, and booked him, and then called him again. He finally came over to my house.
I had a great idea for the cover of our project, which would be a bow. “At the top there’s going to be a bow, cocked and ready, and a long arrow in the shape of a question mark, going down to a T made out of a trident, and under that the title all in capital letters,” I told Tommy.
“All through the arrow there’s a question mark, which is about Odysseus being gone so long, and where he was for so long and being all clueless to his wife and family and the whole kingdom. There are his wife’s boyfriends, too, who had to shoot an arrow through rings,” I said.
I had a bunch of them in the drawing. There was a big Cyclops eye, too, and axes with little circles right at the top of the question mark, and then it all curved down. At the down curve, right in the middle, there was the poked Cyclops eye, and then the sirens, all pretty on the water, and everything ended up with the trident.
It was all about showing the main points of the book. The top part was dark gray, the middle was white with lightning bolts and the sea, and the bottom part was blue. I did the rough draft, but Tommy drew it out because I’m bad at drawing and he’s a good artist.
The other part of the project was to dress up like something from the book and take photographs. My idea was that we pose it like it was a modern-day, now not then. I picked the Lotus Eaters, because they’re all on dope, and stuff. But, Tommy and Tyler were worthless guys. They’re not too smart to begin with and they didn’t care, either. I had to tell them what to do, bring the camera, and then one of them forgot his clothes.
I had to let him wear mine.
Tyler wore dress clothes, and Tommy and I were in shorts and mesh shirts, like we were working out. In the picture we grab the dressed up Odysseus and try to feed Sun Chips to him. I had the idea to use Sun Chips instead of lotus berries because they are delicious. After we did the picture we had to describe the shooting angle, the framing, and the mise-en-scene, one of Mr. Orwell’s fancy words. We had to write a paragraph, too, about why we chose the part we did.
I had to do it all, which was busted, because Tommy and Tyler wouldn’t do anything.
We also each had to pick someone to interview, so they ended up having to do something, the big butt turds, which is what they are since they hardly ever do anything.
The person we interviewed had to be a girl from 14 to 20, or a woman, 21 to 55, or 35 to whatever they were, as long as they could talk. We had to ask them a certain set of questions, and after that we had to make up our own questions. Mr. Orwell told us to use his questions and their answers as a springboard, although I wasn’t sure what he meant by that.
We asked them about the roles of women, what they expected in a relationship, and things like that. It didn’t matter that the book was written three thousand years ago! It was just a crap load of questions that didn’t mean anything.
We didn’t read much of the ‘Odyssey’, anyway. It was really about Mr. Orwell wanting modern day depictions of whatever, so we did that. I don’t understand why we did it.
We don’t read much in English class, which is kind of sad. At the beginning of the year, after we came back from Christmas, we did watch a boat load of movies. The first one was ‘Batman, The Dark Knight’, with Keith Ledger, the actor who killed himself. I don’t know what it had to do with English. The next movie we watched was ‘28 Days Later’, which is a zombie apocalyptic movie in England. At least it was in England, which has something to do with English.
Mr. Orwell said we were doing film studies, and it was so we could learn the language of the camera. I have NO idea, JEAH!
My Uncle Gediminas, who reads books, was over our house one day and saw I had the ‘Hunger Games’. He asked me about it. I read some of the first pages to him, the ones filled with Roman names.
“What else do you read?”
“I read the ‘Inferno’. It was good.”
“I’m impressed. I didn’t read that until I was in college. What else have you read? The ‘Iliad’, Homer’s other book?”
“No, but I think I’ve heard about it.”
“How about ‘Paradise Lost’?”
“I don’t know what that is.”
“That’s a tough one, sorry. How about Jane Austen?”
“I don’t know her.”
“George Elliot, or any of them?”
“Wasn’t he a poet? We read George Bilgere in class. He’s from Cleveland. He’s a famous poet. I think he’s still alive.”
“I’ve never heard of him. In my own backyard, too,” he laughed.
“He’s famous, he teaches at John Carroll, and everything.”
“How about Ernest Hemingway?”
“I’ve heard of him, he’s a poet, too. We read ‘Hills of White Elephants’.”
“James Baldwin, anybody like that?”
“No, never heard of him, who is he?”
“I know him. He wrote the Scrooge movie. I went to see the play at Playhouse Square. It was exquisite.”
He gave me a funny look. Scar barked.
“I read a book called ‘Leviathan’,” I told him. “I don’t remember who wrote it, but it’s semi-medieval, about this prince in England who controls all these giant robots. It was very cool. And I read an awesome Greek mythology series called the ‘Demigod Diaries’.”
“Oh,” he said.
We were sitting outside in the backyard throwing an orange day-glow plastic stick for Scar to fetch. It was a clear dark night with an almost full moon.
“That’s OK, read whatever you want, whatever you think is good,” said Uncle Gediminas. “Don’t worry about anything or what anybody says.” He clapped to call Scar to us.
I threw the day-glow stick again because, honest to God, I barely knew what he was talking about. He was an adult, I could tell, but he was telling me to do what I wanted to do, which was a surprise.
Click here to see more writing between fiction and non-fiction by Ed Staskus.