I spent the first day of Spring Break sleeping and playing video games. I read a few personal essays and learned a lot about puke, snot, and blood. It would seem 8th grade boys shed these particular bodily fluids quite profusely and take it quite seriously. At least their stories attempt some degree of action. The girls have been writing about their emotions. This changed my life, that changed my life, my life changed forever. If someone can figure out what these life-changing events were, please tell me. As far as I can see, it changed their lives to have to write about their lives changing.
On a serious note, the funny ones stand out. One student took revenge on a neighbor kid for picking his nose by spinning him in an office chair until he puked. It backfired — the writer’s Mom made him clean it up. Another student went ding-dong-ditching in the middle of a working class neighborhood, only to get chased down the street by the unamused homeowner. And my personal favorite involved a golf cart, a sand trap, and a very irate older sister wielding a nine iron. Hilarity ensued.
The ones that disappointed most: a boy who lost his Dad, a police officer, but the essay was a muddled infodump of how he heard the news, rather than its devastating aftermath. The many, many, many essays that began with “My heart was racing. I thought I was GOING TO DIE.” And it turns out they’d overturned their bike or skateboard or moved neighborhoods. It’s hard to get boys this age to open up about their feelings, and it’s hard to get girls to stop.
I signed off many essays with the word “BLERG.” I’d warned them all that if they screwed up the ending by writing some variation of “and this is the life lesson that I learned” instead of a strong, final piece of imagery, I would vomit on the page. BLERG has become my default position for both sexes.
That said, I gave many B+ and A- grades. Even I cannot bring myself to say “your life story is a total failure.”
I am getting soft. In conclusion, this has changed my life in so many ways that I thought I was going to die.